Linux and Innovation

What is the role of Linux in Innovation? I have been trying to think of ways in which Linux, in and of itself, is innovative and off the top of my head I can't think of any. In most ways it is a re-implementation or repository (via technology donation) of existing innovation.

First, a disclaimer. I use Linux on my laptop every day. This is not an attempt to knock Linux but an honest attempt to grok where Linux is doing something different. I use Linux in a fairly mainstream way. Vanilla desktop. Vanilla server. I don't really sit out at the edge of OS innovation. By "Linux", I am really saying "Linux kernel" not "Linux distribution". And in some way I think this is a partial answer to my own question.

Linux in the mainstream is being used primarily as a cheap OS on Intel-compatable hardware. Its a money saving tool. The nice thing about Linux is that it is a catalyst for innovation, which I think is its primary role in innovation. It has lowered the barrier to entry on top of which other innovations occur. PHP. perl and mod_\*. python, Project Looking Glass and the list goes on. Perhaps the ability for anyone to compile the kernel and remove what they don't want is in some ways an innovation.

But I am really interested in where the Linux kernel is doing something different. It must be happening. If you know of something that is innovative in the Linux kernel space, please comment on it. In particular, I am interested in what has the potential to become mainstream and how I can position its use within my customer base.

Comments:

Perl was around long before Linux, so it's difficult to see how Linux has driven innovation in perl.

Posted by Alan Burlison on June 22, 2004 at 01:24 AM PDT #

Most of what is in a Linux distro was around long before Linux.

Posted by Richard Elling on June 22, 2004 at 01:59 AM PDT #

True. My perl comment was really around "perl and mod\*", not just perl standalone. Regardless, I personally think Linux has accelerated their use because of the linux distribution mechanism and low cost, and therefore what has affected how they have matured over time (just an opinion).

Posted by John Clingan on June 22, 2004 at 02:53 AM PDT #

Ugh. My apologies,the problems of multitasking. Let me clarify to say modperl and all the other mod_\* apache stuff.

Posted by John Clingan on June 22, 2004 at 03:05 AM PDT #

Interesting, I thought the fact that Linux was done without couple of hundred mills was, by itself, an Innovation. But that just a different view on what is, I guess. :) Regarding Looking Glass , it seems, as leader in Desktop technology, Sun is going to be able to incorporate this idea in many work-places, similar to what KDE have done . Hmm, sweeet .. ! Regarding kernel, however, it incorporates a lot of well-known things, plus , the plans are to continue work - just to stay on top of customer's demand for new/stable features. Sorry, couldn't have been more specific about particular features, but you can find much of it here: http://kerneltrap.org/ In general - the question of priorities lies within the ability to effectively connect developers and schedule work more effectively. That requires good desktop system , too. Much like this impovement: http://kerneltrap.org/node/view/422

Posted by George Gladstone on June 22, 2004 at 04:21 AM PDT #

Ugh. My apologies,the problems of multitasking. Let me clarify to say modperl and all the other mod_\* apache stuff.

Posted by John Clingan on June 22, 2004 at 04:37 AM PDT #

George, thanks, I'll go take a look!

Posted by John Clingan on June 22, 2004 at 04:39 AM PDT #

Interesting, I thought the fact that Linux was done without couple of hundred mills was, by itself, an Innovation. But that just a different view on what is, I guess. :) Regarding Looking Glass , it seems, as leader in Desktop technology, Sun is going to be able to incorporate this idea in many work-places, similar to what KDE have done . Hmm, sweeet .. ! Regarding kernel, however, it incorporates a lot of well-known things, plus , the plans are to continue work - just to stay on top of customer's demand for new/stable features. Sorry, couldn't have been more specific about particular features, but you can find much of it here: http://kerneltrap.org/ In general - the question of priorities lies within the ability to effectively connect developers and schedule work more effectively. That requires good desktop system , too. Much like this impovement: http://kerneltrap.org/node/view/422

Posted by George Gladstone on June 22, 2004 at 04:54 AM PDT #

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