It was 20 years ago this summer that Linux was born. Over that time Linux has transformed both itself and the IT industry.
According to Jim Zemlin, the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, the same core fundamentals that have helped Linux to reach its current stature will help to propel it forward for the next 20 years.
“Linux itself really has no roadmap or grand plan persay, it sort of has a direction in which it is blowing,” Zemlin told InternetNews.com. “What makes Linux so great is that there are so many self-forming communities around Linux that use a single kernel to address so many different market segments.”
Zemlin noted that Linux usage ranges from servers, to desktops, to mobile and embedded consumer electronics.
“There has never been an operating system that has successfully made those leaps,” Zemlin said. “In particular there has never been an operating system that has made those leaps and still kept a consistent kernel.”
Zemlin added that the multiple uses for Linux has enabled a cross-pollination of ideas that makes the whole ecosystem stronger. Things like filesystems and power management are all able to benefit from the broad efforts of the entire Linux development community, whether they’re focused on mobile or high-performance computing.
“If I look at early indicators for the next 20 years, I’d look to the semiconductor industry,” Zemlin said. “Most silicon is now prototyped with initial board support for Linux.”
Zemlin noted that Linux is now a key building block for the silicon platforms of the future. He added that the silicon innovation for Linux is happening on multiple architectures including Intel x86, ARM, MIPS and others.
“When people reach for components to reach whatever that next great breakthrough in computing is going to be, the odds are that it will be supported by Linux,” Zemlin said.
According to Zemlin, Linux in the next 20 years will make Bill Gates vision of a PC on every desktop running Windows, look small in comparison to what Linux will achieve.
“Linux will become the fundamental fabric of computing,” Zemlin said. “It really will be something that is relevant across every from of computing, not just the desktop that was important for the last 20 years.”
Looking back across the last 20 years and looking forward to the next, Zemlin also has an idea of when the greatest year for Linux will be.
“The greatest year that Linux has ever had is of course, every year,” Zemlin said. “Since we keep get sequentially better and better in terms of the technology, market adoption and corporate support.”
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.