Archive for Linux

Catching Up

My desk with computers, displays, and coffee.

Whew! January was a busy month. In addition to my usual CMSWire columns (my first of the year was about the BDL role in open source), I spent time talking with journalists, working on a new research paper on Service Mesh for container clusters, and finished a paper on Cloud Foundry vs. Kubernetes. Busy busy busy.

At the beginning of the new year, I was quoted in a blog entitled “20 Developers and Kubernetes Experts Reveal the Biggest Mistakes People Make During the Transition to Kubernetes” It’s nice to be called a Kubernetes expert but I wouldn’t call myself that. Kelsey Hightower is an expert; I’m an observer. Still, I stand by my quote about one of the big mistakes when adopting Kubernetes which was “From our vantage as outside observers, it’s trying to apply Kubernetes to all applications.”

An article that I was previously quoted in came out in French. Originally published in mid-December as “Knative project stokes interest in event-driven IT ops” it came out in January in the French language version. I took French in high school and can still read it enough to decipher a wine bottle (shows where my priorities are) but do not speak it. I assume that “Knative : les entreprises montrent un début d’intérêt” quotes me correctly.

More talk about open source later in the month. More accurately, open core. Open core refers to companies that open source their core technology but maintain control over the project while adding “enterprise” features to the product they sell. “Uncertain future of open core software puts companies at risk” talks about the problems these companies have and the advantages of vendor supported open source.

Expect more of me in the press in the coming months.

I also completed a new research paper which compares Cloud Foundry  and Kubernetes as the basis of cloud native platforms. I dispel the myth that it must be one or the other. I expect that to be released within the next month.

And keep your eye out for a major research paper on service mesh technology. A component of microservices architectures, a service mesh is critical to enterprise container clusters and other microservices implementations. Look for it in April just ahead of Cloud Foundry Summit in Philadelphia.

And you wonder why I haven’t been blogging here much.

Microsoft Loves Linux and FOSS Because of Developers

Linux and Microsoft

This was published previously on the Amalgam Insights site.

 

For much of the past 30 years, Microsoft was famous for its hostility toward Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). They reserved special disdain for Linux, the Unix-like operating system that first emerged in the 1990s. Linux arrived on the scene just as Microsoft was beginning to batter Unix with Windows NT. The Microsoft leadership at the time, especially Steve Ballmer, viewed Linux as an existential threat. They approached Linux with an “us versus them” mentality that was, at times, rabid.

It’s not news that times have changed and Microsoft with it. Instead of looking to destroy Linux and FOSS, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has embraced it. Microsoft has begun to meld with the FOSS community, creating Linux-Windows combinations that were unthinkable in the Ballmer era.

In just the past few years Microsoft has:

  • Welcomed Linux and FOSS to their Azure cloud computing platform. They have even created their own Linux distribution for Azure.
  • Created the Linux Subsystem for Windows. This allows Linux server distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, and OpenSuse to run natively on Windows. The Linux Subsystem as negated much of the need to spin up VMs with Linux for running FOSS development tools and server applications.
  • Released PowerShell for Linux and open sourced PowerShell. The PowerShell scripting language is as powerful as any available on Linux. While it is unlikely that Linux sysadmins will suddenly abandon BASH for PowerShell, it certainly is helpful to Windows sysadmins that now need to administer Linux systems.
  • Acquired Github, home for much of the Linux/FOSS community. While not strictly a Linux move, the acquisition of the popular code repository, home to much of the code in the FOSS world, shows a desire to integrate with that community (and profit form it.)
  • Acquired membership in Linux Foundation, as a Platinum member no less. This would have been anathema in the Ballmer’s time.

Why is Microsoft suddenly going full steam ahead into the Linux/FOSS world after decades of antagonism? Some of it is because of CEO Nadella. His world view seems to be different than the Microsoft of the past, even if he is a lifelong Microsoft manager.

More importantly, the acceptance of Linux and FOSS is driven by developers. The developer world used to be a Microsoft versus Linux-FOSS affair. Developers worked in a Microsoft shop, IBM shop, or FOSS/Linux shop (which included Java) and then the IBM shop merged with the Linx/FOSS one. Some companies were broken up into several “shops” for server and transactional computing (typically Linux/FOSS/Java) and desktop computing which was often Microsoft driven.

This is no longer the case. Developers move between environments, using whichever languages and stacks make the most sense for the application. On top of that, Linux and FOSS have infiltrated everywhere developers are through DevOps tools (which are often FOSS and Linux) and containers, which is a Linux technology. In addition, Linux has come to dominate the datacenter server farms and not Windows Server. To be a developer is to be part of the Linux/FOSS world even if Windows is part of the environment. Microsoft may dominate on the desktop but has had to embrace Linux in the back-end.

While the acquisition of Github was a bold move, there is still more for Microsoft to do if they wish to become viewed as “all-in” for Linux and FOSS. Native support for containers, especially OCI compliant containers, within Windows would be help developers to use Windows as their development platform and move components between Windows and Linux servers. Having to use a virtual machine image, no matter how lightweight, is opposed to the philosophy of containers. Even running containers in a Linux distribution on the Linux Subsystem for Windows is not how containers are supposed to be deployed.

A full version of Visual Studio for Linux would also help. As developers move between Windows and Linux systems, they would prefer to use the same tools. Visual Studio is an excellent development environment and would have advantages for Linux developers who code on that platform. Microsoft has taken the first step in that direction with Visual Studio Code for Linux, a Linux version of Microsoft’s excellent code editor. It’s time for the complete IDE and DevOps tool sets to become cross platform.

Of course, every Linux lover wants to see Microsoft Office for Linux.  Developers who code on Linux usually have to have a second machine to run email and Office applications or are forced to code in a virtual machine.  While this would be a help to developers, it is highly unlikely Microsoft would ever port Office to Linux. The return on investment for the development and support costs would be minimal if not negative. It would also jeopardize the Windows desktop franchise by making Linux desktops a viable alternative to Windows. It’s hard to imagine Microsoft risking both money and market share, even to appease developers.

Microsoft, after decades of outright hostility to Linux has recognized its influence in the developer world. It is in their best interest to continue to weld together the Linux and Windows worlds in ways that make it easier for developers to move between them. That means more Microsoft tools on Linux and Linux tools on Windows. No longer afraid of Linux, Microsoft should be expected to continue to embrace it as a vital component of software environments everywhere.