Mobile Proliferation Killed Linux Hopes For World Domination

Poor Linux. It struggled so hard to dominate the world. It was the little open source engine that could, but it didn’t. It never even came close to Microsoft Windows on the desktop, with less than 2% share of desktops. The bright spot for Linux is that 60%+ of servers on the Internet run Linux.

But the real end to Linux’s hope for world dominance came when mobile platforms iOS and Android cleaned clocks in the mobile market. Sure, Android is built on top of Linux, but Linux is only one of many piece parts of the Android mobile operating system. It is not a Linux distribution
The mobile platform space is extremely fluid, and I do not think the open source community can muster the forces necessary to compete. Open source never seems to be the innovator. Instead, it seems to disrupt pricing power for established technologies.
Game over for worldwide dominance. But server dominance is nothing to sneeze at.


Not sure I can fully agree

Not sure I can fully agree with the statement on the open source community being unable to muster necessary forces in the mobile platform space, given that Android itself is open source (in that the source code is available under the Apache 2.0 license - though I can see the counter arguments regarding the community 'openness' for Android not being what we see with say Linux).

Also, there are examples outside of the mobile platform space where open source is an innovator (think Big Data, NoSQL etc), though as you mentioned the majority of open source successes to date have been in commoditizing software areas with a wide horizontal footprint.

Is Open Source Innovative

Hi Trevor, Thanks so much for your comments. I especially appreciate your focus on my comments about the open source community.

I distinguish between open source community and open source license. In the early days of open source, developers would get an idea and code it up. If it was good it spread and was widely adopted. My observation is that many for profit ventures set out releasing their code under an open source license as a marketing strategy. I have no problem with that. If the software is good then people will adopt it. Some of the examples you cited such as NoSQL are good examples like MongoDB. It is a great NOSQL database under the creative commons license. But, is there any doubt that 10GEN wants to make some serious money. Just ask the the venture capitalists who invested tens of millions in 10GEN.


The 80/20 rule

This is the 80/20 rule. Or rather, the 99/1 rule. Ninety-nine percent of FOSS projects aren't innovative, but that's also true of software in general. What you do find is that a lot of academic research into advanced software methods are released as FOSS. It's surely why Free software was born in academia.

This extremely innovative research is then normally "productised" in proprietary software.

Android *IS* a Linux distribution you poor thing

From your own reference: "A Linux distribution is a member of the family of Unix-like operating systems built on top of the Linux kernel."

That is a definition of Android, I do not see why is this so hard to understand other than you're being intentionally obtuse. Your article is disproved in your own reference. Stop being a zealot and call things their real names ...

Poor Mike

Poor Mike, he is writing a blog post about a topic he really doesn't understand. Android is as much Linux as Linux is. You see Linux is the name of the kernel for both the GNU/Linux operating system AND Android. It isn't like Linus writes any of the apps that run on the GNU/Linux OS, just like he doesn't write any of the apps that run on Android. He doesn't write Gnome, KDE, Evolution, or anything like that, he is the project lead and contributor to Linux, the kernel. If I were your employer I would certainly take pause in the fact that you would post something so ill informed and troll-like on my domain. How embarrassing, poor Mike.

Linux Rules?

Kennon, I agree that Linux is a part of Android, but that is like saying Mac OS is Unix. An operating system is way more than a kernel. Do you really think that Linux and Android can be used synonymous?

Google's use of Android is not simply a private-label branding of Linux. Google did a lot to make it ready to be a prime
-time mobile operating system.
If you believe that a mobile operating system is merely its kernel, then I guess we just disagree. But, I would remind you that the Linux kernel is based on Unix that was designed in 1969.

A Kernel is not a OS.

That is exactly the point.

Whether is is Android, WebOS, Ubuntu, Red Hat,... all of them are Linux and none of them is Linux. All of them are based on the Linux kernel, but all of them are different Operating Systems.

There is no «Linux Operating System». Linux is just a component to be used to create an OS. Android is such operating system.

You need to settle your mind on whether you are talking about kernel market share or OS market share. Otherwise, you are comparing apples with pears; your whole article is wrong due to this fallacy.

As a kernel, Linux is doing very well in the mobile market, mostly thanks to Android.

In terms of OS market share, Linux is not even in the game, because it is not a OS, it is just a kernel used by many OS.

I couldn't agree more Pedro.

I couldn't agree more Pedro. Preach brother!!

that's correct

Kennon, I agree that Linux is a part of Android, but that is like saying Mac OS is Unix.

