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After Nearly Six Years, Dirk Hohndel Is Leaving VMware

VMware’s chief open source officer said he’s stepping down because he, “came to the conclusion that it was time to acknowledge I had completed the job I set out to do.”

Dirk Hohndel
Dirk Hohndel, who is stepping down from his position at VMware. SOURCE: VMware

Wow! This is surprise!

A week ago, Dirk Hohndel announced on LinkedIn that after five years and eight months he’s leaving VMware, where he’s been serving as a VP and as its chief open source officer. The decision was his, he said, and there’s nothing to indicate that it has anything to do with VMware’s newfound independence (the company was spun-off by its owner Dell in November).

“Over the holidays I came to the conclusion that it was time to acknowledge I had completed the job I set out to do,” he said. “Yesterday I handed in my resignation.”

Evidently, he’s not leaving because he found a better job. In the LinkedIn post he said he’ll be staying at Dell for a few more weeks, to work with the company’s Open Source Program Office. After that, “I am planning to take some time off to look for the next opportunity, the next step in my career.”

Who Is Dirk Hohndel

If you don’t know who Hohndel is, then you must be new to FOSS, because he already had a long history as a public figure in the open source world when VMware hired him as their chief open source officer — a position he used to proudly proclaim was a first for open source within a major technology company. Before that, he spent more than 14 years as chipmaker Intel’s chief Linux and open source technologist, and from 1995-2001 he was CTO at SUSE.

He’s probably most well known, however, as the person who each year interviews his friend (and Linux founder) Linus Torvalds at Linux Foundation events, something he’s been doing since Open Source Summit was called LinuxCon.

In addition he maintains and contributes to the open source project, Subsurface, that scuba divers use to print detailed log books that include dive profiles and other important information — a project that was originated by Torvalds in 2011.

The latter project is important to him. The last time he and I had a conversation, many months ago, he spent a considerable amount of time talking about the project.

Both Important and Not Important News

The fact that Hohndel is leaving VMware is both important and not so important. Important, because it’s always important when a mover and shaker in any industry leaves a position. Not important, because there’s no drama. He’s evidently not being forced out, and has merely decided that the time has come to move on.

There’s also no reason to fret about his future. If a new job is what he wants, his background and moxie within the open source community assures him of plenty of job offers. If employment isn’t what he wants, he’s certain to stay involved with Linux and open source in some capacity that suits him.

If nothing else, we can expect to continue seeing him onstage at Open Source Summit interviewing Torvalds.

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