Fedora project leader Matthew Miller talks world domination on Linux’s 25th birthday – PCWorld

Linux is now a quarter-century old. August 25, 2016 marks 25 years since the day Linus Torvalds posted a message announcing Linux to the world. “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu),” he wrote.

Since then, Linux has taken the world by storm, powering millions of servers, a countless number of embedded devices, and most of the smartphones in the world—by way of Android.

Getting started with Linux

matthew miller fedora Matthew Miller via Creative Commons

I spoke to Matthew Miller, project leader of popular Linux distribution Fedora, to get his thoughts on this momentous occasion. He’s been a Linux user since 1995, just four years after Torvalds started his “hobby” project.

Miller didn’t actually become involved with the Linux community until a few years later, when he was at Boston University’s Office of Information Technology. His experience mirrors that of a lot of Linux users, who discovered how easy it is to get involved and to make a difference:

“We had a real problem with Linux installations popping up everywhere and then getting hacked into almost immediately. Security just wasn’t a big priority at the time. I started a project to make a tailored distribution which would be secure out of the box, and better integrated with campus services. I based that on Red Hat Linux, and got involved with the community around that, which lead directly into the Fedora Project when that got started. Fedora has a strong and vibrant community, and I found that it’s pretty easy to have your work and ideas make a big positive impact.”

World domination in a quarter-century

Today, Linux is huge. “In many ways, we’ve actually reached the fabled ‘world domination’ everyone joked about 20 years ago,” says Miller. “Linux is the default operating system for most things… Android puts Linux at the heart of the most common consumer operating system in the world. Open source, to some degree or another, is now the default licensing model.“

But not everything is perfect. Miller is critical of Android increasingly relying on closed Google services. It’s not an open-source project in the same way Linux is. “Software patents are an ongoing problem” that “loom over open innovation,” too.

But more companies are investing in true open-source projects—not just releasing some code under an open-source license, and then forgetting about it, but building a real community and engaging with it. Even Microsoft is embracing Linux and open-source software more than ever, and that’s huge.


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