Ah, 2016. A year many of us would like to forget as quickly as possible. One way to make that happen is to hit the ground running in 2017. This is exactly what I believe open source will do.
I can hear it already.
"Doesn't every open source pundit declare the coming year will be the years of Linux?"
Certainly they do, and that won't change from year to year. And 2017 will not see me backing down from such claim. However, I do believe the writing has become ever more clear on that massive wall of IT.
Linux is a crucial player on almost every level now. How will that change in 2017? Will it ebb or flow? Let's gaze into that crystal ball that I absolutely do not have and see what there is to see or not see. Some of these prognostications will tiptoe toward madness, while others will have you immediately nodding your head in agreement.
Are you ready? Here we go.
Canonical finally exits the phone market
I have to give Canonical credit — they tried. Hard. Unfortunately, the Ubuntu Phone missed the mark on nearly every possible level. The idea for the interface was doomed from the beginning and they couldn't couldn't gain any traction in an already saturated market. However, I do believe their dream of convergence can be fixed., and it begins with Android. Instead of focusing so much effort on getting Ubuntu Phone in a position where it can make the convergence between desktop and mobile, Canonical might well set their sights on integrating this functionality into Android. That would make so much more sense. It would require the creation of an app that would easily communicate between mobile and desktop and make them work seamlessly together.
Regardless of what happens with convergence, I think 2017 will see the Canonical return their focus to what they do best — the desktop and server.
Elementary OS will gain significant ground
I'm trying not to be partial here, but I believe, partially due to Canonical's failed foray into the phone space, Elementary OS will become much bigger player by the end of 2017. There's a good reason for that. Elementary OS is an amazing flavor of Linux. It's very user-friendly, beautifully designed, and makes working with Linux a complete no-brainer on every level. Currently, Elementary OS stands at number 5 on the Distrowatch Page Hit Ranking, with numbers not that far below that of Ubuntu and Debian. I firmly believe, by the end of the year, Elementary will rank just below Mint at the number 2 slot.
Microsoft will considering open sourcing Windows
This might sound crazy, but I think it makes sense. Microsoft stands to gain far more leverage by opening up the source for their Windows platform. Not only would this be a boon for the enterprise, it would also enable a lot of enterprise-level systems and services to better integrate with the Windows platform.
I don't suspect we'll actually see an open source version of Windows released. What I do believe is that Microsoft will finally become open to this idea and begin to see a certain validity to handing over the source to their platform to specific entities (such as Redhat, SUSE, MySQL, Samba, SAP, etc.).
Linux market share will break 5%
Another crazy notion is that the Linux market share will finally breach the 5% mark. It may not sound like much, but within the realm of Linux, that could serve as a very important number. Other pundits have pegged the cap for 2017 at 3%, but I'm more optimistic and I believe it will be fueled the likes of Elementary OS bringing to the market a desktop that anyone can enjoy, and doing so with a nod to modern design usage.
Android market share will continue to crush the competition
This will be yet another one of those predictions that might seem a bit far fetched. However, I believe the global Android market share will surpass 90% in 2017. 2016 already saw that number tip 85%, so 90% isn't that far off and 2017 will make it happen. Part of this charge will be led by companies like OnePlus bringing to market flagship devices (such as the upcoming OnePlus 4) that not only compete with all other high end smartphones, but dismantle them in the area of price. And with Apple running out of tricks to woo users, the siren song of Android will continue to draw users.
Chrome OS and Android will finally merge together
This writing has been on the wall for some time now and 2017 will see it happen. Google will announce that all Chromebooks support the Android app store and then, shortly after that, the great Alphabet will announce the next "Pixel" chromebook will be the first iteration of the merged Android/Chrome OS platform. The device will release to much fanfare and will completely blow away expectations of what a chromebook can be. This will also lead to the device selling out in record time.
Linux hit by even more vulnerabilities
Do to the rising popularity of Linux, there will be a record number of vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities will range in scope and will be found in various and sundry services. I wouldn't be surprised if the kernel, Apache, MySQL, Samba, and the networking stack were all hit hard this coming year. The good news is that it will a banner year as the Linux developer community displays how quickly it is able to patch every discovered vulnerability.
It's going to be a wild ride
I believe we're going to see a fairly significant year for open source. From the desktop to the enterprise, open source will grow in ways no one would have predicted ten years ago. There'll be enough ups and downs to make 2017 a really wild ride.
What are your open source predictions for 2017?
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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.