Is Linux for programmers death?


Linux started as a promising operating system with the aim to replace Microsoft Windows with a UNIX compatible programming environment. The idea was first to convince the hard-core programmers and then the mainstream user to switch to a Open Source ecosystem. According to the numbers the project failed. Only a minority of all programmers (less then 25%) have decided to give Linux a trial and from mainstream users no one has installed the Linux operating system. This sounds a bit crazy because Linux is for free and works fine with today’s hardware. It can be installed on any PC even Macs from Apple. But it seems that the user didn’t have understand the potential and decided against the GNU movement.

It is not the first time a superior technology wasn’t understand by the mass market. A prominent example from the past was the Forth programming language, which started in the 1980s to conquer the homecomputer market but then Forth was replaced by other programming languages notable BASIC and Javascript. I don’t think that Forth or Linux has made major mistakes. Both are a wonderful programming environment, the problem is entirely on the user-side. They haven’t understand the system and they don’t see the potential.

The example of Forth showed what will happen next. The number of users is shrinking but the community will resist. Today the worldwide number of Forth programmers is less then 1000 and Linux is driving into the same direction. The majority of programmers isn’t interested in the GNU Compiler or in the Gnome environment, they are prefering market standards like Windows .net and Xcode from Apple. Sure, this decision is wrong and the result of a bad informed mainstream audience but the past told us, that nobody cares. Not the best technology but the average technology will make the game. Most programmers are feeling comfortable to be only the Windows guy. They know the Microsoft libraries and can create GUI apps for the mass market and that is enough. They have no need to fight against Microsoft or to change the software industry at all. They are happy, if they can program for a given infrastructure which is accepted as a mainstream standard.

That is the reason why the market share of Linux for developers is shrinking the last years. The power user have recognized that Open Source isn’t the future and noone is better then Microsoft. If somebody doesn’t support Microsoft he is out of the game.

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