Yesterday’s surprise was that Lennart Poettering had quietly left Red Hat following a decade and a half there leading PulseAudio among other projects and ultimately going on to start systemd that has fundamentally reshaped modern Linux distributions. It turns out he had joined Microsoft and continued his work on systemd.
After yesterday’s article about Lennart no longer being at Red Hat, I began receiving tips that the systemd creator had some time back quietly joined Microsoft along with various public comments on Twitter and other mediums by individuals suggesting he joined the Redmond company … At first I thought they were jokes or just snarky remarks, but after a day of following up with folks, it actually turns out not to be a joke.
The prominent open-source developer responsible for several prominent projects joined Microsoft and continuing his focus on system development. While some may not always align with his views or approaches to handling some things, there is no overstating his enormous contributions to the Linux / open-source world and his dedication to advancing the ecosystem over the years.
This may take many by surprise but let’s not forget Microsoft has over time employed a number of Linux developers and other prominent open-source developers … Microsoft currently employs Python creator Guido van Rossum, GNOME creator Miguel de Icaza had been employed by Microsoft from 2016 when they acquired Xamarin to earlier this year when he left, Nat Friedman as part of Xamarin-Microsoft served as GitHub CEO following Microsoft’s acquisition, Gentoo Linux founder Daniel Robbins was previously employed by Microsoft, Steve French as the Linux CIFS / SMB2 / SMB3 maintainer and Samba team member works for Microsoft, and Microsoft employs / previously-employed a large number of upstream Linux developers like Matteo Croce, Matthew Wilcox, Tyler Hicks, Shyam Prasad N, Michael Kelley, and many others beyond just the usual immediately recognizable names to Linux enthusiasts / developers. It was also just earlier this year that Christian Brauner as another longtime Linux kernel developer joined Microsoft. Christian Brauner is Berlin-based like Lennart and moved on to Microsoft after the past half-decade at Canonical working on the Linux kernel, LXC, systemd, and more.
Even before the days of WSL or Linux on Azure becoming widespread, for more than a decade Microsoft has been an unlikely Linux sponsor at events and more. Pictured above was Microsoft’s large presence at LinuxTag 2012 in Berlin, including the sponsorship of a beer party and coffee bar.
With Linux being widespread on Azure, Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) continuing to prove successful, Microsoft working on Mesa as part of supporting various graphics / compute APIs atop Direct3D 12, ensuring good Hyper-V support within the Linux kernel, and maintaining various internal Linux distributions like CBL-Mariner and Azure Cloud Switch, Microsoft continues to attract more upstream Linux developers including some of the well known faces of the open-source ecosystem. Microsoft has been full of Linux / open-source surprises for many years. Now Microsoft has another key upstream developer with vast experience while able to continue its focus working on systemd.
Microsoft Careers currently shows 663 job postings mentioning Linux.