In my previous post about Linux, I touched upon some of the key aspects that Linux lacks in order to become a successful consumer desktop operating system. However, as a programmer/engineer Linux is probably the best tool I can think of, when it comes to community based development and collective wisdom. Last few weeks I have been spending quite a lot of time studying the Open Source ecosystem and how various businesses are leveraging this ecosystem for their benefit. Let me lay down three major observations based on my study so far.
Platform Linux – Unlike few years back (say 2007), the Open Source Linux has become much mature by looking into the Operating System as a platform. By adopting OS as a platform, products (mainly embedded) can do a lot of customizations depending on their need. This main advantage is aided by multiple middleware platforms (ex: ENEA) who offer options integrated like – build framework, Open Source package integration, patch configuration and management, tool-chain support for various architectures (mainly for ARM/PPC/x86) which is making very comfortable for any product to adapt Linux, which was a huge challenge few years ago. After getting the basic things working with the middleware platform, products can develop custom applications depending on the functionality. Based on my observation, I could see customizing and making Linux as a platform itself is a huge business, which most of the popular vendors (Windriver, Suse, Monta Vista) are doing. This is a remarkable change I see compared few years ago.
Quality at every step – The Open Source community of developers has attained a high level of maturity, which is built over two decades. Since the main source code for Kernel (kernel.org) and individual projects (souceforge.net) is maintained by volunteers, purely driven out of passion they ensure proper code review is done and approval process is followed before committing any change into the main branch. In case any issues, ‘self-detection-and-self-healing’ approach adopted by Open Source ensures it is rectified at the earliest. Also a bunch of benchmarking tools (ex: Linux Test Project) available to quality the changes made. Since everything is volunteer driven who stick to a set of common goals, Open Source is no longer a toy in the hands of geeks.
Corporate support – Now that big organizations have realized the power of Linux, they seem to support the community in a very strong manner. Every other Linux conference or event receives huge amount of financial and resource boost from these large organizations which is very heartening to see.
Again, these are my initial observations as I try to learn more into the world of Linux and Open Source. Some of them might look like very basic observations for an expert. Going forward, I will add more in-depth information based on my learning.