Linux

10 things that could make 2012 a banner year for open source

Is 2012 going to be The Year of Open Source? Jack Wallen thinks it very well might.

The year 2011 was, in the grand scheme of things, a rather "meh" year for open source. Nothing horrible happened and nothing magic or wonderful happened. In the end, it all balanced out. There are things that really could have happened to make it a stellar year. But all is not lost. 2012 is a new year and begs for the chance to make it a banner year for open source. How? What can possibly happen to make it open source's year? I can think of at least 10 things.

NOTE: Nothing you read below is based on fact. This is all complete conjecture and part and parcel of my brain being in a constant state of daydreaming. Wishful thinking, as it were.

1: Ubuntu scraps Unity

Let's face it. Ubuntu Unity has failed to impress anyone but the most hardcore fans. If Ubuntu wants to gain back some seriously lost ground, it needs to scrap this desktop and either adopt GNOME 3, modify GNOME 3 (ala Mandriva and Mint), or make a bold statement and go with an alternative desktop as your primary (such as XFCE or Enlightenment). My thought is that it will drop Unity and heavily modify GNOME 3 to try to placate its user base. If it does that, things should work out in its favor. And I hope... not too late.

2: Linux finds its way onto tablets

This MUST happen. If Linux is to gain a single ounce of traction in the tablet market, it must have an offering in 2012 or it'll be time to give up that ghost. The tablet market is going to outshine all other hardware markets in 2012, and Linux really needs this win. What I see happening is a niche provider like System 76 will release an Ubuntu-based tablet that will be a huge success. People will catch on and start following suit. Not that these tablets will come close to putting any significant dent in the Android or iPad margins, but they will be noticed.

3: QuickBooks, Scrivener (and other such tools) get native ports

Scrivener is the de facto standard application for writers. The good news is that the creators of Scrivener are busy at work creating a native port of that fantastic tool to Linux. What needs to follow is this: QuickBooks needs a native client for Linux. Why? Simple: There is already a native QuickBooks server for Linux; it only makes sense for there to be a client. Add to that the flakiness of using QuickBooks on Windows and you have the makings for a huge hit. With a more reliable, secure option available to users, they will buy it.

4: Windows suffers another major viral outbreak

Unfortunately, this is an inevitability. When major outbreaks occur, I'm always shocked that more users don't migrate to Linux or Mac. But the truth is, most users assume this is just standard behavior. It shouldn't be. But the next go around with a major virus is probably going to be a real game changer that will open people's eyes to the alternative.

5: Linux server sales continue to rise

Q2 of 2011 was a stellar year for Linux server sales. In fact, Linux beat out Windows server sales that quarter in growth. I firmly believe 2012 is going to see a further increase in sales on the server side, which will begin (by the end of the year) to trickle down to the desktop side.

6: Linux Mint and Mandriva partner up to create a powerhouse desktop distribution

Both desktops have begun the process of modifying GNOME 3 in ways to better suit the needs of the end user. This will continue into bigger and better places when Linux Mint and Mandriva merge to create a serious powerhouse of a distribution. With the combined forces, this new distribution will take both the Linux landscape and the desktop world by storm.

7: A major marketing firm takes over for a distribution and lands a serious commercial push

I have been decrying the lack of publicity for years now. Linux needs advertising and marketing. I'm not necessarily talking Super Bowl ads; but a television commercial or a major advertisement in a magazine or newspaper would go a long, long way. The people need to know, and this year it's going to happen. But it must be done by a marketing firm interested in some pro bono work, as the Linux community as a whole can't pay for an open source product ad. Surely there is a philanthropic marketing firm out there somewhere.

8: Another serious enterprise-class distribution like Red Hat Linux appears

Red Hat Enterprise Linux has proved the model works. Companies do buy Linux. But as of right now, Red Hat is really the only kid on the playground. SUSE Linux wants to join the fun, but the Novell'name hurts SUSE more than most realize. Novell, as a whole, died years ago; so there needs to be a new player in the game. I believe that player will come, thanks to a merger with Ubuntu and another company or distribution. Ubuntu already has a good server platform that can be leveraged. There is no reason it can't use that to its advantage.

