Linux: A Surprisingly Popular Operating System

android-linux.pngBack in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I tinkered around with Linux open source operating system (OS) because I wanted an UNIX based system and I had an extra desktop computer. Getting the darn thing to install was a labour of love. There’s always something missing (like a driver for a sound card) to prevent me from making a perfect installation. It definitely requires geek skills and it’s not intuitive to use.


There’s a perception that Linux is not industrial strength when it is compared to the likes of Sun UNIX, IBM UNIX, Windows NT and etc. Few people outside of the Linux community know how good it is until the creation of Apache web server. During the dot-com craze, everyone wanted a website and many web hosting companies turned to Linux and Apache combination because they are free and they can run on a common Intel’s x86 based machine. In addition, Apache web server allows multiple websites to host on a single server. This ability lowers the number of machines a web hosting company has to buy and manage. During this period, it showed that it’s up to the task. Another big vote of confidence for Linux was when major database vendors started porting their enterprise database systems to it.

User Experience

The next break for Linux was when Google decided to build Android OS (the OS was initially developed by Android Inc. that was supported and then bought by Google) on the Linux kernel. Android gave Linux a wonderful user interface. Android OS was released in 2007 and the first computing device HTC Dream smartphone was released in the Fall of 2008. Since then, there are numerous versions of Android OS using various Linux versions. With each new version, the user experience kept on improving.

Where Is Linux Now?

Since 2008, 7 out of 10 largest smartphone makers use Android OS in their mobile computing devices. As of 2012, Q4, 50 million new Android devices are sold per month. It’s projected that Android OS install base will surpass Windows’ 1.25 billion install devices by Q3 of 2013. This is lightning fast given that it took about 30 years of Windows to established their install base. Above source : TomiAhonen Consulting

The desktop market is flat or shrinking because among other reasons, not everyone need all the power and features. It’s unlikely Windows’ install base will grow at the same pace as Android. A personal experience, I got a tablet for my mom instead of a laptop because it’s easier to use, more robust and does what she wanted – do Facebook, take photos and read emails.

Mobile computing continues to growing rapidly in every corner of the world and Linux is playing a big part in it. The introduction of Tizen (another open source OS using Linux) will further strengthen its role in shaping the landscape of computing. There are many other Linux based mobile OSes popping up as well. It’s an exciting time for Linux and open source.

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, who would have thought that Linux would play a big role in our computing lives now (and beyond). Think about it, there will be over a billion Linux base computing devices by the end of 2013. It’s amazing.