Linux

Ten things Linux and open source have to be thankful for

Linux and open source has a lot to be thankful for. Jack Wallen takes a moment to highlight ten things this community should give thanks for. You might be surprised at what you read!

It's that time of year again -- when all of the pundits, bloggers, and Max Headroom-like "voices of the future" spout off their thanks for all things tech and nerdy. Not one to jump on every bandwagon that comes along -- I wanted to point out the things that the open source and Linux community have to be thankful for.

#1 Red Hat

Red Hat has not only proved that Linux software can turn a serious profit, it was also part and parcel to the early success of the Linux operating system. During the freshmen years of Linux, the open source platform wouldn't have enjoyed nearly the success it did without Red Hat. Back then, the fedora-sporting distribution was one of the single most popular distributions on the planet and helped to keep Linux on pace with other platforms. Had Red Hat not been around, Linux might not be perched on the precipice of serious success that it is now.

#2 Mark Shuttleworth

Though hated by many, Mark Shuttleworth helped to bring to the public one of the single most user friendly distributions on the planet. Yes, Shuttleworth made some serious ripples in the Linux community when he dropped GNOME as the default desktop of Ubuntu, but the move will eventually prove to be a brilliant one. Shuttleworth has become one of the brightest figureheads in the Linux community and will eventually have Canonical and Ubuntu sitting in a similar seat as Red Hat enjoys now.

#3 Facebook

Over eight million users cannot be ignored. Facebook is served up thanks to the LAMP platform and without Linux and open source, this social network phenom wouldn't exist. Yes, the majority of users enjoy Facebook on the Windows platform, but were it not for Linux and open source, they wouldn't be enjoying it at all.

#4 WordPress

Another big coup for Linux that most people don't see is blogging platforms. One of the biggest blogging platforms on the planet is WordPress. Not only is WordPress run on the Linux platform, it's also open source. Currently there are over fifty-seven million word press sites across the planet. Those statistics cannot be denied. Period.

#5 Apache

Imagine the IT landscape without Apache! That's a fairly bleak world, having to rely on the likes of IIS. And even beyond the cost of IIS is the lack of reliability. If the world's websites depended upon anything other than Apache, the web would be a lot less enjoyable. 404 would be a very popular number.

#6 Valve

This has only recently come about, but Valve's porting of Steam to Linux holds some serious future gains. Games. It's one of the spaces in which Linux has always suffered. The beta for Steam on Linux has opened (most likely all 1,000 spots filled) and soon the full release will be available. It's my prediction that once the games start flooding in -- the tables, well, they might just turn.

#7 LibreOffice

This one is a tough one -- only because you can't discount OpenOffice (and even StarOffice -- if you can remember back that far). But at the moment, LibreOffice is the truest, brightest star in the open source office suite landscape. No, LibreOffice hasn't ripped MS Office out of the cold, dead fingers of the world of business, but it's working hard to prove that MS Office is not the only game in town. I hope, someday soon, LibreOffice will enjoy a much more eye-to-eye view with small to medium businesses.

#8 Google

Not only does the Google data center run off of a special Linux platform, the majority of its employees use a special Linux desktop platform (you've probably heard of it -- Goobuntu) that is based on the latest version of Ubuntu. This is really only a special "skin" that sits on top of Ubuntu -- but it proves that one of the biggest companies on the planet can (and does) use Linux on the desktop. If Google can, so too can you.

#9 GNOME and KDE

I realize the Linux desktop wars simply aren't what they once were. And many users refuse to adopt the new Unity desktop (which is a shame -- as it it quite an efficient desktop). But the truth of the matter is, Linux wouldn't be where it is without GNOME and KDE. Oh sure, GNOME might well have jumped the shark a bit on 3, but it's still alive and still growing. KDE will always be pushing the bar along side GNOME. But without these two desktops, the Linux desktop might well still be suffering the likes of CDE and AfterStep. Yes, at their time they were seriously impressive -- but neither has bothered to improve. Even the latest releases of CDE still look and feel like you're using a desktop circa 1996.

#10 You

Thought it sounds a bit cheesy (sharp Tillamook Cheddar cheesy even!), you are the one thing Linux and open source has most to be thankful for. You are a community that not only challenges the open source platform, but helps it to improve and remain grounded with the reality of user-friendliness. You have stuck by Linux, through thick and thin. You are the fans, the opposition, the users, the developers, the promoters, the skeptics... without you, Linux and open source would not exist.

