2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

Summary: 2010 was a heck of a year for Linux and open-source software. The biggest story though was the one that was invisible: Linux went everywhere.

SHARE:

Sure, unlike me, you're probably not reading this on a Linux desktop--Mint 10 for those who care about such things--but do you use Google, Facebook or Twitter? If so, you're using Linux. That Android phone in your pocket? Linux. DVRs, network attached storage (NAS), trade stocks? Linux, Linux, Linux.

I think one of the most telling stories about Linux this year came from a friend of mine, Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier, who told me of a friend who said "Linux was too hard." When Zonker asked him about his Android phone, he replied something like, "Oh, but Android is easy. It's not Linux!"

Oh my. Android is indeed Linux, as is so many other devices and Web services and sites. Open-source developers have just gotten very good at hiding the dirty technical details from you. It just took them a lot longer than it did for the Mac OS X designers to hide its Mach, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD Unix roots from users. In the last few years though, they finally got the hang of it.

We're going to see this trend grow only stronger in 2011 with the rise of Google's Linux-based Chrome OS. That's why Chrome OS is my first big story of 2010.

1. Chrome OS Finally Arrives

Google took its own sweet time about getting Chrome OS out the door, but Chrome OS is finally, sort of, here. Is Chrome OS, with all its applications based on the Web, for people like you, who read ZDNet, or me, who cut his Unix/Linux teeth on Version 7? No, of course not. But, would it make a great operating system for office-workers, non-tech savvy people, and students. Yes, yes it would. I predict that, by early 2012, Chrome OS, while not a traditional, fat-client desktop operating system, will become a major desktop contender.

2. Red Hat: The First Billion-Dollar, Open-Source Company

I predicted earlier this year that Red Hat would be the first billion-dollar open-source company. I think I blew my prediction though. I thought it would take more than a year--it looks more like Red Hat will become the first billion-dollar Linux company in 2011. Indeed, when it comes to servers, Red Hat is getting ready to take on Microsoft.

Page 2: [Oracle/Sun, Attachmate/Novell, & Ubuntu and Unity] »

Oracle/Sun, Attachmate/Novell, & Ubuntu and Unity

3. Oracle Remakes Sun's Open-Source Legacy

Sun had a long and odd history with open source. On balance, Sun was good for open source. Oracle is also an open-source company, but Oracle only supports open-source if it directly contributed to Oracle's bottom line. So it is that Oracle has killed off OpenSolaris; has forced Apache into an open-source Java fork; and effectively forked OpenOffice into the Oracle branch and the one that most OpenOffice developers now support, LibreOffice. .

4. Attachmate (Who?) buys Novell

Attachmate is in the process of buying Novell. Well that's the official story anyway. I don't buy it. Personally, I see, Microsoft pulling the strings on this deal. SUSE Linux and openSUSE will continue, but when the deal is said and done early next year, I see Novell as being Microsoft's de facto Linux.

No, I don't see Novell acting like a branch of Microsoft. Instead I see Novell ending up like Citrix Systems, a remora fish that follows and profits from the great white shark of Microsoft's business moves.

5. Ubuntu tries to revitalize the Linux desktop

Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company, has been focusing on the server and the cloud, but they also recently renewed their desktop commitment with the introduction of Unity as its primary desktop interface.

Besides being an interesting new take on how to make the Linux desktop as friendly to new users as the Mac OS X's Aqua interface. Canonical also plans on using Unity as its smartphone and tablet interface.

Unity won't be for everyone. Old-school Linux users won't like it much at all, but it's not meant for us. Unity is meant to be a new, easy-to-use Linux desktop for those same people who now use Android and don't realize that Linux is under its shiny surface. Considering how well Android has worked out for Linux phone users, I know Ubuntu is hoping the same thing happens for tomorrow's Linux desktop users. I'll be watching closely to see how well it works out.

In 2011, I also expect Linux to make great gains in tablets, but that's an idea, along with others, to be explored on another day in another story.

