The State of Linux in 2016
As side projects go, few have succeeded quite as spectacularly as Linus Torvald’s attempt to create a new, free operating system. In 1991, he termed his project kernel “Freax,” a name soon eclipsed by another: “Linux.” In the past twenty-five years, Linux has grown and grown (and grown), overcoming resistance and legal threats from Microsoft and other proprietary-software vendors. Between 2005 and 2015, more than 12,000 developers contributed to the Linux kernel, committing changes at a rate of 8 per second. According to the Linux Foundation, 98 percent of the world's supercomputers use Linux, and 8 out of 10 financial transactions are handled on Linux servers. That’s in addition to 1.3 million Android smartphones activated each day (Android is based on Linux). It’s even used on the International Space Station. But perhaps the most interesting sign of Linux’s continued inroads is the ability to access Ubuntu Linux’s user space and Bash via Windows 10. You will be able to run apt, ssh, rsync, find, grep, awk, mysql, python, and much, much more from the Windows 10 command line, not in a container or virtual space. “Here, we're talking about bit-for-bit, checksum-for-checksum Ubuntu ELF binaries running directly in Windows,” Dustin Kirkland, a member of Canonical’s Ubuntu Product and Strategy team, wrote in a recent blog posting. System calls to Linux syscalls are translated into Windows OS syscalls. A few years ago, if you wanted to experiment with Linux, you had to buy a new PC. Now the cost has dipped to as low as $5, thanks to the Raspberry Pi Zero (don’t forget the $30 worth of cables). You can also install VirtualBox on a Windows machine, download Ubuntu desktop (or other Linux desktop), and start experimenting. Microsoft has even created an extension for Visual Studio that lets you create code for Linux and debug it from your Windows PC. It’s definitely not the 1990s anymore, when Microsoft was highly antagonistic to the existence of open-source software.