How are you planning to ‘celebrate’ the deal?

Not everyone is thrilled by news that Microsoft is buying Github — and you might think the Linux Foundation is among them.

Well, it isn’t.

The head of the Linux Foundation says the Microsoft snapping up GitHub is “good news” for the open source community.

He also reckons that, rather than sneer about it, we ought to “celebrate Microsoft’s smart move”.

But do you agree?

Open Source Has Changed The World

As the executive director of the Linux Foundation, an organisation tasked with promoting, advocating and advancing the use of Linux in pretty much everything, Jim Zemlin naturally has to have an opinion on the GitHub acquisition.

After all, GitHub is the world’s biggest software development platform and is at the heart of many Linux projects.

In a lengthy and eminently quotable blog post Jim argues that Microsoft’s commitment to open source has been evident for a while. He think that its purchase of GitHub is not some longwinded, wayward or underhand tactic to infiltrate and subvert the open source movement but rather an acceptance that open source has won.

This pretty good news for the world of open source and we should celebrate Microsoft’s smart move — Jim Zemlin

This is a bit strange to hear from Jim as he has, in the past, been a very vocal critic of Microsoft. He regularly ridiculed and ribbed the company in his on-stage presentations, lambasting their phobia of Linux and poking fun at their objection to open source software.

“But times,” he says, “have changed.”

“It’s time to recognize that we have all grown up — the industry, the open-source community, even me.”

And presumably that means even Microsoft.

Microsoft <3 Open Source, Remember

Satya Nadella has, since taking over the reigns of the company in 2014, dramatically repositioned Microsoft.

Microsoft is now a member of the Linux Foundation; it is the single largest contributor to open source code on GitHub; and, through the introduction of the Windows Subsystem for Linux, it has practically admitted that the best developer tools aren’t the ones it builds.

Jim argues Microsoft has changed; that the company is a different beast from the ‘boogeyman’ most of us were reared on tales of

Adding to the checklist of good deed, in April we reported that Microsoft’s newest OS is based on Linux.

It’s actions like these that Jim thinks prove Microsoft has changed; that the company is a different beast from the ‘boogeyman’ most of us were reared on tales of.

To him, and to many others, the GitHub deal is simply a sign of Microsoft’s continued step(s) in the right direction, not a misstep which belies a different strategy:

“Buying GitHub does not mean Microsoft has engaged in some sinister plot to “own” the more than 70 million open source projects on GitHub,” he writes.

“Most of the important projects on GitHub are licensed under an open source license, which addresses intellectual property ownership.”

“And let’s be quite clear –  the hearts and minds of developers are not something one “buys” – they are something one “earns”.”

Ahh, developers…

Developers, Developers, Developers

Sorry for the nightmares but this vintage clip of Steve Ballmer shouting (and sweating) on stage illustrates Jim’s next point incredibly well.

To Jim this GitHub deal is a sign of Microsoft’s continued steps in the right direction — to embracing open source

Perhaps Microsoft’s motives for buying GitHub aren’t about “us” in the way the commentariat conjecture contends. Perhaps it simply is about being where the developers are.

Which is what Zemlin believes:

“Microsoft has always loved developers and wants to make a business of providing developers with great tools in order to help them to create great technology.”

“It is literally their mission on the about page of their web site: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Today more than 28 million of those developers are on GitHub.”

What do you think?

When I first heard (then rumour) that Microsoft was buying GitHub I winced. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the echoes of those boogeyman tales of old I mentioned earlier. But having digested the news, over a week on, I’m …annoyingly (for those wanting drama) ambivalent about it.

It’s not like my opinion can scupper the deal, nor can it change the opinions, strategies and plans of those involved.

It’s happening.

All I can do, as someone who uses the service daily, is hope that GitHub’s incoming CEO is sincere when he says that things won’t drastically change going forward.

Rabble rousing, table thumping stuff from Mr Zemlin and the Linux Foundation — but do you agree with his take? Let us (and the whole frickin’ world) know in the comments…

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