Topics: Linux, Android, Google, Hardware, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

65 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • best year for Linux so far

    Let's hope that 2011 will be THE year of Linux and M$ will go down in flames!
    Linux Geek
    • THE year of Linux

      Unfortunately, I don't think it will be.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

        @goff256 agreed, I'm a big linux user(network servers and workstations), but I see many people still using Windows because they don't like... change. Sure the ease of the software repositories make linux an easier tool, but if everything cannot be fixed by a click of a button, then they don't want it.
        Maarek
      • Actually, it isn't just hating change

        For a lot of people, changing to Linux would be changing for the sake of change. What does it bring them? What does it take away? It's a simple measurement of cost/benefits.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

        @goff256
        Security, stability, speed.
        kirovs@...
      • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

        Security- Windows 7 is actually very secure, and advises that you get an AV right off the bat.
        Stability- I haven't had any stability problems from my Windows 7 laptop.
        Speed- Windows 7 is very fast.

        Any gain would be minimal, I assure you. Also, web browsers seem to be faster on my Windows 7 partition than on my Linux Distribution. I don't know why, but I think it could be that my Windows Distribution browsers that I use have hardware acceleration that my Linux Distribution browsers cannot compete with.
        Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

      @Linux Geek - really? So you would bet your company and your own and your employees financial well-being on a free operating system from a vendor that you hope will be there to support you in 12 months time?

      Who would you choose?

      Novell? Who knows what's going to happen to Suse since that's being put up for sale independently from Novell's other products.

      Ubuntu? Canonical doesn't even break even and exists purely at the will of investors with deep pockets along with Shuttleworth's dwindling fortune.

      The best bet may well be IBM, HP or some other world-class services organization. But now you're gotten into bed with organizations who's core mandate is to keep you paying for services. Is this really any better than paying the likes of Microsoft or other product vendors for their products with a smaller amount spent on ongoing services and support?

      I for one would not risk my business by betting the farm on products from companies who are not financially stable - doing so would be suicidal.

      Sometimes, free is too expensive.
      bitcrazed
      • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

        @bitcrazed SUSE goes with Novell. It's a package deal. AttachMate has already announced that SUSE will continue on as it has been. After all, that why they bought it and why Microsoft sponsored the deal. MS wants SUSE Linux around. openSUSE is a more interesting question, but that's not the business OS.

        As for Canonical, they're close to breaking even and Shuttleworth's fortune seems to be doing just fine. After all he just bought bought the most expensive condo in downtown Manhattan for, gulp, $31.5 million.

        http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/space_tourist_mark_shuttleworth_lU3w89KgEyjMH7IzxLKEjO#ixzz19QRggB00

        So, I'm not worried about Ubuntu disappearing anytime soon.

        And, then, of course, there's this company named Red Hat.

        Steven
        sjvn
      • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

        @bitcrazed I would see an advantage to a system that allowed my employees to work without permitting them to install many applications they don't need to be installing, nearly removed the chance of virus infections, and did so without consuming a large amount of resources at very little cost. Especially if I had a server environment that made the exact nature of the client irrelevant enough that I lost nothing trying it. Such is the case with Linux clients, even UBUNTU, and network file shares.

        While you argue that free is sometimes too expensive, I would argue that this is only the case when free is not really free. That unfortunately is a problem with any provider, and the same could be said about Microsoft who lures small and medium sized businesses with preferred pricing then absolutely rapes and murders them on the CALS for the various products needed to make the system scalable. Since Linux distros like UBUNTU and Redhat for all their short-comings have the advantage of being scalable out of the box. I see it having as good a chance as any for a company that intends to grow.
        Socratesfoot
      • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

        @bitcrazed I believe it is called RedHat? Who btw, when I last checked had a bigger maker cap than M$
        homeblend
      • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

