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Who's Who in Open Source?

The community is a collection of individuals around the world working on open source projects. Some do this work as part of their normal duties assigned by their employers; others do it in their spare time because they love the work. Some are driven by simple ego, some by their belief in open source, and others by their desire for more creative answers to their problems. Many of these developers are part of the education and research community. Figure 1–4 shows a basic timeline of significant events in the life of Linux and open source.

Figure 1-4Figure 1–4 A timeline of significant Linux and open source events.

In Part 3 of this book, we will cover the reasons why companies encourage and sponsor their employees to work on open source projects. For now, there are a few key names and a few significant events that are useful to know and understand their role and impact within the community.

I can't list everyone who has an important role, and I am sure I will bruise a few egos by not including them in this list. The fact is that there are many I have not listed here who play critical roles in many communities. You will learn later that open source is largely a game of influence and relationships. Once you understand the communities that are important to your business, you will be well-served to invest time and energy in building relationships with the leaders and participants of that community.

  • Linus Torvalds—Probably the most known personality in the Linux and open source world, Linus is the creator and maintainer of the Linux kernel. He maintains the platform-independent parts of the kernel, and the components of the core kernel that are specific to the Intel IA-32 architecture. Ports of Linux to other architectures are each maintained by separate groups and individuals.

  • Alan Cox—Until the fall of 2001, Alan was considered Linus' top lieutenant. As you will learn in Chapter 2, Linus maintained the Linux kernel currently in development, while Alan maintained the currently released kernel. As is typical within the community, when Alan decided he wanted to work on other things, he chose a successor to take on his present task. Although Alan is not longer the maintainer of the released Linux kernel, he still commands tremendous influence and respect within the community.

  • Marcelo Tosatti—Linus and Alan transferred the maintenance torch of the stable Linux kernel (the kernel considered to be in production) to Marcelo. Since Linus must work closely with this individual, he obviously needed to be part of the selection process. Marcelo is a very capable kernel developer who has demonstrated considerable aptitude at working with the community of kernel developers.

  • Dave Miller—If you submit changes to the networking stacks in the Linux kernel, David is the developer who will likely check your submission and decide if it should be accepted. Think of David as the keeper of Linux networking.

  • Richard Stallman—The founder of the FSF. Richard is also the creator of the GNU GPL. Richard continues to play an influential role in the free software movement. Many will seek his guidance when clarity is needed with certain areas of the GPL.

  • Bruce Perens—As the project leader for the Debian project (we will cover Debian in depth later), Bruce authored a "Social Contract" to instill a standard code of conduct when working with free software on the project. When the term "open source" was coined, this "Social Contract" became the Open Source Definition (OSD). Bruce is therefore known as the primary author of the OSD. Chapter 3 outlines this definition in detail.

  • Eric Raymond—Known as an anthropologist and thought leader within the open source community, Eric is now well-known for his groundbreaking paper, "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," which outlined the open source development process, why it works, and how it can be replicated. Part 3 of this book extends Eric's work to the commercial enterprise.

  • Larry Augustin—Larry is the CEO of VA Software Corporation. VA Software was originally incorporated as VA Linux Systems. Larry was one of the first to recognize the value of Linux and open source. He created the first hardware company dedicated to supporting Linux. As mainstream hardware vendors such as Dell, IBM, HP, and others began to support Linux, Larry changed his business model to sell software that supports the open source collaborative development process within corporations.

  • Tim O'Reilly—As the President of O'Reilly Books, Tim continues to have a tremendous influence on the open source movement. The O'Reilly network encompasses key open source technologies such as Perl and others in wide use throughout the Internet. Tim provides a voice for the community by publishing many of their ideas.

  • Brian Behlendorf—Brian is the co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation. Since Apache has been the open source killer application, Brian has had an influential role not only within the Apache movement, but also the community at large.

  • Michael Tiemann—Michael founded Cygnus Solutions, the first commercial company based on an open source business model. Cygnus provided the infrastructure for a key component of Linux: compilers. Cygnus pioneered many of the business models based on providing support, services, and other enhancements to free software. Cygnus was acquired by Red Hat in 2000.

  • Bob Young—Bob is credited with the success of today's most popular Linux distribution, Red Hat. Bob used his marketing savvy to create a powerful brand around the Linux operating system, and in many ways, brought Linux to the masses. Today, Bob is on the board of directors of Red Hat and speaks frequently at Linux and open source events.

  • Jeremy Allison—Jeremy is the leader of the SAMBA project. As you will discover, SAMBA is key interoperability technology used between the UNIX/Linux and Windows worlds. SAMBA is core technology that is included with most Linux distributions.

  • Miguel de Icaza—Miguel is a founder and currently CTO of Ximian (formerly Helix Code) Corporation. Miguel led the development of the GNOME desktop environment for many years. Today, Miguel is leading another ground breaking open source project called Mono (Spanish for monkey, the company's mascot). Mono is an open source implementation of a subset of the Microsoft .NET framework.

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