Linux will get buried

There is an excellent article from Tom Yager at InfoWorld entitled, “Linux will get buried”. Although the title seems to propose doom and gloom for linux it actually predicts a vibrant and interesting future for Linux. Excerpts and then my comments are below.

“Apple’s UNIX (who knows what it’ll be called by then) will overtake commercial Linux in rate of revenue growth by the end of 2007. By mid-2008, Apple’s sales of systems with factory-installed Apple UNIX will exceed the total combined sales of x86 systems factory-shipped with commercial Linux. At the end of the decade, we’ll find that Apple UNIX has overtaken commercial Linux as the second most popular general client and server computing platform behind Windows.

Despite the way most professional and commercial buyers see it, Linux is, as a colleague helpfully reminded me, a kernel, not an application platform. Linux is a backplane for device drivers, file systems, protocol stacks and low-level programming interfaces. It is a substructure for application services….

Where will Linux thrive? It’ll be the de facto choice for embedded solutions. By 2010, “embedded” will assume its appropriate meaning, which to my mind is “specialized.” I believe Big Software vendors such as IBM and Oracle will use Linux to give unwieldy enterprise solutions the George Jetson treatment: Push a button, you’ve got an enterprise database, configured, loaded with sample data and listening for connections. Want a J2EE server with that? Flip this switch, it’ll unpack itself, sniff out that database you installed and mate with it.

Imagine that your server room has a bank of USB ports, and that every enterprise application you want to run exists, pre-installed on a stripped, standardized Linux, and in a freeze-dried state, on a flash drive. Plug in a drive, and within a few milliseconds you have a self-contained instance of an enterprise application. If you need more database instances, put in a blank flash drive and tell the existing database instance to replicate itself.”

I definitely agree that Apple UNIX will take 2nd place as the commercial desktop system. The Apple GUI running on top of UNIX is a combination that is hard to bet against. I find the prospect of a specialized shapeshifting linux kernel intriguing and exciting. This sort of roll your own server would catch on like wildfire.

One response to “Linux will get buried”

  1. phizone says:

    I would agree that Apple might soon have more pre-installed sales than Linux, but how many vendors sell Linux on workstations? Even when I order from companies that sell Linux pre-installed, it’s usually on servers and I still order with the “No OS” option for the same reasone that when I get a new box with Windows on it the first thing I do is wipe the drive and reload it myself. Why? Because commercial companies tend to add crap to the OS that I don’t want stealing processor time and memory.

    Linux has made huge gains in the embedded market, but I don’t think the author really understands what embedded means. Straight from the box applications are getting more common, but really when you’re talking about enterprise db’s, these things need to be tweaked for performance and certainly don’t need to be run from flash drive. That’s just absurd…

    Where do I think Linux is going? Don’t know and don’t care. The important point is that the Linux kernel could die tomorrow, be replaced with something else and all the free (as in freedom) software used with it would still work. To me the importance of free software is that we have a complete system for computing that can be freely used, shared, and changed as necessary to meet the needs of the users. After all much of the same free software that comes with every Linux distro (or any of the bsd’s) is the software that is used by Apple…

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