9: GnuCash gets a client/server setup

This will be a real game changer. So many QuickBooks users are already clambering for an alternative to the ever-flaky accounting solution. That solution could easily be GnuCash. GnuCash already has a solid foundation with an incredible application. GnuCash is already capable of handling business accounting... the only thing it needs is a client/server setup and it could easily become king of finances on the desktop.

10: GNOME 3 is finally adopted by the public as a valid replacement for Classic GNOME

The same thing happened in the Windows world twice: With Windows 7 and the Microsoft Office Ribbon interface. People hated the UI at first, but then they realized they didn't have a choice -- that Microsoft was moving ahead, full steam, with the changes. After a while, everyone pretty much adopted Windows 7 and were good to go. The same thing will eventually happen with GNOME 3. Developers will make the changes necessary (as they are already doing) and by the end of the year, GNOME 3 will be in full swing as the default desktop for Linux.

A year of change

Yes, it's all speculation; but even the speculation is formed with some kernel of truth. Many of the above topics have been bubbling under the surface for a long time now, even if only as a need. The time has come for some serious change in the Linux landscape. I believe we'll look back on 2012 and say it was the true beginning of something special. Are you with me on this?

About

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 getjackd.net.

34 comments
alfielee
alfielee

Mint is a powerhouse Ubuntu or Debian-base & the other is RPM-based. That is no small hurdle...

kanchanaw
kanchanaw

My comments on selected items: 1: Ubuntu scraps Unity - Really I thought they are pushing Unity into Ubuntu TV initiative 2: Linux finds its way onto tablets - isn't Android derivative of LINUX? 3: QuickBooks, Scrivener (and other such tools) get native ports - not sure whether we fancy any desktop finance applications. Isn't Open Source community is favouring more and more Web based applications? 4: Windows suffers another major viral outbreak - Really, I didn't see that coming 6: Linux Mint and Mandriva partner up to create a powerhouse desktop distribution - I thought Mandriva is closing doors? Personally I believe Open Source will continue to grow and specially in Cloud Computing. Kanchana

Jim-Bob_z
Jim-Bob_z

I have not yet found anyone (even though I survey Linux aficionados) that agrees that Linux support for varied Monitor and Video-Card setups is even acceptable, let alone holding a candle to the likes of Win 7. Horror stories abound when we desribe our experiences and look for solutions when we try to do something as simple as upgrade a video card ( don't even think about changing _brands_ ! ) or get Dual Monitors (gasp!) to work (with one video card or two; apparently both paths are awful). Come on, major distros ! Do you even ask your Beta testers to try such simple tasks, or do you read the Forums or Google the topics? If you do, you'll find hundreds of posts for the same problems over and over, and hardly any "solutions" offered that can be accomplished by the Windows user you're trying to win over. What ? "It's easy, Dummy: Become root and manually edit x-windows config files in a "command-line interface", re-run some config-update software with 7 nonsensical parameters, and by the way, if you mess up, your system will no longer boot" ? Get real. Want bigger market share? Fix this. Jim-MN

TNT
TNT

Except I do not see Ubuntu giving up on Unity. If you looked at their Ubuntu TV concept at CES it sports the Unity interface. They have an immense amount invested in Unity and it is unlikely to be scrapped. In fact, I think the Linux distro most likely to get advertising this year is Ubuntu, complete with Unity. Only it wont be for free, they will pay an advertising firm and get airtime to introduce not only the OS but the products like Ubuntu TV that strengthen the brand and the platform.

