Google has moved up its support of the Linux Foundation to attain Platinum Member status, joining the likes of Samsung, AT&T, Verizon, Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle. As a Platinum Member, Google is sponsoring the open source foundation with $500,000 annually in exchange for a placement on the Board of Directors. The company will be placing its head of open source strategy for Google Cloud Platform, Sarah Novotny in the role. Novotny, for her part, welcomed the decision. She points out that open source is "essential" to Google's culture, which is something shown in its GCP, Android, and other large-scale projects. The foundation itself is a long-standing staple of the open source community, dating back to near just nine years after the creation of the OS its name is derived from – which was first launched in 1991. Through its new commitment to the Linux Foundation, the company hopes to be able to build a more inclusive ecosystem utilizing feedback from and engagement with that community.
The new representative position on the foundation's board should also allow Google to provide and gain feedback from current leaders in open source solutions. So, far beyond the companies ability to gain feedback from a more general wider community, it may be able to find new ways to enhance its own offerings substantially. Simultaneously, there are likely practices and improvements discovered by the search giant over the past decade which haven't found their way into the wider open source community. That's likely why Novotny was chosen to represent the company, especially with consideration for the vast improvements made to its GCP and associated platforms over the past year.
Even more directly than those benefits, however, the commitment could have an immediate effect on Google's recent decision to begin offering full Linux apps on its Chrome OS platform. That's a move that will pave the way for more developer opportunity on Chromebooks, in addition to opening up the use of desktop-level apps on an otherwise web-only system. Coupled with Android app support and the already developer-friendly secondary OS channels, Linux apps should make Chrome more open source than ever. Moving up to Platinum status can only herald good things for the future of those efforts.