In today’s interconnected world, access to technology and the
internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity. However, only some
can afford the latest devices and software. The digital divide, the
gap between those with access to technology and those without,
remains a pressing issue. Fortunately, Linux has emerged as a powerful tool for narrowing this gap.
Here are some ways the Linux kernel helps bridge the digital divide, empowering individuals and communities with limited resources to thrive in the digital age.
Extend the hardware lifecycle
Linux has long been noted for adding life to aging hardware. That ability has been a boon to those folks who use computers every day.
I’ve helped many folks refurbish and refit older computers using Linux in the past. Linux-based computers consume less power and start up much quicker. The Gnome desktop is great, but many older computers are better suited to LXDE or XFCE environments, which require fewer resources to run.
Organizations like FreeGeek have made it their core mission to bridge the digital divide. These groups have repurposed older computers, keeping them out of landfills and putting them in the hands of users who need them. Those programs don’t happen without Linux.
Linux has created opportunities that would not otherwise exist. Students and hobbyists alike have started successful careers in computer science with no investment, thanks to lessons learned on old computers.
These systems run enterprise-grade software, such as the LAMP stack, which facilitated the transition to web 2.0. It was one of the first Open Source software stacks for the web. Today, it powers WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla installations. In fact, Linux powers over 96% of the world’s top one million web servers. Linux also manages, e-readers, smart televisions, smartwatches and more. Linux is the OS for well over 70% of the world’s smartphones. Even NASA’s Perseverance Rover, which made history on Mars this year, runs on Linux.
The cloud, which fuels most of today’s applications, could not exist without Linux. Most of today’s web and smartphone applications run in Linux-based containers.
But most appropriately, Linux and open source are a force behind the United Nations Sustainability Goals (SDGs.) Linux continues to be a critical resource as we work to build a greener world.