Happy new year to everyone! It's that time again, when every media-type with a keyboard and a sense they "know" what's coming 'round the bend starts making their predictions for the upcoming year. So naturally I thought a good follow up to my Golden Tux Awards for 2010, would be a predictions article.
So...what exactly is in store for Linux and open source in the upcoming year? Will it FINALLY be the "year of the Linux desktop"? We've been saying that for, what, three thousand years now? Let me don my Nostradamus cap and reach into the future and find out what is in store.OpenOffice dies. Let's all stand up and give Oracle a bitter, ironic round of applause for finally bringing down a piece of software that has stood the test of time over and over. The year 2011 will find LibreOffice taking the helm as the default office suite for Linux and open source operating systems (as well as the default alternative to MS Office on Windows systems). Once Oracle sees that no distribution is opting to stick with the suite, they will either get rid of the OpenOffice developers or shift them to other projects that will eventually be killed by the Bringer of Plague. openSUSE will die. Or at least as we know it. Attachmate is still beholden to Microsoft for helping them come up with cash to purchase Novell. MS did not do this so that Attachmate could continue developing openSUSE. So what I see is openSUSE being put to rest by Attachmate and a spin off will be created by freelance open source developers. Ubuntu Linux will make big gains. The prediction for Ubuntu is simple: Once Unity and Wayland are in place all of the PC makers (Such as Dell) will jump on board and start selling systems pre-installed. Shuttleworth has coordinated this perfectly. He knew the open source community would balk at the idea of migrating away from GNOME 3 and X Windows as the defaults, but he did it anyway. Why? This whole shift was a planned orchestration aimed specifically at PC manufacturers who have complained in the past that Linux was too hard to support because of the variations in desktop and underlying technologies necessary to make various hardware work. Now they have a very unified system that will work on all of their hardware (from netbooks, to tablets, to notebooks, to desktops, to servers). This, combined with a massive acceptance from the community at large (once they see how well the combination of Unity and Wayland work), will see a fairly significant upswing in Ubuntu installations. Red Hat will see large gains. With its only competition out of commission (thanks again to "The Plague") Red Hat Enterprise Linux will be the only kid on the enterprise playground and will see some fairly significant gains. But you can't just give complete credit to the lack of competition. Red Hat only recently released version 6 of their enterprise Linux operating system and this release will begin to gain huge traction in the coming year. Why? It's an outstanding enterprise-grade platform. And few other operating systems are as virtualization-friendly as is Red Hat. Android tablets will come strong and hit hard. That's right...they are coming. Tablets powered by Android will be everywhere in 2011. They will be the only tablets to give the iPad a run for its money. And naturally the open source community will embrace this and develop some seriously cool software for these gems. Ubuntu-based tablet will hit the shelves. This one might seem like a stretch, but it's exactly the kind of big deal Mark Shuttleworth has been focusing on for a while. And this year will finally see that Linux tablet hit the market. And by "hitting the market" I mean just that. This time the Linux machine won't require you to purchase a piece of hardware and then blow away the pre-installed OS. Someone (maybe Dell) will release a Ubuntu-powered tablet PC that will be a big hit. At first it will be only the Linux community purchasing this machine. But after a while other users will follow suit. You see, the tablet is not a device that people assume should be running Windows. This mind-set was helped along by the mobile industry. The masses assume the smaller, portable form factors are powered by operating systems that are not "standard". In fact, the masses don't really care what OS their phones or tablets run so long as they are cool, work well, and can connect to every social networking service known to man. The tablet industry will boost success for Linux. As I said above, the general public are slowly being weened from the teat of Microsoft. Thanks to mobiles and tablets, the age-old, time-tested desktop metaphor is no longer a "requirement" for a computer to succeed. Now it's an "anything goes" world which is the perfect breeding ground for Linux to sow the seeds of success. This will happen in 2011. I'm not saying it's going to be the year of the Linux Desktop. I'm saying that Linux will enjoy more success and acceptance this year than it ever has. More users, more devices, more form factors...just more and more.
2010 was a good year for Linux, but it will pale in comparison to what 2011 will bring. This is my first open source blog for 2011 and I have to say I am already excited to see what is going to come. What do you think? Will any of my predictions come true for Linux and open source? Do you have your own predictions? Share them with your fellow readers.
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.