The future of Linux: Evolving everywhere

Cemented as a cornerstone of IT, the open source OS presses on in the face of challenges to its ethos and technical prowess

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One possible downside of Linux becoming an ubiquitous infrastructure element is it becoming as institutionalized as the commercial, closed source Unixes it has displaced. But Zemlin thinks Linux's very mutability works in its favor here: "If you would have asked Linus Torvalds or other members of the community a decade ago if Linux would power more mobile phones than any other platform, they certainly wouldn't have expected that. We'd rather just watch where it goes and not try to forecast since we most certainly will be wrong."

Another important future direction for some is, as mentioned above, "go[ing] mobile in a bigger way independently of Google," as Baker puts it. Projects like Mozilla's Firefox OS for phones are one incarnation of this, although it's unclear how much of a dent such a thing will make in Google's existing, and colossal, market share for Android.

Lastly, and most crucially, there's the question of who will be responsible for ushering Linux into its own future. While Linux can be forked and its development undertaken by others, history's shown that having a single core development team for Linux -- and equally consistent core teams for projects based on it -- is best.

That puts all the more burden on the core team to keep Linux moving forward in ways that complement its existing and future use cases, and not to protect it -- perhaps futilely -- from becoming something it might well be in its best interests to transform into.

If Linux's future really is everywhere, it might well also be in a form that no one now can conceive of -- and that's a good thing.

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