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Microsoft Software Linux

Gentoo Founder on his way to Redmond 527

Posted by timothy
from the ms-could-be-the-world's-largest-foss-company dept.
Rotworm writes "Recently former founder of Gentoo Linux, Daniel Robbins, has managed to procure employment with Microsoft. Robbins describes his position as "helping Microsoft to understand Open Source and community-based projects." Seemingly there's no scandals as Robbins managed to finalize the transfer of all Gentoo's IP to the Gentoo Foundation, Inc."
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Gentoo Founder on his way to Redmond

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  • When in doubt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:36PM (#12807799) Homepage Journal
    Buy them out.

    Is this the beginning of a strategy for Microsoft? Can't beat them, just buy them or the lead developer?
  • ok (Score:1, Insightful)

    by SQLz (564901) on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:40PM (#12807843) Homepage Journal
    Its 2005, MS is hiring people to 'help them understand open source'. There has to be some HUGE f**ing idiots working there.
  • Re:When in doubt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xtracto (837672) on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:41PM (#12807852) Journal
    Yes... just like the OSDG bought Trovalds or Google bought Firefox Developer Ben Goodger ...

    Free Software is free as in freedom... but it is also free as in beer so these people *really* need to get their green paste from somewhere...

    Or, you really did think that those "donations" where enough to live?
  • Kamikaze (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bifurcati (699683) on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:41PM (#12807860) Homepage
    "helping Microsoft to understand Open Source and community-based projects."

    I think Microsoft already understand Open Source projects - and, quite obviously and unsurprisingly, they don't like them. Justifiable from a business perspective, crap from (almost) everyone else's perspective, and I have trouble seeing what change he could bring in Microsoft.

    Unless of course he's got several kilograms of TNT strapped to his chest when he has his first meeting with Bill :)

  • Former Founder? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iffy Bonzoolie (1621) <iffy@nOSPam.xarble.org> on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:41PM (#12807862) Journal
    "Recently former founder of Gentoo Linux[...]"

    How can someone be a former founder? Once you found something, that's it, you always will have been the founder, right? I mean the Founding Fathers of America aren't the Former Founding Fathers - they are still the Founding Fathers even though they are all dead, and don't take much of an active interest in the affairs of the country anymore.

    -If
  • This is bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:41PM (#12807865)
    I wouldn't mind this if Microsoft used this help to "understand opensource better and collaborate with it"

    Microsoft is not going to do that. They want to know everything about open source because the want to compete with it, ie: beat us. It'd be nicer if Microsoft used this help to collaborate with opensource better, opensource things, etc etc.
  • Alternate pathway (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Adrilla (830520) * on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:43PM (#12807887) Homepage
    If Microsoft truly wants to get in touch with the Open Source community, why remove Robbins from it completely. I think they would do better to make him a paid freelance consultant. I believe that once he's gone to "the dark side" in the community's eyes, he'll never be able to look at the movement from an insider's point of view again. But now, MS will have taken a big player away, and as I see it, they're simply killing of bit of competition and will use this knowledge to kill more. But then again, I see MS as not wanting OSS to exist at all. I believe a more faith based relationship will have been developed between MS and the OS community if they had gone the consultant route, allowing Robbins to continue to develop there, but keep MS abreast of what's going on and how they could coexist more peacefully or even intermingle.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples.gmail@com> on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:45PM (#12807909) Homepage Journal

    A lot of times, things are "tied" together in contracts between an individual and a large corporation. Commonly, a single employment contract will cover hiring the employee, granting permission for employee to enter employer's premises, granting clearance to trade secrets (and a covenant not to disclose them to third parties without express permission), and granting an assignment or work-for-hire setup for the employer to use any copyright, patent, trademark, or trade secret created by the employee using employer's resources. The trouble comes when employers insist on BS riders such as broad non-compete agreements or broad "all your idea are belong to us" IP-grabs that cover works and inventions developed by the employee entirely using the employee's resources.

  • Re:WHY? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:46PM (#12807920)
    Generally a good paying job helps one to sleep better at night.

    One day you'll grow up and realize that MS vs. F/OSS isn't a titanic battle between evil and good but just a different licensing philosophy that the vast majority of the world could care less about.
  • Re:ok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Martin Marvinski (581860) on Monday June 13, 2005 @07:58PM (#12808046)
    Its 2005, MS is hiring people to 'help them understand open source'. There has to be some HUGE f**ing idiots working there.
    No, what they are trying to do is to break up the opensource community by hiring all the top talent. If they hire the top leaders and put them in project s that never see the light of day, then they don't have to worry about them as competitors to MS. It is worth the million or two in salary to get a top guy. The get the facts ad campaign probably is less effective than buying the top guys out.
    MS has a history of doing it. They hired away all the top talent at Borland. They hired COM guru Don Box, which in my opinion was to get him on board with .NET.
  • Re:When in doubt (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ubuntu (876029) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:17PM (#12808224) Journal
    I don't see how this is being moderated Troll. If Microsoft were to hire Linus Torvalds and then make him sign an NDA and a 5-year non-compete contract, wouldn't people here get the idea that maybe, just maybe, MS wanted to cripple Linux development?

