It is perhaps the largest and most successful open-source project in the history of technology. In 1999, IBM helped boost Linux ® from the lofty idea of a free and open-source operating system developed by a diverse international group of programmers into a broad collaborative platform for innovation that is now deployed around the world for corporate, business, education and entertainment uses—all at significant cost savings and without compromising stability, security, flexibility or performance.
Supercomputing’s operating system of choice
As of November 2010, 459 of the world’s top 500 supercomputers run on a version of the Linux operating system, including the world’s fastest computer—the Tianhe-1A, with a speed of more than 2.5 petaflops, which is located at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, China. As a side note, IBM holds the top spot among vendors of supercomputers, producing 200 of the top 500 machines.
Google’s Android operating system
Google’s breakthrough mobile phone operating system, Android, is based on a modified version of the Linux kernel—using Linux 2.6 for core system services such as security, memory management, process management, network stack and driver model. In mid-2010, unit sales for Android OS smartphones ranked first among all smartphone handsets sold in the United States.
Linux on the silver screen
The flexibility of Linux has made it the operating system of choice for Hollywood animation and special effects departments. Linux has been used in production of more than 30 blockbuster films, including Lord of the Rings, Star Wars: Episode II, several Harry Potter films, Shrek the Third and Titanic, among others. In 2001, IBM announced its Linux Digital Studio Solution, a complete Linux-based offering for the media and entertainment industry.
Linux and the cloud
Linux plays a leading role in cloud computing, a major evolution in the ways businesses and individuals use IT. Proprietary computing systems can be replaced by web-based services that deliver resources such as analytics and storage over the Internet to reduce costs and complexity for the end user. IBM’s efforts in cloud computing have centered on optimizing these services to meet the specific needs of enterprises—a fitting parallel to the company’s contributions to Linux over the past decade.
Why companies support kernel development
The Linux Foundation published the following information in its December 2010 report, “Linux Kernel Development: How Fast It Is Going, Who Is Doing It, What They Are Doing, and Who Is Sponsoring It.”
The list of companies participating in Linux kernel development includes many of the most successful technology firms in existence. None of these companies are supporting Linux development as an act of charity; in each case, these companies find that improving the kernel helps them to be more competitive in their businesses. Companies like IBM, Intel, SGI, MIPS, Freescale, HP, Fujitsu, etc. are all working to ensure that Linux runs well on their hardware. That, in turn, makes their offerings more attractive to Linux users, resulting in increased sales.