March 20, 2001, 11:24 AM —
When I first heard about IBM's Linux Technology Center, my ears pricked up because Austin, Texas, was regularly mentioned in conjunction with it. I pictured the LTC as part of IBM's complex of buildings on and around Braker Lane in north Austin. That impression was so firmly entrenched in my mind that I contacted IBM and asked about visiting the center and interviewing some of the company's top Linux geeks. Big Blue gently informed me that I was mistaken; the LTC is a virtual center, not a physical one. Still, my curiosity about the LTC remained high. This week, I'll present what I've learned about the LTC since then.
Many of the LTC's key players are my neighbors: for example, Sheila Harnett, the LTC technical lead; George Kraft of the Linux Standards Base; and Steve Best, who leads the team porting IBM's JFS (journaled filesystem) to Linux. But of course, the LTC doesn't pique my interest solely because of its connection with Austin. After I spoke recently with Dan Frye, director of the LTC, I began to see the LTC not just as a cool thing happening in my neighborhood, but as hard evidence of IBM's commitment to open source and free software in general, and to Linux in particular.
This is not hype. This is not an ad on national TV proclaiming that Microsoft software "plays well with others." This is IBM the behemoth, the legacy megacorporation, the king of punched cards, and once the monarch of monopolies, making a positive contribution to the open source and free software community.
All about LTC
The LTC was founded in August 1999. Frye said the approximately 185 IBM employees who make up the LTC are located in 16 cities and 6 countries. As Frye put it, the LTC is "a real place -- it just resides on the Web." But as the old IBM marketing line used to go, the billion-dollar internal budget for Linux at IBM this year is just the tip of the iceberg.