A few days back, OSDL went through a second round of sackings; this time the chief executive officer Stuart Cohen and nine others have been shown the door. This means there are 19 staff left. Cohen, it is reported, is going into the venture capital business.
"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 last week. "We plan to focus on fewer projects but ones where we can have the most impact.
The OSDL employs Linux creator Linus Torvalds. It used to employ his number two, Andrew Morton, but Morton is now a Google employee. Of course, much is made of the fact that Torvalds is paid by the organisation. One only wonders whether he is paid anything like the directors' salaries - which he would well deserve.
The truth is, if Torvalds, Morton or indeed former employee Andrew Tridgell - the last-named being the creator of Samba - needed to find employment, they would not have to indulge in a bun-fight. All three are such valuable assets to the burgeoning GNU/Linux industry that there would be companies lining up to hire them and pay them wages to work on Linux. Indeed, Tridgell has, in the past, worked for IBM. Big Blue makes a good deal of money off GNU/Linux these days.
Many people profit by being associated with luminaries from the FOSS world. Those who follow developments in the community would be aware of Larry McVoy who gained a great deal by having the free version of BitKeeper, the source code management system created by his company, BitMover, used by Torvalds.
In 2005, McVoy suddenly decided to stop development of the free version. This meant that Torvalds and all other Linux developers who were using BitKeeper - many did not use it - would have to buy licences. An ugly situation developed with name calling between Torvalds and some of his colleagues who blamed him for depending on a proprietary system. Later a system called git was developed to handle the management of the Linux source code.
There appeared to be more than just an element of hypocrisy in McVoy's actions. He benefited greatly over the three years that Torvalds used the system - there is no better marketing tool for a code management system than to have Torvalds using it, primarily because the Linux creator has no reason to use a product other than the fact that it is good.
There are many others out there who are profiting from association with open source luminaries. It is time that the industry bodies which fund these so-called non-profits took a closer look at the way revenues are used. There may be better places to pump in scarce funds for open source development.