Behlendorf will lead the company's initiatives "to support the acceptance and development of open source and other related forms of collaborative software," the company said in a prepared statement. O'Reilly got its start as a book publisher, but the Sebastopol, California, firm has expanded into software sales and other areas, and chief executive Tim O'Reilly has become a vocal advocate of the "open source" movement.
At O'Reilly, Behlendorf will continue his work on Apache, an open source effort to develop the software that delivers Web pages to people surfing the Internet. Some reports say Apache is used in more than half of the Web servers on the Internet; giants like IBM and Apple have adopted the technology.
In the open source programming philosophy, anyone is free to see and modify a program's original blueprints, called the source code. The increasingly popular Linux operating system is a more prominent example of software developed under this model.
Behlendorf's previous projects include helping to develop the HTTP system of requesting and sending information over the Web; founding Organic Online, a company that has been designing Web pages since 1993; and helping to develop Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML). He also was the first chief engineer at Wired.
It's not yet exactly clear what will come of Behlendorf's new job, said O'Reilly spokeswoman Sara Winge, but the company has a history of backing influential computer industry people.
For example, O'Reilly previously hired Larry Wall, developer of the Perl programming language that provides the plumbing for many Web sites. That move proved to be profitable, with O'Reilly selling books and Perl software development tools.