Joint bid to pit Linux better against rivals

The Open Source Development Labs and Free Standards Group have melded to form a new entity, called The Linux Foundation.

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG) have merged to form a new Linux group to better compete with proprietary rivals.

Called The Linux Foundation, the non-profit organization dedicates the resources of the merged entity to "accelerate the growth of Linux by providing a comprehensive set of services to compete effectively with closed platforms," the group said in a statement Monday.

Jim Zemlin, formerly the executive director of FSG, now leads the new organization, which includes members from major players in the Linux industry, including Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, NEC, Novell, Oracle and Red Hat, as well as community groups, universities and industry end-users.

Over the last six years, both the OSDL and FSG have provided major support for the continuing advancement of Linux.

The Linux Foundation said in a statement: "Now, those efforts will be funded and coordinated as part of a single business plan that will enable the entire Linux ecosystem to work together."

According to latest estimates by analyst company IDC, the platform and accompanying services generate US$14.5 billion in sales each year globally.

With three offices in the U.S. states of California and Oregon, and Tokyo, Japan, the new group said it now provides "a breadth and depth of essential services that no single community member, entity or company could realistically bring to bear alone".

The Linux Foundation added that its shared resources strategy will permit members to collaborate on platform development, and further accelerate the growth of a "vibrant" Linux market that benefits the Linux community, developers and industry.

Specifically, The Linux Foundation will seek to protect Linux by sponsoring key Linux developers and providing legal services--activities previously undertaken by the former OSDL. The foundation will also manage the Linux trademark and offer legal intellectual property protection to developers through initiatives, such as the Open Source as Prior Art project, the Patent Commons and sponsorship of the Linux Legal Defense Fund.

On the standards front, The Linux Foundation said it will continue to standardize and improve Linux as a platform for software development. Building on the work of the FSG, the new group will continue to offer application developers the kinds of standardization services and support through the Linux Standard Base (LSB) and the Linux Developer Network.

In addition, the foundation said it will also act as a neutral-party spokesperson to advance the interests of Linux and "respond with authority" to disinformation and other attacks.

It also promises to foster innovation by hosting collaboration events among all Linux stakeholders to solve pressing issues facing the Linux ecosystem in areas, such as desktop interfaces, accessibility, printing and application packaging, among many others

The Linux Foundation said it will sponsor Linux creator Linus Torvalds, so he can remain independent while working fulltime on the Linux kernel. Torvalds was previously supported by the ODSL.