Systemd Creator ends up at Microsoft


Yesterday’s surprise was that Lennart Poettering had quietly left Red Hat after a decade and a half where he ran PulseAudio, among other things, and eventually launched systemd, which has fundamentally redesigned modern Linux distributions. Turns out he had joined Microsoft and continued his work on systemd.

Following yesterday’s article about Lennart no longer with Red Hat, I received indications that the systemd creator had quietly joined Microsoft some time ago, along with various public comments on Twitter and other media from individuals suggesting this that he had joined the Redmond company… At first I thought they were jokes or just snarky remarks, but after a day of following up with people, it turns out it wasn’t a joke.

The prominent open source developer responsible for several prominent projects joined Microsoft and remains focused on systemd development. While some don’t always agree with his views or approaches to handling some things, his tremendous contributions to the Linux/Open Source world and dedication to advancing the ecosystem over the years cannot be overstated.

This may come as a surprise to many, but let’s not forget that Microsoft has employed a number of Linux developers and other prominent open source developers over time… Microsoft currently employs Python inventor Guido van Rossum, the inventor of GNOME Miguel de Icaza was employed by Microsoft in 2016 when they acquired Xamarin, Nat Friedman served as GitHub CEO, Daniel Robbins, Founder of Gentoo Linux, formerly employed at Microsoft, Steve French works for Microsoft as a Linux CIFS/SMB2/SMB3 maintainer and member of the Samba team, and Microsoft employs/formerly employed a large number of upstream Linux developers such as Matteo Croce, Matthew Wilcox, Tyler Hicks, Shyam Prasad N, Michael Kelley, and many others beyond the usual, instantly recognizable names to Linux enthusiasts/developers. Also at the beginning of this year, Christian Brauner, another long-standing Linux kernel developer, joined Microsoft. Like Lennart, Christian Brauner is based in Berlin and after the last half decade at Canonical he moved to Microsoft, where he worked on the Linux kernel, LXC, systemd and more.

Even before the days of WSL or Linux spread to Azure, Microsoft had been an unlikely Linux sponsor at events and more for well over a decade. Pictured above was Microsoft’s large presence at LinuxTag 2012 in Berlin, including sponsorship of a beer party and coffee bar.

As Linux is widely deployed in Azure, Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) continues to prove successful, Microsoft is working on Mesa as part of supporting various graphics/compute APIs on Direct3D 12, provides good Hyper-V support within the Linux kernels secure and maintains various besides internal Linux distributions like CBL-Mariner and Azure Cloud Switch, Microsoft continues to attract more upstream Linux developers, including some of the familiar faces of the open source ecosystem. Microsoft has been full of Linux/Open Source surprises for many years. Now Microsoft has another key upstream developer with great experience who can continue to focus on systemd.

Microsoft Careers currently has 663 job postings that mention Linux.