Ed Note: This is Brian Proffitt's final contribution to Enterprise Unix Roundup. Farewell, Brian, it's been a great three years. We will all miss your candor and wit. Roundup will return next week with Paul Rubens in the pundit seat.
Reading deep-level stuff about kernels tends to make my mind wander a bit, you see.
Actually, it is a bit relevant. Following the progression of how today's Unix and Linux kernels were created made it easier to ask the next question: Where is Unix going from here?
It is very easy, after all, to join the Greek chorus and proclaim that the future of Unix lies in the hands of its descendant, Linux. Market research statistics certainly point to such an outcome, as Unix market share continues to decline steadily in the face of Linux' steady increase. And, if all things were to remain the same, I would place money on such a prediction. Linux, in the server space, and now in the virtualization space, is going to be (if it is not already) king.
But life rarely, if ever, really remains the same. Things change, a cliche so basic it has become fact. When faced with a change in climate, organisms adapt or die. I think the same holds true for Unix.
It has long been assumed Unix is a static, leftover operating system that just clings to existing servers, waiting to be replaced. But there's a lot of money still changing hands in the Unix world, and where there's money, there's interest.
One way to face the changes brought on by a free operating system is to become free, too. OpenBSD and FreeBSD have already done it, and Sun's great OpenSolaris experiment is ongoing. I think it is reasonable to say that some time in the near future, we may get to watch similar experiments on IBM's AIX and HP's HP-UX.
More importantly, I believe every Unix vendor is going to keep looking for a new way to use its respective operating system, seeking a way to capitalize on millions of dollars and man-hours of investment.
Someday soon, I am confident that a new direction for Unix will be revealed. Will this new growth be in the enterprise? Or will it be somewhere completely different?
Here, my Magic Eight Ball can say only: "Ask Again Later."
Brian Proffitt is managing editor of JupiterWeb's Linux/Open Source channel, which includes Linux Today, LinuxPlanet, and AllLinuxDevices.