Recent headlines have made me feel like it's 1999 and Linux has just peeked its head through the veil of mainstream computing. Everyone is all wide-eyed about the little operating system that could. But this time there's a different feeling surrounding the coming out party. This time it's serious. This time Linux is the belle of the ball.
It all started out for me, this past week, with an article on CNET about third-party free IT departments. The article (here it is if you're interested) goes on to state that IT departments do most of their services around open source projects and not third-party consulting companies. What this means to me is that IT departments across the globe are relying more on open source than proprietary software.
The next step of this coming out was when Microsoft itself released their Open Source Interoperability Initiative. This one I couldn't believe myself. The company that, just a few short years ago, was hell-bent on taking Linux out of the equation is stepping up and basically saying, "We give up! We're going to play nice together from now on." Now don't get me wrong, I am still skeptical about this. But the very fact that MS says (on its own Web site):
The Open Source Interoperability Initiative exists to foster more open engagement between Microsoft and open source communities. It will encompass a broad range of facilities, events, and resources supporting interoperability, including labs, plug fests, technical content and opportunities for ongoing cooperative development.
This makes me think that something good just might be coming down the pike for open source from Microsoft. Of course, on the other (more conspiratorial) hand this makes me think that it could merely be a ploy on MS's part to keep the EU from further anti-trust suits against Microsoft for monopolistic practices. Seriously - if MS is now playing fair with open source, how could anti-trust suits be applied? So maybe this is a you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours. But, in all honesty, who cares? Even if this interoperability on MS's part is only a means to an end, it still greatly benefits open source. And so long as this isn't some odd back door for MS, this could all work out great for everyone involved. Especially end users and IT departments.
And don't forget, Walmart has now become a big player in this coming out party. Remember all of those gOS powered PCs Walmart sold out of? Well guess what? Walmart is now one upping that by selling the Everex Cloudbook line of micro laptops powered by gOS Rocket and the Everex gBook laptop.
Linux to the masses for sure. At those price points not only can the fan boy enjoy Linux but the average Jane can as well.
This could be, as many have said, a big year for open source. I believe that projects such as OpenOffice, The GIMP, and Scribus are going to make big strides. And I am sure Ubuntu and upstarts like gOS are going to continue to be embraced by the less nerdly community. Even, as in the case of Walmart sales, if the community at large doesn't even know they are embracing open source technology, they are.
Ladies and gentlemen I give you Linux, in her fine hand-made gown of Tulle and Satin. The Belle of the ball.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.