linux: pwning computers and devices after 20 years
2011 is the 20th anniversary of the first release of the Linux kernel by Linus Torvalds. Since that time, the linux kernel, together with the GNU tools and a whole host of software has been developed by enthusiasts and professional programmers into an operating system that runs on tiny embedded systems right up to the world’s fastest supercomputers.
Whilst hard numbers are hard to find and trust in relation to the deployment of linux. However, in a recent interview with NetworkWorld, the executive director of the Linux Foundation said Linux had a “humble start as a project for a college student in Helsinki, to something today that runs 70% of global equity trading, something that powers, really, the majority of Internet traffic, whether it’s Facebook, Google or Amazon.” The executive director did concede that Linux certainly doesn’t own the Desktop, but said Linux’s failure to capture desktop share is “disappointing to many,”. However, “the good news is the traditional PC desktop is becoming less important, and areas where Linux is very strong in terms of client computing are becoming more important.”
As a desktop Linux user since about 1999, I’d put myself in the “disappointed” category. However, having said that I have, and have had for some time, a desktop operating system in Linux that is at least the equal of Windows in many areas, and far in excess of it in many more. Whilst Linux on the desktop has had miniscule market share, that hasn’t stopped developers putting together a polished desktop with polished applications that meet all my needs of a desktop computer – which are many and varied.
Even if you are a died in the wool Windows or Mac user, you would have to acknowledge the achievement of thousands of developers – a large majority of whom give of their time and expertise without monetary reward – in creating such a powerful and diverse collection of software. Competition breeds innovation, and without Linux pushing from behind and now from in front, I doubt that Windows or Mac would be where they are today.
And to prove that this is the year of Linux NOT on the desktop, check out where linux is lurking: