Leaving licensing and copyright issues out of this mental exercise, what
would we have now if it wasn't for Linux? Not what you'd WANT it to be,
although that can add to the discussion, but what WOULD it be?
I'm not asking as a proponent of Linux. If anything, I was dragged
kicking and screaming into the current day and have begrudgingly ceded
my server space to Linux.
But if not for Linux, would it be BSD? A System V variant? Or (the
horror) Windows NT?
BSD was in decent enough shape at the time to run on PCs. Though it fragmented early through no fault of Linux. And the AT&T lawsuit created a lot of FUD in the area without actually protecting System V. It's unclear if another thing would have popped up to fill the void... Linux flourished in the confusion, but without it, it's hard to know if something else would have been developed before the AT&T lawsuit settled.
I do understand that this has been discussed on the list before. I
think, however, it would make a good late-summer exercise. Or late
winter depending on where you are :)