A Linuxy Christmas Carol: Visions of FOSS Past, Present and Future

As one year winds down and the dawn of the next looms large, it’s only natural to ponder what has come and what may be in the coming days.

Such, indeed, was essentially the premise behind Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and it also seemed to be the case with Linux bloggers of late, as evidenced by a number of conversations looking back at 2009 and venturing predictions for 2010.

To wit: Over at Linux Magazine, Christopher Smart took a walk through 2009 from a FOSS perspective in his post entitled, “FOSS: How Did 2009 Shape Up?”

Advancements were made in distros, the kernel and applications, Smart concluded, “but there are still several core components lacking on the desktop Linux front.”

‘Five Distros That Changed Linux’

Also in Linux Magazine — the Ghost of FOSS Past must have paid a long visit there! –Steven Vaughan-Nichols recently took an even longer trip down memory lane with his post, “The Five Distros That Changed Linux.”

Slackware and Debian are the first Vaughan-Nichols cites, giving readers and LXer bloggers plenty of material to mull over.

“What about Knoppix ???” evulture wrote in the Linux Mag comments, for example. “Caldera was more important?”

GNOME Divorcing GNU?

Of course, with potentially game-changing events in the past week, the Spirit of FOSS Present gave us lots to think about, as well.

Mark Shuttleworth stepping down as CEO, for one, is nothing if not major news, and the same goes for last week’s discussion of the possibility that GNOME might split off from the GNU Project.

It’s enough to make a Linux geek’s head spin — and not just from the eggnog!

Bloggers were all over both bits of news, as one might imagine, on LXer, and on Slashdot and beyond.

‘8 IT Predictions for the New Year’

“I [imagine] Microsoft is very pleased with this new direction with Gnome,” wrote Stumbles on Slashdot, for example. “I predict in 5 years, perhaps less, Microsoft will have maneuvered these short sighted individuals to accepting Microsoft to buy Gnome.”

Alternatively: “Thank god for KDE, XFCE, etc.,” added Hatta. “Anyone who thinks multiple desktop environments are a waste of effort, this is exactly why we need them.”

Then there was DaniWeb’s look ahead with the post from Ken Hess — involving video animation, no less — entitled “8 IT predictions for the New Year.”

Visions of the Future

Bloggers at LXer were slightly less impressed with this one, however.

“What a useless article,” wrote softwarejanitor, for example. “Fluff, and not even good at that.”

With so much to contemplate in FOSS’s past and present, Linux Girl thought it time to do the future better justice. She took to the streets of the Linux blogosphere and asked passers-by, “What do you predict or hope the next year will bring?”

‘The HTML5 Video Tag’” was Slashdot blogger David Masover’s response — “that, or get people to start adopting the HTML5 Video Tag.”

Of course, “I don’t predict that — I hope for that,” he added. “I rant and rave and scream about that.”

There are currently two pieces of proprietary software that Masover currently relies on, he told LinuxInsider, that “are more frequently a source of embarrassment and a temptation to just throw my hands up and go to Windows or OS X.”

First is “my nVidia video card,” he explained — “I could get around it by picking a video card that’s fully supported by open source drivers, but I’d have to pretty much give up gaming as a hobby. The only good ones are nVidia and ATI (AMD), and neither have good open source drivers.”

The second is Flash: “It is one thing I truly wish did not exist,” he said.

‘GNU/Linux Will Gain More Share’

“I think 2009 was the Year of GNU/Linux on the desktop,” blogger Robert Pogson asserted. “There was no end of good news, and that other OS is going nowhere.”

In 2010, “I predict that GNU/Linux will gain more share, perhaps rapidly, in business as virtualization/thin clients takes hold,” Pogson told LinuxInsider. “ARM will also take a bite out of the monopoly.”

Microsoft “took a big hit in the client division in 2009,” he added. “I expect that to continue as GNU/Linux gains.”

‘A Penguin on the Box’

For 2010, “I want a penguin on the box,” Slashdot blogger hairyfeet told LinuxInsider. “That’s all, just a nice little fat Linux Penguin so that I can sell Linux boxes right next to the Windows ones.”

It is “way too hard to support Linux” when a customer has no way of knowing whether the device they are looking at will work or not, hairyfeet explained. “I don’t care if it is a penguin, or the Ubuntu logo — something, ANYTHING!”

It is “totally nuts that in 2010 you can’t even shop for Linux devices without either: a) trawling the forums, making a list, and then hoping that the store actually has what is on the list, oh and hoping that a firmware revision hasn’t made that list obsolete, or b) driving to the store, making a list of everything you might like to buy, then driving home, checking against the forums, and then if it checks driving BACK to the store and purchasing,” hairyfeet added.

Those are things Windows and Apple users “haven’t had to do in decades,” he pointed out. “Penguins on the box or bust!”

Year of Linux in Consumers’ Hands

As for Linux Girl’s hopes and predictions? Her eyes are on netbooks, Android and other portable devices as the area where Linux will continue to gain major ground.

The masses are getting used to Linux whether they realize it or not, even as the desktop begins to slowly fade away. Forget the Year of Linux on the Desktop, and get ready for the Year of Linux in Consumers’ Hands! Can’t ask for much more than that.

1 Comment

  • I’ve got it. On Ubuntu. Yes, it works. People should stop whining that they can’t do full screen flash video. What my complaint is about, is 64 bit flash. I’m still installing 32 bit libraries to make flash work on a 64 bit box. What’s with THAT nonsense? Macromedia has to have separate projects for the 32 bit and the 64 bit worlds? Come on, people – it should be a single project, with a common source being compiled for each architecture. Get with the times, folks!!

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