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As Data Grows, So Grows Linux

IDC recently announced its numbers for 2011 Q4 servers sales: overall server revenues are up for the year 5.8 percent, and shipments are up 4.2 percent. As The Reg reports, these shipment numbers are back to pre-recession levels.

What’s more interesting, though, is the trends that emerge from the very latest reporting quarter, Q4. Linux was the only operating system that saw a revenue increase in servers Q4, with a 2.2 percent rise. Windows lost 1.5 percent and Unix 10.7 percent.

IDC attributes some of that Linux success to its role in what the analyst firm calls “density-optimized” machines, which are really just white box servers, and are responsible for a lot of the growth in the server market. These machines have gained popularity in a space still squeezed on budget and that continues to be commoditized. But there are other factors at play for Linux’s success over its rivals.

Coming out of the recession, Linux is in a very different position than it was 10 years ago when we emerged from the last bubble. Today it's mature, tried, tested and supported by a global community that makes up the largest collaborative development project in the history of computing.

Our latest survey of the world’s largest enterprise Linux users found that Total Cost of Ownership, technical superiority and security were the top three drivers for Linux adoption. These points support Linux’s maturity and recent success. Everyone is running their data centers with Linux. Stock exchanges, supercomputers, transportation systems and much more are using Linux for mission-critical workloads.

Also helping Linux’s success here is the accelerated pace by which companies are migrating to the cloud. Long a buzzword, the cloud is getting real, right now. While there is still work to do for Linux and the cloud, there is no denying its dominant role in today’s biggest cloud companies: Amazon and Google to name just two.

The mass migration to cloud computing has been quickened due, in part, to the rising level of data: both the amount of data enterprises are dealing with but the also how fast that data is growing. IDC this week predicted that the “Big Data” business will be worth $16.9B in three years. There is a huge opportunity here for Linux vendors. Our Linux Adoption Trends report, shows that 72 percent of the world’s largest Linux users are planning to add more Linux servers in the next 12 months to support the rising level of data in the enterprise. Only 36 percent said they would be adding more Windows servers to support this trend.

The enterprise server market is a strong area for Linux, but it’s an incredibly competitive market. Together we’ll continue to advance Linux to win here. In fact, we’ll be meeting at the NYSE offices in April at our Annual Linux Foundation Enterprise End User Summit where some of the world’s largest companies will talk in depth about exactly the things I’ve touched on here.

Yet again we are seeing market winners are born from collaboration. And we have the numbers to back it up.


Why the Next Steve Jobs Needs a Raspberry Pi, Not Patents

Nicholas Negroponte is always ahead of his time. When he envisioned One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), the average price for a PC was still hundreds of dollars. The industry rallied around his vision for a low-cost PC that anyone could use but couldn’t fathom innovative technology at the $100 price point he claimed he could hit.

But a little bit of time goes a long way: In the case of the newest low-cost computer, the Raspberry Pi, his vision is not only alive and well but selling out (Raspberry Pi Computers Sell Out On Launch).

Computing for everyone, starting with children, was the idea behind OLPC. And while the Raspberry Pi does target students, which is the most admirable of goals, it also puts a lot of computing power into the hands of anyone looking to create something interesting. $25 for a computing device is just incredible.

So why does this matter? Because it is showing just how well Moore's law is at work and how consequently important free software is to the world of computing. For the price of four Raspberry Pi's, you can't even get a copy of Windows 7 at Best Buy. And that is just for the upgrade version.

Innovation is happening because the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg can grab free software and low cost hardware and DO SOMETHING. Zuckerberg even took the time to point out the power of the hacker way as he filed one of the biggest IPO’s of the decade. The next technology innovator doesn't have to spend a fortune prototyping ideas or taking out licenses with everybody under the sun. With $25 and free software you can get started building something cool.

In fact, the only thing holding back this form of innovation is the billion dollar price of patents these days. This speaks miles to the power of getting the tools of innovation into the hands of many and the sad state of our current patent system. The only thing that holds back the next Steve Jobs is being sued by the company started by the late Steve Jobs.


