August 22, 2016

Linux at 25: Changing the World with Code

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Jim Zemlin
Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation, speaking at LinuxCon North America in Toronto.

“You can better yourself while bettering others at the same time.” That was the theme of Jim Zemlin’s morning keynote address opening the LinuxCon North America conference in Toronto.

Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation, began with a reminder that this week marks the 25th anniversary of Linux, and special events will be held throughout the conference to celebrate -- including a black-tie gala on Wednesday night.

“Linux at 25 is a big thing, “ Zemlin said, noting that Linux today is the most successful software project in history.

Zemlin described the impressive progress of the world’s most dominant operating system, which runs the global economy and the vast majority of the Internet. Every day, 10,800 lines of code are added, 5,300 lines of code are removed, and 1,875 lines of code are modified. The Linux Kernel Development report, released today by The Linux Foundation, states, “the ability to sustain this rate of change for years is unprecedented in any previous public software project.”

According to Zemlin, however, the success of Linux boils down to the principles of open source and his statement that “You can better yourself while bettering others at the same time.” That is what really matters, and that is the magic of Linux and open source, he said.

That principle is also what needs to be sustained for the work ahead. For the first 25 years, open source companies mainly emulated the past, but now they’re defining the future. This work is about embracing open source to redesign the modern network and about making software more secure. And, Zemlin said, it’s about building the greatest shared technology asset in the history of computing.

Changing the Future While Changing Ourselves

Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, who spoke next, built on this theme of change in her talk titled “How Technology Shapes Us.”  Ramirez, a science evangelist and author, discussed the dynamic that exists between humans and their inventions and how technology changes human behavior. If you want to change the world, she said, do it with code.

Ramirez cited the telegraph as one example. The 10-word restriction of telegraph messages, similar to the modern restrictions of tweeting or texting, changed people’s writing style from long and descriptive to short and terse. Technology, she said, has the power to rewire our brains. But, of course, with power comes responsibility.

Ramirez suggested thinking about how this power can be used to solve bigger problems: to address climate change, for example, to reduce human suffering, to eradicate abuses, and generally to improve the human condition. “Think about the impact of your work,” she advised, and write aspirational technology that can make a better world. “It’s not easy but changing the world never is.”

Container Innovation

In the final morning talk, Dr. Ying Xiong, Chief Architect, Cloud Platform, Huawei Technologies, described how container technology can drive innovation. In the talk titled, “Unleashing the Full Power of Container with Orchestration & Management Platform,” he said companies are past the stage of “why use containers.” They’ve moved on now to when and how.

In China, he said, container adoption has reached 23 percent in development and testing and 14 percent in production. Fifty percent of companies using containers, however, manage them manually, while 42 percent use an orchestration platform. The functionality that an orchestration platform provides, such as scheduling, cluster management, monitoring, and scaling, is not new, he noted, but when these features are applied to containers, innovation occurs.

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