Open Source

Fearless open source predictions for 2012

Jack Wallen makes his annual predictions for the coming year. It's going to be a banner year in many ways. See if you agree with Jack's prognostications.

Ah, the sweet smell of a new year. Although I have to admit, 2011 wasn't the best of years for Linux and open source, it certainly wasn't the worst. But what 2011 did do was build a nice solid base for things to come. And I believe 2012 will be a vastly improved year for our favorite software and platform.

I won't go as far to say that 2012 will finally be the year of the desktop for Linux -- I think that flag has flown enough over the last decade (and to no avail). But, the good news is that the desktop landscape is about to see some serious changes as the multi-touch form factor starts to take a larger role. But more on that later. So, what is possible (besides 'anything') for the up-coming year? Here are my prognostications.

Ubuntu Unity finally gets some respect

I've made my distaste for Unity well known. I'm not at all against change -- in fact, I invite the beast into my home and heart. But the change Ubuntu made with Unity wasn't a step forward (at least not like the change brought about by GNOME 3). But 2012 should see a major upswing with this desktop. How? Why? Simple: Tablets. I believe Canonical has another trick up their sleeve and we will finally see that Linux tablet arrive on the market, sporting Ubuntu and Unity. When this happens, we will finally see the "why" of Unity.

The main reason Canonical made this change was so that they could support Ubuntu on all devices -- that had to include tablets. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have seen the rise of tablet hardware coming when Ubuntu 11.04 (2011) was being released. Mark Shuttleworth couldn't have been immune to the future of tech when he made the decision to go with Unity. That future had to include tablets.

Granted, Shuttleworth has said the plan was to have Ubuntu and Unity ready for tablets in two years; I believe a surprise will come about this year and the first of the Linux tablets will appear.

Minty fresh future

Linux Mint will continue its rise to the top of the Linux desktop distributions. Actually, it won't continue it's rise, it will completely take over the top spot as the number one Linux desktop distribution -- and this won't just be on Distrowatch. 2012 will see Linux Mint win over the hearts and minds of users, media, business, and anyone else looking for a solid Linux desktop. With it's unique additions to GNOME 3 and solid foundation, it's already doing everything other distributions have tried to do but failed.

A new player in the enterprise

I feel strongly that a new enterprise-ready Linux platform will appear, seemingly out of nowhere. At the moment, the only real player in the market is Red Hat Enterprise Linux (SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop has pretty much failed). That's going to change. 2011 was a banner year for server sales and someone is going to come out to play on that playground. It would not surprise me if we see a company basing a server on the Ubuntu Server platform, only with a hardened security and an added GUI.

GnuCash gets a server side

I know it might not seem so, but this will be HUGE. As a certified QuickBooks engineer, I would welcome this. Why? On a daily basis, I see clients who cannot afford to keep QuickBooks running or update to the latest issue (I saw a client with QuickBooks 5 recently). The GnuCash developers know how much of a deal maker it would be if they came out with a client/server setup and I believe 2012 might finally see the first alpha release of this. When this happens, you can bet I will be hopping right on that bandwagon and pimping it everywhere I can.

SLED will fade away

SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop will, sadly enough, fade out of existence. This writing has been on the wall ever since SuSE was taken over by the anti-Midas touch of Novell. But never fear, openSUSE will continue on and, as I mentioned earlier, another player will arise in the Enterprise market. Hopefully this will be a lesson for any other Linux or open source developer team -- do not allow a company with a poor track record to take you over!

An end to the law suits

Finally. Yes, finally... we will see an end to the law suits that have plagued and confused the media, the end users, and the companies over the last five years. The witch hunts are over. We can breathe easily as no more bloodthirsty lawyers will be blindly chasing ambulances through the open source community.

Strong server sales

2012 will follow in the footsteps of 2011 Q2 with big spikes in server sales. 2011 Q2 saw Linux server sales outshine those of Windows servers, 2012 will repeat this, only the outshining will not be limited to a single quarter. I predict half of the year will see Linux server sales outdo Windows server sales.

Okay, so the dangerously bold predictions of the base (world domination, year of the desktop) are gone, to be replaced by more sane predications that are actually possible. What do you think? Are my predictions off? If so, how and why? What are your predictions for Linux and open source in the coming year?


