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Now that you know where Linux came from and what you can do with it, the next question is, where is it going? Linux is gaining a large share of the Web server market. The fact that it is very inexpensive and comes with both Web server and FTP server software makes it very attractive to people running Web servers. More businesses are turning to Linux for Web servers, file servers, and other servers. America Online and Amazon.com book sellers both use Linux servers. Windows is still king of the home and business desktops, but this is changing. Business owners are tired of paying exorbitant licensing fees for proprietary products. More and more small businesses are looking to Linux and open source software as a low-cost alternative. Clearly, a growing market share of the home and small business community is in Linux’s future.
Linux is also becoming popular with makers of high-tech appliances, such as the television viewing product named TiVo®. The low cost and lack of licensing restrictions make it ideal for such operations. It is clear that Linux is growing in popularity and will be taking a growing portion of the market over the next few years.
Recently, Linux has made some fascinating inroads into very high-end computing. Many scientific research endeavors require computing power well beyond the capabilities of any standard server—Windows, Unix, or Linux. This leads some research facilities to purchase supercomputers that often cost millions of dollars. A supercomputer is a very powerful computer. A normal computer running Unix or Windows may have only two or four processors. A supercomputer is essentially a multiprocessor machine, running hundreds or even thousands of processors. All of those processors need very specialized cooling that is quite expensive. In the past few years, some researchers have linked dozens and even hundreds of old PCs with Linux on them, making them work in concert and essentially mimicking the power of a supercomputer. This setup is referred to as a hive. This type of setup usually depends on old, often discarded PCs running a free version of Linux. Thus, the only cost is that of connecting the PCs and powering them. This is yet one more way that Linux is making its mark on the world of computing.
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