Thursday, September 11, 2008

Developing with Linux

For a time, Linux, which is a Unix-like operating system, was confined to the domains of the computer geeks and servers. In fact, the first Linux kernel was created by the geeky Finnish software engineer Linus Torvalds and development by the open source community around the planet kept springing up bringing hundreds of different "flavors" of Linux in the world today.

The beauty with Linux is that is totally free and one can enhance it because he can also get the source code very easily. This has, to some degree, threatened the leading commercial operating system in the market today – Windows.

In a survey of more than four hundred IT managers, programmers and developers, it was found out that Windows developers have declined in number by 12 percent from last year. This has caused Windows' 74 percent developers decrease to a bout 62 percent this year.

True, Windows is still in dominance but Linux popularity has consistently been eating up an increasing portion.

Many devices other than the tradition desktop and laptop computers like hand held personal digital assistants and cellular phones are switching to Linux to run their devices. Because Linux is free, this will significantly reduce the selling price of the devices and make them more accessible to the masses. Because Linux is open source, the operating system's source code can be modified to run efficiently on smaller electronic devices.

Linux development tools have also come a long way to sophistication. Techies know that in the distant computer world past, which is a few years ago, talking of development editors mean using vi or EMACS command line editors with interfaces similar to Windows command prompt of Notepad. But today's Linux development environments can rival those of Windows' graphical look and feel like its Visual Studio Suite.

In the home, more and more household users are switching to Linux to fit their budgets. This has become easier for them to use Linux because of the many desktop features that make computing similar to what they have been used to with Windows in the past.

Many applications have developed for Linux. Well, it is no surprise because of the thousands of collaborating programmers around the world lending hands and brains for Linux. It's answer to Microsoft's Office is OpenOffice. For internet applications, there Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, aMule, Evolution and Azureus. For multimedia, the choices include MPlayer, Amarok, Totem, VLC, Xine, and XMMS. For graphics editing, one can have Blender, Inkscape, Scribus and Blender. These are all free software so who would not be enticed?

I think one of the big reasons why many developers are going to Linux because of the bright career prospects in the future. With the exponential rise in manufacturing of electronic devices, it will certainly mean big demands for Linux developers a few years from now. But among my IT friends and colleagues, the thought of being a Linux guy is synonymous to the word "cool". Call it hype, but I believe it to be so.

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