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Twitter Perches on Linux Foundation's Shoulder

Twitter Perches on Linux Foundation's Shoulder

Twitter has become the newest member of the Linux Foundation. The move "will likely help make sure platform improvements Twitter needs are prioritized and that changes it doesn't want are impeded," said analyst Rob Enderle. Also, Twitter is "a potential source of resources, and it's another major backer," he added.

By Richard Adhikari LinuxInsider ECT News Network
08/28/12 5:00 AM PT

Twitter on Tuesday joined the Linux Foundation.

However, the move comes just days after Twitter removed its find-friends feature from blogging service Tumblr. Twitter had earlier done the same to Instagram, and has imposed new restrictions on developers.

"These moves are contrary to what Linux stands for, so I'd expect some aggravation pointed [Twitter's] way as a result," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told LinuxInsider.

"Still, it shouldn't hurt them much, and it isn't uncommon for a member of any association like this to be inconsistent with the association's own concepts," Enderle continued. "They're participating in the Foundation; they aren't giving up control to it."

Twitter spokesperson Robert Weeks declined comment.

A Foot in LiFo's Door

Twitter has joined as a silver member, the lowest level of membership listed in the Linux Foundation's bylaws. Gold comes next, and Platinum membership is the highest level.

The difference lies in the annual dues and the number of directors each class of members can elect.

Platinum members pay $500,000 in annual dues, gold members $100,00 and silver members between $4,000 and $20,000 depending on the number of their employees. Twitter's dues amount to $15,000, Linux Foundation spokesperson Jennifer Cloer told LinuxInsider.

Feeling the Linux Love

Twitter has tens of thousands of machines running all types of services that run a tweaked version of Linux, said Chris Aniszczyk, the company's manager of open source.

The company uses a couple of different kernel versions of Linux. Most of its servers are on the 2.6.29 kernel release. Twitter has added some patches such as enhanced core dump functionality, UnionFS support, and the ability to allow the TCP congestion window to be set on a socket basis.

Twitter will further customize the kernel and has invited Linux experts interested in hacking on kernel performance to get in touch.

Twitter and Open Source

The company uses lots of open source products. These include MySQL, for which Twitter has created its own fork; Memcached, Cassandra, Hadoop, Lucene and Pig, according to Opensource.com.

Twitter has also created several open source projects, including Iago and Zipkin.

Further, the company has released version 2.1 of its Bootstrap front-end framework. Bootstrap became the most popular project on GitHub, Twitter claims. Its users include NASA's code.nasa.gov, NBC's Breaking News feature, and the White House's Digital Government initiative.

What About the Devs?

Some developers using Twitter's platform have expressed concern about changes to the forthcoming version 1.1 of the company's API. These will include requiring authentication on every API end point so Twitter has visibility into the activity on the API and into the apps used on its platform.

The company also wants to limit work on services such as Storify or Favstar that let users interact with tweets, and it wants devs to stay away from building client apps that mimic or reproduce its end user experience, such as Tweetbot and Echofon.

Joining the Foundation "will likely help make sure platform improvements Twitter needs are prioritized and that changes it doesn't want are impeded," Enderle speculated.

Twitter's membership of the Foundation will also benefit the latter because Twitter is "a potential source of resources, and it's another major backer," Enderle pointed out. Further, its joining the Foundation points to "more engagement by a big user."


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