You read that correctly SQL Server 2017 is coming to LINUX.
Good question. Linux has been around for decades and is a very stable and solid platform but it has usually been offered ‘free’. I started using Linux before I had used SQL Server so my excitement is at record levels right now. In fact I can actually remember a client asking if it was possible to run SQL Server on Linux back in 2008! If you are after a free edition of SQL Server 2017 you will need to look for the Express Edition. Just because SQL Server 2017 will be available on Linux does not mean it will be ‘free’ for all editions. I imagine it will have the same price structure as SQL for Windows.
Why now is probably a better question
The cloud is currently the platform that every business is pushing. Everything is as a service and usually revolves around masking the operating system from the business completely. If you use Office 365 you only see a web interface with the ability to add users etc you don’t have to install Microsoft Exchange onto a windows server to use the exchange mailboxes. So the OS is not necessarily important in the cloud age we have entered. When you have a successful product you want as many users to be able to access it as possible. Some companies prefer or require Linux/Unix OS’s for their environment so this is now potential market growth territory.
When will SQL Server 2017 appear is a great question!
Definite dates have yet to be decided but SQL Server 2017 appears to be the name so I am quite confident it’s going to be during 2017. You can download the public preview right now for a variety of Linux distributions. My personal favourite is SLES or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server but that is what I have become most familiar with over the last two decades.