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Open Source Development Labs reorgs, refocuses

Dec 4, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), the self-proclaimed “center of gravity” of Linux, is re-aligning priorities and changing leadership. CEO Stuart Cohen has departed, and various personnel have been laid off, but the organization continues to offer “safe haven” for Linus Torvalds and other key developers, among other stated priorities.

Stuart Cohen, a capable and veteran administrator who brought a practical “pay as you go” approach to the organization's various standards efforts, has resigned from the CEO post, for the stated reason of pursuing other opportunities within the open source market. A representative of venture firm OVP Partners issued a statement in support of Cohen's future endeavors.

Additionally, nine IT and marketing employees have been let go, including widely respected embedded expert Bill Weinberg, who represented the OSDL to the Mobile Linux Initiative (MLI) phone standards working group and advised the group on embedded matters. Weinberg said that MLI representation will be taken over by John Cherry, who also currently heads up the OSDL's Desktop Linux working group.

Weinberg said, “MLI was poised to charge into 2007 with a large agenda. But I can't speak to what its plans will be, now.”

Reading between the lines, Weinberg's comments imply that the OSDL's board may be interested in returning the organization to its roots as an industry workgroup focused on advancing the enterprise-oriented goals of its board's constituents. The board is currently chaired by a representative of Intel, with Fujitsu, IBM, HP, Hitachi, NEC, and Novell also represented.

Weinberg, a 20-year-plus veteran of the embedded computing industry, was a founding member of MontaVista, and joined the OSDL in 2004. He said he plans to re-focus on his LinuxPundit consulting company, which already has a few contracts. Regarding his time at the OSDL, he commented, “[The OSDL] was a very nice engagement, and I will miss it. I loved working with Stuart, but my departure was very amicable.”

Long-time CFO Mike Temple appears to have assumed the role of acting COO, suggesting the organization may be on the lookout for a new CEO.

Additionally, the organization has re-aligned around four key priorities, it said in an official statement:

  • Providing a safe haven for key developers, including Linus [Torvalds] and others
  • Providing “increased legal support for Linux and open source,” in response to the growing complexity of licensing and patent issues. “This expansion will complement our current initiatives such as the Patent Commons,, the Linux Legal Defense Fund, and other projects,” the OSDL stated
  • Supporting ongoing regional activities such as the Japanese Linux Symposium
  • Fostering closer collaboration among community developers, OSDL members, and users to “produce more code to advance open source projects”

According to Temple, “OSDL has made some difficult decisions to align its resources to address specific projects and programs that focus on the things that create the greatest value for its members. As the market matures, OSDL will continue to refine its focus to meet the evolving needs of our members.”

Long-time OSDL backers Intel and IBM both issued staunch statements of support for the organization, along with well-wishes to Cohen and other departing employees.

Commenting on his tenure at the OSDL and his future plans, Cohen stated, “Helping to grow Linux from an emerging market opportunity to a mature market success has been one of the most rewarding achievements of my career. I'm looking forward to forming a venture to explore open source joint development using best practices in collaboration and building communities.”

The OSDL was formed in 2000, by thirteen companies. Today, it has 70 members from around the world, and employs 19 in the U.S. and in Japan.

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