Innovation and Linux

I wrote several times in this blog, that the innovations of Linux aren’t technical ones. Linux is a social phenomenon, not a technical one. Now, Paul Murphy wrote a similar opinion in his blog at zdnet: Is Linux innovative?. From my view, Linux on x86 is the triumph of good-enough. It’s good enough to be a webserver, it’s good enough to be a mailserver, it’s good enough for being a datacenter server. It’s not really good at it, but it’s capable to run 80% of all unixoid tasks sufficiently when you ignore some problems (like RAS being an afterthought in x86 or the inherent problems of storing data on rotating rust) The marketing problem: Linux get a good market share in areas with the general suspicion of “beeing innovative” like HPC. Fanboys and media digest this image without further thinking and tout it into the world. The problem: The reality isn’t so simple. In HPC Linux is little more than a glorified bootloader and device driver for small nodes (the ability to scale on such cluster has nothing to do with the Linux kernel, it’s the merit of the application programming frameworks and fast network (like IB) ) PS: This paragraph made my day ;) ….

Similarly people will argue that Linux scales better than anything else. They’ll point, for example, at SGI’s Linux super computers - but those aren’t SMP machines, they’re multi-processor grids in boxes; and, by that logic the world CPU scaling crown would have to go to Microsoft: for botnet, a wanabe grid entirely enabled by Microsoft Windows.