The Linux Foundation today announced that it has a new big-name member: Twitter.Twitter is a big user of Linux. So the real-time information network has stepped up to become an official, paying sponsor of the organisation that oversees Linux.
It’s a Silver member, paying $15,000 a year to support the Foundation, which covers things like the salary of Linux inventor Linus Torvalds.
You don’t need to be a sponsor to use Linux or to submit software additions to it—that’s the beauty of open-source software, which many startups have come to depend on.
But becoming an official Linux sponsor gives a company a couple of benefits. Sponsors get a bigger say in the kinds of technologies that will be included in Linux and which other projects the Linux Foundation works on.
For Twitter, whose servers are supporting 140 million active users and 400 million tweets a day, there’s a long list of things they’ll want built into Linux. While Twitter can add those things to Linux itself, by joining the foundation it taps into a network of thousands of Linux developers willing to help.
Being a paying sponsor also has another, less tangible benefit. It gives a company some street cred with developers. Many open-source developers feel very strongly about corporations that use open-source projects being good citizens and contributing both code and money.
The move may please one set of developers. But for others, the concern isn’t about Twitter’s longstanding support of open source. It’s how Twitter treats developers who use its platform to build apps. One such developer, Dalton Caldwell accused Twitter and Facebook of hurting developers in their pursuit of ad revenue. He then went out and raised crowdsourcing money to launch a competitor.
The Linux Foundation is hosting its big LinuxCon event next week in San Diego. Twitter’s open-source manager, Chris Aniszczyk, is scheduled to be a keynote speaker. So the timing more likely has to do with the event, and not the unrelated fuss over Twitter’s platform policies.