The Linux Foundation will announce today that consumer electronics giant Samsung is becoming a platinum member of the organization, the highest tier of membership. This will give Samsung a seat on the foundation’s board of directors.
The Linux Foundation, which was established in 2007, provides a vendor-neutral venue for coordinating the development of the Linux kernel and also employs some key developers, including Linux creator Linus Torvalds. The organization is supported financially by its members, which include individuals and corporations.
The foundation has three separate tiers of membership for companies: silver, gold, and platinum. Members at each tier pay annual dues that help fund the organization. Platinum membership, which entitles a company to a seat on the board of directors, costs half a million dollars a year. Samsung was previously a silver member, but is now upgrading to platinum status.
Samsung will be the foundation’s seventh platinum member, alongside industry heavyweights such as IBM, Intel, and Qualcomm. Samsung uses Linux extensively throughout its product line, particularly in the mobile space. Samsung said in a statement today that it intends to continue expanding its support for the open source operating system.
"We’re looking forward to increasing collaboration and support for our growing portfolio of Linux-based devices and to making contributions that advance Linux for all," said Samsung Electronics Vice President WonJoo Park in a statement.
Samsung is the largest manufacturer of handsets using Google’s Linux-based Android operating system. Samsung is also collaborating with Intel and the Linux Foundation to develop Tizen, a new Linux-based mobile platform that emerged as the successor of the foundation’s failed MeeGo project last year. Tizen is maturing, but hasn’t launched on a handset yet. It’s not yet clear how Tizen will fit into Samsung’s somewhat scattershot platform strategy.
Samsung’s investment in Tizen and the upstream-aligned Linux ecosystem will help insulate the company in the event that Google’s acquisition of Motorola changes the Android landscape in a way that disadvantages competing handset manufacturers. Samsung is also possibly looking to Tizen to provide a unifying Linux-based software environment that can run more effectively across the spectrum of devices and form factors that the company builds.
Tizen hasn’t achieved the same degree of community buy-in that the Linux Foundation had with MeeGo. The rough transition from MeeGo to Tizen left a lot of former contributors out in the cold and eroded the foundation’s image. Samsung’s decision to increase its membership status in the foundation sends a signal that the company is committed to Linux for the long run. It won’t fully patch the hole that MeeGo’s demise left in the foundation’s credibility as a mobile platform steward, but it shows that the hole isn’t irreparable.