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The Business of Linux and Open Source

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This chapter explains why Linux and open source are important to your business.
This chapter is from the book

Linux and open source present many new technologies, ideas, concepts, and paradigms. Linux is a major new operating system that was developed using open source methodologies. To delve into what Linux is and how open source development can affect your enterprise, a crash course in some of these new concepts is required. The goals for this chapter are for you to understand:

  • Where Linux is used and how it is growing

  • Terminology that will be useful in understanding the book

  • The key business benefits of Linux and open source

  • Major inhibitors limiting the growth of Linux

  • Major players in the open source community

This chapter explains why Linux and open source are important to your business and gives you the base foundation that will enable you to progress through the book.

Linux Adoption

Normally we look at charts that show the revenue that a product or service is expected to generate in the marketplace. That picture cannot be accurate for Linux as it is impossible to accurately count the actual number of copies of Linux in use. This is very difficult to do for Linux because Linux is open source. Yes, it is possible to purchase copies of Linux. But, most often, companies will purchase one copy, customize it, and reuse the customized copy throughout the enterprise. Linux can also be downloaded from numerous places for free, built from scratch, included with books, and bundled with any number of products. Some users also configure their systems in a dual-boot configuration to allow the use of multiple different operating systems on the same computer. This makes the task of counting the actual number of copies of Linux in use very difficult, although many industry analysts, such as what IDC published and represented in Figure 1–1, are attempting approximations. Figure 1–1 enumerates the number of copies (both free and purchased) of Linux operating environments in use.

Figure 1-1Figure 1–1 Linux adoption (Source: IDC, 2002).

As I mentioned, since Linux itself can be obtained for free, the market revenue of the Linux operating system itself tends to be meaningless. But, having an approximate view of the copies in use gives you a leading indicator of what associated product revenues, such as clients, software, storage, and others, will be. This chart gives you a view of how fast Linux has been growing and that its growth is not stopping anytime soon. Notice that you must consider free as well as purchased copies. You should logically infer from this that companies in many technology segments will shift future product investments to Linux to take advantage of this growth.

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