LinuxWorld: Community roots bolster Linux growth

Windows still the one to beat but Linux influence continues to grow

Linux is beginning to find its legs as the foundation in many different technologies and in the process is fueling a feedback loop that is helping accelerate the operating system's popularity.

As more and more people contribute from areas such as mobile, data center power management, and real-time technologies, innovations are coming rapid fire and when folded into the Linux kernel provide benefits across a wide spectrum.

For example, power management features for the data center are being tapped to help extend battery life in Linux-based mobile devices.

The evidence of the cooperation will be on display at next week's LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco.

The conference is expected to draw 10,000 attendees to nearly 100 sessions and 200 exhibitor booths. In addition, there is a mini-conference on Mobile Linux, the Linux Garage that will highlight the latest embedded-Linux gadgets, an install fest to benefit San Francisco-area schools, an open source voting demonstration and the annual Penguin Bowl that will pit teams dedicated to mobile Linux and server Linux.

"When you look at how people use technology -- embedded systems, mobile computing, mobile internet devices, servers, super computing -- in almost every aspect of technology Linux is emerging as the dominant platform," says Jim Zemlin, CEO of the Linux Foundation.

Of course, Windows still enjoys healthy unit-shipment leads on servers and client systems.

But Zemlin says as Linux use has increased it is fueling a positive feedback loop due to its community development roots.

"When a Wall Street trading application developer uses real-time Linux or when the Defense Department is creating real-time technology for robust embedded defense systems, that same technology gets contributed back to the Linux kernel and it might benefit mobile phone developers by offering the tools to create more stability."

While the feedback loop isn't new, Zemlin says it is getting rocket fuel from the growing legions of Linux developers.

In the past two years, he says, 3,200 developers have contributed to the Linux kernel. In one year alone, 1,762 unique kernel contributions were logged and there are 2,000 lines of code written every day.

The Linux kernel has a release every two and a half months and a new Linux distribution release every six months.

"We are seeing this incredibly unique cross pollinization of innovation," Zemlin says.

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