The Prophecy of Linux (again)!

31 March 2011 by James RameyJames Ramey

There was a period of time in the mid-to-late 1990's when many technology pundits predicted that Linux would 'rule the world'.  These 'early adapters' actually believed that the citizens of the world would succumb to the truths of Linux and realize en mass that Linux was the more robust, more efficient, more stable, and FREE operating system.  All the writing was on the wall, and there was no doubt (none) on the part of the pundits that everything was going to 'line-up' perfectly for Linux.  Geeks everywhere were preparing to celebrate as 'the people' were going to CHOSE their beloved (and pure) operating system.  There would be a 'new world order'!  CATS AND DOGS LIVING IN HARMONY, OH MY!; and so on and so on and so on.

My CEO is one of these Linux technology pundits.  He knew then that when the citizens of the world all migrated to Linux there would be opportunity in being the company that made that transition away from Windows easier and less painful.  Unfortunately, the masses never migrated and the beaten path to Linux became the 'road not taken' by the world's citizens.  And as company after company withered and died waiting for people to chose Linux, more and more of the pundits began to ponder what went wrong.....

Understand in the 1990's, Linux was the next 'can't miss' business opportunity.  Consumers were just starting to utilize dial-up Internet.  A decent home computer with a x486 processor cost $2,000.00.  Software applications were expensive to acquire and painful to use.  There was no great operating system.  And a free and stable operating seemed like a no-brainer.  So what if Linux was complicated and difficult to use.  Linux was FREE!!!  Software for the masses developed by the masses.  Then on August 24, 1995 with the release of Windows '95 (and its pretty icons and easy to use interface), Microsoft pawned all competitors and then changed how the world consumed it's technology.  But this is a blog about one of the greatest comebacks in the history of comebacks.  You see, Linux didn't die (oh, it was on life support - but it didn't die).  The prophesy was still being whispered in technology circles.  And when the game changed, Linux changed, evolved, and grew.  Linux found new markets.  And low and behold in 2009 like a Phoenix from its ashes, Linux emerged as the 'new' technology for the new world order - mobile computing devices.  

The future right now looks incredibly bright for Linux.  iOS, Android, Mac OSX, and Chrome all represent variations on the free OS.  Now with significant funding from technology's largest companies, growing demand, growing markets, and the ability to run on confined hardware devices, more and more devices could be running Linux at its core then any other operating system by 2014 (or 2015 at the latest).  According  to icrossing, Android already commands 27% of the mobile operating system market in the US; however, worldwide adaptation is also growing as the chart below indicates:
 

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Over the past six months, Android has dominated this area in technology with "43 percent of recent acquirers purchasing an Android device, compared to 26 percent for Apple iOS and 20 percent for Blackberry RIM.".  Being a more efficient operating system allows you to run on smaller devices - areas of technology where Microsoft cannot go (at least not as it is today).  And because technology is now going more mobile, the tech world is coming back to Linux.  If this trend continues, Linux would emerge to become the mainstream solution for the masses (once again).  

Personally, I already own an Android phone; but, I am planning to partition the hard drive of my NetBook and add a Linux distribution (either Ubuntu or MeeGo) so I can start 'living the dream'.  With CrossOver Linux, I'll be able to emulate Windows on my NetBook so I can run my critical PC based applications (like Office and IE) and games (like World of Warcraft and Steam).  I'll get the faster, more robust, more efficient operating system AND access to thousands of OpenSource software applications AND still be able to run my PC based applications as needed.  It should be the perfect fit.  Oh my gosh, I sound like one of those pundits from the 1990's!  

About James B. Ramey
James B. Ramey is President of CodeWeavers. His life long love of video gaming started at the tender age of six with an Atari 2600 and evolved over time to include Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Apple Mac IIc, Windows PC, and MacBook Pro. When not fiddling with technology, James enjoys cooking, travel, debating politics in the office, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and their three Shar Pei cross dogs. For the past 20 years, James has worked with clients around the world in best implementing technology to maximize a return on their investment. He is a graduate of Moorhead State University and earned his graduate degree (MBA) online from the University of Phoenix. You can find James on Twitter at @jbramey.

About CodeWeavers
Founded in 1996 as a general software consultancy, CodeWeavers focuses on the development of Wine – the core technology found in all of its CrossOver products. The company's goal is to bring expanded market opportunities for Windows software developers by making it easier, faster and more painless to port Windows software to Mac and Linux. CodeWeavers is recognized as a leader in open-source Windows porting technology, and maintains development offices in Minnesota, the United Kingdom and elsewhere around the world. The company is privately held.

The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.


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Stephen Tidey
Posted 2011-04-01 03:40
Interesting article, but it would have been easier to read if it fit on the screen?
It seems this whole blog section of the CodeWeavers site is set to some fixed width and not even this
Comment editor fits in it properly!  This seems to be a problem on FireFox, Opera & IE.

Regards,
Stephen.
Michel Alexandre Salim
Michel Alexandre Salim
Posted 2011-04-01 05:37
and on Chrome too, unfortunately.

One quibble -- the assertion that iOS and OS X are "variations on the free OS" seems a bit misleading. OS X, and thus iOS, while based on free components (Darwin = Mach microkernel + FreeBSD userspace, but relicensed under APSL), are not, in practice, usable without the proprietary parts. And unlike Android, the proprietary parts are not limited to hardware-specific drivers but extend to most of the userspace that developers and users interface with.

Variations on the Unix philosophy -- maybe. Variations on the free OS? Not so sure.
Jeremy Newman
Jeremy Newman
Posted 2011-04-14 16:29
Sorry about that. Seems James posted an image that was too large for the content well of the website. I added some script that dynamically scales down large images, and makes them clickable to open them up fullsize in a new tab.
Antonio Soto Patiño
Posted 2012-05-20 08:55
I am sorry but this map image is really surprising, as it tells just the opposite that all other official statistics state about the use of mobile operating systems, at least in Spain.
In Spain Apple has never got more than 50% of the market share. Just the opposite. It was before Nokia that dominated the market, and now it is Android, which controls massively the Spanish market; indeed, Spain is the country with a largest Android penetration in the whole world...
Just for your information.
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