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The World, Brought to You by Linux

By Katherine Noyes
May 24, 2010 5:00 AM PT

The Linux community is nothing if not contentious, but few would dispute the fact that many of the debates that occur are part of some recurring theme.

The World, Brought to You by Linux

Top of the list, of course, would have to be the ongoing "Year of" controversy, but there are plenty of others too, as astute blogger Ernie Smith recently noted in a post aptly titled, "The stories we are all sick of hearing."

There's no doubt that the debate and discussion can provide heady entertainment; on the other hand, sometimes it's nice to take a break.

So, rather than dive once more into some meaty and technical topic, Linux Girl thought we might all do well to be reminded of how much Linux already does for us, and how far it's come.

Let the others keep watch on the codec question for a little while. Instead, let's look in on some of the many places and ways Linux is making the world better.

'50 Places Linux Is Running'

What do Google, the U.S. Navy submarine fleet, the French Parliament, Virgin America, the Internet Archive and the ASV Roboat all have in common?

Ha! You guessed it! They all run our favorite operating system. Not only that, but they are all on the "50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect" list that was published recently by Focus.

Ever feel discouraged about how far Linux still has to go in some areas? Then look no further than this list, which is a truly heartening reminder of all the places it is being used and appreciated.

Worth bookmarking -- and maybe even debating, as the rowdy crowd on Digg has already demonstrated.

0 Drivers, 3 Months, 13,000 Miles

Speaking of autonomous vehicles, what about the Italy-to-China driverless trek that Linux will soon make possible?

You heard that right! Two electric, autonomous vehicles from the University of Parma's VisLab will depart Italy on July 10, arriving some three months later in Shanghai.

Best of all? That's right, they're equipped with Linux, as the keen geeks on Slashdot quickly pointed out.

And you, Windows??

Little Wakamaru

Then, too, there's Wakamaru, the 100cm tall humanoid robot developed by Mitsubishi. It recognizes 10 faces and understands 10,000 words, according to Handle with Linux.

Oh, and by the way -- it's powered by Linux.

Sorry, Apple, but there was only room for one operating system.

'Windows Makes All Scream'

How about some Linux-powered ice cream with that?

That's right -- it's an ice cream maker that runs Linux. As the feisty folks over at Download Squad quipped, can your OS do that??

(And as Digg blogger incubusknight wrote --

    "Mac OSX makes iScream
    Windows makes all Scream
    Linux makes IceCream.")

Sheldon Cooper!

Ah, it's wonderful being on the right side.

Last but not least, Linux Girl can't resist pointing out that TV's famous Sheldon Cooper has even declared that he loves Ubuntu. If *that's* not the big time, then what is??

This, of course, is just a small sampling of the Linuxy cheer that has emerged in recent days -- there are countless more instances out there as well. Faced with such incontrovertible evidence, however, Linux bloggers had no choice but to forget their worries for a while.

A Friendly Platform

"It's always good to see who is using Linux," Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack enthused. "And to make it even better, there is a snowball effect, because more users encourages more software vendors to support Linux."

Indeed, "while it is still trying to prove its worth in an enterprise environment saturated with grandfathered MS implementations, Linux can be a hobbyist's dream," fellow Slashdot blogger Josh Ulmer pointed out. "One of the unique things I see a lot with projects like this is that the people involved aren't traditional computer science eggheads -- linux provides a reasonably friendly platform to do whatever you want, be it driving a car or making the perfect espresso via an online interface."

'Why Bother With Anything Else?'

"It doesn't surprise me at all," agreed Slashdot blogger hairyfeet. "As I've always said, embedded devices is where Linux really shines. Because you have the full code from the kernel on up, you can really strip it down and squeeze that last drop of performance."

Embedded Linux, in fact, "lets you squeeze more than you thought possible," hairyfeet added. "From rockets to robots, why bother with anything else? It's free, it's light, it can be customized any way you want it."

Not only that, but "a lot that we take for granted today wouldn't be possible without linux or another free OS," noted Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by "Tom" on the site.

Antivirus Savings

"Licensing costs for large deployments like Google and Amazon would have made it impossible for them to expand as they have, not to mention that the poorer performance would have meant spending more money on hardware, more licenses, more administration, more energy and more rack space," she explained.

"Could Wikipedia or Archive.orghave gotten to where they are today if they had to budget for operating systems, antivirus software, etc., for all their machines?" she added.

Cost isn't the only factor, of course, Hudson conceded, "but for some use cases, it's the difference between 'we can do this' and 'it would be too expensive.'"

'The Best Programmers in the World'

It makes perfect sense that a modular, flexible FLOSS OS should be found everywhere, blogger and educator Robert Pogson concluded. "Because it is modular, it can fit in tiny devices; because it has algorithms and drivers from the best programmers in the world, it can fit in the most demanding usage."

It can also, apparently, raise money for those who need it.

"This evening it made a few dollars for our school running TuxRacer for the little kids," Pogson said. "A young girl beat my high score by a factor of 10."

And on that note, dear readers, let's accentuate the positive, at least for a little while. Smile -- we've got Linux! :-)


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What is the most consequential impact of social media on society today?
It has opened up valuable new channels for civil discourse.
It has destroyed the meaning of "truth" and "fact."
It has made people stronger by facilitating grass roots activism.
It has deepened divisions among groups with opposing views.
It has made it easier for people to support and help each other.
It has made it easier for people to humiliate and hurt each other.