What Is Linux Used For?

Linux Is Taking Over. It Is Just a Matter of Time

Samuel Martins
Dec 29, 2020 · 5 min read
Image by Samuel Martins

In a previous article, I wrote about why I thought you should switch to Linux. That article got mixed reactions from readers as well as close friends. The main question I got from friends is where they would be required to use Linux in particular or rather, where Linux is being used. The main area of focus in this article is what Linux is used for. I will cover where you might use it as well as some common and uncommon places that you might find it. If you need to read the previous article I wrote about why you should switch to Linux, and I suggest you do, here is the link to it.

If you do not know what Linux is, you can think of it as similar to Windows or macOS, but with a few key differences, which I cover in the linked article above. You can also get more differences by visiting a very helpful article I found online.

The flexibility that Linux comes with is why it is used for so many things. In fact, there are a lot of people that use Linux every day without even realizing it. Before getting into it, I have several things ordered with respect to how dominant Linux is in a given area.

Super-computing

In this area, Linux is the undisputed champion. In terms of market share in 2020, at least 99% of all supercomputers are running Linux. Previously, the number one spot was held by Unix. Back then, there was no other platform that ever even came close to either Unix or Linux. Linux came out in 1991, and it took about eight years for it to mature before it started being used in super-computing. Once it got a foothold, that was it for Unix. From 2000 to 2010, Linux went from 5% market share to 90% market share. There are several reasons why the adoption of Linux in super-computing was both broad and rapid, but it always comes down to the platform’s openness. I mean, the ability to create a custom Linux distribution just for super-computing is hugely beneficial, and that is something that Unix cannot do.

Mobile Devices

The largest, most widely deployed mobile platform on the planet is Android. In terms of market share, the use of Linux in mobile devices is probably a lot higher and 85%, if you take other mobile device platforms, such as postmarketOS, which is pure Linux as opposed to Android, which is just based on Linux, that number probably goes north of 90%. With that said, if you own an Android phone, you benefit from Linux every single day without knowing it.

Cloud Computing

For some reason, I feel like this should have been at the top of my list, but I know there are Windows operated servers out there too. It is hard to say exactly what the market share for Linux is here. It is thought to be somewhere above 70% considering Google, Facebook, IBM, and Amazon alone have around 4 million servers. I mean, even Microsoft’s Azure uses Linux. I have to imagine there are more servers worldwide running Linux. I am not saying that Linux is the only OS used in cloud computing, but it is definitely king.

IoT Devices

Whether it is your Google home, your Amazon Alexa, or the nest thermostat on your wall, Linux powers most IoT devices, roughly 75%. It is safe to say that Linux is the logical choice for IoT stuff because of its small size, and it already has a lot of the tech stacks available to do common things that you would do in an IoT device, such as Bluetooth, wifi, or interfacing with hardware. From a manufacture’s standpoint, it makes sense to pick Linux when designing a new IoT product and looking to offer it both quick and cheap because Linux already does a lot of the core functions they are going to need.

Desktop

Linux is quickly taking over the market even when it comes to being used as a replacement for Windows or macOS as your main desktop OS. In fact, right now, I am writing this article on a Linux machine. Unfortunately, the Linux desktop market share is embarrassingly low, and that is because it is user-unfriendly, although that improves as each year goes by. Finding a Linux distribution to use as a desktop is not hard. They are all over the internet, ready for you.

Self-driving cars

This is true of both Teslas, as well as the Google self-driving car. In the vast majority of cases outside of Google and Tesla, if a car manufacturer is making a self-driving platform, they will be using Linux as its base.

Appliances

Did you know you can find Linux on things like washing machines and coffee makers? Well, now you do. In case you are wondering, Yes, that Samsung washing machine that you have that lets you check on your phone to see the status of your clothes anywhere in the world runs Linux.

Science Research

In all honesty, I added this one here because I thought it was really cool. The Large Hadron Collider runs on Linux. Across its hundreds of thousands of cores, and its tens if not hundreds of petabytes of collision data, Linux indeed contributed to the discovery of the Higgs boson particle. I believe they used a specific Cern-developed scientific Linux distribution.

Enough said. To summarize, Linux is prolific, and it is used in different places for a lot of different things, and as the years go by, the number of uses will continue to increase. If you want to share other areas that I did not include, feel free to share your knowledge in the comments. I hope this article has been insightful and has brought you closer to giving Linux a try.

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Samuel Martins

Written by

I am a full-stack developer. I love sharing my knowledge of development technologies and programming in general. Subscribe to get an alert anytime I publish

Geek Culture

A new tech publication by Start it up (https://medium.com/swlh).

Samuel Martins

Written by

I am a full-stack developer. I love sharing my knowledge of development technologies and programming in general. Subscribe to get an alert anytime I publish

Geek Culture

A new tech publication by Start it up (https://medium.com/swlh).

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