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OSDL Launches New Tech Center, Sans Kernel Rewrite, IBM

Jan 26, 2005, 18:15 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)

By Jacqueline Emigh
Linux Today Correspondent

Contrary to some expectations, January 25th, 2005 went by without any news about the rumored creation of a new consortium to rewrite the Linux kernel. A press conference took place to roll out a new initiative around Linux development, but without any speakers from IBM, a company originally slated to team up on the event.

Held in Beaverton, Oregon, with participation from the state, the city, and the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), yesterday's press event focused on the establishment of the Open Technology Business Center, a new facility in Beaverton billed as supporting the "formation, funding and growth of new companies" in the Linux and open source sectors.

In an early advisory about the January 25th rollout, media were told that an announcement of a project code worded "Operation Open Gates" would be issued jointly with IBM--and further, that an IBM VP would be on the speaker list.

But on January 23rd, two days before the event, the venue was abruptly switched from the IBM Campus in Beaverton to the Kingstad Center, also in Beaverton. A call-in line was added, too, for national and international journalists opting not to journey out to Oregon to hear the news.

Coincidentally or not, around ten days before, Linux Business Week had published an article by Maureen O'Gara--also linked to by Linux Today and other Linux publications--claiming that the January 25th announcement of "Operation Open Gates" would be about the creation of a consortium to "rewrite the the components in the Linux kernel that, it has been alleged, tread on other people's IP."

O'Gara named IBM, Intel, the OSDL, "and other leading lights" as participants in the purported kernel annnouncement.

Yet in interviews with other media--also linked to by Linux Today--OSDL officials hotly denied O'Gara's assertions, maintaining that no plans to rewrite the Linux kernel are in the works.

As it turned out, the actual press conference yesterday had a largely regional flair. Several of the originally scheduled speakers did appear, including Beaverton Mayor Rob Drake, who served as moderator, and Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, who talked up the center as a mechanism for building up Oregon as a magnet for high tech business.

"The region's soil is rich in open technology resources," according to the Governor, who referred to the Open Technology Business Center as a "greenhouse."

Jean Bozman, VP of research at Framingham, MA-based IDC, presented Oregon's regional business community with background facts about the cost advantages of Linux OS and open source, as well as about applications in government, retail and other industries.

On the other hand, OSDL CEO Stuart Cohen, another scheduled speaker, said he hopes the new facility will be the first in a series of similar centers to be set up throughout the world, to help stimulate regional economies while supporting development of localized Linux-based software.

The OSDL is currently in discussions with Beijing, China about establishing a similar facility there, according to Cohen.

LaVonne Reimer, recently hired as the Beaverton center's director, touted the program as an incubation facility, dedicated to open source development, for companies, strategiests, lawyers and educators.

But Reimer also announced Virginia-transplant Stunt Technology as the Oregon center's first "venture in residence." She said, too, that the center will unveil its first "innovator in residence" three or four weeks from now.

Speakers also mentioned in passing that both IBM and Intel have development centers located in the Beaverton vicinity and that OSDL is situated there. Cohen noted that he'd been born and raised in Beaverton.

But throughout the event, officials made no mention of "Operation Open Gates," and they delivered no details about Stunt Technology's orientation or activities. Accounts in local and regional publications described Stunt as a small software development firm specializing in embedded Linux for the consumer market.

Officials took no questions from journalists during the event--either over the phone or in person--saying that questions would instead be handled afterward on an individual basis, beginning today.

Also according to information released by officials yesterday, the new center was established with $1.2 million in funding from the city of Beaverton.

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