Unix and the Industry - Psychology, Philosophy, and Licenses

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#Unix and the Industry

Hello fellow nixers,
In this thread well discuss how Unix, as a class of operating system, and in co-relation with open source effects on the industry. What's your opinion about it and how you see this going?

Quote:Unix is the powerful computer operating system that runs most of the Internet. It is also widely used by scientists, engineers, and financial institutions requiring high levels of reliability, flexibility, and speed.

Over the years Unix-like operating systems have gained a reputation about
security and stability. Where are we nowadays?

There was a recent post on reddit '/r/linux/' about the places in the industry
where Linux is used. Linux (GNU/Linux) being the Unix platform that is the most used today, is a great example of the state we are in. (here's the link to the thread)

We can list the following (from the top comments):
  • * The NASA control center firing room 1 use RHEL 6 workstations
    * The city of Munich, Germany, runs all desktops on Linux.
    * The Graphics Verification Team at AMD uses Redhat for development, we get Windows laptops for office busy-work though.
    * It's common in the semiconductor industry to have a Linux desktop. After all, all the real work happens on Linux.
    * For all I know, CERN and Fermilab use Scientific Linux on their desktops, the NRAO uses CentOS, and there's also a good share of Fedoras in the scientific community where it's all Linux tooling. Fedora and Ubuntu are also popular with CS students.
    * Java enterprise land is often linux based. Windows is kept around for office.
    * Film - Pixar's renderfarm, for instance, is all Linux all the time.
    * In Kenya a lot of web cafes use Ubuntu on their computers.
    * Mobile. Android is a Linux.
    * Possibly entertainment (TVs, PVRs etc).
    * Virtualisation. Pretty much everything bar HyperV/Azure sits on some kind of Linux.

Unix has its place as the super computer OS for its stability, modularity, customability. We know that it'll stay strong in corporations and the industries in the following sectors.

  • * Server
    * Virtualization
    * Embeded system
    * Research

The Unix movement is closely associated with the open-source movement which
is gaining an ever growing attention. It's giving Unix a new meaning, the OS to
use if you're an advocate of open source.

What are the reasons behind this growth in interest in open source and Unix.

Big Actors

Since some years a lot of big actors (you know who) have started using and contributing
heavily to open source (some less on the contribution part though.)

It was certainly an attempt to pierce in an interesting field and it worked pretty well.

It's an attracting place to invest in. A completely free platform and
free source code that is awaiting to be used to make money out of.

Then we had some war about standardization and who could use what name.

However, a lot have a capitalist view of the situation and are/will
manipulate the system for their own profit.

Those big actors have influenced others in participating to the feast.
A snowball effect later and we are where we are now. Everyone wants to eat his part of the cake


Open source and Unix is cheap from a corporation standpoint.
At first, it was a bet but the misconceptions are now gone.
Misconceptions such as free meaning low quality or free meaning no ROI.

It's undeniable that Android has made that possible, bringing Unix to the masses.
While others are making good money out of it like Apple and other giant server corps.

Some non-profit organizations are taking the opportunity to help the poorest
by giving them the chance to access technology that wouldn't have been affordable
if it wasn't based on open source and Unix. It's the recent hype that
made it possible. It gives hope for the platform.

For example the Firefox OS project.

The price factor combined with the misconceptions about the
quality going away new opportunities are found.

People are adopting the Unix desktop environments in all sorts of places.
The examples of Munich, and Korea come to mind.

However, that doesn't apply to UNIX® trademarked systems.

Development environment

Brand new trendy programming languages and frameworks are only or more friendly on Unix.
For instance node.js, ruby, and a lot of containerization solutions.
(as in they are in the trend, not as in recently created)
They all are open source.

This incites others to follow.
It changed the view of how programmers approach problems.

Companies now search for pre-made solutions in the open source community (Even though they might not contribute back.)

However, these companies also look for support contracts for these "free" technologies.

User contributions

Having the code open has been praised as "having the code reviewed by
everyone eyes".

When corporations find an open source solution they want it to stay updated.
For that reason they might invest in the technology they are heavily using.

It profits everyone.

One recent example is the Steam OS by Valve.
Some graphic vendors didn't want to be left out of the deal so they optimized their driver in the Linux kernel.


Recent events, which you certainly already know, have made a lot of people bring up the question of privacy.

It has raised through social media and brought concerns.

Unix is, in a lot of cases, where they look for a solution.

Social Movement

When you mix everything together it creates a social movement.

What are the limitations?

It's still a long way until the year of the Unix desktop.
Hardware support is still lacking.
Fragmentation pushes people away.
Unix and open source is currently more appealing to technical individuals.


So nixers, how do you think Unix and open source affects the industry, how you see this going?
Long time nixers
Corporations will invest to incorporate technology that they can make money out of, (Redhat & systemd for example), changing the way unix works in Linux. (Thankfully, BSD will not allow this sort of thing.)
Long time nixers
As you said in your list, it's used by many a company that obviously see the benefits.
Where it is not used however is in the masses. Between my current highschool and the tech school I went to before that, I have only met one other person running a Linux system. Out of thousands.

