Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), the industry consortium which hired Linux creator Linus Torvalds two weeks ago, has also signed up Andrew Morton, the man who Torvalds chose to maintain the upcoming Linux 2.6 kernel.
Morton is a well-regarded developer who has been heavily involved in developing the experimental 2.5 kernel, that will form the basis of 2.6.
He is already working on 2.5 and he has the right people skills, which are really important for a kernel maintainer, said Linux developer Alan Cox.
A pre-release version of the 2.6 kernel will probably come out "in the next few weeks", Morton said.
The pre-release, which would be called 2.6.0pre1, would be a sign that the Linux 2.6 kernel was nearing completion.
"[It's] our way of telling the world, 'Hey, we need more people to start testing this, please,' and also telling the developers that things are starting to shut down."
The move is the latest in a series of steps that OSDL has made to increase its profile in the Linux industry.
"Our role is really [to be] a place where the development community, the IT suppliers, and the user community can all come together," said Stuart Cohen, OSDL's chief executive officer.
"We are transforming OSDL from a passive to an active organisation," said Steve Geary, director of Hewlett-Packard's Linux and Open Source Lab, and a participant in OSDL.
OSDL was established in 2000 to give Linux developers access to the expensive multiprocessor systems that they might not otherwise be able to afford. But in the past two years OSDL has expanded its charter, fostering carrier-grade Linux and data centre Linux development projects.
OSDL now employs eight kernel developers working on Linux's I/O subsystem, TCP/IP stack, and in performance tuning, as part of an effort to "really bolster our work with the development community", Cohen said.
OSDL will gather 10 to 15 enterprise Linux users at its first customer advisory board in New York this month.
The increased visibility from the recent hires has not hurt OSDL's recruitment efforts, Cohen said.
"I'm getting a lot of CVs and a lot of e-mails from people who want to come work for me now that Linus and Andrew are here," he said.
Robert McMillian writes for IDG News Service