SourceLabs hires open source luminary Perens

Open source advocate Bruce Perens has a new job. He's taken the role of vice president of developer relations and policy with open source start-up SourceLabs.

Perens was hired last month by the 20-person Seattle, Wash., company, he said in an interview Tuesday. His job will be to develop SourceLabs services business by acting as a liaison between the open source and enterprise IT communities, he said.

SourceLabs, founded last year by three former BEA Systems executives , sells support for open source products other than the core Linux operating system, including the Apache Web server and MySQL database.

"Everybody knows about Linux," Perens said. "But Linux is just one piece of open source software, and there is a lot of open source software that is good for the IT industry and is under-utlilized."

Perens is one of the founders of the Open Source Initiative, which defines which software licenses can and cannot be considered "open source." Before being hired by SourceLabs, he worked as an independent consultant, advising technology companies on Linux and open source issues.

But Perens is best known as a high-profile advocate of free and open source software.

That high profile put him at odds with a previous employer, HP, which in 2002 forced Perens to cancel a talk that would have put him at risk of violating the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Less than two months later, Perens and HP parted ways.

"I'm too political to be someone else's employee," he said at the time.

Perens' new employers seem to think otherwise. In a Weblog posting dated June 7, company vice president of sales and marketing Cornelius Willis said that SourceLabs and the open source advocate share a "common value system," and that Perens will be free to continue his open source advocacy.

Perens said his new employer will ultimately make life much easier for enterprise IT shops. "They're asking for one neck to strangle. They're asking for [quality assurance]," he said of enterprise open source users. "They don't want to just pull stuff off the 'Net and try it."

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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