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Linux goes down in history: a mature operating system

Mar 14, 2017 by AdrianC

As detailed in a recent post, the number of Linux distros has increased rapidly, as the Open Source community responded in a positive manner to the flexibility of the Linux kernel. Now, let's move on with our review!

It is still about the desktop!

In January 2017, the number of active distros stood at 286. Nevertheless, as far as I can see, only a few of them can be considered serious contenders for the desktop environment, dominated by Windows and Mac OS X.

People have their own preferences, so there is no point in disputing them. Considering this, here are some of the most interesting Linux flavours for desktop PCs. It is up to you to decide which one suits your needs best. Disclaimer: I am all for Elementary.

Ubuntu: it is forked from Debian, it is ranked third on DistroWatch (at the time of writing this article), and it offers a lot of software packages.

Mint: being spawned from Ubuntu, it currently holds first place on DistroWatch. Most people are enjoying it because it has a beautiful and user-friendly interface.

OpenSUSE: the lizard derives from Mandriva and it ranks in fourth place on DistroWatch. Although it does not have the best-looking interface, it has loads of software packages and the YAST tool is simply stunning.

Elementary OS: this little distro has Ubuntu roots and, although it holds the sixth place on DistroWatch, it is one of the best-looking Linux-based operating systems. Its UI is user-friendly, thus forcing Windows/Mac users to remove one complaint from their list of reasons against making the move to Linux.

Linux goes mobile, hits the jackpot

It all changed on September 23, 2008, as this was the release date for the most successful mobile operating system of all time: Android. Developed by Google and based on the Linux kernel, Android managed to achieve a mobile market share above 86% during the third quarter of 2016, according to IDC, – an impressive accomplishment, to say the least, especially since both Apple and Microsoft have been unable to put a dent on its market share for so many years.

Android’s kernel uses the long-term support branch of Linux and, since 2014, it uses versions 3.4 or 3.10 of the Linux kernel. It is obvious that Android has some architectural changes, but Linus Torvalds has stated numerous times he is hopeful that Android and Linux would return to a joint kernel in the foreseeable future.

Taking over the cloud

Nowadays, we have some great desktop operating systems and a highly-popular mobile OS, all based on Linux. However, let’s not forget the strongest case for Linux: servers. Here are some quick figures that show how big Linux really is:

  • As of November 2016, 498 of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers run some variant of Linux;
  • six of the top 10 internet hosting companies are powered by Linux;
  • in 2014, 75% of the cloud solutions used Linux;

Some of the key points for Linux’ success can be attributed to several things, including:

  1. Security: out of the box, Linux has proven to be very safe;
  2. Stability: it can handle large number of processes without crashing, most configuration changes do not require restarts;
  3. Open-Source: you’re free to do with the operating system as you like, customizing it based upon your needs;
  4. Performance: Linux for servers is fast and scalable, you can make it run on the lowest hardware requirements that you can think of;
  5. Free: all-in-all, it is free, and although there are costs involved in regards to maintenance, Linux and all software in it are free.

As a display of Linux' prowess when it comes to servers, IBM and Canonical have worked together on a special project. As of September 2016, you can use Ubuntu on IBM machines, including z Systems Mainframe. When IBM wants to use your operating system on their machines, then you know that you are on the right path.

A brighter future waiting around the corner

No one would have imagined in 1991 that Linux would become the leading solution in both cloud and web services. Unfortunately, the operating system did not quite get a grip on the desktop market, as StatCounter data reveals a market share of only 0.94% for the year 2016. Thankfully, the penguin OS has a more significant presence in the server and mobile markets.

The Internet of Things is said to become a catalyst for Linux’ future. Usually, IT-related predictions are laughable once several years pass them by, so it is wiser to refrain from making assumptions. For the time being, Linux cannot become a serious contender in the desktop PC world against Windows and Mac OS X, unless backed-up by proper software.

Disclaimer: I’ve said in the beginning that Linux can be the perfect replacement for UNIX, but this does not mean that UNIX is going to disappear altogether from the scene. Also, I am aware that Linux is an UNIX-like OS, so technically, UNIX will live through Linux, right? Right?

Update: Interview - Romanian OS based on Linux


Tags: Linux 


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