In the end, there are so many things to be thankful for. Ultimately Linux and open source is a big, dysfunctional family that works tirelessly to help bring to the masses software it can not only use, but afford. Thank you, everyone, for helping all of this to be a reality.

About

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.

41 comments
setanta5
setanta5

Debian in the form of Ubuntu is superb desktop, but it is exasperating as a server OS. It's based on the principle of constant updates which doesn't work in a business environment, where configuration management is king. Constant updating is particularly perilous with Open Source; I have seen point updates break things. Further, in a professional environment you want to stage updates. So for instance you might introduce Apache 2.2 in Test, but leave it on 2.0 for Staging and Production. Later you can introduce it in Staging and Production. This is just too difficult on Debian to bother even trying. Enter Red Hat. RH understood the needs of business, and created a much more controllable Linux. It also introduced a new, extremely valuable, facility: the ability to stay on old versions of software without the associated risks. For instance, Apache 2.0 has a few known vulnerabilities and the only remedy from the Apache Software Foundation was to upgrade to the latest version of Apache. This left businesses in a quandary: Upgrade and risk almost certainly breaking the corporate web site, or just hope no one notices it's running a vulnerable web server. Red Hat had the solution: it back-ported the security fixes into Apache 2.0 and all was well. This is a service it provides for all its packages. RHEL isn't a flawless business OS—for instance, patch auditing is a mess—but it's what made Linux acceptable to the business community.

lsatenstein
lsatenstein

Ten things Linux and open source have to be thankful for means that Linux and open source are thankful for something. Is it really "Ten things we should thank Linux and open source for providing?"

JRaigoza
JRaigoza

Android is very bad son, linux is your father litle robot

JRaigoza
JRaigoza

I Think Facebook didn't is proud enough of linux

terflip
terflip

All the great people who dedicate their time and effort to keep open source alive and well. Thank you all, have a great holiday season.

B.Kaatz
B.Kaatz

Yes, I liked the fact that Apache came with every starting distro of linux, but with just the base Apache, you only have a webserver of static HTML pages. That's fine for a "Love-Of" site, but what has positioned Linux over Microsoft with regards to running web servers is the combination of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP/Python. Even Mr. Ballmer had to openly admit that 60% of all web servers on the internet were running Linux in September of 2008. *THAT* wouldn't have been possible with Apache alone. *Power to the Penguin!*

lkarnis
lkarnis

Without CentOS, we'd be paying RedHat for *free* software. My vote goes to CentOS

eldergabriel
eldergabriel

..."In the end, there are so many things to be thankful for. Ultimately Linux and open source is a big, dysfunctional family that works tirelessly to help bring to the masses software it can not only use, but afford."

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Who cares about open source? Nobody uses it!" "Do you use Firefox?" "Sure!" "The prosecution rests, your Honor."

ricrod74
ricrod74

Why am I not seeing Android\Google on this list?

emenau
emenau

And ...where is GNU in this picture?

janitorman
janitorman

Friend of mine bought a server box running Windows XP, he didn't realize it had an Apache application running on it full time, taking up all the memory. He had no use for it so I killed it. It came back. I uninstalled it. It reinstalled. I had to find the install files and kill THEM and everything referencing it to get it to die. Had that box running sweet, and then he just HAD to d/l a trial version of Vista, ran on dual boot. Thing is he didn't know how to boot back into XP when the trial locked him out. I fixed THAT, too. I'm no techy, but I tell you what, he finally got rid of that box and now owns a Mac. He would have seriously screwed up yet another Windows box, and I shudder to think what he would have done with a LINUX box! Each has their purpose, and certain users should use what works best for them. I appreciate Jack saying, be thankful for the opposition, though. He kind of snuck that in there, didn't he? If people weren't unhappy with the bloated, fault-ridden unsecure releases of Windows, or with the high pricing of Macs we wouldn't have user-friendly Linux boxes.

rafamd
rafamd

Should Linux and Open Source be thankful for Facebook, or Facebook and all its users be thankful for Linux and Open Source? Isn't the logic inverted on this one?

Altotus
Altotus

Don't hate on Mark Shuttelworth he has done so much with Ubuntu! I don't care for unity myself but Ubuntu rocks anyway. The only one out of place is Facebook glad that LAMP was available for Facebook to use but the users really don't care what the platform is. Take a page from the success of Facebook and be of good cheer the tools are here for you. Open is the place to be! I vote for the whole list! Oh yea welcome Valve! Yahhh Hooo!

