The New OSDL
By Bill Claybrook
July 29, 2003
The OSDL was formed in August 2000 by founding members Computer Associates, HP, Intel, IBM, and NEC. Today there are 23 sponsoring members. Originally, the OSDL focused on providing a lab environment that would help developers ready Linux for the enterprise and do it as quickly as possible.
Recently, OSDL has expanded its mission to include that of evangelizing Linux to the computing industry. OSDL has declared that it wants to become the recognized "center-of-gravity" for the Linux industry - focused on innovation and advancement of Linux for enterprise users. In the past few weeks, Linus Torvalds, creator and maintainer of the Linux development kernel and Andrew Morton, maintainer of the production kernel, joined OSDL. OSDL has also expanded its focus to include the end user community. In June 2003, the Lab established its first End User Advisory Council to serve as the voice of end users to the Linux Vendor community and to help the Lab set its priorities.
While I agree wholeheartedly with the new focus of OSDL and its reaching out to end users and taking a more active role in the development of Linux for the enterprise, there are questions about how the ongoing work of the Carrier Grade Linux Work Group and the Data Center Linux Work Group will make its way into Linux and be used by the intended market segments. When I was Chief Architect and Technology Director of Unix International back in the mid-1990's, we had similar work groups that worked with industry leaders to develop features and requirements for new software for Unix. When the requirements were "approved", we selected one of the member companies to develop a reference implementation. This did not prevent other members from subsequently developing implementations but they had to adhere to the requirements and interfaces specified in the requirements specifications. It is not yet clear exactly how the carrier grade Linux and data center Linux features make their way into Linux to be used by the members of the industry who specified them.