Linux pioneer moves from Red Hat to Intel

Linux pioneer moves from Red Hat to Intel

Summary: According to most accounts, Cox was second only to Linus Torvalds in the early Linux days, working on the kernel from version 0.11, and sorting out the networking.

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Just as we were all closing down before Christmas, Linux kernel developer Alan Cox announced he is moving from Red Hat to Intel this month.

The move is important. According to most accounts, Cox was second only to Linus Torvalds in the early Linux days, working on the kernel from version 0.11, and sorting out the networking. In the last ten years, he's helped Red Hat establish Linux as a commercial operating system, and become an advocate in debates on patents, privacy and civil liberties.

So what does the move mean? Possibly two things.

1. Red Hat doesn't need so much low-level coding work. It's going "up the stack", according to Matt Asay at CNET, and creating "partner ecosystems" and "value-driven IT solutions" which are "about as far from hacking kernel code as you can get", according to Glyn Moody at Computerworld UK. Moving to a hardware company, where those issues are central will be "good news both for Cox and for the free software world", says Moody.

2. It might just be a sign of Intel turning on Microsoft. "Intel has been very quietly developing itself into a Linux powerhouse," says Charlie Dermerjian at The Inquirer.

What if Intel decided to stick the boot in Microsoft, just when it's wringing its hands over the PR disaster that is Windows Vista and Windows 7?

It's an interesting thought - though low-level kernel skills won't be so crucial as the user interface, if Intel really does decide to back Linux against Windows.

Enjoyable as the speculation might be, it's a million miles from Alan Cox himself, of course. From the tone of his excellent, brisk announcement, it's clear he will be getting on with what he does best, in his usual good-humored fashion.

Here it is in full:

Subject: Moving on from Red Hat

I will be departing Red Hat mid January having handed in my notice. I'm not going to be spending more time with the family, gardening[1] or other such wondrous things. I'm leaving on good terms and strongly supporting the work Red Hat is doing. I've been at Red Hat for ten years as contractor and employee and now have an opportunity to get even closer to the low level stuff that interests me most. Barring last minute glitches I shall be relocating to Intel (logically at least, physically I'm not going anywhere) and still be working on Linux and free software stuff.

I know some people will wonder what it means for Red Hat engineering. Red Hat has a solid, world class, engineering team and my departure will have no effect on their ability to deliver.

Alan [1] I note that both the family and garden probably think I should

Topics: Operating Systems, Intel, Linux, Open Source, Software

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19 comments
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  • The inquirer? A joke? No ABM punches pulled by the blogger here.

    The statements of "glee" over total speculation about intel "dropping" MS and the links to bloggers who could never be termed anything more than gossip bloggers and who have no objectivity nor any industry recognition whatsoever, fit that very pattern of subjective trash put out by the inquirer. <br><br>
    From the inquirer: <br><br>
    <i>The real question is what are they going to use? The official answer is 'nothing yet', the one where they try not to offend is 'likely Windows 7', delivered with a pained smile. Since that is shaping up to be Me II SP1a, I am not sure Intel will bite there either unless they suddenly develop a GPU that can run it in that time frame.
    </i><br><br>
    That sums up the worth of the inquirer quite handily. My 5 year old displays more integrity and adult objectivity when he speaks than the inquirer's vermin of the blogosphere. <br><br>
    There is no doubt that intel is not leaving open source out of their business plans, it is inevitable that free software will someday get good enough to compete with Windows and it's partners and the upper regions of the software stack. But Linux is years behind at that level of the stack and all the linux fanbois, such as this blogger, who as much admitted it, can claim here is linux is more compact and possibly more reliable, but that is totally based on the fact it doesn't have nearly the functionality nor the usability of windows. <br><br>
    Linux based OSes are surely striving for that and to be Windows "like" has been their aim for almost 20 years now. I wish them good luck but after 20 years, with a good 5 or 10 yet to go to compete at the levels they are hoping to, what is taking so long? <br><br>
    Maybe the proprietary way has not been so bad afterall. <br><br>
    Let's put it this way, the original Linux folks were totally anti Corporation, anti capitalists and close to being community based only. <br><br>
    They tossed that aside when they saw they were going nowhere and embraced captialism and cash to fund the movement from for profit outfits and huge corporations and soon they were in bed with giants like IBM, SUN and Google getting billions in cash to make open source even somewhat of competition. But even then they've not reached the summit. Perhaps Shuttleworth will take them to where he's wanted to all along....to proprietary land so he can monetize the desktop OS he is funding through cannonical. <br><br>
    He's already said desktop Linux can't compete w/o being monetized I believe it was. <br><br>
    But what would happen if Intel turned on Microsoft right now. If they were openly telling MS to shove it, as the author is suggesting could happen. Not rolling out Vista is not indicator whatsoever of intel doing any such thing with MS but luckily AMD rolled out Vista right away and reason tells me that intel is not quite ready to give away 90% of it's business. hmmmm. Well maybe the CEO has totally gone over the edge, maybe so. <br><br>
    AMD processor run Vista and Win7 just fine. <br>
    Vista no longer has anything for the ABMers to complain about and never had anything worse to contend with than OSS has had all along. Which was nothing on the stack above the OS essentially. It's all propoganda and it's not playing well any longer. The truth is out there and people are seeing past the billions put into trying to stop Vista. That was Apple alone. OSS is just more, although they didn't spend as much but relied more on false blogs and posts by the millions and websites discrediting Vitsa and MS in the hundreds. <br><br>
    That would be the greatest thing that could happen if Intel just cut off MS. They have no base on the desktop and AMD would soon be looking down at intel as "that little chip company".
    xuniL_z
    • You better check your facts

