Linux Foundation chief talks about Torvalds' leadership, HTML5 and mobile's future

Jim Zemlin says Linux's desktop failure doesn't matter, MeeGo lives and HTML5 is the future

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As the executive director of the Linux Foundation, Jim Zemlin is frequently asked to forecast the future of the IT industry. While he's happy to do so, he's the first to admit that he could be wrong. He joked in his opening remarks at LinuxCon 2011 held recently in Vancouver, British Columbia, that he has been wrongly predicting the Year of the Linux Desktop for many years now. He doesn't need to know the future, he says, because open source projects don't need a master plan.

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During LinuxCon in Vancouver, Zemlin sat down with Network World editors Julie Bort and Jon Brodkin to discuss this concept. He explained why Linux's success is different from other operating systems; why its ability to capture the desktop might never matter; that MeeGo may not be as dead as it looks and that the next big thing is HTML5. Here is an edited transcript of the interview.

Linux is celebrating its 20th anniversary. What's changed for the Linux Foundation since the early days?

I've been with the foundation almost eight years. One thing hasn't changed: I still work by and large out of my home because we do everything virtually in the organization. Jenifer [Cloer] lives in Portland, Linus lives there. We have developers in Moscow, Germany, Austin, Texas. We have an office in Japan, people all over the world. So that part hasn't changed.

Let me tell you how we decide what we do every day. You basically ask three questions. One: Is this going to help move the needle on Linux? Is this going to help grow Linux from a commercial sense, from a community sense and so forth? Two: Is there anybody else doing this? Because if there is, we don't want to do it. Three: Can we get the resources together to actually make this happen? Bringing together members or raising money or bringing together technical members to do it. If the answer to each of those questions is yes, then we do it.

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