Software

The 8 biggest open source milestones in 2018

From new Codes, new attitudes, new deals, and new patents--Linux had a successful 2018. Jack Wallen glances into his wayback machine to share eight highlights.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Open source continues to climb the charts of popularity and usability. Every year that goes by marks newer and greater milestones for open source, and 2018 was no stranger to such events. The open source community enjoyed plenty of highs and suffered its share of lows.

But what were they? Let's find out.

SEE: IT pro's guide to working smarter with Linux (Tech Pro Research)

1. The new Code

This was probably the most eye-opening event for open source in 2018. The Linux kernel developers woke up one morning to find that they were now under a new set of rules. Said rules were a new Code of Conduct that replaced the previous Code of Conflict. The Code looked to foster a positive environment by adhering to the following tenets:

  • Using welcoming and inclusive language
  • Being respectful of differing viewpoints and experiences
  • Gracefully accepting constructive criticism
  • Focusing on what is best for the community
  • Showing empathy towards other community members

This was a huge step forward for the Linux development community and long overdue. To some inside the community, the Code became a point of contention. However, any set of bylaws that aims to foster a positive environment is always a good thing.

2. Linus steps back

Along with the Code of Conduct, the Linux development community was shocked to discover that the man who invented Linux, Linus Torvalds, was stepping away from development to work on his behavior toward other developers. Torvalds had a reputation for his vicious takedown of other developers, so this coinciding with the Code of Conduct could have easily been seen as one inspiring the other. Either way, it was the right move for Torvalds to step away and focus on improving his behavior. He worked on the Linux kernel for more than 30 years, so such a break was long overdue.

Fortunately, for the Linux kernel community, Torvalds' break was short lived. He returned and helped prepare the release the Linux 4.20 kernel. It turned out that the break did positively impact Torvalds.

3. Red Hat did what?

To the shock (and, for some, dismay) of many in the open source community, IBM purchased Red Hat. The deal was for a staggering $34 billion dollars and could have serious (and lingering) consequences for both companies. The deal was made for one reason: IBM needed a cloud presence. Period.

While this was happening, I heard from some Red Hat employees who were, quite frankly, not only frightened they'd lose their jobs but that the coveted open culture of Red Hat would fall under the weight of IBM's corporate hammer. So far, there has been no signs of either, and I hope that remains true, as there are some fantastic people working at Red Hat, where open source rules.

SEE: Power checklist: Managing and troubleshooting Linux user accounts (Tech Pro Research)

4. SUSE acquired

Before IBM bought Red Hat, SUSE was acquired from Micro Focus by EQT. This purchase didn't shake the foundation of the open source world nearly as much as Red Hat purchase, primarily because SUSE doesn't have nearly the foothold in the United States market as Red Hat does. Another reason why this purchase was a mere blip on the radar was that the price was only $2.5 billion. SUSE was excited about the possibility, as it could help them gain a better grip on the larger US market. The purchase occurred in July and, unfortunately, there have been little signs SUSE has invaded the North American market on the level enjoyed by Red Hat. Time will tell.

5. Microsoft purchases GitHub

Microsoft purchased GitHub. The purchase price? A cool $7.5 billion. For so many in the open source community, this was seen as the second coming of the Halloween Documents. However, given Microsoft's later actions (see below), the acquisition of GitHub would not herald the end of open source. In fact, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft said of the deal, "Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness, and innovation." Since the purchase, open source hasn't suffered one iota.

6. Microsoft opens patents

In a surprising move, Microsoft opened 60,000 patents to Open Invention Network. When this happened, the company who was open source enemy number one for years was no longer just using and contributing to open source software, but allowing others to make use of those now-open patents. That was huge news.

To put this into perspective, Microsoft has more than 90,000 patents and 60,000 of them are now open to OIN. The other 30,000 started making their way through the Patent and Trademark Office. Will Microsoft eventually open every single patent they own? One could hope.

SEE: Side-by-side chart of popular Linux distros (Tech Pro Research)

7. Academy Software Foundation

Hollywood has long relied on open source. In fact, a majority of the world's most popular movies were made with the help of open source software. But until 2018, there was nothing governing or assisting the melding of open source and Hollywood. That's one of the reasons the Linux Foundation joined with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create the Academy Software Foundation. This new foundation serves as a forum for open source developers to share resources and collaborate on technologies related to the craft of filmmaking.

8. Google adopts Debian

For the longest time, the official desktop platform of Google was based on Ubuntu. As of January 2018, Goobuntu was replaced with gLinux. This came as little surprise since Google had been such a strong supporter of Debian. And since Ubuntu is based on Debian—well, you can do that math. Of course, Google doesn't only use gLinux. You'll find a mixture of Linux, macOS, and Windows on the desktops of Google employees. And like Goobuntu, you won't find gLinux available for download anywhere. Google's in-house Linux remains in-house, and there's no exception.

On the horizon: 2019

If 2018 was a good year for Linux, I'll go out on a limb to say 2019 will be even better. Expect big things for open source in the coming year. World domination? We're still waiting for that eventuality. Maybe. Someday. Hopefully.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

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.

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