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Linux Foundation Takes Over Linux.com

The Linux Foundation last week rolled out a new community portal aimed at providing a central destination for the Linux community to interact with enterprise developers.

The Linux.com site aggregates news, provides social networking opportunities and showcases original content from each of the Linux community distros. "It will provide original content and easy-to-find resources for Linux users and help those folks surface their skills and technical prowess to potential employers," said Linux.com Executive Director Jim Zemlin. "What the site becomes over time will largely be up to the users."

The Debian, Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu communities will be providing direct contributions, Zemlin said. Visitors to the site can also expect input from community managers and developers, who "will join in conversations to help Linux users understand and use the leading Linux 'distros,'" the press release said.

The Foundation actually took over an existing Linux.com site in March. The nonprofit consortium re-designed and re-purposed that site in hopes of developing it into the primary touchstone for the Linux community.

But does the world really need another Linux portal? "There's this huge proliferation of Web sites devoted to Linux," said Gartner analyst Mark Driver. "But a lot of them are just fanboy sites. Linux.com appears to be an attempt by the Linux Foundation to create a professional, well-designed site for this purpose, and to give the Foundation itself a higher profile in the community."

Zemlin said Linux.com will offer tools that provide not only content but also context to those interested in Linux. "These resources have long existed in a variety of places," he said. "Linux.com brings them all together into one, central forum. There will always be sites that are tailored best for a specific community; Kernel.org is a great example of that. Unlike Kernel.org, which is used by the Linux kernel community to develop code, Linux.com is tailored for the Linux user community and will take a much broader view."

That broader view is likely to appeal to enterprise developers and IT management, Driver said. "Most of the Linux converts up until recently were largely already familiar with the technology. If the Foundation does a good job, this site will provide a jumping-off point for all things Linux, which these IT shops will appreciate. It doesn't need to be everything, but it should be the first place a person goes for information on Linux."

Zemlin said reaching out to enterprise users is a key goal. "We want to enable the folks in the enterprise trenches to find out about how to solve technical problems, where to get support or provide peer review of Linux software and hardware. With the focus on Linux users, we're looking to address their specific requirements from a community of peers, both users and developers."

One of the most striking features of the site is its "guru" listing, which the Foundation designed to showcase the skills of top Linux developers. To motivate participation, the site is running an "Ultimate Linux Guru" contest, the winner of which gets a Linux notebook signed by Linus Torvalds. Zemlin said the Foundation will invite the top five contributors to Linux.com to the annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. And the top 50 Linux gurus will be recognized in a yearly report.

Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier, openSUSE community manager at Novel, welcomed the site. "I'm glad that the site is in the hands of a neutral party that's interested in promoting Linux itself, rather than a specific distro or vendor, and building community," he said. "We need a community watering hole where everyone goes to share information about Linux and learn more about Linux itself and the various vendors and distros."

Brockmeier hopes that as the site evolves, it will include strong white papers and case studies that inform businesses about deploying Linux, as well as more guides for those moving applications to Linux.

"I'd like to see some strong content on what to use to replace popular applications," he said, "and not just a list of 'use application X to replace application Y' but actual guidance on switching to the new apps."

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