Linux: It’s Everywhere and Nowhere

This entry is the second in a series covering GNU/Linux, an Operating System consisting of the Linux Kernel and applications from the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community, with an emphasis on its connections to the developing world.  These articles assume at least a moderate understanding of the Linux and FOSS communities.  For more information regarding these, I would direct interested parties to Linux.org as well as the Free Software Foundation and finally, for the truly interested, the GNU Manifesto. With all of this knowledge now in hand, I hope you enjoy the series. If you have not already done so, I suggest you go ahead and read the first post in the series: Linux: Not Ready for the Big Time.

Linux is Everywhere

In my first post in this series, I expostulated at quite length to the fact that Linux is not ready for the Big Time.  Yet, if one takes a closer look at the true state of Linux, one begins to notice, Linux is everywhere!  How is it not ready for the Big Time?  What even is the Big Time? To me, the Big Time is when it has become a household name, common to every person who is at least a bit familiar with computers, seen as an equal choice to Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh when choosing how you, the common user, will operate your computer.

With this in mind ask yourself, how much research did you have to do to find out about Linux?  How many of those sites that you found are third-party references to the product, and not simply self-endorsing sites, community sites or articles about how Linux is not ready for the big time?  One will find that Linux is in fact everywhere in our lives, and is continuing to grow, but nobody will talk about. So let’s start talking about it.

One of the largest areas of Linux in use is actually what is in what is known as the embedded-computing or embedded-devices field. The term embedded simply refers to the fact that the software is built into the device, prepackaged as it were. Also, in most situations, this software is not changeable, being designed to fulfill a specific role and any changing of that role could prevent the device from properly functioning. Examples of Linux in this category include TiVo, home computer networking hardware (particularly from Cisco/Linksys, but also others), and much of the software that runs mobile phones. For example, my Samsung L700 runs a form of embedded Linux called ACCESS. These few devices listed are contained in many houses in the Western world.

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