Android might run phones and UNIX may run servers and Linux may be on all of Pixar's workstations but for your everyday consumer, windows is king.
Most of the laptops that come bundled with Linux are either some hobbyist company like thinkpenguin or dell,slapping Ubuntu on cheap hardware.
I don't think people are ready for a change, just see this:
Ubuntu causes girl to drop out of college -

There is also the fact that some people don't care. for them the computer is a needed evil that types word docs and sends emails. They don't want security, don't want power, flexibility, or privacy. They just want to turn it on, type a little and get off.
Linux would never appeal to someone like that, at least not yet. There is a part of me that doesn't want it to.
I feel as though if Linux tries to beat windows, by becoming windows, no one benefits at all.
Or just that when you try and make it easy enough for everyone and their grandmother to run that you lose something.
Well written and laid out venam.

TBF, I don't expect it to go very far. Maybe moreso for smaller business and industries like start-ups that are more siloed. But, for larger corporations, there is just too much to overcome, and with the amount of legacy applications, and employees for that matter, that exist, it would be near impossible. And as you mentioned, the lack of hardware support is also a major factor. A larger effort is required to ensure all hardware is supported. Its useless to engage in convincing companies or industries to adopt a new platform, when the hardware they use will not be supported.

For sure, like you suggest, the monetary value of switching to a Unix/Linux platform would be impactful, but at what cost?

For large businesses and industries, the key is virtualization with thin clients. Hardware aside, giving everyone a U/L device, which connects to DAAS server, running U/L with virtualization for the legacy applications. User training would be required for the new U/L desktop look and feel for the users, but in the end, its simply a file manager, office program, text editor, and an office communication tool. A problem here is compatibilty outside of that particular setting. Will a Visio diagram open properly in LO Draw? What do I use for Project?

Moving to the cloud will also benefit the adoption of U/L, putting less emphasis on the desktop, quietly moving users back to a thin client.

I work for a large insurance company. We are a Microsoft shop with many internal legacy applications. We also have excelled in staying current, currently moving to Office365. We would be the perfect experiment for the scenario I laid out above with DAAS sessions and virtualization. User adoption may be more challenging though.

Users are a big hurdle to overcome. You mention the majority of the population for which U/L appeals. For the regular user, stuff just needs to work. They are not interested in figuring anything out. If U/L cannot get to that point, the push for broader adoption in the everyday user market will fail.

We are definitely heading in the right direction, but there requires a more unified, structured, less disparate push. As you said, fragmented.
work hard, complain less
(03-08-2015, 07:38 AM)Houseoftea Wrote: There is also the fact that some people don't care. for them the computer is a needed evil that types word docs and sends emails. They don't want security, don't want power, flexibility, or privacy. They just want to turn it on, type a little and get off.
Linux would never appeal to someone like that, at least not yet. There is a part of me that doesn't want it to.
I feel as though if Linux tries to beat windows, by becoming windows, no one benefits at all.
Or just that when you try and make it easy enough for everyone and their grandmother to run that you lose something.

You are right but this thread is not about people or how "Unix will beat Windows", it's about corporation and industry.
Also, like you said the average user doesn't care so if companies feel like pre-installing Unix on their machine they won't care either as long as it works.
Considering I've kind of dismissed discussing UNIX in the original post, let's bring the discussion towards it.
We were recently discussing the UNIX® certification and it's link with the industry and government, the role it plays today. How the UNIX trademark has nothing to do with the historical lineage but with standardization of interfaces. How some people get pedantic about history. We've also been discussing some things related to the UNIX war.

A couple of articles and online discussions (with the usual flaming tone that they take) are relevant:
Personally, I've seen a lot of Solaris boxes installed at mobile operators and government related businesses. It's getting more rare though and most are opting for RedHat with a professional support subscription.

In all cases, Unix-like systems have definitely a place to play in the industry today. Which UNIX® or Unix-like systems plays what role differs.

What's your take on this? Which systems do you encounter in your day to day job? Do you see the usefulness of support contracts or standardization bodies?

PS: Be courteous 😁.
Long time nixers
I haven't seen any UNIX systems in operation for a few years. In a previous job we had a lot of AIX and HP-UX systems which I had to manage, and even a Tru64 system! I would assume the AIX and HP-UX systems are still in use.

I always keep an eye out for UNIX jobs but I find that a lot of {companies,recruiters} use the term Unix when they actually mean Linux, which bugs me a little.

Every company I have worked for has used Red Hat Enterprise Linux for most of their systems. Many would also use CentOS for non-critical systems and I have seen a few Debian systems. Usually Debian was installed on old, long running systems that some greybeard put there years ago and nobody wants to disturb "because it just works".

Having a Red Hat support contract does have its uses. One company brought Red Hat in to assist building an Openshift environment and occassionally we have sent crash dumps for analysis. Most of the use I get from it is access to their knowledgebase.
Long time nixers
I run an illumos (ex-OpenSolaris) server. One could argue that Solaris 11 is an actual UNIX system.

<mort> choosing a terrible license just to be spiteful towards others is possibly the most tux0r thing I've ever seen