Daniel Robbins, the founder and former chief architect of Gentoo, a leading Linux distribution, joined Microsoft in late May. "I'm helping Microsoft to understand open source and community-based projects," Robbins notes. He works in Microsoft's Platform Strategy organization at the company's Redmond headquarters.

According to a posting on the Gentoo Web site, Robbins finalized the transfer of Gentoo's intellectual property to the nonprofit Gentoo Foundation before leaving for Microsoft. He started Gentoo Linux in 1998 and created the well-regarded Portage software updating and distribution system. In 2004, he stepped down as chief architect and helped the company become a nonprofit organization.

News of Robbins' defection to Microsoft has caused a bit of a stir in the easily riled open source community. But Microsoft has been reconsidering its stance towards Linux and other open source projects in recent years, and this move suggests that the company is interested in a more open (ahem) relationship with its rivals.