Do We Need Operating Systems?

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.

TOPICS: Virtualization

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?

Topic: Virtualization

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  • The responses on Mr McIntyre's blog...

    ... are quite illuminating. He posits that the Microsoft/Novell did deal did nothing for Novell so I guessed he missed the $400m paid by Microsoft and the 30,000 or so extra licences that resulted.

    That shows how much attention he pays. As others on his blog say, he must either be [i]"thick or living under a rock"[/i] to miss that one.
  • Further reflections

    I wonder if McIntyre gave Linux the superficial look-over that a lot of financial investment types use. A quick look and [i]"Hey - could this be the next Microsoft? Another multi-billion market by Xmas?"[/i].

    I've noticed that with financial types they want a big return in a very short time with zero (or less) risk. Open source will disappoint such people.

    Remember the old saying about bank managers - they are the sort of person who will give you an umbrella when it's fine and sunny and then will demand it back as soon as it starts to rain.

    Even more so with investors.
    • Scale

      McIntyre wants to deal in billions, not millions. If you're not in billions, you're nothing to him.

      That's a typical Wall Street trader attitude. So the growth of Novell relative to RedHat is immaterial. Together the two companies don't add up to $1 billion. They're flyspecks to him.
  • cost effective

    Amazing the impact that a few hundred million can have. Just shows how overpriced are Microsoft products.
    • LOL

      That's a good one :D
  • Why is the success of an OS measured in $?

    I guess that's how MS does it.
  • Maybe we need a Web OS instead

    I agree that as more and more software is developed as a service over the Internet people use their browser more and more and their OS less and less. But there is a new need for a Web operating system to help manage all the web applications - which need to be organized with a common sign-in, common desktop, common file system and look-and-feel such as the one we are working on at and others.

  • death of operating systems?

    My goodness! someone has gone off the deep end. I personally hope that Operating systems will always be around, and I think there are many people that are of like mind. The reasons are for concerns of security, the right to privacy and control of what is on my computer. If we let a company, be it google, microsoft, or whoever dole out applications, what would happen?
    A hell of a jammed up bandwidth, prices to skyrocket for pay as you go computing, and no choice of wether we need an internet connection or not, it will need to be a highspeed connection.