Do We Need Operating Systems?

Summary:With virtualization you don't really need an enterprise operating system -- the OS hooks come with the application. And reportedly RedHat 5 is going to support the open source Xen Hypervisor.

RedHat will announce RedHat Enterprise Linux 5 today, at a dicey time for the industry.

Wall Street has begun to sour on Linux as a business. Douglas MacIntyre of 24/7 Wall Street is among the disenchanted.

"Linux has been a bust," he wrote last week. Total revenues for RedHat and Novell combined don't amount to much more than Larry Ellison's sailing bill --  barely $500 million.

Perhaps MacIntyre is looking in the wrong place. With virtualization you don't really need an enterprise operating system -- the OS hooks come with the application. And reportedly RedHat 5 is going to support the open source Xen Hypervisor.  

"Software appliances are sounding the death knell for the general purpose OS," says Billy Marshall, who worked at RedHat in Raleigh before founding rPath. "Historically you have to port applications with each new release. With Xen they can just wrap them up as virtual appliances and deploy onto RHEL 5 without being compatible."

That's also true for Windows. Marshall has heard "Microsoft patented something describing a smaller OS with modular components that leaves when it's used." If Big Green is awake to the danger, shouldn't the rest of us be as well?

Of course cynics will note that Marshall would say that, given that rPath is in the virtualization business with its rBuilder and rLinux. But might he be right? IBM has seen the light. Has the market? Has Wall Street?

Topics: Virtualization

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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