You can actually say OS X is unix and that is as true as saying Ubuntu is unix. On the other hand if you say os x runs on darwin. That's like ubuntu or android run on linux. Which they do and since android does indeed run on top of linux, (the link to the chart in the article just proofs exactly that...) this article has no sgnificant meaning whatsoever other than to provoke or to show off non existent knowledge about linux...

Actually, you can accurately

Actually, you can accurately say that Mac OS X *is* UNIX. Really fully UNIX! Version 10.5 achieved the UNIX 03 certification and is fully POSIX compliant. Ubuntu is only Unix-like (although I think it's a very fine OS!)

Linux is not Unix

Linux is not Unix, it's inspired by unix. I suggest you read up :) Particularly the first sentence

I know it's not unix. Should

I know it's not unix. Should have said: built on the idea of unix or something like that...

[Sigh] Still doesn't quite

[Sigh] Still doesn't quite get it. It's sad really. Still, I guess you're "winning!" Heck, we read your collection of misspent words. Nice one.

Mac OSX is built on

Mac OSX is built on NeXTSTEP... which is built on BSD... which is built on Unix.

Android/Debian/Fedora/Ubuntu/RHEL are built on Linux, which is inspired by Unix. All of them vary drastically and have some serious differences in the end user experience.

I would agree that they haven't cracked the desktop environment yet, but it is FAR from game over. It will only be game over when someone can convince the millions of us who like the idea of a free operating system, that it's not worth pursuing. As long as there is someone willing to give up their time (or sponsor others to give up their time) to make the tech landscape more accessible and free for all, then it's not game over.

Dude. Mac OS *is* Unix. Even

Dude. Mac OS *is* Unix. Even Apple acknowledges that...

OS X is Unix

OS X started out on BSD, but has grown up and is now an officially certified Unix 3.0:

Well, is not that easy

To keep in the mood of this...investigation (hey! can we see your data sources?)

Yourt heart is the muscle who pumps blood to your body, is not "just a part" of your body, without your heart you die, linux is the kernel of android, hence the core of the whole OS, without linux android just will die.

Now, i'm not into trolling, everybody is entittled to their opinion, but do you know how many companies, web apps, sites, fortune500 companies lay their core systems to linux/FOSS? yeah, maybe is not the "end user app" but withoout Linux/FOSS things like facebook and google won't exist.

So be careful, is not the first time that somebody says "linux is dead" and everytime they had been proven wrong.

Also here is a funny fact. your site runs under linux :D

So, you're welcome!

It's not over yet

who knows, maybe google is up to something. I hope they create a ground breaking OS for the pc based on linux kernel or simply ANDROID OS FOR PC. This would make Bill embrace that cute little penguin >:)

Linux Rules

I don't know if Kennon agrees or not, but I certainly know Linux and Android are essentially synonymous. Android is Linux, as much as Ubuntu or Fedora is. You can attach whatever front-end you want to it, that's one of the particular joys of open source products. If I don't like Gnome-shell, I can use KDE, XFCE, or any of 100 other 'faces' to the underlying system. Whatever 'window' you use to view it has no effect on whether it is Linux or not.

Yes, the Linux kernel was based on UNIX, that was designed in 1969. I would like to point out that the car is based on technology over 100 years old. I would remind you that the Linux kernel was reverse engineered from UNIX, to provide the same results, but was in fact rewritten from scratch, to take advantage of new technologies available at the time, and has continued to integrate those technologies. And I would remind you that Windows is based on technology that was invented in the early 80s. Are you going to tell me now that Windows 2008R2 is no different than Windows 3.1? Or is it possible that both have evolved into something more, and kept pace with technological innovations?

There is a reason Linux is the OS of choice for such an overwhelming portion of the mobile platforms (Android and WebOS to name just two), set top boxes, DVRs, Routers, VM Servers, Web Servers and many other things besides: It works, and works well. It is extremely reliable, scalable, and secure, and any manufacturer using it can benefit from enhancements made by others, just as others can benefit from their enhancements.

My sentiments exactly

Yes, of course IE was so innovative and Mozilla (open source project if you must know) was so backwards. After all as Bill Gates said once, MS customers do not need tabbed browser. As we see it, these were the words of a visionary and Mozilla and Opera were wrong. BTW, you may have heard of Android, which is Linux. It will be tough for Linux to compete in the mobile space, right....
Basically, my advice would be just as the previous poster mentioned- stick to the things you understand and do not discuss matters where your incompetence is simply astonishing.

