Linux turns 20, the future is bright

Linux turns 20, the future is bright

Summary: This month marks the 20th birthday of Linux. Recently, Jim Zemlin, director of the Linux Foundation acknowledged the 20 years since Linus Torvalds began development of the Linux kernel.

TOPICS: Open Source

This month marks the 20th birthday of Linux. Recently, Jim Zemlin, director of the Linux Foundation acknowledged the 20 years since Linus Torvalds began development of the Linux kernel. Jim also made a few other statements that were interesting. He stated “I think we just don’t care that much [about Microsoft] anymore. They used to be our big rival, but now it’s kind of like kicking a puppy.”. He also went on to say “Linux has come to dominate almost every category of computing, with the exception of the desktop”.

I'm not sure if I agree that Linux dominates every category of computing, but it definitely has a presence in every category of computing. The main category that Linux dominates is still with supercomputing, and I suspect it will indefinitely. Linux often doesn't get credit either because it's working behind the scenes and many people only see the outside of the box. For instance, recently on the Jeopardy game show, Linux ran "Watson", the computer contenstant that millions of viewers saw compete and win on the game show.

The desktop market has definitely been challenging. Linux saw a spike in growth around the time that Windows Vista was released, but it has flat-lined since. Global market share on the desktop continues to hover anywhere from 1-5%, depending on which sources you use. But, as the desktop PC becomes more irrelevant, it will be interesting to see how these trends move ahead. I don't think the desktop PC is going anywhere for a long time though, despite the trends for cloud computing.

So where are we headed? I suspect Linux will continue to grow in all areas of computing. Why? Because it is a rock solid platform that has proven itself over and over for 20 years. And, one of the largest benefits of it is that it is open source. And this is a winning solution in a lot of areas because vendors can customize the Linux kernel to fit their hardware application. And, since open source is not controlled by one entity and is free to the public to download, study, customize, and apply, it reduces cost to the vendor and the customer. I am sure we will see Linux to continue to grow and slowly chip away at market share in many areas, especially phone and tablet platforms. Microsoft is behind the game and Google has leveraged Linux as a solid platform for its Android operating system on mobile devices which is the hot area. I've found that Linux (Fedora distribution) has provided a very user friendly, safe, and reliable platform for desktops. I use it solely for friends and relatives to replace Windows after it becomes hosed over time.

Linux is everywhere, it is running routers, switches, firewalls, phones, even household DVR players. It generally runs in the background, sometimes never to be seen or recognised. Linux isn't marketed to the public which is why you don't hear about it all of the time. It doesn't need a shiny interface to try and appeal to users and sell more copies. It does what it is supposed to do, and it does it well. So the next device that you power up, consider what OS it is running.

Topic: Open Source

Chris Clay

About Chris Clay

After administering Linux and Windows for over 17 years in multiple environments, my focus of this blog is to document my adventures in both operating systems to compare the two against each other. Past and present experiences have shown me that Linux can replace Windows and succeed in a vast variety of environments. Linux has proven itself many times over in the datacentre and is more than capable for the desktop.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Great Article!

    That's why my OS is Linux (Ubuntu).
  • Runs Zdnet sites as well.
  • I just wondered, what OS is inside televisions?
    The Former Moley
  • The one thing stopping me from switching to Linux entirely is I enjoy computer games. I really hope Linux one day will dominate in that arena too.
  • authentictech : Many (Windows) games can run on Linux today, with the use of the Wine software. Even games that require Direct3D. Check out to see if the game(s) you like run in Wine. Even games like World of Warcraft do run. I've also been amazed at the high quality games already in Linux, like Wesnoth. Sure, you don't see them on retail shelves, but some of them are very well done. Googe for the top Linux games to find more.