The Greatness of Git

When Linus Torvalds says he is going to work on a side project he doesn't think small and he doesn’t work slowly.

When he created “Git,” the software source control and collaboration system that runs Linux kernel development, he started writing code on a Sunday (April 3, 2005) and emerged just a few days later with a new revision control system that today is regarded as one of the best pieces of software ever written (second, at least, to Linux, of course).

Andrew Morton said when introducing Linus to speak about Git to an audience at Google, Git is “expressly designed to make you feel less intelligent than you thought you were.”

Software Freedom Law Center Founder and co-author of the GPL Eben Moglen said during a keynote panel at LinuxCon last August: “Linus was presented with a nasty weekend once upon a time and out of it came Git. Another brilliant achievement, you understand. A work of superb design that is going to change the software industry and the world...because one man had one itch one weekend that was really biting, and he had to invent something. And he’s a brilliantly inventive man and scored another hole in one.”

Git had to be great in order to support the unmatched rate of development that Linux requires. Today, the Linux community applies more than five patches per hour to the kernel and to date has written more than 15 million lines of code. The sheer size of Linux development has made the project one from which others have borrowed both collaborative development lessons and and tools - like Git. Today Git is used by the Linux community, as well as developers working on projects that range from Ruby on Rails to Android to Perl and Eclipse, and many more.

The popularity of Git is also resulting in it becoming part of the technology vernacular, with businesses based on Git flourishing.

Consider GitHub. This is an amazing code repository that uses the Git revision control system and has become one of the most popular places to host and collaborate on software. This service is being used by more than a million people to store over two million code repositories.

Could Git also be getting into publishing? Maybe. reporter Bob McMillan recently took GitHub for spin, publishing his story about the repository in the repository. 

“GitHub was originally designed for software developers...But nowadays, it’s also being used to oversee stuff outside the programming world, including DNA data and Senate bills that may turn into laws and all sorts of other stuff you can put into a text file, such as, well, a Wired article.”

He might have gotten a little more than he bargained for with all the collaboration, but his experiment demonstrates its power.

GitHire is another new online application and service that builds upon Git for finding the world’s best programmers. GitHire will crawl Git repositories, find and rank programmers based on their code and reputation and provide employers with a short list of the world’s best talent most relevant to their needs. If you’re a software developer and doubted it before, code is most definitely the new resume.

There are a number of other examples, as well as native Git for Windows, Git implementations in other languages, tutorial businesses based on Git, and more.

The measure of truly great software development is use. When others use it and build new projects and/or businesses from it, you know it’s truly great. This is the essence of Linux and open source software development. By writing the best code and sharing it with the world, everything gets better, faster, and there becomes even more new ways to collaborate and share.


Need a Job? New Study Says Learn Linux.

No one disputes that that tech jobs are fueling the economy in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. President said in his recent State of the Union address that there are twice as many openings in the science and technology sector as there are people to fill them. But where exactly are these jobs? And, who exactly is landing them?

Today, we have new data that helps us understand where are the tech jobs and that tells us we need more trained people in the most profitable and rewarding areas of tech.

The first-ever Linux Jobs Report released today surfaces two of the most lucrative areas in the tech jobs market - Linux development and Linux systems administration. Eighty-one percent of recruiters surveyed for the report say hiring Linux talent is a priority in the year ahead. And, 63% percent will hire Linux talent over candidates with other skill areas.

A NYU Professor recently said "code is the literacy of the future" (CNN: Computer Geeks King in Job Hunt). We agree. And, we believe that Linux is an important currency in that future. It powers the Internet. It runs Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and millions of other Internet technology companies. It runs the world's supercomputers, data centers, smartphones, financial institutions and stock exchanges, and the list goes on. It's no surprise that with its widespread ubiquity that today there is also growing demand for talent to support it. In fact, when the Linux Jobs Report survey respondents were asked why hiring Linux talent was a priority in the year ahead, most reported their companies are growing, increasing their use of Linux and requiring in-house expertise to support the OS.

But the Linux Jobs Report also finds a wrinkle in an otherwise positive story: Linux and open source developers can be hard to find. Eight-five percent of those surveyed say that finding Linux talent is really difficult.