hendrik00
hendrik00

I read the article and I enjoyed it thoroughly and just skimmed over the comment section quickly. However in a whole I think people need to realise that the options aren't just restricted to Gnome and ubuntu as was much the focus in the article - as far as accounting, quickbooks is probably a more american tool, but here it doesn't even make a ripple in the market. Gnome I feel has and always will be an old Desktop environment - you can costomize it and do this and that to make it look and feel uber, but it still an old dwarf with a misplaced sense of superiority :P --- Why no one mention KDE, it quite nice if you want uber and flashy with minimal hacky hacky nonesense, XFCE is also very nice for the more light end environments. Ubuntu (aka Debian Unstable) in my view wants to be Windows, spoon feeding linux users to the point of being practically brain dead -- yeah Ubuntu is awesome for being free and open, but thats about it that makes it great.... With everyone wanting native Linux ports for certain apps is more than understandable - but everyone seems to be forgetting the power of wine (especially with the help of winetricks) and the great efforts made by the guys at codeweavers. In all honsty I have not encountered an application I couldn't get a Linux equivalent for or if all else fails get the Windows app to work in Linux. As far as Linux Server sales I can confirm that the bnumbers are in some instances better than the otther platforms - out of more than 50 servers I purchased over the last 5 years, a meer 9 was Windows Focussed.... Enterprise Linux wise, I really don't see the use... out of the mentioned servers above I have run them on average without any down time for 450+ days and the highest so far is 4 years no reboot - that all without RedHat otr Suse -- at first we ran Ubuntu (but due to it's flaky ness we ditched it) and then later opted to go Debian, with 90% less hassels :)

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

My Archos Internet tablet can have a version of Linux Angstrom instead of Android. But I haven't bothered because Android as far as I can see is a desktop on a Linux platform. Cheers,

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

Client server accounting apps are a broken model because a surprising number of companies have most or all of their accounting functions happening off-site, performed by third-parties. If GnuCash wants to not just "match" QuickBooks, but blow them out of the water, they should create their own web-based front/back-end suite that can be run on your web-server, in "the cloud," or bought as a service from somebody else. Such an enormous amount of effort gets put into home-brewing solutions so accountants can point their Quickbooks app to a customer's "quickbooks server" and get access to the quickbooks file that if I could eliminate just one program from the IT lexicon instantly and irrevocably, it would be QUICKBOOKS. Why in the world would you want to mirror this horrible, horrible implementation? Even if the "client-app" just talks over HTTPS to a back-end supported by a real database, that's still better than trying to mimic the godawful "Quickbooks Server" which is really just a "file server running a hacky app to allow simultaneous access to a file by multiple users."

grax
grax

"a philanthropic marketing firm". Sorry Jack but your blathering will not make this a "Banner Year for Open Source". Most people neither understand nor care about the concept but they do like "free" even if they tend not to trust it. After all "You get what you pay for" is a given even if it isn't true all the time. Philip Copeman's interesting post about TurboCASH provides a good example. GNUCash is okay for personal use but clunky compared to the now defunct Microsoft Money (for which one had to pay). I don't really see it as a business option unlike TurboCASH but they're both free to use. One thing Philip should look at again: "95% of our downlaoaders are Windows users." Consider the number of machines that use Windows, Mac or Linux and you're market penetration isn't bad. You're actually appealing to people who happily use proprietary software but recognise a good deal when they see one. The message will get through but it will take time if you don't spend money on advertising. Jack was right about that. On a different point: is Balthor a spammer or should I spend time checking his/her links? I really hate it when people post links without any explanatory comment. Still it's a new year so one should try to be nice about such minor irritations. Happy New Year.

