October 24, 2012, 2:49 PM — OpenStack has been dubbed by some enthusiasts as the Linux of the cloud - an open source operating system for public or private clouds. But there's one stark difference between the two projects: OpenStack doesn't have a Linus Torvalds, the eccentric, outspoken, never-afraid-to-say-what-he-thinks leader of the Linux world.
Torvalds personifies Linux in many ways. OpenStack doesn't have that one central figure right now. The question is: Does OpenStack need it?
Some would argue yes. Torvalds, because of the weight he holds in the project, calls the shots about how Linux is run, what goes in, what stays out of the code, and he's not afraid to express his opinions. He provides not only internal guidance for the project, but also an exterior cheerleading role.
Others would say OpenStack does not need a Torvalds of its own. The project is meant to be an open source meritocracy, where members are judged based on their code contributions to the project. OpenStack has been fighting an image that the project is just full of corporate interests, which is part of the reason Rackspace ceded official control of the project to the OpenStack Foundation recently.
What would a Torvalds of OpenStack do? For one, he or she could provide an authoritative voice for the project. The position would allow someone to express a vision for what OpenStack will be, who and what is in the project and where it's going.
Perhaps most importantly, he or she could say no. As OpenStack continues to gain momentum, more and more companies will attempt to leverage the buzz around the project and call themselves OpenStack when they're not. A Torvalds of OpenStack could help keep that in line.