Earlier this week, Microsoft announced it was buying GitHub for a whopping $7.5 billion, and the tweets came swiftly, with many developers expressing disdain for Microsoft.
Even Microsoft people seemed to inadvertently acknowledge that the company is perceived as old-school. Gabe Monroy, project manager lead for containers at Microsoft Azure, tweeted, “This isn’t your daddy’s Microsoft.”
After news of the acquisition broke, SDxCentral reached out to the Linux Foundation for comment. The organization hosts many open source networking projects that use GitHub for their code repository. Yesterday, Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, penned a blog explaining the organization’s reaction to the Microsoft purchase.
“I waited for a few days to write up my thoughts because this is something that deserves some thoughtful reflection,” wrote Zemlin. “The bottom line: This is pretty good news for the world of open source, and we should celebrate Microsoft’s smart move.”
Zemlin acknowledged that there are “still small pockets of deep mistrust of Microsoft in the open source community.” And he even acknowledged criticizing Microsoft, himself, in the past. He did a little independent research to find out how the Microsoft acquisition might affect the Linux Foundation.
“Two of the fastest growing projects in the Linux Foundation family, Kubernetes and Node.js, are developed on GitHub,” wrote Zemlin. “However (and I triple checked this with our lawyers), Microsoft does not own Kubernetes or Node.js as a result of this transaction. Project copyright owners retain their ownership of their code.”
The main gist of Zemlin’s blog is that the Linux Foundation doesn’t believe Microsoft will cause any damage to GitHub or the development of open source software. Zemlin goes out of his way to soothe concerns of open source developers and encourage them to be open-minded. After all, as the executive director of a major open source organization, a big part of Zemlin’s job is to foster collaboration. And Microsoft is also a platinum member of the Linux Foundation.
“I expect generally good things,” he said. “Microsoft has the means and the expertise to make GitHub better. They brought in Nat Friedman as GitHub’s CEO, someone I have known for years and has been well-respected in the open source community for a couple decades.”
However, he did note that there are other open source code repositories, including GitLab and Stack Overflow.
“We see a number of platforms coming out that are designed for mass, distributed online collaboration,” wrote Zemlin. “There’s a reliance on the stewards of those platforms to ‘do the right thing’ by making them useful and accessible to all. There are also a set of community expectations that these stewards will need to meet or face an exodus to competing platforms.”