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2010 kicks off era of hidden LinuxJay Lyman, January 5, 2010 @ 3:31 pm ET
For something as open as Linux — the open source operating system developed by thousands of individuals and dozens of companies — you wouldn’t think it would be so hidden, but that’s exactly what Linux will be in 2010 and beyond. We’ve already discussed progress for non-desktop Linux and the layered pervasiveness of Linux. Now let’s consider what might happen as Linux quietly finds its way into even more consumer and enterprise use.
The most prominent yet most hidden place this is happening is in embedded devices — which range from consumer electronics such as media players, set-top boxes and televisions to automotive infotainment to industrial control technology to aerospace and military technology. We’ve seen some consolidation and M&A around embedded Linux, particularly the Android OS backed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance, with deals such as Intel-Wind River, Mentor Graphics-Embedded Alley and most recently, Cavium Networks-MontaVista. In addition, processor players including ARM Holdings and MIPS Technologies are supporting Android and embedded Linux. Soon behind the current cavalcade of Android-based smartphones hitting the market, we can expect even more various devices running Android and other forms of embedded Linux. What we shouldn’t expect is to see or hear the word ‘Linux’ in any advertising, packaging or campaigning.
Of course, there’s a whole lot more Linux and other open source software in mobile devices today — Android, Nexus One, WebOS, LiMO, Moblin, Ubuntu Netbook Remix and more — but we’re not really hearing or seeing it as ‘mobile Linux.’ Obviously there continues to be some degree of fragmentation, but given Google and the many Android-based devices that continue to come to market, there is also consolidation here, too. Linux may be stronger than it ever has in mobile devices in 2010, but don’t look for Linux by name. It’s unlikely you’ll see it from the handset manufacturers, software vendors, wireless carriers and others who are pushing it.
Next up, there will be much more virtual Linux, particularly in Microsoft and Windows shops that are enjoying greater integration and support of Linux from Redmond. This — along with the growing base of enterprise Linux users leveraging virtualization and additional commercial support from Red Hat, Novell, Canonical and others — will help fuel more virtual Linux traction and growth. However, don’t expect Microsoft to talk too loudly about virtual Linux options and keep in mind we are still, even now in 2010, relatively early on in the enterprise adoption of server virtualization.
Moving on, what better place for Linux to hide inconspicuously than in cloud computing? We’ve covered the significance of community Linux in the enterprise and also community Linux in the clouds. With more support for community software and growing desire to build private and hybrid clouds, Linux (both commercial and community) figures prominently into the equation as a basic, flexible yet scalable building block. The end result is both use of Linux to build cloud infrastructure and availability of Linux in the clouds, even though it is likely to be labeled or branded something other than ‘Linux.’
So while we can expect major market gains and new inroads for Linux, the further the open source OS spreads, the less likely we are to really see how far.
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