Originally Published: Monday, 13 September 1999 Author: Tim Bogart
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Why is Linux Even In the Running?

This article originated in osOpinion and is provided under the OpenContent License.

Why is Linux even being considered for desktop, server and moreover, mission critical systems these days? The answer is easy. Open Source. Open technologies are at the very heart of all the most prolific technologies, in any field. For the sake of this discussion, let's stick to computers and communications....

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This article originated in osOpinion and is provided under the OpenContent License.

Why is Linux even being considered for desktop, server and moreover, mission critical systems these days? The answer is easy. Open Source. Open technologies are at the very heart of all the most prolific technologies, in any field. For the sake of this discussion, let's stick to computers and communications.

In 1981 before IBM came out with their first PC, they were faced with a decision, The decision to use proprietary architecture, or to use an open architecture. Fortunately for me, and millions like me, they chose an open architecture. Their reason was to get to market in a short period of time to try and capture market share. Shortly thereafter, computer manufacturers reverse engineered the only proprietary component, the BIOS. Once accomplished, this led to an army of PC Clone manufacturers, manufacturing what have now become hundreds, if not thousands of millions, of computers. Ultimately, companies like Compaq, Dell and Gateway who now owe their very existence to that decision. Open Architecture; what a concept. We all owe IBM so much. Shortly thereafter (1990 or 1991), IBM began to realize how much they had lost. They came out with a new architecture, an improved architecture, a faster architecture called microchannel. It did not catch on. Why? It was proprietary. Computer manufacturers, people who built their own computers did not wish to pay royalties to IBM for micro channel licensing. Microchannel was dead. The open ISA, and EISA were soon to welcome the PCI bus, the latest addition to open architecture.

TCP/IP is what we all use to communicate on the Internet. It is an open protocol. It is well documented, and anyone who wishes to can write an application using the TCP/IP protocol for communications. Not DECnet, SNA, or XNS, for they are not open. These protocols are proprietary. One must pay for the privilege of using them. Therefore, TCP/IP is the protocol of choice, and will be some time to come.

Enter Linux. It is an Open Source operating system. Linux provides programmers with something to be sure; a level field. Everyone from the programmer who codes alone in front of his home computer to teams of programmers working on complex software solutions can be confident of one thing. Everything about this operating system is knowable. It is documented, and available, in as far as the source code is concerned. This makes Linux attractive. It makes their jobs easier and that makes it attractive as well.

Maybe the Open Source community should consider a name change to "Open Source Architecture" to help clarify the concept to those who may be new to the idea.

Linux is open. If history is any kind of teacher, Linux is here to stay.

Tim Bogart is a veteran IT professional of 15 years and works as a System Administrator for a major long distance telephony carrier. He considers himself both a computer hobbyist as well as a computer professional as well as being an amateur writer. Tim can be reached for response to this column by e-mailing him at: Tim.Bogart@wcom.com.





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