TrajMag
TrajMag

When is someone going to buy (crowd funding - maybe) the air time to herald the fact that the vast majority of the world population could not and would not have the current super fad web site and the largest web search without Linux and open source. Name names and cite numbers! I have throughout the years found it absolutely absurd that the people refuse to use something that just works and is absolutely free. (Do Not forget to Donate!)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...it proves that one of the biggest companies on the planet can (and does) use Linux on the desktop. If Google can, so too can you." Google is a relatively new company that had the luxury of implementing Linux from scratch, without having a few decades of legacy apps and stakeholder relations to consider.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Grimace... Didn't bother reading the rest of it...

Slayer_
Slayer_

Right now my server totally unresponsive, no FTP, no gui, monitor won't turn on, no keyboard, nothing. But it's still serving web pages like a champ. Go figure.

_CentiZen_
_CentiZen_

But I fail to see why number 3 has any benefit to Linux or Open Source in general. Ok, so Facebook uses Linux. How does that benefit Linux? Facebook does not contribute to development or back to the organization. All that happens is that Facebook doesn't have to pay for OS licences for their servers. How does that benefit the Linux community?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You'd be paying for Red Hat support services and updates. I believe you can download Red Hat without paying a fee. But, CentOS is a great choice too; updates for free and probably a choice of third party support contractors.

steamIngenious
steamIngenious

Android is a lighting rod for drama that would probably overshadow what Jack is saying in this article.

eldergabriel
eldergabriel

The GNU project and Richard Stallman certainly deserve some mention and credit here. The omission is somewhat understandable from the standpoint of avoiding arguments about the various personality cults that might arise ("Why mention RMS and omit Linus Torvalds!?")... the potential drama that could result is just not worth wasting the bandwidth. We already saw a touch of that with Mark Shuttleworth on the list. Just think of all the useful code that could be written instead :). I suppose we can all agree on just being grateful for all the FLOSS developers and software engineers, period.

steamIngenious
steamIngenious

I've always been a Debian guy. Bums me out a little that Debian is left out of this list, but Jack seemed to be aiming for the shallow end. It makes sense since he is pushing a popularity agenda, I bet Jack uses Debian himself on some machines (and I don't mean Ubuntu).

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Granted, that is not Apache but whomever installed it on that machine before your friend purchased it. Did you consider following up with the seller on that issue?

jvnetsl
jvnetsl

That's true man. Facebook doesn't even mention Linux. Most companies don't. That's not how anybody treats something that do really well what u need to do..

steamIngenious
steamIngenious

Why does it have to be one or the other? Speaking of logic...

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

"I have throughout the years found it absolutely absurd that the people refuse to use something that just works and is absolutely free." No market share. Or tiny market share. What does market share have to do with the running of an OS? Nothing. But I see it quoted all the time like it's a key factor why the quoter finds Linux unacceptable. My favourite, however, is how one detractor still has to "compile the kernel". It's not even FUD. It's just ignorance perpetuated by those who need to validate their choice in OS. Like Linux cares.

steamIngenious
steamIngenious

I personally don't use Facebook, but it doesn't take a genius to see that FB's success will inspire others to build on top of Linux.

Slayer_
Slayer_

First, monitor cable was loose (doh). So, plugged that in, and see that the FTP server is frozen, ok, so I end task it. Next, I try to go check the logs, I double click My Computer.... and get "Out of Memory" WTF? lol. Now I am even more impressed with Apache, with the OS throwing a fit, it was still working.

Sagax-
Sagax-

Usability is demonstrated. And demonstrated is better than claimed. Stability is demonstrated. Extensibility has been demonstrated. So when a conversion to the LAMP is considered and the question is asked, "will it work?". The answer, it works for Facebook is a powerful testimony.

steamIngenious
steamIngenious

Upvoted for asking a good question and being concerned about the broader view. Facebook benefits Linux in the same way Google or any other megacompany that relies on Linux does. By building a huge resource intensive, ubiquitous platform on top of Linux, Facebook shows other companies can do the same and have success. This is definitely a feather in the cap for Linux and can only increase its popularity.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

AKA "Gnome Shell", is probably what Jack was referring to. They may have been somewhat premature in its wide release, as it had a lot of issues early-on. However, that's in the past, and GNOME 3 is very much a benefit to Linux. Makes it darn hard to switch to Unity, in fact...