No, Android is not linux

Android is definitely NOT Linux. Android is licensed under the Apache license - you don't have to release the source to any mods you make. While it runs atop Linux, you can bet that Google also has a version that runs atop FreeBSD ready to go in case things get too messy legally. They'd be total idiots not to - and they're far from being idiots. If you've ever developed system software for both systems, you know that networking under bsd is 1 extra include and a few #defines, dynamic loading is just a #define away, and threading is pretty much the same under both systems. Pretty much everything else is "don't sweat the simple stuff" detail work.

Also, NoSQL has been around for longer than most people think - like "the cloud" is just another name for client-server software services, NoSQL is also a reimplementation of hierarchical database systems from 1960. In other words, it's older than Mick Jagger's schtick. And that's OLD!

The embarrassing fact is that even in the face of the debacle known as Vista, WalMart couldn't successfully sell a $200 Linux PC - the returns made it a loser. Denying it means we won't learn from our mistakes. You can now claim your membership in the "open source for closed minds" club and celebrate your inner 1337ness while the rest of the world passes Go, collects $200, and moves on.

The window of opportunity for a linux desktop for the masses is long gone. Distros such as Ubuntu are arranging the deck chairs, rather than concentrating on what users really want - an OS that runs *their* applications.

Who buys Linux?

Most people I know that use Linux would be more likely to build their own computer from good parts than buy one pre-built of bad parts from xMart. In fact from fixing computers from xMart I can tell you no one should ever buy a computer from their. Sometimes the actually part numbers don't exist.

World dominanace?

"Open source never seems to be the innovator. Instead, it seems to disrupt pricing power for established technologies."

Did he say "NEVER"? Rubbish. Still waiting for my Windows portable live OS.

Are we so enthralled by Microsoft that we believe that world dominance is the only useful model for open source endeavor? And why is it "game over"? What clock just ran out, and who made you the referee? What is amazing about the Linux world is just how much it thrives on a tiny market share.

It isn't just "pricing power" that open source disrupts, it's the power to force users to subject to technologies they may not want. if not for Linux, I believe that Microsoft would have their "Trusted Computing Platform" (formerly known as "Palladium") so far up our butts right now that we'd all be tasting Steve Ballmer's cologne.

Yo know like Linux is only a

Yo know like Linux is only a KERNEL, right? Android 4.0 use Linux 3.0. And the open source code of Android 4.0 is open in november. Yep.

Please don't write about things you can't understand.

Poor Linux, indeed!

It's a good thing that Linux has nothing to do with Android. Why, if it did, people would say that the majority of the mobile market is run by a Linux derivative, and surely Linux cannot win!

Let's also be thankful that it does not run the majority (if not all) of embedded devices such as set-top boxes, routers, switches, or those navigation thingies. Additionally one can appreciate the fact it does not run most of the supercomputers in the world- That would be unfathomable.

And for any idiot that thinks evil, self-centered Linux is out for world dominion, remind them that it does NOT run 80% of the Internet.

Yes, poor Linux... It lost the battle against Android. I wonder how much longer Linux will be around.

Ok. So why don't just say that C

Using your logic, we could credit the C programming language as being the operating system. As I said in my post Linux surely has done quite well on servers, but is not the dominant operating system for desktops and mobile.

Linux is NOT an operating

Linux is NOT an operating system. It's a kernel. And Android uses the Linux kernel. You cannot use 'a bit of Linux'. You have only the choice to use it or to do not. You can of course modify it slightly as Google did but Google later gave back all improvements to the main kernel.

And yes, Google uses the full

And yes, Google uses the full Linux kernel. It is not possible for any OS to have more Linux in it than Android.

"As I said in my post Linux

"As I said in my post Linux surely has done quite well on servers, but is not the dominant operating system for desktops and mobile."

Stop saying that. You make yourself seem completely ignorant of the subject matter you've spent so much time writing about. Linux is NOT an operating system. It is a KERNEL. For example, the Android mobile operating system uses Linux as its KERNEL!

There are two possibilities here: one would be you are well aware of the difference between kernel, operating system and distribution and just fudged the facts to write up an inflammatory post for the purpose of attracting traffic to your website......or you simply haven't got a clue what you're talking about, but just went ahead anyway.

Either way, it is very embarrassing, and if indeed you don't know what a kernel and an operating system really are, then I suggest you do some reading up on these topics before posting anything about them on a public page. Right now, all you've got is an extremely unprofessional write-up based on a (intentional) misconception about the facts at hand.