Philip Copeman
Philip Copeman

www.turbocash.net Jack, Your article on "10 things to change the Linux workd in 2012" - cries out for an accounting package in Linux. What it really cries out for is open source accounting software but you are so desparate that you will even suckle the proprietary beast. This rings a note with us here at the TurboCASH Project. What you are saying is obvious - Linux needs an Accounting system. We have been saying this for 5 years. However why does this not happen? In the TurboCASH Project, we love Linux and run our whole project on Linux servers. Our users do not. I note with interest your comments on Quickbooks, GNUCASH and Linux. This is a very US based perspective, I beleive that TurboCASH is the solution you are actually looking for. In The TurboCASH Accounting Project we have an open source accounting package developed in Delphi Pascal using the Firebird Database. We have 110 000 users in 80 countries and 25 languages. With Quickbooks you are clutchng at straws mate. What would be the great benefit of implementing Quickbooks, as proprietary a system as you can find. We already have the Linux Server for TurboCASH working as you point out for Quickbooks. Ours works with the open source database Firebird SQL. I'll wager we have a lot more implementations of this than they do. We have a Wine implementation on Linux desktops and we even have these running in Cloud instances. None of this has lead to great penetration in the Linux market! 95% of our downlaoaders are Windows users. I have started to wonder if Linux users actually do accounting? Now a native port of TurboCASH to Linux might solve that, (I doubt it), but this is not easything to do. To port from Delphi to Linux will take a complete rewrite abnd recoding of the business rules. If this were and easy thing to do you would have hundreds of accounting packages out there - there aren't. One of the key elements that has made TurboCASH successful is one compile to may tax regimes and platform. Without this strategy you end up with fragmented products ala Quickbooks, where outside of the US their penetration is minimal. When you suggest a Linux implementation of Quickbooks, I assume you are suggesting a Commercial or proprietary developement. Put down $10 M - develop and sell for $500 a copy, is that it? Your break even is 10 000 copies. It gets a lot harder to put this together as an open source developement. The costs would come down to about $2 M, but there is no revenue in sight. The low end open source accounting market does not have the levereage that you get with enterprise solutions. Free means free beer. Converting GNYU CASH to a full blown Accounting system is just as difficult. (Otherwise they would have done it) It is one thing to balance cheque book, it is completely another to role out GAAP accounting practices accross 80 different tax regimes with full audit trails. The architecture of a batch based, double entry system is a separate endeavour. Converting GNUCASH to a business syustem in Linux is the same problem that we have in writing a native TurboCASH system. You basically have to start at the beginning. I fear you have carts before horses here. Yes a Native Linux Accounting system would help the distribution of Desktop Linux systems (I would even postulate that it is the last great missing Office App. This would be good for Linux, but not necessarily good for Accountants. Our battle is to make tax returns. Operating systems is not our war. We have a very tenuous relationship with Microsoft. See Living with the Beast and Bill Gates - My part in his downfall We are pragmatic people, right now we have a working client server accounting package that can run off a flash drive or run with 50 users, one compile, 25 languages. Most importantly we can deliver this for free and have been doing so to hundreds of thousands of users. Now I understand that running Wine is a drag, but it does mean that you cna slot in with hundreds of thousnads of Windows adn Apple users, an use exactly the same code. Get this right and you can sgtart to make Native extensions. Taking a 90 degree turn for us and developing a Native Linux system will benefit Linux more than it will benefit us. Any suggestions as to how to crack this problem will be greatly welcome. If you know someone in the Linux community who has the interest position and the $2 Million - that would be a great start. If the above is not immediately forthcomming, can I suggest that in the interim, you load up a copy of TurboCASH on Wine and we start to address this problem together.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

There are probably even laws in the bureaus of standards here.Only the Microsoft file naming system must be used.Everybody would call their install files exes and so on.I could then install my Paint Shop Pro in Ubuntu with no problems.It's whoever makes the computers calls the shots.One file in Ubuntu or Apple and this would be the case.

alfielee
alfielee

What are you, a Windows promoter perhaps or just a twerp who thinks he knows stuff by osmosis?

gustin
gustin

I have 3 monitors that worked out of the box with a radeon 5770. No installing drivers from CDs to get the network card to work so I can then download the latest nVidia/ATI driver. Btw, how is that command line dance any worse than a regedit session when things go wrong in Windows? I love Linux, I use it every day, I also like Windows 7, I also use it every day. I also get paid to work on both platforms. They each have strengths and weaknesses. Basically it comes down to using the right tool for the right job. One final note, before slagging the major distros, have you ever actually built a GUI interface for any OS? As a minor contributor to KDE, I can tell you that it is a really complicated system, regardless of the platform. I guess this is just another case of it being easier to be a hater as opposed to a creator.

hendrik00
hendrik00

I also don't see Ubuntu giving Unity the boot -- but considering whats happening in the Tablet market I would imagine Ubuntu is going Tablet with Unity (I'm not much active in the Tablet seen so don't know if there is anything like it) - But with Windows 8 the look and feel is tablet Focused I think Unity is the same and we just might see some interesting tides coming with Android vs Microsoft vs Apple vs Ubuntu This is all good guess work at best :D

lastchip
lastchip

I've been running Debian servers for about two years now and they are rock solid and stable to the point they're boring. (I love boring!). By contrast, my future son-in-law administers a set of Windows severs that cause him no end of pain. But the company he works for (being a Microsoft partner - whatever that means) is unlikely to change. Having said that, he was seeking some advice from me about installing CentOS, and I understand they're looking for someone to go on a "Linux course", so maybe even they have seen the light.

