The crystal ball has been vague and fuzzy for quite some time. Every pundit and voice has opined on what the upcoming year will mean to whatever topic it is they hold dear to their heart. In my case, we're talking Linux and open source.
In previous years, I'd don the rose-colored glasses and make predictions that would shine a fantastic light over the Linux landscape and proclaim 20** will be the year of Linux on the _____ (name your platform). Many times, those predictions were wrong, and Linux would wind up grinding on in the background.
This coming year, however, there are some fairly bold predictions to be made, some of which are sure things. Read on and see if you agree.
Linux takes over big data
This should come as no surprise, considering the advancements Linux and open source has made over the previous few years. With the help of SuSE, Red Hat, and SAP Hana, Linux will hold powerful sway over big data in 2015. In-memory computing and live kernel patching will be the thing that catapults big data into realms of uptime and reliability never before known. SuSE will lead this charge like a warrior rushing into a battle it cannot possibly lose.
This rise of Linux in the world of big data will have serious trickle down over the rest of the business world. We already know how fond enterprise businesses are of Linux and big data. What we don't know is how this relationship will alter the course of Linux with regards to the rest of the business world.
My prediction is that the success of Linux with big data will skyrocket the popularity of Linux throughout the business landscape. More contracts for SuSE and Red Hat will equate to more deployments of Linux servers that handle more tasks within the business world. This will especially apply to the cloud, where OpenStack should easily become an overwhelming leader.
As the end of 2015 draws to a close, Linux will continue its take over of more backend services, which may include the likes of collaboration servers, security, and much more.
Linux is already leading the trend for making homes and autos more intelligent. With improvements in the likes of Nest (which currently uses an embedded Linux), the open source platform is poised to take over your machines. Because 2015 should see a massive rise in smart machines, it goes without saying that Linux will be a huge part of that growth. I firmly believe more homes and businesses will take advantage of such smart controls, and that will lead to more innovations (all of which will be built on Linux).
One of the issues facing Nest, however, is that it was purchased by Google. What does this mean for the thermostat controller? Will Google continue using the Linux platform — or will it opt to scrap that in favor of Android? Of course, a switch would set the Nest platform back a bit.
The upcoming year will see Linux lead the rise in popularity of home automation. Wink, Iris, Q Station, Staples Connect, and more (similar) systems will help to bridge Linux and home users together.
The big question, as always, is one that tends to hang over the heads of the Linux community like a dark cloud. That question is in relation to the desktop. Unfortunately, my predictions here aren't nearly as positive. I believe that the year 2015 will remain quite stagnant for Linux on the desktop. That complacency will center around Ubuntu.
As much as I love Ubuntu (and the Unity desktop), this particular distribution will continue to drag the Linux desktop down. Why?
Convergence... or the lack thereof.
Canonical has been so headstrong about converging the desktop and mobile experience that they are neglecting the current state of the desktop. The last two releases of Ubuntu (one being an LTS release) have been stagnant (at best). The past year saw two of the most unexciting releases of Ubuntu that I can recall. The reason? Because the developers of Ubuntu are desperately trying to make Unity 8/Mir and the ubiquitous Ubuntu Phone a reality. The vaporware that is the Ubuntu Phone will continue on through 2015, and Unity 8/Mir may or may not be released.
When the new iteration of the Ubuntu Unity desktop is finally released, it will suffer a serious setback, because there will be so little hardware available to truly show it off. System76 will sell their outstanding Sable Touch, which will probably become the flagship system for Unity 8/Mir. As for the Ubuntu Phone? How many reports have you read that proclaimed "Ubuntu Phone will ship this year"?
I'm now going on the record to predict that the Ubuntu Phone will not ship in 2015. Why? Canonical created partnerships with two OEMs over a year ago. Those partnerships have yet to produce a single shippable product. The closest thing to a shippable product is the Meizu MX4 phone. The "Pro" version of that phone was supposed to have a formal launch of Sept 25. Like everything associated with the Ubuntu Phone, it didn't happen.
Unless Canonical stops putting all of its eggs in one vaporware basket, desktop Linux will take a major hit in 2015. Ubuntu needs to release something major — something to make heads turn — otherwise, 2015 will be just another year where we all look back and think "we could have done something special."
Outside of Ubuntu, I do believe there are some outside chances that Linux could still make some noise on the desktop. I think two distributions, in particular, will bring something rather special to the table:
- Evolve OS — a ChromeOS-like Linux distribution
- Quantum OS — a Linux distribution that uses Android's Material Design specs
Both of these projects are quite exciting and offer unique, user-friendly takes on the Linux desktop. This is quickly become a necessity in a landscape being dragged down by out-of-date design standards (think the likes of Cinnamon, Mate, XFCE, LXCE — all desperately clinging to the past).
This is not to say that Linux on the desktop doesn't have a chance in 2015. It does. In order to grasp the reins of that chance, it will have to move beyond the past and drop the anchors that prevent it from moving out to deeper, more viable waters.
Linux stands to make more waves in 2015 than it has in a very long time. From enterprise to home automation — the world could be the oyster that Linux uses as a springboard to the desktop and beyond.
What are your predictions for Linux and open source in 2015? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.