Seriously? Are you an actual professional writer; Come on man you are wrong on all counts and not cut the BS about we agree to disagree. YOU! Sir are WRONG on all counts here. Linux is a Kernel not an OS, I really don't know how many times these guys have to tell you so. Hell there is documentation about it go read it. Wait did your superior shills put you up to this LOL, seriously is this what you Linux haters have to resort to come one. Go create something better and then come back to us.


Mr. Gaultieri, your continual attempts to carve-out exceptions to your assertion of Linux's failure at market domination has eviscerated any meaning you intended your "article" to have. Trying to analogize the tenuousness of C to the realm of an OS with Android's connection to Linux reveals to me that you clearly do not understand the topography of OS architecture. I'd recommend staying silent before you further reveal your astounding ignorance.

Hadoop, maybe you've heard of it?

"Open source never seems to be the innovator." Well, I think some of your Forrester colleagues would disagree. Hadoop seems to be the technology of the year and it's... what? Yeah, open source.

The dismissing Linux in Android is puzzling. Linux is only part of the stack... well, yeah, but it's only part of the stack in servers too. You get how Linux distributions are put together, right?

And your follow-on comment about MongoDB being under a "creative commons" license demonstrates you may not have the firmest grasp of licenses. The documentation is under a CC license, but the software is not. See:

Hadoop is innovative?

Hadoop is an implementation of an old strategy of divide and conquer to process large amounts of data. So, I would say that Hadoop is not a technological innoavtion and in fact a good example of an open source project that implements an old idea.

Yeah yeah

Yeah Yeah, show us more of how little you know. Hadoop is not innovative, neither is map reduce. Google is mad that it is buiding chrome os on top of Linux android on top of linux.
Is windows innovative, We all know bill bought the code and sold it to IBM, Bill stole the idea of GUI from apple and created windows. How innovative were they when they created Office, when there were already some similar apps existed, Yeah I remeber how they innovated IE and killed opensource Netscape :P.
If you have eyes, atleast see this.

You are misinformed about GUI

Puneet, Bill Gates may have stolen idea for GUI from Apple, but Apple stole it from Xerox. Just do a bit of google searches and you will find the history of the GUI originates with Xerox.

A great read on how Bill Gates outmanuerved IBM

Morale less empire

Apple may have stolen the idea from Xerox, but it was more of an inspiration rather that stealing. But what
M$ did with their partner Apple , their founding stone of this huge empire is morale less.
Just answer me this question what was microsoft's innovative product?
Surface?? Xbox??

You are misinformed about GUI

Thank you, Mike, for demonstrating quite nicely that paid for software is not innovative either, but merely derivative and often stolen.

Dear Mike

I hope you are getting fired for this post. Why? Because you are the one who makes us all look bad.

Get another job, like painting.

Do you disagree that Linux wanted the desktop?

Chuck, All I did was point out the facts about Linux as an operating system for desktop, servers, and mobile. At least I give reasons for my position. Tell me why you think I should be fired.

How about: You seem to have

How about:

You seem to have very little understanding of what an operating system is and how it relates to a kernel.

You seem to think you're qualified to write on the subject despite, which you're obviously not.

You're confused, please read

Hi Mike,

the reason people are annoyed by your post is because you're confused about what Linux actually is. I do not blame you, we the Linux advocates are partly responsible for it and a lot of people are confused about it so you're certainly not alone in this ;)

When people are talking about "Linux" they may mean two different things that are sadly used interchangeably by most people:

- Linux, the Linux kernel - which is the part maintained by Linus Torvalds
- Linux, a *distribution* or an *OS* based on Linux kernel

The latter is not strictly correct obviously but it's still commonly used like that.

Now, while you do recognize this difference in the case of Android correctly pointing out that Android is an OS based on Linux you're forgetting that the exact same is true of all the other distributions/OSes like Ubuntu/Debian/Red Hat etc.

So when you're talking about "Linux" being used on servers, it is used in exact same way as it is used in Android - in a Ubuntu Server the Linux kernel is only a very small part of it - the kernel, 99% of it other software bundled by Canonical just like Google bundles their OS with Linux kernel.

So "Ubuntu" is equivalent of "Android" and "Ubuntu is Linux" is equivalent of saying "Android is Linux", got it?

Is that clearer now? Please correct your article to reflect this understanding as it is making you look bad - everybody can make such a mistake, we learn and move on ;)

First of all, I'm sorry about

First of all, I'm sorry about the negative comments here. That isn't necessary.

The point you made in your article was that Linux can forget about the desktop market. So I'm assuming you are really talking about Linux distributions and open source desktop environments here. I think the biggest problem in getting a part of the desktop market is the status quo. Most software is already written for Windows and people expect to be able to run the software they buy in the store.

