Happy 25th birthday Linux! Times have changed as Microsoft and Linux no longer IT rivals

In a week where the venerable Linux operating system celebrates its 25th year in existence, two former rivals took the stage together at LinuxCon in Toronto this week — showing just how much things have changed in the software business over the last few years.

Wim Coekaerts, Microsoft Corp’s new vice president of open source, and Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat’s CEO, together at the conference indicate how big the changes really have been since Linus Torvalds launched the Linux project 25 years ago.

Microsoft’s appearance at LinuxCon, which is not its first time at an open source conference, follows closely on the heels of the vendor’s announcement that it had plans to open source PowerShell and also make the task automation and configuration management framework available on Linux for the first time. It’s hard to imagine the Microsoft of a decade ago embracing such change and accepting Linux as a part of day-to-day business.

As a Linux.com blog noted, Microsoft’s open source journey began in 2009 with the contribution of Hyper-V drivers to the Linux kernel. It was a huge step for the company that once treated Linux as a cancer within the operating system world, as characterized on Linux.com. Through partnerships with the likes of Red Hat, Linux is available — and a recommended operating system — on the Microsoft Azure public cloud. There has even been indication that Microsoft may be considering eventually open sourcing Windows, although is still solely in the realm of speculation. But that is definitely the case today.

In June, Microsoft and Red Hat further expanded their partnership, which was initially formed in 2015, to include middleware, cloud management software and Red Hat’s OpenShift platform-as-a-service.

According to Microsoft, one in three Azure virtual machines and more than 60 per cent of the images found on Azure Marketplace are Linux-based.

Microsoft has also been engaging partners in its transition to open source projects. The Microsoft Open Source Partner Community provides partners with resources to develop business around open source on Azure while also connecting them with other partners that may be complementary to their businesses.

According to Linux.com, Coekaerts expects Microsoft to increase its contributions to the Linux kernel and also get more involved in other open source projects, even ones that don’t necessarily directly benefit the company financially.

Linux celebrates its 25th anniversary on August 25.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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