I read a great deal each week. Thanks to bloggers and the internet in general I have a diverse assortment of new sources. As an open source user and advocate I read with particular interest those items dealing with Linux and other open source packages. It’s generally assumed that competition is a good thing for consumers and generally it is. That competition is really what is driving the open source movement as programmers and users continue to tweak open source software. One of the question posed in an article I read was, “will Linux become the dominant OS?” I believe it will, but more important it won’t be Linux but the package maintainers that drive that. As Ubuntu, Suse, Red Hat, Gentoo, Debian, Fedora et al continue to evolve they will continue to improve. Because the source code is open it can be changed and because of very nature of open source those changes must be contributed back and this benefits everyone. Proprietary systems like Microsoft Windows are doomed. There is a lot a money in Redmond and lots of great minds but there is more money in the rest of the world and way more minds.
It has been interesting as a user of Linux to observe this change over the last six to ten years. I’m currently using Ubuntu but I started with Red Hat, moved to Suse, migrated to Mandrake, then Fedora, then more Red Hat and Centos. I’m currently using Ubuntu but with virtualization I’m looking at Suse again and toying also again with Red Hat and Centos. Just yesterday I built a test server at work using Suse Linux Enterprise Server nad with some help of Kevin Chin from Novell East I was able to turn on the correct switches in my BIOS to support virtualization with Xen. Later in the day, I was able to install Windows XP Professional as fully virtualized OS within the Suse Linux Enterprise Server. This very positive experience has me once again considering Open Suse as my own personal desktop. I’m still skewed slightly toward Red Hat because I took a system administration course from Red Hat and I still manage a couple of Red Hat servers. In short I’ve got a range of choices. I have those choices because of competition and innovation from and between competitors.
I should include Apple’s Mac OS X in the equation too. The Mac OS while based on Unix is more stable than Windows suffers too from a lack of internal competition, but Apple has always had to compete for market share and because of that they’ve generally been very innovative. Apple also has moved the cheese with its support of virtualization on the Macintosh. However, both Apple and Microsoft are unwilling to support their operating systems virtualized on Linux. I think they are making a huge mistake. It’s an understandable mistake. I’d probably react the same way they have if I was in their shoes. But, I think the time is coming when virtualized desktops will rule. Energy costs, IT support costs and efficiency will move us all towards more virtualization and it makes a lot of sense that the virtualization platform will be a Linux OS.