Linux at 22: Another Year, Another Step Closer to World Domination

It seems like only yesterday that we here in the Linux blogosphere were celebrating Linux’s 20th birthday, but now here we are, two years later.

Our favorite operating system has reached the ripe old age of 22, and its creator — Linus Torvalds — marked the occasion in characteristically understated fashion.

Linux Girl

Specifically, echoing his original message from August 26, 1991, inviting feature requests for his then-nascent OS, Torvalds published a similarly worded note late last month announcing the arrival of the Linux 3.11-rc7 kernel release.

“I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, even if it’s big and professional) for 486+ AT clones and just about anything else out there under the sun,” Torvalds wrote on Google+. “This has been brewing since april 1991, and is still not ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in Linux 3.11-rc7.”

More than 1,500 plus-ones and nearly 900 reshares later, there no doubt Torvalds got the word out about Linux’s latest milestone. Down at the Linux blogosphere’s Broken Windows Lounge, drinks were on the house to celebrate the occasion.

‘The Sky Isn’t the Limit’

“Twenty-two years? Where has the time gone?” began Linux Rants blogger Mike Stone, for example.

“Looking back over everything that Linux has accomplished in that time, it becomes a lot easier to quantify what Linux hasn’t achieved than what it has,” Stone added. “Linux has yet to conquer the desktop PC. Yea, that’s pretty much it.

“Everywhere else Linux goes it’s at the minimum a major player,” he pointed out. “It’s pretty amazing that this little project of Linus’s (you know, nothing big and professional) has come so far and it does so much.”

Speaking of desktops, “we users were misguided by computer vendors to think another OS was the only or better option,” Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C. suggested. “But this has also being changing, slowly.”

In any case, “where can it go in the future? Who knows? The sky is the limit!” Stone concluded. “Well, I guess Linux already is used on the International Space Station, so I guess the sky isn’t the limit. With desktop computers fading in relevance, expect the last barriers to Linux to drop allowing it to become a truly dominant force.”

‘The Right Way to Do IT’

Indeed, “*/Linux has come a long way in 22 years, from a challenging project for some restless programmers to becoming the backbone of the Internet and the OS of choice for hundreds of millions of consumers and an awful lot of OEMs,” blogger Robert Pogson agreed. “Linux is no longer the private project of a few but a foundation of IT for many millions.

“Thousands of contributors and hundreds of organizations large and small have shared in the responsibility of providing a good operating system kernel complete with drivers for just about everything,” Pogson told Linux Girl. “It seems that what started as small and fragile is now huge and robust. It’s too important and valuable for anyone to neglect.”

In short, “the Linux play has gone through several big acts but there does not seem to be any conclusion in sight,” he concluded. “It’s just the right way to do IT by cooperating instead of fighting.”

‘No End in Sight’

Robin Lim, a lawyer and blogger on Mobile Raptor, took a similar view.

“Linux is stronger than ever on its 22nd year, with no end in sight to its phenomenal growth,” Lim observed.

Of course, “Android is where the game is these days, he added. “With Android you have the likes of Samsung cashing in big time on the Linux gravy train.

“Where next? Well, it is obvious isn’t it? Android takes over the desktop,” Lim suggested. “You have more people than ever whose first computer is an Android or iOS phone or tablet. One of these days someone will figure out forking Android to work on better on a hybrid, laptop or desktop could become a very profitable business.”

Indeed, “I hope everyone likewise acknowledges and celebrates the day Android was released, because without Google choosing to use the Linux kernel in their new OS, Linux would have stayed in the dank basement of the server room,” Slashdot blogger hairyfeet opined. “Torvalds may have made it but Brin and Page made it great.”

‘Global Domination’

Linux “has been good to me,” consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack offered. “It provided a good hobby in my late teens followed by a solid decade-long career. Hopefully it continues on its path of success.”

Twenty-two may not be a particularly notable number, but it’s significant in this case “because we are in the middle of a profound transformation in computing,” Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien opined. “Microsoft looks increasingly like a rudderless company, and at the same time a platform shift to mobile devices is over-shadowing the traditional desktop.

“Linux is at the heart of the new mobile platform,” O’Brien concluded, “and it is running the data centers that serve up the Internet. We are witnessing global domination.”

‘Many Things to Celebrate’

The milestone is “a wonderful feat,” Google+ blogger Alessandro Ebersol agreed.

“We have many things to celebrate,” Ebersol added, “but sadly, Linux did not change the uses and abuses of the IT industry. Even now, Microsoft, which battled it so much, is earning millions, piggybacking Linux and abusing its patent portfolio.”

So, “yes, Linux changed the scene for users, but it did not change the greedy corporate mindset of the IT companies,” he asserted. “Pity. They could have learned a lot, and became better, as whole.”

‘Like a Friend Who Is Always There’

In any case, “my personal prediction is that Linux-based operating systems in one form or another will become ‘Humanity’s Operating System,'” Google+ blogger Brett Legree suggested. “It seems well on the way to being just that, running everything from embedded systems, watches, smartphones, routers, laptops, workstations, supercomputers… we all know it is everywhere.”

So, “while I can say that I didn’t jump up and down when Linux hit the big 22, perhaps that’s just because it has done so well that it is a given, like a friend who is always there for you and will never let you down,” he concluded. “Happy Birthday, Linux.”

Katherine Noyes is always on duty in her role as Linux Girl, whose cape she has worn since 2007. A mild-mannered ECT News Editor by day, she spends her evenings haunting the seedy bars and watering holes of the Linux blogosphere in search of the latest gossip. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.

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