Linux/Unix is for geeks??

There are still a number of people out there that believe that Linux is for Geeks. Linux is based on UNIX, which has been the operating system of choice for serious computing since the late 60’s. It is a flexible core that supports a large number of user interfaces. The nice thing about it is that the underlying file system is very well known and somewhat predictable.

As a software designer, I regularly hear people say that they need software that runs on Windows. Windows is definitely a platform that is easy to use and according to current stats, Microsoft owns 90% of the desktop market. Microsoft continues to stumble however, with heavy handed approaches to product changes. Windows 8 looks like it is going to be another Vista and every version of Office completely changes the UI.

Lets take a moment to consider where UNIX based OS’s are currently being used.

Apple broke records in 2012 for sales and net worth. I believe they are now the largest global company to ever exist. All of Apples products are based on a version of BSD Unix. IOS and OSX are the same code base, making applications easier to port and support. Every iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and MAC runs UNIX.

Linux is UNIX based and although not as widely deployed as OSX, it is available in hundreds of distributions. The most popular Linux distributions are Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Red Hat, Mint, Suzy and Mageia. Linux can be found in a number of embedded systems. Check out this link for a list.

The second most popular mobile operating system is Google Android. The Android OS was based on Linux and originally developed by Android Inc. Google purchased Android Inc. in 2005. Every Android device has a modified version of UNIX inside.

Sun was recently purchased by Oracle, but at the end of the 20th century was known as the premier work station manufacturer. Every Sun workstation runs SOLARIS which is an operating system based on UNIX. Medical equipment like MRI’s and EKG’s still run Solaris/UNIX.

RIM the maker of Blackberry devices has abandoned it various OS’s for the Blackberry 10 OS. Blackberry 10 was created by an Ottawa based company called QNX, yet another variant of UNIX. Every RIM device worldwide will be running the Blackberry 10 OS.

The Sony PS3 was released in 2006 with an OS based on YellowDog Linux. The PS4 (Omni) is rumored to be release in 2013. The Omni will be based on the same OS.

Yes there are a lot of windows computers, but if we tally up all of the devices listed above, it starts to become clear that

–       Unix has been around for a long time,

–       Open source versions are embedded in a lot of appliances,

–       Real time versions run in everything from thermostats to aircraft systems and MRI’s.

–       The largest company in the world uses UNIX in both desktop and mobile devices.

Engineers may rule the world, but one of their most versatile tools is the humble OS that powers their efforts in the background. Unix in its many forms is the work horse of the computer industry.

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