Linux is entering a second stage of growth; virtualization and increased use of big iron IT running Linux will spur Linux adoption, according to Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation. In 2007 the foundation was created by the merger of the Free Standards Group and Open Source Development Labs (the latter organization is the home base of Linus Torvalds).
The merger of these two open source and Linux advocacy groups is a sign of maturity, said Zemlin in a SearchEnterpriseLinux.com interview. Read on to get his view on Linux's and the foundation's progress in winning users and fighting Microsoft Windows.
What steps will the Linux Foundation take this year that will have a direct impact on IT managers?
Jim Zemlin: The foundation sponsors workgroups where industry and community can work together to solve key challenges facing Linux. You'll see work in power management, for instance, that can impact all Linux users. You'll see information like the Linux Platform Weather Forecast that offers visibility into what's planned for the Linux platform. This will give IT managers a view into improvements to Linux and when to expect them. You'll also see content on our Web site that will help IT managers understand that the legal issues facing Linux are no more complex than those facing other platforms. They're straightforward issues that will be explained as such on our site.
Which technology or market trends will help increase Linux server adoption in the enterprise for the rest of 2007 and early 2008?
The capabilities provided by virtualization are giving IT managers more options and prompting them to adopt Linux in more environments. You're also seeing Linux being adopted at record pace on big iron. SGI, IBM and others are using Linux on a range of mainframes and supercomputers. In fact, Linux powers about 75% of the world's supercomputers. This is an amazing feat of scalability, since Linux is also the leading operating system for new mobile devices.
What barriers stand in the way of adoption?
The most critical requirement for Linux to compete in today's two-horse race with Windows is for it to have a well-supported standard. Without a widely adopted standard, ISVs [independent software vendors] will have a difficult time porting popular applications to the operating system. This is why a large part of the Linux Foundation's efforts are focused on the Linux Standard Base (LSB).
We also work to protect Linux from FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] attacks and continue to provide useful forums for collaboration on the most critical issues and opportunities facing Linux and information to help Linux stakeholders (users, vendors, ISVs, developers, etc.) to make important decisions. Let's face it: Competitor FUD is something we have to fight against. As Linux has grown more popular, it's faced increasing attack.
In what ways is the Linux server operating system on even ground when competing with Windows for share of corporate users?
Linux and the ecosystem that supports it do some things very well, while Microsoft does some things well to support Windows. It comes down to "What is the better way to build software?" and we believe -- as do an increasing number of folks in the software industry -- that open development is emerging as the superior way to deliver an operating system both the to the enterprise and on the desktop. It doesn't hurt that Linux is more flexible, has faster release cycles and lower cost of ownership.
In what ways is Linux not on even ground?
Linux has competed very well against Windows and other server operating systems. The development model is different; the selling model is different. We think those things are advantages, yet we realize that the need exists for an organization like ours to connect customers with the community by working with our members.
Do you see promising developments in standards development?
Absolutely. We see more desire to support LSB than ever before, and all major Linux distributions today comply with it. We're on the right path and with the latest additions to our staff -- including new CTO Markus Rex -- we will make major strides in the coming year.
Will these developments spur any immediate changes within the next year or so?
We believe that as the Linux community and ecosystem continue to work together on standardizing Linux, you'll see greater coordination among upstream projects and downstream distributions. We're building a testing framework in our standards group that will facilitate this. You'll also see more and more stakeholders at the Linux standards table. We've recently expanded our events to bring all the major stakeholders together for one large Linux collaboration summit. I think you'll see accelerated technical innovation as a result of that.
Email Jan Stafford with your comments and suggestions.