SimonHobson
SimonHobson

I agree, it's really impossible to pin down just a few individuals or projects and say "they made it work". There have been lots and lots of people who all contributed in different ways - in some cases their contribution may not be "wouldn't be here without it" critical, but they all helped - just like you can't say "THAT" brick is key to the whole wall. Even the key stone in an archway is useless without all the other bricks that support it. Since you mention RMS, some people don't like his hard line attitude - but without people like him, who have fought for years to maintain openness, I do doubt we'd be where we are. Linus gets lots of praise - but if you take a step back his initial contribution was almost accidental and if he hadn't written his kernel at an opportune time, then something would have come about sooner or later. Then someone mentioned GNU - again, there's a lot there that would probably have come about eventually had the GNU project not been there, they they were there, and we reap the benefits. So I think this "10 things" idea is a bit pointless. There are so many thousands (millions ?) of people who have contributed in some way. Whether that's a major contribution to the core tools (Linux kernel, GNU tools, etc), contributing to one of the many projects that makes it possible for people to "do stuff" with their computer, or just using it and telling others how good it is (and helping others to get started). Sure you can pick out a few individuals who have done much more than most - but like a wall, it takes nearly all the bricks to keep it standing.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm sure they don't mention what make and model of servers, UPS, or generators they use; or the brand of CAT-5 cable connecting it all together; or give credit to their electric utility. It's all infrastructure; their customers don't care, just the people who maintain it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Just works and free are great for an OS, but if it won't run the apps the user wants, they won't use it. You could give away high-quality rabbit chow, but if I don't have a rabbit, I'm not going to be interested. Market share determines what paid developers write for. If there aren't enough people running Linux, no one is going to spend time and money writing a version of the Latest and Greatest Killer App for it. They're opposite sides of the same coin. If it won't run what I want, I won't install it. If no one installs it, developers won't port to it.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

As you say, wouldn't take a genius to come up with the idea. Then there's another point how many people know FB is built on Linux? Bet you wouldn't have to take your mittens off to count how many it it's 8 million users do. Not to mention the fact that neither LInux nor Open Source are entities, so gratitude is a null concept. I'm a user, purveyor and proponent of both and I feel no gratitude whatsoever to FB or Ubuntu, that's why. Can't think of a single reason why I should either. They espouse not one value of either, except free as in beer.

setanta5
setanta5

After that experience will you switch to Ubuntu? :-)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I can see using multiple operating systems, but I still can't see why to bother. XP, Vista, and 7 can be made secure quite easily. The security claims are as out of date as those that Linux is hard to install and use. When MS supporters talk about Linux using terms and phrases that are out of date, the Penguinistas scream 'FUD!'. The same applies to security claims about Windows that have been obsolete since W2000. Everything I want to run will run on Windows, including two apps that won't run in Linux. Why bother with all this sandboxing and virtualizing and dual-booting? I have nothing against Linux, but there's nothing there for me at this time.

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

The problem with Windows users is that can't even conceive of more than one OS to do what they want. They want one OS to do it all, and that's Windows. Which runs windows programs reasonably well... but does an abysmal job of security. By design. I run MSOffice in XP in VirtualBox. WinXP is relegated to doing one thing: run those apps. No AV, no anti-malware, no browser, no networking, no *nothing*. It runs Photoshop. MSOffice (because I like the VBA IDE better in Win2000 than in LibreOffice). That's it. Easy. And for the really cool stuff, Linux is where it's at. FireFox, music, video, youtube, irc, email, EVERYTHING else - ANYTHING that could possibly have an infection runs in an environment that is... well, nothing can run in it that I don't expressly give permission to? I compile my own copy of Blender that I get from svn using cmake. Before that, I had subscribed - still am, actually - to a PPA with frequent recent builds of Blender that would update whenever the OS was updated, which is frequently. Not available in Windows. I won't touch on GIMP: can't hold an extinguished candle to Photoshop yet, and at the rate they're going, I doubt it'll happen. Which is what VirtualBox (free) is for. Oh, btw, I noticed some legacy apps won't run in Win8. There is a solution, of course. :D

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

..added to Linux *will* enable you to run your legacy/Win-only apps (and provide time to find/develop alternatives). That leaves the question: "Then why make the effort?" Answer: Because you'll want to do everything related to the Internet from within Linux, not Windows (to avoid malware). That can be most easily accomplished for most by installing Vbox, putting Linux in a VM, then 'crippling' FF, IE, etc. so that normal users can't launch browsers in Windows. Then everyone learns to surf from Linux (Ubuntu)... Keeps my systems safe at home for my family. But (not being business employees), we really have no need to run apps in Windows; everything we need is in Linux, but for one key app I need (LabVIEW).