Is Unix on Borrowed Time?

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.