Unilever to join Open Source Development Lab

Global consumer products maker The Unilever Group, which earlier this year announced that it will move all of its IT systems to Linux during the next decade, on Thursday became the first non-IT vendor to join the nonprofit Open Source Development Lab (OSDL).

In an announcement, the Beaverton, Ore.-based OSDL said Unilever is the first Global 2,000 company to sign up and participate in its efforts to grow and push the adoption of open-source software in business IT. The OSDL is made up of a global consortium of technology companies, including Cisco Systems Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., IBM, Red Hat Inc. and SuSE Linux AG.

Unilever, a US$49 billion consumer products company with dual headquarters in London and Rotterdam, Netherlands, announced last January that it will migrate all of its IT infrastructure from Unix to Linux on Intel-standard hardware.

The company -- which sells food products including Ragu spaghetti sauce, Hellman's mayonnaise and Bertolli olive oil, as well as personal hygiene brands such as Dove soaps and skin creams -- plans to adopt Linux for its IT systems in all 80 countries where it operates.

"Unilever's goal is to standardize its IT architecture around Linux and deliver computer systems around the world without having to worry about operating system or hardware compatibility issues," said Colin Hope-Murray, chief technology officer of the global IT infrastructure group at Unilever, in a statement. "OSDL gives us a unique venue where we can work directly with the world's major IT vendors and with the open-source development community on an equal basis to participate in the growth of Linux."

Stuart Cohen, CEO of OSDL, said Unilever is the first of what he hopes will be many Global 2,000 corporations to join in the group's efforts.

"Unilever is a significant addition to OSDL's membership," Cohen said. "We have expanded our charter to increase our participation in the Linux development community and with IT vendors."

He also said the participation of Unilever could lead to "more programs for corporations to help ensure that Linux meets their requirements and solves their real-world business problems."

Last month, the OSDL had another major advance when Linux inventor Linus Torvalds joined the group as its first-ever OSDL fellow to work exclusively on leading the development of Linux.

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