Two advocacy groups of the Linux operating system announced they plan to merge in the hopes of presenting a stronger voice for the open-source software.

Open Source Developer Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group will merge into the Linux Foundation, pending membership approval, new executive director Jim Zemlin said Monday.

The Linux operating system is seen as the main rival to Microsoft Windows. But unlike Windows, Linux is open-source software, meaning the code is free and available for other programmers to add to and improve, and there are a number of companies programming in Linux.

Zemlin told U.S. publication Information Week the foundation would be a "safe haven for key developers."

The foundation will also work on standardization of the platform, managing trademarks, protecting software programmers from intellectual property threats and working with industry partners.

"Microsoft spends a lot of money protecting its Windows platform," Zemlin told U.S. publication Information Week. "We're going to do the same thing."

The Linux foundation has backing from a number of companies, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Novell, and Oracle.

The Free Standards Group was particularly focused on establishing standards between the myriad Linux platforms, while the OSDL was focused on technical issues.

The new group will continue to sponsor the work of Linus Torvalds, the software engineer from OSDL behind the development of the Linux kernel, the central component that allows the software to communicate with computers.