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.
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.
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.