Signposts of GNU/Linux Growth in 2007, Part 1: Page 3

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New laptops of this kind keep coming at a rapid pace, owing to relatively low and ever-decreasing costs that are associated with producing hardware nowadays. This makes other expenses -- any expenses for that matter -- highly undesirable. Costs that are tied to software should constantly be escaped for a competitive edge, so manufacturers find haven in free software. Such new imbalance between the cost of hardware and software typically promotes the use of GNU/Linux.

Program scale and 'weight' (and therefore speed of the software) come into play also. Since Linux presents a flexible platform that facilitates tweaking, things like complexity, battery consumption and various other aspects are easier to have customized. Amazon's Kindle, for example, runs Linux and it employs an underlying design that exploits this key trait. It reduces consumption of battery power, thereby increasing its actual capacity. Generic and rigid systems cannot achieve this without considerable investment.


Crossing over to the world of gaming, which is loosely related to computing, the GP2X handheld is definitely worth mentioning. It is one of the most hackable Linux-based consoles of its type and there are other similar gadgets such as the Sony Mylo, which came to the limelight in 2007. (Part 2 of this article will discuss such devices in greater depth.)

When it comes to next-generation consoles, GNU/Linux is never left neglected. A full-blown platform can trivially be installed on the PlayStation 3 and hacks also exist which enable GNU/Linux to run on Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's XBox360. The latter requires a firmware downgrade, however, and it is not considered quite so ethical. By all means, it does demonstrate the versatility and adaptability of the Linux kernel. There is almost no electronic circuit that Linux is unable to cope with nowadays. The kernel supports literally dozens of different architectures.

Media Players and Set-up Boxes

There are many examples of the use of GNU/Linux in media (e.g. video, audio, pure graphics). The MythTV family, for instance, is cutting-edge free software that can turn old PCs into powerful media servers and set-up boxes. Pre-built appliances already exist for those who cannot handle the complexity of installation. 2007 gave birth to several businesses (mostly system integrators) that capitalize on the need for support in this space.

Many commercial equivalents thrive without their users paying attention to the underlying system. Tivo is an excellent example of this because it runs Linux at its heart. Tivo customers are usually oblivious to this fact.

Among televisions, including consideration for IPTV, some have called Linux a de facto choice. Rarely does it get the attention of ordinary viewers to whom a box is just a box, no matter what programs run on it.

The next part of this article, which covers embedded Linux and also Linux devices, covers more about portable audio players and film production. This first part of the article presented just some of the many areas where the use of GNU/Linux continues to grow. The next part puts greater emphasis on areas of Linux growth that are more remote from people's sight. We will cover growth in devices, robotics and servers, including large-scale services powered by mainframes and cloud computing.

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Tags: Google, Microsoft, virtualization, Sun Microsystems, GNU/Linux

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