Linux – the silent revolution in edv

Linux was for a long time only something for freaks, for hobbyists and computer scientists. But now Linux is also becoming interesting for conventional users and users due to numerous advantages and increasing user-friendliness.

Linux is currently making its way into the consciousness of a broader public. While this was previously a topic for specialists, more and more companies are now taking an interest in it, for example. B. Siemens, Linde, Deutsche Flugsicherung (German air traffic control) and the Bayerische Dachziegelwerk Bogen (Bavarian roof tile factory). Cities such as Schwabisch Hall and Munich are also converting their IT systems to the free operating system. The main reasons cited for this move are the high level of stability and flexibility, coupled with significant cost savings. This is how Linux users save up to 30% of IT investment costs. Reason enough to take a closer look at this topic.

What is there to Linux?

Linux has long been an insider's tip in the IT and electronics industry. Let's look at some concrete examples of use in order to be able to estimate the areas of use of this newcomer. When you pull a ticket in a parking lot, the machine may already be controlled by Linux. If you are using a current cell phone, the software in it may already be Linux. When you're on the Internet, you're very often served by a Linux server, routed by a Linux router, and protected against attacks by a Linux firewall. There is a 30% chance that your company's data is stored on a Linux server. Mainframe computers for research and the weather service run on Linux. The crash simulation for your next car is probably calculated on a Linux cluster. This enumeration shows how broadly Linux has already found its way into all areas of automation and IT.

Why is that?

An essential basis for the success of Linux is certainly its free availability and the openness of the program sources. Here's how everyone can change and use Linux to suit their needs.

If you ask an IT Linux administrator about his experience, he will probably tell you about Linux's good performance record in addition to this argument. Because Linux runs at a very respectable speed even on relatively low-performance hardware. This significantly reduces the cost of hardware purchase and maintenance. Another reason for the popularity of the newcomer may be its high stability. In Internet use Linux servers typically run in 7/24 operation (7 days per week, 24 hours per day). Uptime, i.e. the time a server runs without interruption, is usually between two and four years. And finally the cost advantage. Since there are no or only low license fees for Linux, the cost advantage over conventional operating systems can quickly develop into a double-digit euro range. Linux is also content with less hardware performance. In times of tight IT budgets, this is a powerful argument.

Where does Linux come from and who is behind it?

Linux is a Unix derivative. Even though it is already more than ten years old, it relies on the Unix standard, a proven IT technology that is several decades old. IT student Linus Torwalds started working on Linux about 15 years ago. He wanted to develop a small operating system for his own needs. In doing so, he took his cue from the Unix standards of the time. The project quickly grew to dimensions that a single person could no longer handle. When the Internet revolutionized communication in IT circles in early 1990, he therefore released his Linux, which he had developed by then, on the Internet for free use and further development. Many programmers and IT specialists at universities and research institutes quickly recognized the potential of Linux and became involved in its further development. A worldwide community of programmers from universities, companies and research institutes has been driving the project forward ever since. Linux and the Internet have been mutually beneficial from the very beginning. The high demand for powerful but cheap servers in this area, has led to a very rapid spread of Linux. On the other hand, the growing demands from this area on the operating system have strongly driven its further development and adaptation to the most diverse hardware platforms. Then the hardware manufacturers became aware of Linux. It quickly became clear Linux would secure a significant piece of the market. Of course, none of the major hardware manufacturers wanted to lose this segment. Meanwhile companies like IBM, HP, Novell, Oracle, Cisco and many more officially support Linux. They all offer their hardware, software or services for Linux and guarantee the customer a smooth operation of his EDP in connection with Linux.

Is Linux ready for use in the enterprise?

Yes. Especially on servers, Linux is already doing its job in many companies. Many users are already working with data, print and fax servers under Linux, sometimes without knowing it. Its stability and scalability, in addition to low acquisition and maintenance costs, make it a perennial favorite in the field. But Linux is also indispensable in IT infrastructure such as company networking, VPN (Virtual Private Network) and the Internet.

On the desktop, however, Linux is still very little used. Here the strong attachment of the customers to the Windows applications has an inhibiting effect. Even though Linux offers everything in the office area that users need in their daily business life, many are still hesitant about making the switch.

A positive effect could be that the migration from Windows 98 or NT – both versions are still widely used – to the current Windows XP is not to be accomplished without difficulties for the user and thus a change to Linux does not seem to be so costly any more.

In summary – Linux can be used in many areas of a business, no matter the size. However, it is necessary to examine when and where Linux can be integrated in a meaningful way. In our view, it is not the big sweeping blow that makes sense here, but rather a gentle migration that takes into account the requirements and the development process of the respective company's EDP and gently introduces both the IT administrators and the users to the new environment.

How does the future look like?

Since Linux is not tied to the commercial success of a manufacturing company, its development will continue to be strongly oriented to the needs of users. And in addition to the large companies that support Linux, a nationwide network of system houses has formed in Germany that provide qualified consulting and support for Linux. Linux will therefore be able to further expand its position in the IT market. A development that even non-Linux users will benefit from. Because the stronger competition will lead also with the competitors of Linux to more quality, innovation and to sinking prices!

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