      I see that your response is almost balanced and fair. I say "almost" because I really believe that on the server space Linux has better functionality, and on the desktop the main issue has to do with proprietary "stuff" (Drivers, codecs, etc)

      I particularly saw one very missleading fact: Open source is not anti capitalistic.

      For some facts and my own ideas on this read:
      http://rarsa.blogspot.com/2009/01/open-source-and-capitalism-some-people.html
      rarsa
      • it's 'balanced and fair'

        Because you are an ABM'er as well !!!
        Aussie_Troll
    • Are you aware of the history between these two?

      Let me present but one example: Java.

      Intel was working on a VM for their chips. Microsoft got wind of it, threatened to pull support for new CPU's unless Intel quit "supporting" Sun.
      http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9501E5D7113EF933A25752C1A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

      Intel's effort to produce a JVM for its chipsets was killed, by Microsoft stomping their feet. Every other non-Windows platform has a JVM created by the mfg. Java is slow on Windows, runs just fine on everything else.

      ABM - You're damn right. Anything, BUT Microsoft. They deserve what they're getting, as they've stifled this industry for far too long.

      -Mike
      SpikeyMike
      • Same old and tired line.

        They have stifled nothing. They are still the company to catch, in all objective reports. <br><br>
        OSS has not been deterred at all by MS and yet almost 20 years later they are still trying to compete and failing, with a FREE product. <br><br>
        They have no real integration higher up the software stack yet they are working on it...why? Because MS does and is very very successful with it. <br> <br>
        Apple has not ever been deterred by MS, in fact MS has worked in a non compete, almost partner role for years. Apple used MS technology by licensing AppleSoft basic from MS in the 80s just to have something on the Apple II machines they could call a programming environment. <br><br> I like AppleSoft basic as well. Nice work MS, you always have created the best programming languages and tools in the business. <br><br>
        What you talk about it normal business. It happens every single day of the year between large companies. It's part of free enterprise so just learn to live with it. <br><br>
        And now we find that nobody can build a Mac clone and allow an option in the realm of the 2nd or 3rd largest computer maker in the world, yet you continue to hammer on MS which doesn't hamper Linux propogation at all, they have only themselve to blame. Shuttleworth said it out loud, didn't you hear it? Linux will never make money on the desktop. So here you have the "savior" of desktop Linux talking about monetizing Linux, or wishing he could monetize it on the desktop. <br><br>
        Linux will eventually fall to one vendor or two and that's it. Bye bye all distros except RH (fedora?) or Ubuntu, you will be nothing but hobbist systems forever. <br><br>
        You don't worry about the copyright avalanche that is starting to slide just a little. What happens when that baby goes? It will take an act of congress and taking away copyrights from people to settle it because otherwise there is going to be major unrest and contention and fighting inside the OSS world. It's already started and now there is the standard Linux which all distros do not meet the criteria for. I thought that all Linux based OSes were compatible? I mean i knew they weren't but we were sure led to believe they were. That or it would be easy to make them so. Turns out that is wrong, it's not that easy w/o many distros giving up much of what they've developed and is only used by them.
        <br><br>
        Please stop with the continual "blame MS for everything" routine. It's just stupid, tired and lacks all reason that exists with all other systems. Google is currently dictating what happens on the web. are they stifling web development? Well, are they?
        xuniL_z
        • try to stay on target, would ya ?

          When you write a novel-length reply, it's not difficult to see why you can't or won't grasp the simplicity of the concept the previous poster laid out.