Google, Facebook, Amazon, Qualcomm, IBM, Intel and hundreds of other companies who rely on Linux to support their businesses, especially their highly-valued data centers and embedded systems, are paying big bucks to find and retain Linux talent. The Linux Jobs Report shows that nearly 1/3 of the companies surveyed are giving pay increases to these professionals that are above the industry norm. Dice's 2012 Salary Report backs this up, showing that Linux professionals have seen salaries go up by 5% over the last few years, while tech professionals overall have seen just a 2% increase. The 15% bump in bonus payouts to Linux professionals just solidifies the point.

It's become glaringly obvious that students and mid-level career professionals who can confidently write Linux code can also write their own ticket to long-term job security. It’s a really good time to know Linux.

Getting involved in open source projects and understanding the open development model are more important than ever, and the good news is that the “University of Open Source” is open to everyone. There are no entrance exams, no admissions counselors, and no student loans; all you need is a connection to the Internet. And, it doesn't matter where you live or what your local economy is dictating. In a world that is flat, Linux and open source software development is a global opportunity for job seekers working anywhere, any time.

Looking for a place to start? Check out Jon Corbet’s guide on participating in the Linux kernel community. We also invite you to check out our Linux training courses, which are taught by leaders from the Linux and Linux kernel communities.

Get all the results from the Linux Jobs Survey and Report by downloading it here:


Zuckerberg is Spot on with “Hacker Way” (but The Linux Community Already Knew That)

Facebook filed its IPO last week , which is big news in and of itself. However, what struck me most was the letter from Mark Zuckerberg to potential investors that puts an exclamation point on something that the Linux community has been practicing for years: first - don't do it for the money, second maintain the hacker way. And, the money follows.

Zuckerberg points out that Facebook wasn't started to become a company. It was a cause. It was an idea -- to connect people. Linus Torvalds had a similar idea 20 years ago when he started Linux as a way to collectively develop software. Linus kicked off the project “just for fun” and has repeatedly stated that his motivation behind Linux is solving interesting problems with code.

In the letter, Zuckerberg clearly demonstrates how he and his company have been inspired by the core principles that Linux and the open source software movement started twenty years ago.

Just take a look at these statements:

“People sharing more — even if just with their close friends or families — creates a more open culture and leads to a better understanding of the lives and perspectives of others.”

“Hacker culture is extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.”

“The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.”

“We think the world’s information infrastructure should resemble the social graph — a network built from the bottom up or peer-to-peer, rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date. We also believe that giving people control over what they share is a fundamental principle of this rewiring.”

Sound familiar? Zuckerberg’s interpretation of the “hacker way” could be cut and pasted from the daily workings of Linux kernel development for the last two decades:

"Code wins arguments."

"Quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations."

"The best idea and implementation should always win."

Linux is the quintessential example of the hacker way. As an example, if you don't think that code wins arguments, post some bad code along with the best-crafted argument in the world to the Linux kernel mailing list and see how it goes.

Linux is the fastest moving collaborative software project in the history of computing; it releases every three months and in small iterations with literally thousands of code changes in every release.  In fact Linux is often a leading indicator of things to come.  Virtualization technology, high performance computing, and more are often developed in the open first in Linux and then productized by companies later.

Of course, Facebook wasn’t just inspired by the hacker ethos. It is built on hacker code itself: Linux and a wide variety of open source technology. In fact, the economics that come with having open source software at its base makes Facebook’s filing even that much more compelling. Without the cost and flexibility advantages of open source, Facebook would be tied into proprietary contracts that would impede its ability to add users without the need to generate significant revenue. Before open source it was simply too difficult to scale, and the risk of your costs rising without your control was just too great. Zuckerberg made a brilliant decision -- albeit inevitable -- when he built Facebook on Linux using open source components. Would this IPO even be happening had he written Facebook as a Windows application?

It is no coincidence that one of the greatest entrepreneurial success stories of the last decade is deeply rooted in one of the greatest technology innovations of the last two decades: Linux and open development. Facebook is a great example of code + ethos that is driving great things.

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