    People are so afraid of "conspiracy theories" that they sometimes miss the simple reality that is right in front of them. Remember, this is MICROSOFT. Just because our culture is becoming overly respectful of authority figures, politicians, and multinationals doesn't change their essential nature or the way they play the game. It's insane to refuse to consider the fact that they thought of this as a chess move which could give them street cred while simultaneously slowing the competition. I KNOW they thought of it. Because I did, and I'm not even in competition with Gentoo.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:21PM (#12808258)
    I believe that once he's gone to "the dark side" in the community's eyes, he'll never be able to look at the movement from an insider's point of view again.

    The community is inherently open, how could anyone not looking at it from an insider's point of view?
  • Bad moderation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WebCowboy (196209) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:25PM (#12808297)
    As I write this, the post I am responding to is modded "Troll". Seems it is more "Insightful" than anything else.

    BillG is a smart guy who surrounds himself with smart guys. MS started out of a motel room in New Mexico and didn't become a near monopoly solely out of luck any more than it did out of sheer creativity. MS is huge for a few important reasons:

    1. They recognise opportunities and make maximum use of their resources and connections. MS became the "king of programming languages" for micros inthe 70s and 80s because BillG immediately saw the potential of the Altair and the desperate need for a friendlier method of programming the system. They also used their connections and networking skills to arrange a meeting with IBM re. DOS as well as to locate and purchase QDOS.

    2. They are a bit sneaky--they will sell something they don't even have yet (DOS) and create demoware/vapourware to stall and kill competition in a field where they are lacking (GO/pen computing/etc--"they might have it now, but big ol' MS is gonna have it REAL SOON NOW"--yeah right).

    3. THEY RESEARCH THEIR COMPETITON--MS has historically been very paranoid. Even with their position today they view EVERY competitior as one who could destroy them. When MS plays in a market they research EVERY LITTLE THING about that market and EVERY COMPETITOR. BillG himself operates that way. If he meets someone who has something interesting to talk about but BillG knows nothing about it, BillG will spend every waking moment for a couple days learning about the subject. The next time he meets that person he can talk with that person like he is a seasoned expert.

    It is for that third reason why MS has a whole department of Open Source Specialists in its employ and has had for years. It is also how the Halloween Memos came to be. It doesn't matter how badly MS slags Linux or how much it scoffs at Free software--it has ALWAYS apporached it as competition with the potential to destroy Microsoft. I'm willing to bet it's been on BillG's personal radar for a decade already (when MS was just starting to realise the Internet was a game they had to play).

    So the parent to this post is exactly right: MS is essentially "stockpiling ammunition" for the battle with Free software. How they will use the knowledge and people they acquire could go many ways:

    1. They could use it to make their FUD sound more credible--for example, some weakness in Linux to exploit in the "get the facts" campaign or items to avoid or downplay where Linux has the advantage.

    2. MS operates by acquisition, not innovation. They might have to avoid GPL code to keep its code secret, but it can at least steal IDEAS from GNU apps. It is also already well known they've lifted BSD code many times. This is OK though--at least MS software gets better as a result.

    3. If they CAN'T beat Free software, they'll be prepared to "join" it. It may be a cold day in hell before MS Office is open, but if Linux meets or beats Apple's market share and all indications are that it won't go away, MS will be prepared to form a "Linux business unit" to port Office and other apps to the platform. It won't be "Free/Libre", but if MS dominates application software for Linux it can steer the platform and continue to be the industry's biggest player. This is what they have done with Apple--Microsoft is the biggest vendor of MacOS applications, and stunning industrial design aside, Macs are becoming more and more PC-like.

    Yep it would be nice if MS was more cooperative, but it is just too far from their business model. MS NEEDS software to be closed or else it would have to completely re-invent itself. It is simply easier for it to try and make the competition work to its advantage or simply go away.
  • by UnrefinedLayman (185512) on Monday June 13, 2005 @08:38PM (#12808410)
    Every linux box sold represents money ripped from their pocket.
    This is not correct. It's not necessarily true that Microsoft products would be purchased instead, nor is it true that any time a server or workstation running Linux is switched to Windows that a new license for Windows has to be purchased.

    Microsoft cares a lot about money, but they care much more about saturation. If the market is completely saturated by Windows, everyone will use Windows because everyone uses Windows. That's why Microsoft is letting Indonesia [slashdot.org] pick up Windows for a buck a pop. They don't just care about the money, they care about getting as many people to use Windows as they can. Once they're in a dominant position they leverage that to extort exorbitant fees for their software from certain customers.

