Geek Time with Jim Zemlin

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jim Zemlin is the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, and earlier this month he sat down with the Open Source Programs Office’s Jeremy Allison for a chat about the future of Linux. In addition to talking about the future, Jim shares insights on the history and significance of Linux. Some highlights:
  • Jim explains the role of the Linux Foundation in Linux kernel development, including the work of Linus Torvalds. (0:18)
  • Jeremy and Jim talk about the organizations that support the Linux Foundation, and their reasons for doing so. (2:21)
  • Jeremy poses one of his favorite questions: “Is this the year of the Linux desktop?” Jim responds with less concern about desktop computers and focuses his interest on mobile devices, which are becoming predominately Linux. (9:33)
  • The discussion turns toward tablet devices and their impact on Linux. (13:25)
  • Linux’s GPLv2 license allows DRM, and Jeremy wonders if this contradicts the ideals of freedom that Linux was built upon. Jim compares the controversy to the “Consume vs. Contribute” issue that Linux faced years ago. In that case, the collaborative nature of open source software development made it advantageous for everyone to contribute, so most commercial users eventually ended up contributing. In regards to DRM, Jim believes that consumers dictate the future of DRM products. (15:23)
  • Jim recounts a conversation he had with a major electronics company about the importance and complexity of software on consumer electronic devices. Jim explains how these considerations direct manufacturers towards open source software. (20:32)
  • Jeremy asks Jim about the feasibility of creating an operating system from scratch, or if Linux is the only viable option. The value of Linux was recently estimated at $10.8 billion, so the barrier to entry is extremely high. In addition, there are several incentives for using the existing Linux ecosystem. (23:07)
  • Jim talks about how advances in one field of Linux has benefited other fields. For example, developers working on mobile devices helped reduce power consumption for those working on high-performance computing. (26:58)
  • Jim shares how his career path led him to his current role at the Linux Foundation. (31:05)
By Ellen Ko, Open Source Team