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Top 5 Linux Predictions for 2013

By Jay Lyman
Dec 11, 2012 5:00 AM PT

As 2012 draws to an end, it's an opportune time to look ahead and consider what we can expect in the Linux OS community and market for 2013.

Top 5 Linux Predictions for 2013

So here are my top five Linux predictions for the coming year:

1. Continued Cloud Dominance and Influence

As we consider a number of key trends in enterprise software and systems, it's clear how critical cloud computing is to the industry. The strong connection between Linux and cloud computing will continue to fuel Linux throughout 2013 with public clouds, private clouds, IaaS, PaaS and SaaS all contributing to broader and greater use of Linux.

Linux makes sense for cloud computing because of availability, scalability, cost, flexibility, clustering, performance and other advantages. The latest example of Linux vitality in the cloud is the OpenStack project, which continues to grow and evolve in the enterprise.

OpenStack also represents the latest Linux battleground, with Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical all vying to support enterprise deployments. Linux is a big part of cloud computing -- not only technically, but also culturally, and in conversations between vendors and customers.

We see Linux, open source and openness having an impact on discussions of "open clouds," highlighting the wider impact of Linux on the cloud. We plan to delve deeper into this topic as we consider Linux in the cloud with a 451 Research report in 2013.

2. Renewed Enterprise Relevance in Hybrid Computing

In parallel to its continued cloud growth and importance, Linux will gain renewed enterprise relevance as hybrid computing and the use of multiple infrastuctures -- both old and new -- turns more enterprises and verticals to Linux.

Today's large enterprise and service provider organizations are typically leveraging traditional data centers, virtual infrastructure, public clouds and private clouds to develop, deploy and maintain applications and services. One of the few constants across all of these varied IT environments is Linux.

With a growing number of enterprises gaining experience and confidence with public clouds, mimicking it in their own private clouds, and leveraging legacy and existing infrastructure and technology, I expect we'll see a unifying role for Linux in hybrid computing in 2013.

3. Continued Dominance in HPC

The dominance of Linux in high-performance computing as indicated by the Top500 Supercomputer list has already been established.

However, in looking at the findings from November 2012, we see that Linux has grown its dominance on the list of the world's fastest and most powerful supercomputers, now owning the top 10 positions and 93.8 percent of the OS share among the Top500 systems. That's up from 91 percent two years ago.

Based on the technology behind these top systems, there does not seem to be any slowing for Linux, certainly not in 2013.

4. More Linux in Our Everyday Lives

While it used to be sort of fun to joke about how much people were using Linux in their lives -- whether it was about the technology in the digital video recorder, in-flight movie system, online email or point-of-sale system, most folks didn't know it was Linux that was used.

Today, Linux is still in those obscure places, but it's much more in front of many more consumers, whether in Android smartphones, Linux-based e-readers such as Kindle and Nook, or low-power ARM devices. Its presence in cloud computing also delivers Linux to a much broader audience, from enterprises to consumers.

It may be taking longer than anticipated, but we're also starting to see synergy with automobiles via Linux, as evidenced by the growing auto industry participation in the Linux Foundation and its Automotive Grade Linux work group.

5. Further Obscurity on the Desktop

Once again, I'm predicting further obscurity for Linux on the desktop. The question, though, is does it matter? There continue to be major hurdles to Linux growth on the desktop, including the boot loader saga, as well as more market-based challenges.

There continue to be improvements, enhancements and evolution of Linux desktop distributions and use. Distributions such as Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu and others continue to refine the Linux desktop experience.

We also see newer forms of Linux desktop with efforts such as Chromebooks. If ever there was a chance the significance and dominance of Linux and open source software in cloud computing could transfer to consumers and the desktop, it may lie in Chromebooks.

Even if there isn't much growth or attention on the Linux desktop, it continues to support the overall Linux ecosystem and opportunities for the OS.

LinuxInsider columnist Jay Lyman is a senior analyst for 451 Research, covering open source software and focusing primarily on Linux operating systems and vendors, open source software in the enterprise, application development, systems management and cloud computing. Lyman has been a speaker at numerous industry events, including the Open Source Business Conference, OSCON, Linux Plumber's Conference and Open Source World/Linux World, on topics such as Linux and open source in cloud computing, mobile software, and the impact of economic conditions and customer perspectives on open source. Follow his blog here.

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