Every morning, I sign onto my corporate email account and start plowing through emails. This morning, our media group had been alerted to an interesting blog post on The Linux Foundation blog. It’s a transcript of an interview with Linus Torvalds, developer of the Linux kernel.
Torvalds’ opinion on virtualization caught my interest:
Jim Zemlin: Let’s talk to conclude about the future. Where do you see Linux – and I know you don’t think too far ahead about this, but I’m going to prod you to say five years from now.
Is the world Windows and Linux? Does the operating system become irrelevant because everything’s in a browser? Is everything through a mobile device? Is there a new form factor that comes out of mobile tab? Where do you see things going?
Linus Torvalds: I actually think technology in the details may be improving hugely, but if you look at what the big picture is, things don’t really change that quickly. We don’t drive flying cars. And five years from now we still won’t be driving flying cars and I don’t think the desktop market or the OS market in general is going to move very much at all.
I think you will have hugely better hardware and I suspect things will be about the same speed because the software will have grown and you’ll have more bling to just slow the hardware down and it will hopefully be a lot more portable and that may be one reason why performance may not be that much better just because you can’t afford to have a battery pack that is that big.
But I don’t think the OS market will really change.
Jim Zemlin: Virtualization. Game-changer? Not that big of a deal?
Linus Torvalds: Not that big of a deal.
Jim Zemlin: Why do you say that?
Linus Torvalds: It’s been around for probably 50 years. I forget when IBM started offering virtualization on their big hardware. Maybe not 50 years, but it’s been all around for decades and it’s very interesting in niche markets – I think the people who expected to change things radically are just fooling themselves.
I’d say that the real change comes from new uses, completely new uses of computers and that might just happen because computers get pushed down and become cheaper and that might change the whole picture of operating systems.
But also, I’d actually expect that new form factor is in new input and output devices. If we actually end up getting projection displays on cell phones, that might actually change how people start thinking of hardware and that, in turn, might change how we interact and how we use operating systems. But virtualization will not be it.
Apparently, Torvalds has the exact opposite opinion from one of our writers. Jeff Byrne, senior analyst and consultant at Taneja Group, recently wrote about exactly how virtualization is going to change the operating system game.
As its uses continue to grow, server virtualization will pose a major threat to the strategic position that the general-purpose operating system has long held in the x86 software stack. In this situation, Microsoft in particular has a lot to lose. So do Linux and Unix vendors, but these OSes do have advantages in a virtualization setting.
He goes on to suggest that Linux and Unix OSes will likely have increased adoption rates as virtualization puts a large dent in the one-operating-system-to-one-server modus operandi, and because Windows users are becoming frustrated with licensing costs, technical issues in new releases that commonly aren’t resolved until the second or third release, and security vulnerabilities.
IT pros, I’m turning it over to you. Let the debate begin. Has your shop seen increased Linux or Unix adoption with virtualization? Do you think virtualization will change the OS market?