Philip Copeman
Philip Copeman

Tom, I live in the real world. This is is where real accountants are paranoid about their data, have a really low tech threshold, hate learning new things and even less like paying for them. I am always open to new ideas and I am especially open to ideas around Linux. It would please me no end to see a dominant open source desktop. I deal with Windows and now Apple, simply out of necessity. It is not for me to lecture a user on what operating system they want, or to withhold implementation beause of their choice. The more accoutantants we can satisfy, the more successful will TurboCASH be. Our challenge is that inside the limitation of free delivery (and I bite my thumb at Quickbooks and their $500 licence Sir), the best way to do it is to have one code base and roll it out on multiple platforms. Right now we can do it with TurboCASH, Wine and most Desktop Distros. Why not just use that? You bring up a whole new topic with your cloud offerings. It is too big for me to take you on here. Can I refer you to my article "It ain't over till the fat lady sings" on www.turbocash.net for a full explanation about why fat client apps are here to stay. More so in the accounting market than others. We were one of the first to roll out a cloud based offering to great fan fare. As the person who financed that, I can tell you I was most disappointed that very few users took it up.

ubducted
ubducted

Every freaking year that goes by there is always something open source related that blows my mind. You are limiting your argument to OS's and OS related things. What about the advances with R-project, Drupal, NoSQL databases, Xen... If you want to talk about years of 'meh', join a Microsoft Windows community.

dogknees
dogknees

Given that he isn't trying to sell us something or sending unsolicited emails to hoards of people, he can hardly be a spammer. We leave it as an exercise for you to determine what he is.

mail4viztek
mail4viztek

If religion and the word of God comes in the form of 1 bible then I would agree with you. However, it doesn't! Apparently there are over 200 bibles telling the word of God, so maybe you should go out into the street and notice that all the houses, the cars, the people, the letter boxes do not adhere to your 'bureau of standards'. Perhaps you should install and use GIMP instead of Paint Shop Pro and adopt GIMP as a standard. Now as for the computer makers calling the shots, you might be wise to look at all of those makers and ask why there is no single standard, as I believe Microsoft does not make computers, yet most computers are purchased with a Microsoft operating system. Thank God for choices......

beaverusiv
beaverusiv

How would this work? Do you mean everyone has the same underlying structure so any OS can install .exe's? Or do you mean the code for all 3 major platforms is in the same file? 1) Same structure: Can't happen, because then there is no Linux or Windows or OSX because they'd all be Windows underneath. The whole thing is they differ greatly underneath and that's what gives them pro's and con's. Sure, OSX and Linux have the same heritage, but they still do things differently. 2) Single .exe: While maybe not impossible, it would require co operation from Apple which would be impossible. Also, I don't want to download a file that could be considerably larger than it needs to be. I have capped internet and I'm not wasting it on OSX executables. Also there could be the issue of licensing between the different platforms. The thing is, people SHOULD experience a paradigm shift when they use Linux from Windows or whatever. There would be no point if it was the same. Linux has it's ways of doing things and most people can accept and learn that with sufficient teaching. I absolutely love package managers and dependancies. I wouldn't want to change to Windows' way.

hendrik00
hendrik00

I cant agree more use the right one for the Job - I am also in the same situation working on both and Loving both for different reasosn :) Regarding the Video support issue, I know first hand installing an ATI card is pretty hassel free (works out of the box) and you can use the normal SystemSettings tools to setup a dual screen quite easy. As for nVidia it also quite easy asof a 2 years or so ago - they have standard install packages for the drivers and appy which makes it as simple as installing on Windows

Crash2100
Crash2100

There is some fine print with Linux... The whole reason Linux has become more popular in the Server world is all because it's good WHEN it actually works. But it's not always easy to get things up and running, at least from my experience. This is easier to deal with in the server environment because once you get things up and running, if you can get it to stay running correctly, there's not much else to deal with. Although, even that gets harder and harder as Linux makes itself more popular to the people (which also includes the malicious code writing people).

