Software

Linux Foundation: Microsoft buying GitHub is 'good news' for open source, here's why

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin eases developers' fears after Microsoft purchase.

When Microsoft announced that it was purchasing GitHub for $7.5 billion in stock, many developers in the open source community weren't happy. But, Linux Foundation executive director, Jim Zemlin, said that the acquisition is actually "good news" for the open source community.

This purchase has generated a lot of concern in the open source community, given a deep-rooted mistrust in a corporation as large as Microsoft. Zemlin, however, thinks that mistrust is misplaced.

In a blog post, Zemlin outlined why he believed the purchase was in the best interest of open source. Zemlin said that GitHub is in good hands with the newly-appointed CEO, Nat Friedman, who has been respected for many years in the open source community.

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As quoted in the blog post, Friedman has emphasized wanting to earn the trust of users.

"I'm not asking for your trust, but I'm committed to earning it," Friedman was quoted as saying in the post. "I can't wait to help make the GitHub platform and community that's special to all of us even greater."

In his post, Zemlin wrote that Microsoft has the means to make GitHub even better and noted that Microsoft's guiding principles have always been developer-focused. The blog post stated that more than 28 million developers are currently on GitHub.

The post also stated that this change may seem sudden, but it has been coming for a long time. Microsoft is a backer of the Linux Foundation, Apache Software Foundation, and the Open Source Initiative. Microsoft was also a top contributor to both Linux and Kubernetes, the post noted.

Zemlin also aimed to ease GitHub users' concerns regarding the purchase. He noted that Microsoft was formerly opposed to open source but has since begun hiring top developers who are involved deeply in open source. Some critics, though, believe that purchasing GitHub was essentially purchasing a major part of the open source community at large.

As noted in the post, growing projects Kubernetes and Node.js (which were developed on Github) were not included in the Microsoft purchase. The most important GitHub projects are licensed under an open source license that includes intellectual property ownership.

Zemlin emphasized that Microsoft is well aware of the importance of open source content, which is why they purchased it.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:
  • Linux Foundation executive director, Jim Zemlin, said that Microsoft buying GitHub is "good news" for open source, as the firm has the means to improve the platform.
  • GitHub users don't need to be concerned about certain open source code being at stake, because it is licensed in a way that protects it from corporate tampering.

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Image: iStockphoto/Kentoh

About Laurel Deppen

Laurel Deppen is a student at Western Kentucky University.

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