        @bitcrazed
        Same old FUD. When I need help from Oracle it is usually simpler to ask on a forum than go through their support lines (ughhh). Going through the MS support is just as awful and is inexplicably:-) costly.
        Of course vendors like system76 and zareason also offer support at a fraction of what MS charges.
        But you would not know this, would you?
        kirovs@...
    • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

      @Linux Geek A nice fantasy for sure! However, without an Evil Empire, there is nothing to be better than. Sure it's a given that you always want to be better than yourself but, an Evil Empire forces change and causes others to rally against it. This, I believe, is a sound driving force for Open Source and Operating Systems such as the Linux Kernel and what is built on top of it to form an O.S.
      The Rifleman
      • It isn't just ABM

        @The Rifleman That seems a pretty shallow view of the open source community. The BSD systems are evolving as well as Linux. They all want to improve computing, particularly their chosen OS. Look at Google, if anyone they are going after Apple, not Microsoft.
        shis-ka-bob
      • shis:going after apple

        @The Rifleman
        very true, google etc don' see microsoft as competitive or relevant anymore.
        stevey_d
    • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

      @Linux Geek It won't replace windows...but I wonder if Microsoft's continued movement into the gaming industry through custom tailored changes to the OS will mean more trouble than solutions and a progressively better acceptance of Linux? Since it seems to me aspects of an OS that make it conducive to gaming also fragment memory faster, create security issues, bloat the system, and work counter what businesses will want or need. Even if this just means more focus on Direct X and some ways to allow greater access to the hardware (rather then all through API's). It's resources that won't be available for applications that Linux will have in addition to better 64 bit support. Already many legacy programs run better in Wine then they can on the Windows system itself.
      Socratesfoot
      • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

        @Socratesfoot ... Wow! That would be funny if you didn't mean it seriously! I suggest you get some actual experience and describe just how they "run better in Wine" than windows. I don't use Linux in a daily manner, more as a plaything if I do, and your contention just isn't true for ANY application I've tried that's on my machine!
        I'll try to remember to check back for your response so I can check out your claims. WHICH programs run better under wine than windows, and how so?
        That's a claim that deserves some rubber on the road.
        twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
    • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

      @Linux Geek ... If Linux is that good (and it's not yet) then the demise of MS is irrelevant to it. People WILL JUMP at something free like Linux and many have ... and left once they realized how much of their peripherals didn't work, they had to run builds in some cases, and on others nothing existed to replace their missing image editors and myriad drivers other than GIMP, a half-fast tool at best for professional image editing.
      And why in hell does Linux still sport the inane naming system it has? That makes it far from prefereable for anyon looking for a program with specific features.
      twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
    • RE: 2010's Top Five Linux and Open-Source Stories

      @Linux Geek ... Why does MS have o "go down in flames" is Linux is so good and draws all their customers away from them?
      Fanatacism like that is completely useless; let things happen on their own merit and the intelligence/opinions/needs/wants of the users. If you're figuring that's the only way Linux can win, that's pretty pathetic. Obviously there are many in the masses (including me) who would like to switch, but ... Linux ... juist ... cannot ... support ... what ... I ... need... . In fact, it doesn't fully support anyone 100% due to missing drivers I've been watching for over the last almost three years, nor can it replace some of my software apps because several companies have no interest in doing so, right or wrong, it's their decision. Linux programmers too, just aren't interested enough in making sure Linux will run with all the major applications that exist, that being not just MS, BTW. Open Source is excellent as far as it goes and is a great thing; but the 'nixes have a long ways to go to becoming any kind of near turn-around for experience users.
      I CAN but choose NOT TO write/release drivers/converters for some of my applications, the simpler ones like win85/98's Cardfile. Anymore complex than that, consider me only a strict "user" unable to do those kinds of things.
      twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
  • ridiculous

    use Google, Facebook or Twitter? If so, you?re using Linux.
    -------------
    When using them in window, they are part of window.
    FADS_z
    • all the above services run on a cloud of linux

      @FADS_z
      Kindles also run Linux under the hood, as do most routers, wireless gateways etc.
      stevey_d