It has nothing to do with innovation. I don't see any real innovation in the UIs of the latest OS X versions or Windows 7. Most of that stuff was already available somewhere else. In fact the new Unity desktop environment and the new gnome-shell are more innovating than that.

the main thing wrong


The main point you have wrong is that Android isn't Linux. It would be most accurate to say that no OS is Linux, but is Linux-based, which is to refer to the kernel. Hence, if you call an OS Linux, it is saying that it is Linux-based (as in the kernel).

Linux is exactly the same type of branding that the Windows trademark is. Google doesn't need to market it as Linux, mostly because Microsoft goes out of its way to portray Linux negatively (and that has been the status quo for a very long time).

So, there is no ONE Linux operating system. The same is true of Windows. There is no ONE Windows operating system.

There are Linux-based operating systems and there are Windows based operating systems. This relation is true, however Linux's kernel is open source and individuals are free to build around that kernel to make a custom distribution of that kernel.

Understand that a kernel IS NOT an operating system, but it is THE fundamental piece of an operating system. You have no operating system without a kernel. This is not the same of any other piece of an operating system. You don't need a GUI, programs, etc to have an operating system.

So, a kernel IS NOT an operating system, but in a sense it is.

So, a version of Android OS uses a specific version of the Linux kernel + Dalvik Java VM + Apps + Services = Android OS, a Linux-based operating system.

I think after how many countless hundreds of comments saying you are BLATANTLY AND UTTERLY wrong in this, that you should change your post to reflect facts.

Please note, your entire article is underpinned by this fallacy you made: That Android is not a Linux-based operating system (it is a distribution of Linux). From that fallacious statement, you try to say something about Linux's chances at something that IS NOT IT'S GOAL in a way that suggests IT IS BYGONE.

This article compounds SO MANY FALLACIES, both with incorrect facts and logical fallacies, that it is unbelievable. Please, for your own sake and career, take it down. It reflects very badly on your intelligence.

Is it already April, 1st?

Is it already April, 1st?

Were u high while writing this???

the simplicity and power of linux cannnot be understood by mere percentage of software stack it makes up in android. It lies in the fact that linux regardless of hardware specs run on any device form factor. be it an android phone, a router, a server or even a TV. can u say same for any other OS. is any other os so much portable, the answer is there isnt coz its not open.i mean who would want iOS or windows on router??? but linux has the simplicity that it can be installed on one.

Linux on servers

When run an operating system on a server you call it it Linux (various flavors) or Unix (various flavors) or Windows (various flavors). Linux has done quite well on servers because it provides the core services needed for files, network, etc.... Linux, however, has not been able to innovate enough on the desktop or mobile to standalone. So, on desktop or mobile it becomes a component of another operating system like Android, but in my opinion it is not correct to say Android = Linux.

Now, if Linux had all the spiffy features needed for a mobile operating system, then we would all have "Linux" phones.

so, again, that is...

So, again, that is exactly the point in various previous comments; Linux is only a kernel and has never had the ambition of becoming a OS, let alone a mobile OS. You are judging something for being something it is not.

Linux itself is just a

Linux itself is just a kernel. it does not intend to provide GUI. as far as innovation is concerned have u ever looked up whats going on in GNOME or KDE or LXDE or XFCE or Meego. These are the projects that are concerned with providing a desktop experience on top of not just linux but other kernels too(which include GNU hurd and all the flavours of BSD) so i will say that compare the android and iOS with Desktop environments not with Linux.

As far as innovation is concerned look up the modern UI of Gnome 3.0 and the advancements in KDE. Gnome 3 is still not a mature project but if u wud look it up i m sure u will find some radical innovation and integration of apps. And if u r iOS fan and cribb about simplicity i wud suggest u look up elementaryOS project which is about innovation with simplicity(although they copy iOS a bit but who isnt copying it). i agree that android is not equal to linux. but Android = GNU/Linux + Android GUI stack. and android is pretty much open source itself. for ur information GNU/Linux is GNU software on top of linux which aims to provide a complete computing experience.

Linux is useless on it's own

Linux is useless on it's own when run on servers as well; you can do very little with just a kernel.

Servers don't just run the kernel on it's own, they run thousands of user-space utilities as well to create a usable operating system.

Distributions of Linux (and the required user-space utilities) designed for servers are just as much "Linux" as Android is (they also have names: RHEL Server, Ubuntu Server, CentOS).

Most phones are "linux phones"

There is no Linux OS. Linux is a kernel which drives several operating systems. You seem to be closed-minded to the fact that most phones use the linux kernel!