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Discussion on: Do you use Linux? Answer for the chance to appear on the DevDiscuss podcast!

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SeriousFun01

The question could be rephrased: "You are not using linux. What is wrong with you?" :-)

Software technologies come and go in popularity as adoption, maturity, business models etc all evolve on ever faster timescales. We haven't really done "digital society" before so everything is a bit of a first, an exploration of the maze of possible configurations using trial-and-error.

Yet if you take a step back you see there is a Darwinian dynamic at play that over the course of decades has propelled linux to be the centerpiece of current digital transformation. There are complex reasons why is this so. To mention some candidates: good architectural choices rooted in the Unix era that created a legendarily efficient and stable OS, the incremental, ever improving, nature of open source development, the faster "weeding" out of poor design ideas of open software, and (obviously) its free access that is democratizing information technology.

The net result (as of 2021) is that linux servers and linux desktops are computational powerhouses that are totally customizable, offer enormous range of capabilities for most any computing needs (and did I mention they are free). For power users (say data scientists, developers) getting familiar with this ecosystem seems like a smart idea.

Yet the linux story is still unfolding and who knows what the next twist and turn would be. Linux is still not really accessible to non-technical people (which seem to be the vast majority of us when I look around).

The old joke used to be that every year is the "year of linux desktop". Now the joke will be that every year will be the "year of the linux mobile". People frequently mention that android is based on linux but in reality the mobile experience (which is today the primary compute platform for billions) is absolutely nothing like the linux experience.

Another area where linux has failed is the home server (NAS) segment where it could really offer privacy preserving alternatives for a whole range of services. The rush to the "cloud" (which is really just somebody else's linux computer) has ushered a dramatic swing back to centralized computing. This configuration may or may not last.

If my reasoning for why linux has succeeded up to this point is correct the most glorious days of the linux story are likely still ahead of us. And they will come about by people like you and me :-)