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

AES2 1 Like

Rob Preston recently wrote about the AT&T/T-Mobile debacle, "... just a bunch of financiers and bureaucrats and lobbyists and litigants working a dysfunctional system" and "Imagine if all the time and money ... were channeled into actually creating something" That unfortunately applies too widely, with almost all possible pairs of cell phone manufacturers suing each other and back, Galaxy Tab banned in EU, Oracle yanking the rug out from under HP, Oracle's aggression against Apache and suing cell phone makers over Java, and the PTO issuing worthless patents good only for suing. Back in ancient history every beginning programmer knew how to use XOR for a blinking cursor, yet the PTO awarded a patent for it. More recently Amazon conned them into issuing a patent for the spectacularly obvious one click ordering. CPTN Holdings was formed overnight by Microsoft and friends for the sole purpose of buying patents, and Google paid Real Money for a has-been cell phone maker not for its products or customers, but for its patents. At least SCO has been put out of our misery, but I've noticed no slowing of an increase in lawsuits and defensive patents over the past several years. I hope I'm wrong.


I sure hope the "Linux" system that comes out of nowhere in the enterprise is a BSD Unix system. It's about damned time BSD Unix gets some widespread respect. Actually, BSD Unix systems power a significant chunk of the Internet already. The problem (if it's actually a problem) is that it does so quietly, without the fanfare of RHEL or Canonical's nominally server-oriented Ubuntu variants.


Anything worthwhile is NOT easy, I have to say I was under great pressure studying/practicing for the RHEL certifications. I would not go back, Windows to me is a quagmire of security holes and malware/trojan/viruses. For PCI compliance, Linux distro's are 100 times easier.


I remember seeing it in a book/music store, I picked up the box and seen the desktop and bought it. I remember people at work laughing at me, well my tinkering and struggles trying to make it work for me paid off. I took a job as a System Admin & part of the requirement was to take the RHEL certifications and/or be unemployed. I have to say, CentOS helped me prepare for the RHEL Certs and I run a CentOS desktop today at work. To me it is easier to manage than a Wiindows desktop and far easier than Windows Servers. The beauty of Linux distro's is the ability to secure, manage and the uptime. People can continue in the Windows infamy, however Linux distro's power the web and data centers. People are not laughing at the software now.


If we shared our compassion of Linux to Win users and took the time to show them the great benefits it offers our numbers will surely grow. Who doesn't want safer and free computing? It's up to us "geeks" to spread the good news.

CharlieSpencer 1 Like

I'd agree if the average Joe was building his system from scratch, but he isn't. Since Windows comes pre-installed on most user systems, they've already payed for it. Why bother replacing it and existing applications? Windows can easily be made safe enough for the majority of users who stay away from the skanky side of the Internet. Spread the news, but be prepared to get the same reception as other evangelists and missionaries.


The average person building a computer from scratch doesn't pay for MS Windows at all, even when using it.


You make a good point. I had forgotten about that. As for your Mint preference . . . I prefer FreeBSD. I know a guy who likes Mint, but refuses to use it because of the political message the project maintainer evidently likes to push when offering Linux Mint to users.

PGS-AU 1 Like

All hardware that is MS certified sees $$$ going to MS. So if you build a UNIX or similar machine, any hardware that is certified has MS being paid. Mint is great.... been with it since v8

kandyass 1 Like

...and on to most of the smartphones.

Doug Vitale
Doug Vitale 1 Like

I think that, despite the best efforts of the very capable and praiseworthy distribution developers, Desktop Linux is going to remain a niche product used almost exclusively by geeks and not by "normal" PC users. If Windows XP is still alive and kicking after 10+ years, I think we are going to be seeing Windows 7 around for a [i]long, long[/i] time. Give credit to Microsoft where credit is due - they made a very solid, reliable, and intuitive OS. Desktop Linux had the chance to gain some ground when Vista was released, and I think that Linux did advance during this time. However, if I go to,,, or and I start customizing a new PC or laptop to buy, guess which operating system I am limited to buying? You got it. As long as [b]preinstalled[/b] desktop Linux remains a fantasy, desktop Linux will remain a niche product for computing hobbyists. I would love to see it "take off" and become dominant in this market (my pet distributions are Linux Mint and PCLinuxOS) but the fact remains that 99% of all users are never going to bother downloading an .iso and installing a new OS.


GNUCash maybe great but as long as my accountant uses Quickbooks I will be using Quickbooks. Your 'bravest' prediction is the end of lawsuits. I think it's only just begun.

Editor's Picks