Linux will get buried

I've kept a practically subterranean profile since Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference a few weeks ago. I have so many venues at which to serve the many pots of content I've got bubbling upstairs that spreading it evenly and avoiding redundancy is the greatest challenge. The portion I'll serve, in this space, is part of the sharpening outline of the shape that professional, commercial, and enterprise computing will assume by the end of the decade.

Apple's UNIX (who knows what it'll be called by then) will overtake commercial Linux in rate of revenue growth by the end of 2007. By mid-2008, Apple's sales of systems with factory-installed Apple UNIX will exceed the total combined sales of x86 systems factory-shipped with commercial Linux. At the end of the decade, we'll find that Apple UNIX has overtaken commercial Linux as the second most popular general client and server computing platform behind Windows.

Now before anybody goes nuts, understand what I'm saying: Apple isn't going to win or even wage a religious war with Linux. The market will bring about the adjustments to which I'm referring. There will be more money than ever to be made with Linux, but sales won't derive from a model fashioned to compete with Windows and OS X. Microsoft and Apple will be the top-seeded fighters in general client and server computing platforms. Linux doesn't need or want to be the third man in that ring.

Despite the way most professional and commercial buyers see it, Linux is, as a colleague helpfully reminded me, a kernel, not an application platform. Linux is a backplane for device drivers, file systems, protocol stacks and low-level programming interfaces. It is a substructure for application services. The Linux kernel is mature, consistently implemented, commercial quality and familiar. It crosses architectural boundaries cleanly. It bulks up and strips down in the time it takes to recompile. Linux's greatest strength is that no matter how many products use the trademark in their titles, there is exactly one Linux. It's a standard. Where will Linux thrive? It'll be the de facto choice for embedded solutions. By 2010, "embedded" will assume its appropriate meaning, which to my mind is "specialized." I believe Big Software vendors such as IBM and Oracle will use Linux to give unwieldy enterprise solutions the George Jetson treatment: Push a button, you've got an enterprise database, configured, loaded with sample data and listening for connections. Want a J2EE server with that? Flip this switch, it'll unpack itself, sniff out that database you installed and mate with it.

VMware refers to its take on this approach as the appliance, but that connotes an inflexibility I'd hope to avoid. I prefer to think of it in terms of a USB flash drive. Imagine that your server room has a bank of USB ports, and that every enterprise application you want to run exists, pre-installed on a stripped, standardized Linux, and in a freeze-dried state, on a flash drive. Plug in a drive, and within a few milliseconds you have a self-contained instance of an enterprise application. If you need more database instances, put in a blank flash drive and tell the existing database instance to replicate itself.

That's not the entire future for every IT shop. Remember, at the opening of this story I had a lot to say about OS X's rise to second place behind Windows. General purpose servers will still play a powerful role, one I'll flesh out. But don't get rankled by my prediction that Linux is going underground. It will thrive there.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Yager

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?