Lennart Poettering, the creator of crucial Linux components such as systemd and PulseAudio, has left Red Hat to pursue careers at Microsoft.
Lennart Poettering undoubtedly contributed a lot to modernizing Linux as it is known today. In addition, Poettering is the creator of essential operating system services such as systemd init system, PulseAudio sound server, and Avahi zeroconf service discovery.
However, systemd has been a source of contention in the Linux community for many years. The general perception is that no one wants it, but everyone finally uses it. Or, more accurately, systemd was enforced by the field’s big players, and the song was picked up in chorus by the rest.
Actually, unless you’ve used a systemd-free distro that uses, for example, runit for initialization, you have no clue how much simpler and faster things may be. However, that is not the topic of this post.
Despite his enormous contributions to the development of Linux, Poettering’s statements, such as the following, have made him a controversial figure in the Linux community.
Open Source community tries to advertise the community as one happy place to the outside where contributions are valued only by their technical quality, and everybody meets at conferences for beers. Well, it is not like that. It’s quite a sick place to be in.
Open Source community is full of a******s, and I probably more than most others am one of their most favourite targets.Lennart Poettering
But why recall all this? Because the news that Lennart Poettering will leave his present employer Red Hat to pursue a career at Microsoft has elicited mixed reactions from the Linux community.
Initial information is that at Microsoft, Poettering will continue his ongoing work on the development of systemd. He could probably work on systemd in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) environment.
However, we want to clarify that this is not a precedent. Many people may be surprised to learn that Microsoft has employed top Linux developers for years.
For example, Miguel de Icaza, the creator of GNOME, worked for Microsoft from 2016, when they acquired Xamarin, until earlier this year when he resigned. Continuing the list, Gentoo Linux founder Daniel Robbins formerly worked for Microsoft.
In addition, Microsoft currently also employs Python creator Guido van Rossum. Christian Brauner joined Microsoft after spending the previous half-decade at Canonical working on the Linux kernel and LXC. And so on.
One thing is sure: with its enormous financial power and the things it has to give, Microsoft is an offer that should not be dismissed lightly. However, whether this appealed to the Linux community is another topic entirely.
Ultimately, it all comes down to personal decisions that everyone takes based on their unique judgments and circumstances.
Lennart Poettering’s choice to join Microsoft provides plenty of fuel for discussion on the subject, particularly on the future development of systemd. So, only time will tell if it was the right decision. We can only wait and see.