Looking back at Linux in 2004, I see one thing as clearly as I see my hand in front of my face: Linux is the mainstream.
Which companies stand behind Linux today? I mean really stand behind it, and not just give it lip service? Its companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell and Oracle. Were talking the whos who of American technology vendors.
Whos using Linux? Everybody. Small companies, Fortune 50 enterprises, nonprofits, governments. Everybody.
Why? Because, when you cut through all of the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), all of the bought and paid-for ROI (return on investment) and TCO (total cost of ownership) studies, all of the intellectual property fears, the bottom line is that Linux simply works.
It does more than just work, though. All of the members of the Unix family—AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, etc.—can make that claim. Linux simply delivers more IT goodness on more platforms than all of the other Unix platforms combined.
And as for Microsoft and Windows, please. Linux delivers more reliable, faster Web and intranet services for less money.
Dont believe me or those Microsoft “Truth” campaign ads? Then look for yourself.
Thats one of Linuxs beauties. Anyone can get a copy, test it out, kick its tires and make up their own mind.
Heck, with todays CD-based Linux distributions such as Knoppix and Gnoppix, you dont even have to install Linux on a PC. You just boot it up from a CD-ROM and give it a test drive. What could be easier?
In the past year, hundreds of thousands of users and thousands of companies have done just that, and theyre now shifting over their infrastructure and edge servers to Linux.
Looking ahead to 2005, I only see this trend continuing. The older Unixes are going to continue their decline. Yes, Sun will do its darndest to slow that down with Solaris 10, but itll do as well as I did in ordering the ocean not to wash away my sand castle when I was a kid.
And as for Microsoft? I think all you need do is look at Steve Ballmers recent comments about Linux and intellectual property to know that the company thinks Linux is going to be causing it serious trouble in the next few years.
You can always see this in Microsofts plans to make desktop programs such as the next version of Office dependent on server-based software. What nonsense!
No word processor in this day and age should need anything from a server except a place to store files. No, the reason why Microsoft is making these moves is to force users to use its own server software instead of Linux.
In the past, its been foolish to bet against the Redmond giant, but when it comes to Linux, Im willing to make that bet. Linux is simply a stunningly good operating system.
Besides, Microsofts operating systems and programs have become completely bug-ridden. Seriously, has a month gone by this year without a major Microsoft security problem?
I put it all together and I, for one, have no doubt that Linux—and not Windows—eventually will be the dominant operating system in the early 21st century.
eWEEK.com Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.
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