The year 2013 was a solid year for open source. There were plenty of highs and certainly a few lows. However, I believe that Linux — continuing to build on its solid groundwork — will have the best year yet in 2014.
Some of you may be shaking your heads at yet another prediction of world domination by a Linux zealot. But there are plenty of reasons for such a bold prediction. In fact, here are 10 reasons why I firmly believe 2014 will be a banner year for Linux and open source:
1. Open source will dominate corporate data
This will be spurned on by the continued adoption of the powerhouse Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5, but it will reach far beyond that. As larger corporations make more demands for security and flexibility of their data, they'll turn to open source (especially Linux) to meet those needs. Big companies demand more in the way of representing and sharing their data, and they'll find that open source is truly the only place to turn.
2. Valve will prompt OEM hardware developers to open up
Valve has joined the Linux Foundation. One major benefit this will have is that they'll be on the forefront of getting OEM hardware developers and vendors to pump more resources into support for Linux. Owners of Nvidia and ATI hardware will reap the reward from this fastest, as Valve will ensure these two hardware vendors do everything they can to support open source platforms and software.
3. The Linux tablet will finally see the light of day
We may not see tablets on the mainstream market in 2014, but Ubuntu will at least have images that can be installed on mass-market hardware by the end of the year. I believe this will extend beyond the Nexus line and reach out to Samsung and Motorola hardware as well. Once these images start finding their way onto hardware, other vendors will start coming out of the woodwork to get on board the Linux tablet train.
4. GNOME 3 will become relevant again
GNOME 3 was a major disappointment in 2013. I'm certain that something — yet to be seen — will rectify this situation. Maybe it will be the addition of a more user-friendly application launcher (ala the Unity Launcher), or maybe when the new GNOME Core Apps are released (Maps, Music, Calendar, Software, Photos). Either way, the GNOME 3 desktop will regain some of its former glory in 2014, while still retaining the slickness of the modern interface.
5. KDE will release a major game-changing feature
KDE has been relegated to the shadows for some time. Yet, it continues to chug along, improving on what it has, to create a snappy desktop that lives in the old-school, start menu metaphor. I believe 2014 will have the KDE developers bringing out a game-changing feature to their desktop that will bring users flocking back (even if only to give it a whirl). My bet is on a major overhaul of the KDE Tasks that make this feature an incredibly efficient means for desktop usage. Possibly the modular foundation of KDE 5 Plasma 2 will start seeing major progress as well.
6. MariaDB will begin to make inroads to usurping MySQL
It's a shame that Oracle has single-handedly soured the open-source community on everything they touch. This holds true for MySQL. That's fine, since a drop-in replacement has risen to the top. 2014 will most likely see a large migration to MariaDB, even for database-driven web sites, such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, and Xoops. I'd really like to see a mass migration that would cause Oracle to rethink the way they handle open source, but I'm not holding my breath.
7. Open source will lead the way for smart machines
With the ability to make appliances and other machines "smart" (thanks to tablets, smartphones, and more), smart machines will become the norm and Linux/open source will be the driving force behind this major adoption. Why? Because Linux and open source is an ideal solution for embedded systems.
8. Open source will re-define cloud management
With tools like OpenStack and OpenShift, the cloud has become an even easier platform to manage. As more larger companies turn to cloud services for solutions, those clouds will be managed by open source tools. Again, this makes perfect sense, because open source was built for the likes of cloud computing.
9. Linux desktop will break double-digits in the market share
Although 2013 saw only 5% of desktop market share, I firmly believe that 2014 will finally see the open-source desktop break double digits. There are a number of reasons for this. First, more enterprise companies will see the benefit of Linux on the desktop. Second, with XP going away, a lot of companies will need to turn to an alternative operating system to avoid having to purchase new hardware. The marriage of Linux and cost-effective solutions is an ideal resolution.
10. Linux pre-install sales will steadily increase
I discovered the Linux pre-install for the first time this year. That experience was beyond my wildest expectations. With Dell, HP, Alienware, and more companies adding Linux pre-install to their list of offerings, more sales will be made — and this will translate to more companies wanting to offer Linux on the desktop. As this growth continues, the small companies that have been crucial to the fostering of such programs (such as System76) will continue to see growth and support.
If you thought 2013 was a good year for Linux and open source, just wait until I write the reflections for 2014! I'm confident that 2014 will be the best year, to date, for open source. In the meantime, I sincerely hope 2014 is an outstanding year for you, your family, your business, and your creativity.
Do you have open-source predictions for 2014? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
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.