The State Of Linux — How Even Apple Is Going Open Source

Big business is calling – and they want to talk about Linux.

Linux is evolving now that the cloud is here and much of it is built on open source. Big business gets that and they want to get on the train. Even Apple is adapting.

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation opened with the keynote in San Diego for the first CloudOpen, making the point that everything is becoming a service. Those services are moving to the forefront of the enterprise and they are built on open source.

So if you are going to master software you must master open source. You can’t do it otherwise. There is no way to succeed in a services world without it.

Google, IBM and Intel have all demonstrated they are investing in open source. Even the companies you would not expect are adopting open source technologies.

Zemlin said Apple — one of the most closed companies in the world — is actually using lot of open source and software. Licensing information in the Apple iPhone proves this. Go to the legal section on the iPhone and it cites Linux Kernel developer Ted Ts’o for his code. Linux Suse is there, too.

Zemlin made the point that Apple has hundreds of billions of dollars in cash, which is enough to buy HP, Intel and Dell combined. Instead, Apple purchased the copyright to the Common Unix Printing System (CUPS), which now is on every Linux and Apple system.

The list of companies using Linux does not stop at Apple. Microsoft, which once equated open source with communism, is now a top contributor to the Linux Kernel project. And VMware is getting on the bandwagon. The company acquired Nicira, a top contributor to OpenStack, the open cloud effort to build your own infrastructure. This week, VMware submitted an application to join the OpenStack community. At VMworld, executives said the acquisition is part of a strategy to move closer to open source — not away from it.

The future of IT is software. It will face out more than people do. That innovation will come from engineers who build open cloud environments. The reality is that open is many things to different people. Running on multiple clouds is not easy. It should not just be about the code but the systems, too. The challenge for the open source cloud movement is how it can help tie the pieces together to make the cloud truly federated.

(Hat tip — feature image is from Linux SUSE.)