Every year people in Linux predict the “year of the desktop.” I think this is a big year for desktop Linux, but last week there was an amazing announcement from IBM that people may have missed. IBM rolled out their new z10 mainframe running Linux and it does not disappoint. As the son of a software developer who worked on mainframes at Control Data Corporation and the grandson of one of the founders of Cray Research, I feel like I am reliving my childhood when I hear all the great things about centralized computing and mainframe technology.
Last year (2007) saw over 20 million Linux-based phones ship to end-users in Asia, Europe and also North America. In 2008, Motorola, NEC, Panasonic, Samsung and other handset OEMs will handily outpace that number by 50% or more (Informa); Linux phones will account for at least a quarter of “smart phone” sales by 2010 (Informa, Diffusion) and will participate strongly in even higher volume feature phone and entry-level segments.
Driving this adoption has been a mix of factors unique to Linux as an embedded/mobile operating system:
My first computer was a Commodore 64. I loved programming it, with my favorite program filling up the screen with “Amanda Amanda Amanda Amanda” when you hit the enter key. (A slight hint at future narcissism or just healthy self esteem? Hmm. You decide.) Anyway, this trip down memory lane was spurred by an announcement of an upcoming Linux Installfest at Bay Area schools. Sounds like kids today have quite a few more options.
I attended the Adobe Engage conference this week in San Francisco and got a good look at the latest from Adobe. In his opening remarks the CEO of Adobe Shantanu Narayen described broad tends in the software industry that I agree with completely. First, in the Internet connected world web applications that leverage user created content are ruling the day. Call it Web 2.0 or whatever you like, but the value of applications these days are in their connectivity to other users and not their isolation on a desktop.
It has been a tough week for Microsoft. This morning the E.U. announced it is imposing a 1.3 billion dollar fine on the company because Microsoft had “charged unreasonable prices for access to interface documentation for work group servers” and that it had abused its dominant position under Article 82 of the EC Treaty. That is not something any company wants to hear the week after announcing, “new interoperability principles and actions will increase openness of key products” and on the day of Windows Server 2008’s “Heroes Happen Here” launch event.
Yesterday Steve Ballmer announced “a significant change in how we share information about our products and technologies.” Apparently, Microsoft doesn’t appear to see Linux as the “cancer” it once did; or at least they seem confident it’s not contagious through their APIs. The publication (hopefully without any restriction) of protocol documentation and APIs should help open source developers.
but once you’re hooked, you’re hooked. Microsoft is offering certain qualifying students free software (as in beer, not open) to convince them to try their stuff instead of free and open source software.
Much has already been made of a recent investment proposal filed by private equity firm Stephen Norris Capital Partners with the court overseeing the dwindling assets of the now bankrupt SCO Group. The story possesses all the ingredients of a sensational story: a high profile court case, an unnamed Middle Eastern investor, and a headline-grabbing $100 million dollar numbers.