Canonical, the UK-based company that distributes and supports Ubuntu Linux, has joined the Linux Foundation. The news is not surprising, except for the fact perhaps that Canonical, which oversees development and distribution of the most popular desktop Linux, had not joined until now.
I wrote about this when the Linux Foundation announced its board in March 2007. And taking Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth at his word, believed him that he was serving on the Linux Foundation as a member of the Linux and open source software community and not as a representative of Canonical. However, I argued, shouldn’t Canonical, which is on the leading edge of more mainstream Linux adoption, which is pushing to get its Linux OS into server rooms and datacenters, which espouses user experience that is not equal to, but better than rival OSs, be involved in the Linux Foundation? Now they are.
When I questioned the absense of Canonical as an official member of the Linux Foundation, I also highlighted the lower-level membership of leading Linux vendor Red Hat. Canonical is joining as a Silver member and is in the same category as Red Hat (leaving Platinum and Gold membership to others such as Novell, HP, Intel, IBM, Oracle, Google and Cisco). However, Canonical’s official membership may mean Shuttleworth also represents his company in his capacity with the Linux Foundation board, which does not have representation from Red Hat. It will be interesting to see whether Red Hat will change its Linux Foundation presense, and also whether it starts seeing Canonical in competitive situations as well as at Linux Foundation Silver member gatherings.
For the Linux Foundation, Canonical is a key member given the popularity, user focus and innovative Linux development that marks Ubuntu. Both the company and the consortium stand to benefit, as do developers and users of Linux, who get greater synergy, support and cross-community collaboration.