    It's the ends and means for Microsoft. Imagine Steve Ballmer screaming "UNLIMITED POWWWWWERRR!!!" as he eletrocutes Linus Torvalds and throws him out a window with the Force. That's Microsoft's view of things.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:01PM (#12808601)

    Thus he works for Microsoft. I imagine he is sadly bitter about it all.

    Why bitter? I don't know him personally, but bitter doesn't sound like someone who hasn't suceeded at a project should feel. It seems a bit silly to discuss how someone I don't know would feel about a failed business, but it seems to me the more common emotion would be sadness, dissapointment, etc. Bitter makes it sound like someone betrayed him personally.

    Obviously he didn't have to choose to work for Microsoft. He's obviously a very talented guy, and likely could have gotten a good job at any top company. The fact that he chose Microsoft sounds like he doesn't have any personal problems with them as a company. A lot of people are making it sound like working for Microsoft is some sort of ultimate failure. (No I don't work for Microsoft).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13, 2005 @09:44PM (#12808910)
    This move is not just a commentary of his own personality. It is a commentary of every Gentoo user out there. All of you who did not donate code, or documentation are directly responsible for this. From now on any time a gentoo user tells me how awesome it is, my reply will be the same. The distro may be good at some things but the community using it is a bunch of free loaders.
  • Re:hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by secolactico (519805) on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:22PM (#12809152) Journal
    What in the hell does he think he is going to accomplish?

    Earn some money???

    I believe that this is a plot of microsoft to hide an insider so they can do some espionage, using Daniel Robbins as a mere pawn in the game.

    I dunno if I should take this seriously, but since I can't detect sarcasm, I will.

    Espionage, where? In the Open Source community? Pfft, they could accomplish that by subscribing to a couple of mailing lists. And if DR was a "hidden insider", why would they hire him in such a public fashion?

    Unless you mean that DR is going to pretend to be a MS insider and leak false info into the OS community... then Linux would be tainted by code MS can claim belongs to them and sue!

    If your next Linux upgrade comes with support for BSOD remember: you read it here first!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:46PM (#12809338)
    Seriously, what's next?

    MJ acquitted on all counts.
  • Re:hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brennz (715237) on Monday June 13, 2005 @10:55PM (#12809411)
    Daniels Robbins is a very smart, friendly individual that has exerted a *HUGE* amount of time, effort, and finances on Gentoo.

    As a seriously busy individual, he always took time out to talk to the little guy.

    Unfortunately, his work with Gentoo never paid the bills enough for him to rely upon it.

    How can you possibly insult someone that has a family to support, and bills to pay? He has paid his dues!

    I hope Daniel Robbins will take his customary brilliance to Microsoft and do great things. Of all corporations that need a breath of fresh air, Microsoft is foremost. Business Model reinvention la? Perhaps we can look forward to new Microsoft products being GPL'd :)

    Good luck Daniel!
  • by Curtman (556920) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @12:01AM (#12809803)
    At some point Sun may go under. If Linux were already gone what then?

    BSD, Darwin, OS X, HURD, Inferno, OpenServer, Unixware, Haiku OS, OpenSolaris (If/when it happens), Windows...

    It doesn't matter, that's my point. The community exists now, and it will rebuild the kernel from scratch if it has to.
  • Re:ok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MartinG (52587) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @05:07AM (#12810838) Homepage Journal
    Who has been smart enough to keep their enemies so close though, MS or Robbins?
  • by mykdavies (1369) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @05:18AM (#12810858)
    You missed one:

    - jwz moves to OSX
  • Interesting viewpoint, but a bit backwards.

    It was Daniel that failed to make it work, the community is under no obligation to provide any finances - if he wanted to put such an obligation on them chosing open source was a bit of a mistake ;)

    I have to say that from what I've seen of ebuilds and the like, it's a seriously cheesy bunch of hacks that really have no place in anything that intends to use words like "money" or "professional" ;)

    Why would a government fund something like Gentoo? There are distros out there that actually have paying customers, they are in a far better position to service any government needs than a bunch of whinging 15 year olds on a forum ;)

    You can't be bitter about this stuff though - everyone walks into Open Source development with their eyes open, if you then choose to feel that people owe you, or you deserved better; that's your problem. Your code is the contribution and the reward, anything else is a bonus imho.

    Sorry to hear that namesys is having problems, I hope they get resolved soon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @07:46AM (#12811344)
    Once my favourite actor said about mentality of such people: "I'm sorry I worked for GESTAPO but I had to support my family in some way."
  • by Haach (848327) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:23AM (#12812598)
    Am i the only one who feels embaressed about this? What kind of message is this going to send? "The open source business model is so crap that they loose their leaders to their sworn enemy, M$" I realized he did that because he was broke, but thats the problem, Gentoo is one of the most popular distros, why is its founder broke?! this makes me re-think the whole opensource thing, I mean I love my Linux as much as the next geek, but which one of can realistically make a living out of FOSS? P.S. no more star war analogies please John

If Machiavelli were a hacker, he'd have worked for the CSSG. -- Phil Lapsley

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