Is Unix on Borrowed Time?

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-07-15 Print this article Print

A CA World panel of Linux luminaries that included Linus Torvalds predicted the demise of Unix over time, saying it will be replaced by Linux.

LAS VEGAS—A panel of Linux luminaries here predicted the demise of Unix over time, saying it would inevitably be replaced by Linux. At the Linux Solution Day here at Computer Associates International Inc.s panelists from Linux creator Linus Torvalds to SuSE Linux CTO Juergen Geck and Larry Augustin, the chairman of VA Software, all expressed their views on the future of Unix. Torvalds said he was "slightly biased" on the matter, garnering a laugh, adding that the issue was not so much Linux versus Unix, but rather around computer infrastructure in general. Software is following the same path that hardware has taken over the past 20 years and is trying to add value at a higher level.
"Linux and open source in general are all about this same phenomena where you start to standardize on infrastructure and no longer care about the low-level stuff because the exciting things are happening above that," Torvalds said.
"If you take it for granted, there is no value-add. The real value-add is not in the operating system or the compilers, but in the integration. My belief is that the operating system will take over all the infrastructure stuff, and specialization will be done above that. The integration, specialization and support are the added value for companys like CA." SuSEs Geck said Unix will eventually fade away to be replaced by Linux, while VA Softwares Augustin said Linux to him is the next generation of Unix. He too said Unix will be replaced by Linux over time as it simply does not make economic sense for many businesses to be developing on an old proprietary operating system anymore. John "Maddog" Hall, a director with Linux International, agreed, saying that many companies are realizing that as Linux gains functionality it will no longer make sense to continue with their proprietary Unix systems. For his part, Murray Berkowitz, CAs chief Linux strategist, said the vendors are already providing for the co-existence of Unix and Linux and offering porting assistance to Linux as well.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel