Jack Wallen takes a look back at 2008 to recollect his most memorable Linux and open source moments. Some of these moments you might remember yourself, others are brand new to you. Either way, you will enjoy a quick trip down short-term memory lane.
Ah 2008, I hardly knew ye. Actually I knew ye quite well because there were certainly some personal Linux milestone moments. Profound? Hardly. Important? Personally, sure. Will they matter to you? Maybe not, but they might, just might, make you ponder your own 2008 Linux moments, compare them, and make you realize how important Linux has become to you.
Enough with the intro. Let's get on with the moments!1. Vista. I thought it apropos to begin with one of the biggest blunders to come out of Redmond in a long time. Vista. But how is Vista an important Linux moment? Glad you asked. Microsoft proclaimed that Vista would change the way you view the PC experience. The Vista tagline? "Clear, Confident, Connected." What the Vista tagline should have read was "Vista: Trying to roll Linux, OS X, and XP into one." For me what Vista did was solidified the Linux desktop. The Linux desktop has been very slowly marching forward and, for the most part, continuing to improve. Vista also reminded me that Linux will always have a place on the desktop as long as machines age. The hardware requirements for Vista where nearly enough to create an entire Beowulf cluster of Linux machines. And the Vista desktop was nothing more than yet another way for Microsoft to prove they have no clue what the PC desktop should be. Give me Enlightenment, GNOME, KDE, Fluxbox...heck, give me console over Vista! 2. Return to E! I figured the above was a good segue into my usual diatribe about the Enlightenment window manager. At some point a year or so ago I was wooed over to Compiz-Fusion. It was cool, it was slick (it did 3-D effects on hardware that couldn't even try to run Vista), and I was seduced. But at some point I grew tired of all the bells and whistles and went back to good old Enlightenment E16. I have my system resources back. I have all the familiar themes and configuration files back. I am happy. I know many would look at this as a step backwards, but when your window manager is already light years ahead of most others (in the way of ease of use, requirements, and cool-factor), it's really a step forward. This is one 2008 Linux moment I was happy to see. 3. A rekindled flame with Fedora. It had been a while since I was happy with the hat. But with the release of 10, Fedora has won over a soft spot in my heart again. It's not perfect but it's worth using again. And for all of those flaming me for using such a simplified Linux distribution, at least I can say, "There's my Fedora install!" No, it's not Slack or Gentoo but when everything (and I mean everything) works out of the box on a Sony Vaio you know the Fedora developers have to be doing something right. 4. Ink, ink, and more ink. In 2008 I got my first Linux-related tattoo. The ink in question was a Tux penguin on my forearm. That naturally led to even more. Currently I am sporting Tux, a Ubuntu logo on my right shoulder, and a Red Hat Logo on my bicep. My goal is to have logos from every distribution I have used on me. Crazy? Yes. But Linux has been a rather big deal to me over the years. I dare say that I have made a living from covering the operating system and on some level feel like I owe it to the open source darling. I have always considered myself a poster-child for Linux. Now I am more a poster. 5. Economics of Tux. I don't want to seem like I am making light of the horrid state of the world economics. I am not. But, from my perspective, if there is anything good to come from this global-sized economic downturn in the IT industry is that Linux will prosper. IT budgets have been slashed and they are turning for much cheaper alternatives. One of the first places to turn is Linux. From personal to enterprise, people are discovering that costs can be seriously cut just by replacing costly licensing fee-based operating systems and software with open source alternatives. Because of this, when the economy turns back upward and everyone can finally breathe a sigh of relief, IT departments are going to realize their decisions to deploy Linux were very sound. 6. Android. The release of an Android-based phone was big. It finally showed the industry that Linux can and will make a huge splash on the phone market. On top of that it could herald the day when Apple can wipe the smug "We're the only player in the game" grin off their faces. The Android mobile OS is big...dare I say, huge! Although I am still currently stuck with an AT&T iPhone plan, as soon as I am able, I will be switching from the ever-closed Apple product to something a little more in line with me. It would be perfect if AT&T would pick up an Android-based phone, but I don't see that happening any time soon. I am sure Apple had a nice clause written into their deal that won't allow AT&T to sell competitors phones. 7. Eee PC. I bought one. Why? It only made sense. To have a book-sized PC to carry around and not fear it failing for one reason or another is perfect for the media writer on the go. And the fact that the PC is running a version of Linux seals the deal. But this is not really why this is a high point. The reason the Eee PC is a highpoint is that it is yet another reason why Linux will soon step closer to it's age-old war cry of "World Domination." I will also take this moment to say: If you plan on purchasing a netbook, do yourself a favor and purchase one running the Linux OS. That way you won't be carrying around a mobile virus magnet that isn't nearly as easy to re-install Windows on (when it's BSoD'ing every 10 minutes) as your desktop. 8. Spreading the word. For some reason 2008 was a good year for spreading the word of Linux. Be it here, clients, friends, or strangers, I managed to convince a lot of people to give either Linux or open source a try. I managed to convert over twenty people to the Linux operating system, countless people to Firefox, and even more to OpenOffice. Honorable mention would have to go to: Scribus, The Gimp, Thunderbird, Gnucash, and Songbird. Each of these applications have found at least one new fan. 9. Nolapro. Okay, I have to add this one even though it isn't an open source application. It is a free application that runs on a Linux LAMP server though, and it is one of the most extensive Point of Sale applications I have ever used (especially at that price range.) I have rolled Nolapro out a number of times and it never ceases to please. I do wish that Noguska would open up the source code of this application. I have a feeling if they would do that, they would find themselves with a lot more installations across the globe. By opening up their source, the open source community would see this as a very viable solution to a problem that comes up more and more often.I don't think opening up their source would damage their profit as they make no profit off the application in the first place. Nolapro saved my skin a few times in 2008. They deserve a big nod! 10. Techrepublic. I know this is going to sound a bit "shmaltzy" but being able to soapbox for the Linux operating system here on Techrepublic has been the highlight of my technical writing career. And in 2008 I was able to not only continue that trend but make some new friends as well. There are some good people on this site who have a lot of knowledge to share and are passionate about Linux and open source. I hope 2009 will bring even more of that passion and interest to the open source blog.
There are plenty more highlights where those came from but I thought I would stick to those that actually have a broader meaning and appeal. Now, it's your turn. Do you have a particular (or more than one particular) Linux/open source moment from 2008 that stands out? Share it with us.
And I would be remiss if didn't wish you all a happy holiday and a healthy, prosperous new year!