Linux at 20: New challenges, new opportunities

The rise of cloud computing and mobility could elevate the open source OS to a level of unprecedented dominance

By Neil McAllister, InfoWorld |  Software, Linux

Twenty years ago, when Linus Torvalds first announced his new operating system project to a Usenet discussion group, he had no way of knowing that his creation would one day conquer the world.

"Just a hobby, [it] won't be big and professional," Torvalds wrote on Aug. 25, 1991. In a follow-up post, he added, "Simply, I'd say that porting [the OS to a different CPU] is impossible." Torvalds had begun the project as a fun way to teach himself about the Intel 80386 processor and nothing more. His greatest ambition was merely to see it work.

[ Find out how much you know about the free OS by taking InfoWorld's Linux IQ test: Round 1 and Linux IQ test: Round 2 | Keep on top of the latest open source news and trends with InfoWorld's Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]

It has done far better than that. Today, Linux -- as Torvalds's OS came to be called -- is available for just about every modern processor architecture and many archaic ones. It can power every kind of computing device, from PCs, netbooks, and smartphones to mainframes, supercomputing clusters, and beyond.

Linux is definitely "big and professional," having won the support of industry heavyweights such as Dell, IBM, HP, Novell, and Oracle. Red Hat, one of the first commercial Linux vendors, is now an S&P 500 company with a market capitalization of $7.3 billion.

The last 20 years haven't always been easy. Linux has made a few enemies, Microsoft foremost among them. It has faced its share of challenges, too, both technical and legal, and there are more hurdles ahead.

Nonetheless, as Linux enters its third decade, its opportunities have never been greater. Computing is changing, and Linux is not only benefiting from this change but is enabling it. Thanks to a shift beyond the PC, Linux is poised to become more than just an OS, but one of the most transformative forces in computing history -- and it's happening right under everyone's nose.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Answers - Powered by ITworld

ITworld Answers helps you solve problems and share expertise. Ask a question or take a crack at answering the new questions below.

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question
randomness