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OSDL fires staff to help it focus

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Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) has declared a change in priorities, deciding to focus less on employment and more on legal issues.

The vendor backed consortium has whacked a third of its staffers and waved goodbye to CEO Stuart Cohen. The layoffs apparently reflect the acceptance of Linux "in mainstream IT," while Cohen's resignation reflects his desire to start a vague, new enterprise.

"Linux is increasingly mainstream in computing today so the scope of OSDL's mission to accelerate the adoption of Linux has shifted," OSDL said in a statement. "We plan to focus on fewer projects but ones where we can have the most impact.

"So while OSDL was originally formed as a catalyst to move Linux from an emerging market opportunity to a mature market success, today it is a catalyst for specific projects and programs such as the Portland Project. These activities require less testing and engineering resources, which in a developed market are done by individual members."

The OSDL emphasized its changing priorities by canning nine people, leaving the organization with 19 staff. COO Mike Temple will takeover the day-to-day operations of OSDL from Cohen.

"I'm looking forward to forming a venture to explore open source joint development using best practices in collaboration and building communities," Cohen said.

Cohen certainly won't be missed by all given his sometimes delusional take on open sores work.

In an editorial earlier this year for BusinessWeek, Cohen attacked Sun Microsystems' embrace of its open source software license - CDDL.

"Unlike with Linux, all the rights to any changes to the source code for Solaris go back to Sun," Cohen wrote. "So any developers contributing to Solaris are literally working for Sun for free.

"In my experience, people will work for free when they see that work as contributing to the greater common good - but not to the bottom line of a global computing vendor . . . Linux works because thousands of developers willingly contribute code and thousands of vendors build solutions for customers around a truly open platform with the benefits - and costs - shared by all."

That position sounds fine on glossy paper, although it hardly fits the reality of the open source world. Last we checked the likes of IBM, HP, Oracle and VMware were global computing vendors enjoying more than their fair share of Linux benefits. And the "thousands" of developers working for "free" on Linux looked more like a baker's dozen of well-paid folks such as the OSDL's own Andrew Morton who did the vast majority of the OS grunting.

The OSDL now plans to concentrate on "providing a safe haven for key developers," "providing increased legal support for Linux and open source," "supporting ongoing regional activities," and "fostering closer collaboration among community developers, OSDL members and users to produce more code to advance open source projects."

And with any luck, OSDL might be able to convince Red Hat to attend LinuxWorld next year. ®

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