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

Using HTTPS to connect to a back-end doesn't preclude the use of a fat-client app, in fact the ideal "cloud" model would use the existing client application to interface with the back-end instead of a local "file" based copy of the data. It elegantly solves so many problems without importing one of the worst hassles about QuickBooks from an IT perspective, that being the incredibly kludgy way they've implemented multi-user functionality.

grax
grax

"Given that he isn't trying to sell us something or sending unsolicited emails to hoards of people, he can hardly be a spammer." Without opening the links one could not possibly say whether he/she is or is not "trying to sell something or send unsolicited emails". Notice that I do you the courtesy of accept your definition. "We leave it as an exercise for you to determine what he is." Kind of you but have neither the time nor the inclination to find out. I really don't care! Happy New Year.

qwertyomen
qwertyomen

Is usually where I run into problems. It might have to do with not running the latest greatest (6 year old parts) components. When a video card doesn't work, for a newbie, the way to fix the problem is complicated and time consuming. If you mess up, instead of getting a barely functioning system, your stuck with a command prompt after a bunch of error screens. It's been a few years but if your system is old and you need an older distro... :(

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You're correct about familiarity, but slapping a GUI on a Linux server isn't going to make administration any easier for someone familiar only with Windows.

lastchip
lastchip

the ease of configuration is determined by what you're used to. For me, administering a Linux server via a few common commands, is significantly easier, than endless menus in Windows. I accept totally, that's not the case for everyone. But if one wants a GUI environment, then tools like webmin and phpmyadmin will offer a more familiar environment to Windows administrators wanting to take a look at the "other side". Or even complete distros such as SMEserver, which is a derivative of CentOS and therefore, Redhat. Enjoy the stability of Linux, the research of Redhat and a GUI as well! Once you've got your head around the file system structure and in particular, how permissions work, you're 90% there. After that, you're just looking at individual applications - web server, email server, DNS server and so on. And surely one could argue, that's no different to learning those applications in Linux, than learning them in a Windows environment. So I think there's a lot of misconception from both camps and in essence, it boils down to what one is used to. Certainly, the one thing (I think) that can't be disputed, is overall, Linux servers (and especially Debian) are far less troublesome than their Windows equivalents - at least that's my experience so far. Finally, if anyone reading this is seriously interested in trying a Linux server out, I can't recommend highly enough a book by Mark Sobell called A Practial Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming. Yes the title's a mouthful and it was first brought to my attention by a TechRepublic contributor; Chad Perrin. A writer who I admire immensely. I've only read about 10% (I'm working my way through) as you could consider it a reference manual, but unquestionably worth it's cost. An absolute bible of useful commands and an insight into really understanding the system.

ipclassless24
ipclassless24

I think it's clear Linux is awesome but with employees as your enemy, its a burden to manage on client end. Server end you got one secure peace of machine if you know what your doing, compared to the easier configuration of windows servers. The battle of security and usability!

dogknees
dogknees

Links on a forum are not emails.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I first noticed him several years ago when the US and other countries altered the dates to start and end Daylight Saving Time. He posted multiple rants that the results of this would resemble a cross between an asteroid impact and the end of the Mayan calendar, as delivered by the Four Horsemen. I've seen links to his artistic endeavors that Sonja provided a while back, and I greatly appreciate his talent in those areas. As to his TR participation, he almost never responds to questions. His technical knowledge is questionable at best, and many of his positions seem to be unsupportable. He'll be highly active for weeks or months, then disappear again. His recent burst of activity is the first in a couple of years. I've decided to treat him as if he were autistic and / or paranoid.