          Microsoft HAS stifled this industry. You were given but one example. There are many, but that one example was about the JVM - write once, run anywhere concept. The technology didn't fail - it didn't work because Microsoft couldn't allow it to. By disallowing progress, by definition, that is stifling.

          I don't blame MS for everything - but I don't give them a pass on everything like you seem to do.
          User07734
  • I doubt Intel wants to give the market to AMD

    I doubt Intel is any rush to hand the market over to AMD anytime soon.

    Could you imagine a computer company like HP, Dell, Acer, who make the large bulk of their income from Windows machines discovering that the Intel chips do not support Windows all that well anymore?

    My guess would be that they would drop Intel for AMD before they would drop their customers for Intel.
    GuidingLight
    • No one's going to leave Intel just to keep Windows.

      First off, Windows will still work on Intel CPU's. Second off, Intel has just as much of a monopoly as Windows. No OEM wants to lose favor with Intel.
      T1Oracle
    • No one's saying Intel will drop Windows support

      They just see a future for Linux, that's all.

      And anyway, it's Windows that supports Intel's x86 (and x64) architecture, not the other way around. Windows could easily drop that support, but in doing so they'd be abandoning their entire installed base. So yeah, it looks like Intel may have figured out who's the boss.
      Michael Kelly
  • Opensource Hardware (low cost)

    With Android being so popular, I wouldn't see Intel opening doors for Cox. I bet they want to improve or design a chip for Linux rather than making Linux work for the chip. Sounds like a mute point, but all hardware contains a simple bios for the device to work correctly. Now why not add some open source to the hardware and end up with a low cost powerful item. Soon, PCs will rule the gaming industries as costing less than the latest Gaming console.

    Or better yet, console systems only costing $99 for the newest system.
    Maarek
    • I wouldn't bet against new low cost hardware development

      But I would bet against Open Source hardware development. I mean why hand AMD a lifeline?
      Michael Kelly
      • AMD lifeline

        Michael, you seem to forget that "x64" instructions originally were known as "amd64", as AMD created them. Intel's 64-bit chip creation, the Itanium, had a critical flaw: it ran x86 code very slow (even high clock speeds didn't help).

        After some time of terrible Itanium sales, Intel wisely saw the errors of their ways and jumped on AMD's ship. Shortly thereafter they again took over server sales from AMD (the first Opteron's blew away Intel offerings, especially in mixed 32/64 bit situations).

        So, why give AMD a lifeline? Because of several reasons, one of which being "Intel isn't always right."
        EMonkIA
    • eh?

      Android IS NOT POPULAR, just a overhyped crap.

      Second:
      Opensource hardware is a fact, for example currently you can developer your own graphics card, just buy the gpu, a chip modules, some resistor and such. ATI and Nvidia can give you the specification to build it, of course those specification are not widely open but those are accessible if you ask for it (formally). The main trouble is opensource hardware is not cheap, in fact is expensive (can double or even triple the price), or you could say economically inviable.
      magallanes
  • RE: Linux pioneer moves from Red Hat to Intel

    What does it mean?

    Red Hat is going under. Its like rats abandoning the sinking ship. Maybe Alan realized that people do not want linux and that Red Hat will be gone in a few years.
    Loverock Davidson
    • I cannot believe you are for real

      And I don't. You may have a very good chuckle from people up in arms responding to you.

      How can't they realize that no one can be so ignorant to write what you write and really believe it.

      I guess making gullible people angry is as good a pastime as any other.

      Keep up with it. You always make me laugh.
      rarsa
      • Indeed he is!

        Well said...

        Linux is getting stronger every year. Redhat != Linux, after all it's just a distribution.

        I wouldn't mind Redhat going down though, I much prefer SuSe, Debian or Ubuntu/Ubuntu Server in UI/Usability and software availability.

        When we get down to work, the distro that has greatest support is the one to go with, so, Linux die-hard fans: It may be fun messing about with the kernel and trying to make things (and drivers) work, but when you do not have all that spare time, what works is what's best... and Ubuntu does the job.

        And yes, I am aware I am offtopic, so to close this off: Good luck to cox and his move!
        lemiffe
        • You should know

          That RedHat is not a desktop distribution so you cannot compare with your use of Ubuntu.

          RedHat is not going under any time soon, it is the main server side linux distribution by installed base and sales although Novell is gaining ground, no doubt.

          No partisanship, just the facts.
          rarsa
    • Your probably right

      After all, Red Hat is a "computer support and maintenance company", just like 1 of a million others, it's only claim to fame is that the software it supports in open source.

      You write code to operate with the CPU, you don't write the CPU to operate with the code.
      Aussie_Troll
  • Alan Cox ...

    is not related to Mike Cox.
    EMonkIA