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Trend Watch: Linux

This is the second in a multi-part series with a focus on trends that are interesting and important with a focus on enterprise computing. In this post, I’ll continue my point-in-time analysis of trends with a focus on Linux.  According to the Linux Counter*, there are about 89,365,600 Linux users in the world.

Linux Computing Now

In 2016, Linux celebrated 25 years, creator Linus Torvalds posted about his free OS in 1991 saying it was “just a hobby, won’t be big.”  He didn’t anticipate its success. Today, many companies use the open-source software in one implementation or another.

According to “Linux Adoption Trends: A Survey of Enterprise End Users” from the Linux Foundation, Linux adoption in the enterprise has been accelerating for more than a decade. However, details about how it is used among the world’s largest enterprises are often underreported. This is in part because sales figures don’t tell the whole story, as companies can download software on their own since Linux is not managed, controlled or marketed by one supplier.

Linux Runs Where?

Linux runs in an amazing variety of places including environments with a GUI like desktop computers and laptops. Also, it runs in netbooks, web thin clients, mobile devices and other embedded systems with graphical user interface like smartphones. As well, it runs on hardware platforms without a GUI like web servers, lightweight directory access protocol servers, routers and supercomputers. Suppliers of this hardware and others have created GUIs in these environments to enhance the productivity of system administrators. The Wikipedia page on Linux adoption does a good job of explaining this diversity.

Takeaway:  Linux runs everywhere, often highly tailored to that environment, from desktops to supercomputers, with or without a GUI.

Mainframe Linux

Linux on the mainframe is going strong. The Linux OS benefits from the mainframe’s capabilities and strengths running critical workloads on IBM z/VM with IBM Wave and Kernel-based VM (KVM) for z Systems virtualization technologies. The Linux OS on z Systems is getting a big boost from cloud computing by hosting cloud IT infrastructure in support of data center simplification initiatives.

Linus is important to mainframes in at least four areas:

1. Cloud supporting Cloud Stack Architecture and IBM Cloud Orchestrator
2. Cognitive and data supporting IBM DB2 with BLU Acceleration, IBM SPSS Modeler and Apache Spark for Linux
3. Security and availability supporting Blockchain with IBM z/VM security and IBM GDPS capabilities
4. Virtualization and container with IBM z/VM and IBM Wave for z/VM, KVM and

Linux distributions for z Systems supported by IBM include Red Hat, SUSE and Ubuntu. See the tested platforms for the depth of platform support.

Takeaway:  On mainframes, Linux has an important role to play in cloud, cognitive and data and other important workloads.

Next Post

Next week, I’ll continue this point-in-time analysis of trends with a focus on mobile computing. Mobile devices are more that a next-generation output device, and I’ll explore the implications for enterprise systems.

*Update: The Linux Counter project was shut down in December 2018.