March 20, 2001, 2:08 PM —
About two years ago, Scott McNeil, then president of SuSE, had an idea. (Scott is now open source strategist for VA Linux.) He thought that IBM, Intel, and others should subsidize a laboratory where open source developers could test and optimize their work on high-end enterprise systems. Even Linux itself would benefit from such a lab, because the kernel developers would finally have the resources they needed to address scalability issues. Scott took his idea to Intel and others, but they were only marginally interested at the time. About a year later, Scott took Intel's temperature once again. This time, the chipmaking giant was warming up to the prospect, and indicated it had something in progress. Thus was born the Open Source Development Labs, or OSDL.
That much of the story I know to be true. If I had to guess what changed Intel's mind, I'd say that Intel recognized that Linux would be a formidable contender for the Internet server space, the market owned primarily by Sun. Somewhere along the line, Intel realized that if it could help make Linux more scalable, Intel could go up against Sun for the ISP space. So Intel began to see the value of sponsoring the open source laboratory conceived by McNeil. No doubt IBM, HP, and NEC also saw the potential to sell more hardware in Sun's space, which explains why they are eager partners.
So now these giants, along with companies like Caldera, Red Hat, Linuxcare, SuSE, TurboLinux, and VA Linux, are going to create a laboratory somewhere near Portland, Oregon, and stock it with support staff and various high-end systems. People can do open source development and testing on site, or they can log in remotely and do their work.