Linux is 30 years old

Thursday 26th August, 2021 - Bruce Sterling

*Why did it survive (so far)? Opinions differ:


A remarkable aspect of the Linux story is that Torvalds is still leading it. “I first got started in 1995 with Linux, I think it would have been surprising to me [then] that he still had the chair and was doing such a good job at it,” said McGrath. What will happen when Torvalds stands down? “We’ve got a whole business based on Linux, so succession planning is very important to us,” he said, adding: “As with any community, we respect their autonomy‚Ķ I don’t know what the open source equivalent of a business continuity plan is though I hope the Linux Foundation does. There are certainly people that could step in and take over from Linus if he chose to step down.”

The success of Linux is extraordinary, but it could be better. Google has said that its security is not good enough and that Linux needs at least another 100 engineers. “I don’t necessarily think that means that we just need to add more security people and that will solve it,” said McGrath. “I do think that security will be more at the centre of the processes that we have. That’s certainly going to be true at Red Hat. I think it will also be true in the open source communities where we will probable see more security being built into CI (Continuous Integration) pipelines.”

Year of the Linux Desktop?
What about the areas where Linux has not broken through? There is the desktop, where Windows and macOS are more widely used, and perhaps more significantly, mobile; Android is proprietary, despite being built on Linux, and it is not a healthy situation from a free software perspective.

“If there were no Linux there would be no Android,” said McGrath. “However, I don’t think that Linux needs to be out for world domination. If I were to guess at some possible causes why Linux didn’t take off in mobile, maybe we just had too much choice and spread ourselves too thin. I had a custom Android build on my phone for a time and I quickly dropped that because there’s a point at which my technical interests are not more important than my ability to call someone during an emergency, or get my maps to work.”

It is a point echoed by free software advocate Serge Wroclawski, who discusses what is available….