VANCOUVER. Jim Whitehurst took the stage at the LinuxCon conference today to provide a view of where he sees Linux going. Whitehurst stressed that while the technology is important it's the collaborative user-driven innovation that will make the most impact in the future.
Whitehurst told the LinuxCon audience that the general view of Linux coming from analyst groups is that Linux has done a solid job and is a viable alternative to tradional stacks. He noted that to him, that doesn't tell the whole story.
When it comes to new workloads, Whitehurst said that Linux dominates and will drive platform choices for years to come.
"If Linux were just the best operating system out there it would be interesting, but not fascinating," Whitehurst said.
Whitehurst noted that the biggest lesson that he has learned as the CEO of Red Hat is that while Linux is great technology it is the innovation that it enables that is its greatest strength.
"Linux, because of its nature and it's 'free as in beer', allows people to try new things and it enables new levels of inovation that couldn't have happend before," Whitehurst said. "Companies like Google would not exist if it were not for Linux."
He noted that if you can't innovate cheaply it's hard to get started.
"The power of what we provide is what we let people do with the technology," Whitehurst said. "The power of the innovation that Linux unlocks from a business perspective is a hallmark of what open source has done for web 2.0."
Whitehurst said Linux isn't about commoditizing innovation that already exists as some pundits have proclaimed. Rather he stressed that Linux is leading innovation whether it's in the cloud, in Big Data or otherwise.
"The whole concept of cloud is an inflection point for Linux," Whitehurst said. "Now when you're looking for innovation you're looking to open source."
As to what the future of Linux is in the next 20 years, Whitehurst provided a very succinct answer.
"I have no idea," Whitehurst said. "The key point here is not about the technology, it's about what the technology is enabling."
Whitehurst said that Linux as a technology is important but what it is doing transcends technology, acting to make the world a better place. He stressed that Linux is at the forefront of mass collaboration.
"How the principle of mass collaboration can solve more of the world's problems will be the hallmark of Linux in the next 20 years," Whitehurst said.