The GNU/Linux operating system recently received a huge boost, courtesy of the United States Navy. One momentous decision has officially made GNU/Linux too big to fail. What gave the U.S. Navy so much confidence in GNU/Linux that it was willing sign a 28 million dollar contract to power its next generation of autonomous drones with the Free Software operating system?
The United States Navy Gives GNU/Linux a Huge Vote of Confidence
GNU/Linux scored a colossal victory recently when the United States Navy decided that Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows operating system was no longer secure enough to run on its most advanced vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft. The straw that broke the Windows camel’s back was an event that happened in late 2011: several U.S. Air Force Windows-powered drones were infected with a computer virus.
The new GNU/Linux powered drone has a mouthful of a name: the Northrop Grumman Transformational Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle system. The short name of the vehicle is the MQ-8B Fire Scout. The full Navy complement of the MQ-8B will consist of 168 aircraft. If the national defense of the United States comes to be so supportive of GNU/Linux, it will be a boon to Free Software developers. The U.S. federal government tends to be a leading indicator of future trends in the U.S. free market, so I suspect that this development indicates that GNU/Linux has undeniably arrived. I believe that the MQ-8B is a platform to test how reliable GNU/Linux is in a real-world environment. If the test succeeds, I foresee that we will see GNU/Linux deployed much more widely within the United States military.
Samsung Sees the Linux Foundation’s Platinum Future
By all measurable metrics, the Linux Foundation is enjoying booming success. Android is dominating the mobile device market, both in terms of market share and user activations. Microsoft has finally capitulated, and admitted that there is no future in computing that does not involve GNU/Linux. A plethora of successful companies have joined the Linux Foundation, and Samsung has become the latest addition. Samsung recently paid $500,000 to become a platinum member of the Linux Foundation. Why is this wonderful news? The Linux Foundation pays Linus Torvalds to work on the Linux kernel, and to coordinate its development. The Linux Foundation is a not-for-profit, so all of the money that it receives ultimately goes towards furthering the GNU/Linux cause. Samsung is a huge manufacturer of mobile devices, so its support of GNU/Linux and Android will have a massive long-term impact on the uptake of open source and Free Software.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The recent success of GNU/Linux will undoubtedly incur envious responses, and attempts to slow its growth. I predict that that these responses will fail miserably. As Oracle recently learned in its failed attempt to sue Google for patent infringement related to Android, GNU/Linux and Android have both become too large to fail.