Open source in 2020: The future looks bright

Jack Wallen offers up predictions on open source, Linux, docker engines, automation, and more for the coming year.

Opened window floating above the ground. 3d render illustration

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Mirror, mirror on the wall.

Wait; wrong glass.

Crystal, crystal on my table, predict for me if you are able.

Much better.

It's all about open source this time. The year is 2020. The future looks bright and my shades are preppped and ready. Shall we prognosticate?

SEE: Tech Predictions For 2020: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

1. Deepin Linux will alter the open source landscape

It's not often I predict that one Linux distribution might change the landscape of open source, but everything I've seen and heard about the upcoming release for Deepin Linux has me thinking this could be the one. The developers of Deepin 15.11 are planning to release a feature that could shift the tectonic plates of Linux distributions. That feature is Deepin Cloud Sync. 

This feature will sync system settings--of your choosing--to the cloud. For instance, you could install another instance of the OS, connect it to your Deepin Cloud Sync account, and have that new instance of the OS automatically sync your settings. Imagine how much time that would save for the rollout of multiple desktop instances. Couple that with how gorgeous the Deepin desktop is, and you have something special.

Deepin Linux is going to turn heads, and many users will jump the ship of their favorite distribution.

SEE: Top five open source Linux server distributions (TechRepublic Premium)

2. Pre-installed Linux machines will excel

This one has been a long time in the making. It's a slow burn, slow clap moment that will help Linux in its rise in market share--maybe even reaching near double digits for the first time. What is this remarkable moment? I believe more OEMs will start selling machines with Linux pre-installed. 

We already have System76, Dell, Pine64, Lenovo, ThinkPenguin, Star LabTop, and more, and by the end of 2020, I predict we'll see not only a rise in smaller OEMs (mostly rebranding Clevo hardware) with pre-installed Linux, but some larger OEMs as well. I am expecting Acer, HP, and ASUS to jump into the fray, so when 2020 comes to a close, don't be surprised if every desktop and laptop manufacturer on the planet offers a Linux version of some of its hardware.

3. Open source will dominate its enterprise

Let's face it, there's not much about enterprise business that open source doesn't dominate--it's everywhere. It's in the cloud, containers, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing--you name it--and open source is leading that charge. If there's one area Linux has yet to conquer in the enterprise domain, it's the desktop, but be prepared for that to change--at least on a small scale--by the end of 2020. 

The cause will be security. I predict another rise in Windows ransomware attacks, which will lead some businesses to look for a more reliable alternative: Linux. Companies realizing how much of the workflow and bottom line depends upon open source may also drive this shift. I realize most of us pundits have been saying this for years, but 2020 could see a perfect storm bringing the change we've hoped for.

SEE: Predicting 2020 trends across DesignOps, AppDev, AI, IoT and 5G (TechRepublic)

4. Docker will bounce back

I'm not talking about Docker the company (although I do have my fingers crossed it will find solid footing this year). I'm talking about docker the engine that launched the popularity of the container as it is now. 2019 wasn't kind to docker--Kubernetes became the container orchestrator of choice--but I believe there are going to be developments with the docker engine that will bring it on par with Kubernetes. 

These developments could consist of more powerful, user-friendly docker swarm tools or a new client tool to make orchestrating docker clusters easy. In the end, what will drive the comeback of docker is an ease of administration. As Kubernetes gets more powerful, it also becomes more complicated. If docker can reclaim simplicity--while maintaining its power and flexibility--it will regain some much-needed market share.

SEE: What is Kubernetes? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

5. Open source automation will get scary

This prediction comes from the fiction writing side of my brain. You've been warned. 

Thanks to the drive for more efficient CI/CD pipelines, we've witnessed a rise in impressive automation. With the help of Helm, Terraform, and other Kubernetes-centric tools, we can create systems that update themselves, test code and refuse to promote it to production (if there's a problem), and much more. 

In 2020, open source automation will come near the realm of fiction, with systems that "think" for themselves, and for the first time we'll experience a system that optimizes itself based on experience (from AI) and prediction. The big questions are: How far will these systems go with the tasks, and will we be able to shut them down once they pass some unknown event horizon? You might scoff at the notion, but the more you look down the rabbit hole of CI/CD, the more plausible it becomes.

SEE: Forrester: The 5 IoT predictions paving the way for 2020 (TechRepublic)

6. NVIDIA will reveal its big Linux surprise

NVIDIA announced it has a big surprise in store for Linux in 2020. Those outside the open source loop may not understand how big this could be, but I believe NVIDIA plans on doing one of two things: Contributing to the Nouveau drivers, or open source its official NVIDIA drivers. Why? I think NVIDIA sees the writing on the wall, and getting on board with Linux is the only way forward. 

This will be a huge win for Linux for two reasons: The Nouveau driver has never been all that great for gaming; if NVIDIA started contributing to the Nouveau drivers or open sourced its official drivers, it could be a boon to gaming on the Linux desktops and spike a rise in Linux popularity. Gamers would love a platform that is more reliable and secure than Windows. Give them the option, and we'll see Linux not only crash through that double-digit market share but maybe overtake macOS for that coveted second place.

Happy new year

On a personal note, thank you for continuing to read my words and supporting open source software and TechRepublic. I hope you have a productive, outstanding, and joyous year.  

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