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Lennart Poettering leaves Red Hat for Microsoft

To considerable amusement in the Linux community, the infamous lead developer of systemd has a new job – at Microsoft.

The news surfaced on a Fedora mailing list when someone found that they were unable to tag Poettering in a bug report because his Red Hat Bugzilla account was disabled, to which Poettering responded that he had created a personal account.

This has caused much merriment in comment threads on sites such as Phoronix, Hacker News, and Slashdot, from “Welcome home, Agent Poettering!” to “Good work!” to various quips about future combined Linux-plus-Windows operating systems.

Although near universally adopted in almost every mainstream Linux distribution, systemd remains highly controversial, as The Reg has covered at considerable length. Despite all the furor, systemd is merely one example of a trend towards richer systems-management tools on modern xNix systems, such as SMF in Solaris and its various open-source descendants or Apple’s launchd.

Poettering, a 41-year-old developer who is based in Berlin, was born in Guatemala City and grew up in Rio de Janeiro. He is best known for his work on systemd, but other projects of his have also had broad uptake.

The PulseAudio sound server has been included both in Fedora and Ubuntu for a decade and a half, although it is now gradually being replaced with the less-CPU-intensive PipeWire.

He also developed the Linux flexmDNS service to resolve multicast DNS queries, which later merged with (and adopted the name of) Avahi. This is what handles zeroconf on Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD. It’s the FOSS equivalent of Apple’s implementation, which was originally called Rendezvous but is now known as Bonjour.

Among his more recent projects are two particularly interesting ones: mkosi, which generates operating system images (the name stands for make operating system image), and casync, which he describes as “a tool for distributing file system images.” The functionality of casync incorporates some of that in rsync and OStree. Both form part of his overall vision for building and deploying modern Linux distributions.

Whether or not you like the tools that he creates, it’s undeniable that Poettering is one of the most productive and influential programmers working in open source. In a blog post trying to dispel some myths about systemd, as well as in interviews, he has spoken about trying to create tools that use some of the advanced functionality in the Linux kernel that is missing from other open-source Unix-like OSes.

The Reg FOSS desk feels that this is a good thing in general. On the one hand, it’s driving Linux in the direction of a more highly integrated, modern OS, and parts of the Unix stack are badly in need of a refurb, as Apple’s success with macOS and its relatives has demonstrated. On the other hand, tools such as systemd, Wayland, Snap, Flatpak, and so on are Linux-only. If some people’s aversion for these tools drives them to switch to FreeBSD or the other BSDs, that will be good for those OSes.

The Reg has asked Poettering for comment. ®


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