Your editor is not really prepared for the end of 2010; truly, he has not
yet come to terms with the end of the 20th century, but so be it. Ready or
not, it's time to look back at the just-finished year, with an eye toward
making fun of
made back at the beginning. Your editor is shocked to discover that he
didn't get everything right.
There were two hardware-related predictions: that the awareness of the
value of open hardware would grow, and that there would be a number of
Linux-based tablets. Neither was realized in any complete sort of way.
The success of Android shows some level of appreciation for openness; it
can be instructive to look at second-hand sales of Android handsets and
note how many of them are described as "rooted." The Free Software
Foundation also tried to raise awareness with its endorsement program
but, as your editor said at the time, that
program appears unlikely to have much real-world effect.
As far as Linux-based tablets go: we have seen a few Android devices, with
Samsung's Galaxy Tab being the most prominent. But Android on tablets has
been surprisingly slow to arrive, and MeeGo, needless to say, is slower
yet. Perhaps 2011 will be the year of the Linux tablet.
The prediction that software patents would be a problem was not
particularly hard to make. Sure enough, a number of suits have been
launched, mostly in the mobile computing area.
Copyright assignment policies: the prediction that there would be debate
around such policies was accurate. The LibreOffice project, in particular,
had a surprisingly high-volume (in both the amplitude and quantity sense)
debate on copyright assignment, but the developers behind LibreOffice seem
determined that they will be more successful without any such policy. The
GNOME project and the newly-formed MeeGo project also came out strongly
against copyright assignment. These policies remain firmly entrenched in
many projects, but the trend appears to be against them.
That Oracle's acquisition of Sun would proceed was also a relatively easy
prediction. Your editor said that MySQL would be treated with a relatively
light hand, which has proved mostly to be the case. What your editor
missed was how badly most of the rest of Sun's free software projects would
fare. Significant forks of OpenSolaris and OpenOffice now exist, and there
is discontent in other projects as well. Oracle's relationship with the
kernel community remains good, but the company seems to care
little about projects higher in the stack.
The browser wars: perhaps they have heated up again, as predicted;
certainly Google Chrome seems to be gaining strength. Mozilla is competing
with a number of interesting initiatives, including a mobile version of
Firefox. Good stuff is happening - but Internet Explorer still hangs on to
over half of all traffic.
The prediction that solid-state storage devices would go into wider use was
boring and obvious. Perhaps more interesting was the claim that some
distributors would be offering Btrfs. That has certainly happened; your
editor did not foresee, though, that the MeeGo project would adopt Btrfs as
its default filesystem.
The rumors of the death of the big kernel lock were only exaggerated by a
little; the 2.6.37 kernel (which should come out just after the new year)
can be built in a useful mode without the BKL entirely.
The growth of LLVM was another fairly obvious prediction; a number of
interesting things have happened with that project in the last year.
Identifying Unladen Swallow as one of those things turned out to be a bad
choice, though; whether Unladen
Swallow is dead or just resting remains to be seen, but it is not a
hotbed of activity at the moment.
Your editor predicted a "scary security incident" involving mobile
devices. There have been some examples of malicious Android applications,
but nothing that qualifies as a truly scary incident - that we know about,
anyway. The scary stuff, instead, happened at other levels, with the
Google attacks and the Stuxnet worm being the most prominent examples. The
"year of the sandbox" was also predicted, but nothing of any real interest
seems to have happened in that area.
It's not surprising that there was a lot of discussion of cloud computing,
as predicted. The sun also rose every morning. On the other hand, the
predicted release of GNOME 3 did not happen. The predicted increase
in Python 3 adoption is also hard to find; there does seem to be a
little more interest, but most developers seem to be in no hurry to leave
The last prediction - on the importance of community distributions - is
hard to measure, but it's not clear that the situation has changed
markedly. What we are seeing is a bit more attention to staying close to
upstream projects and working more closely with them. In its own way,
Oracle's decision to slip a 2.6.32-based kernel into its RHEL5 clone is an
example of this. MeeGo's desire to push patches upstream rather than
carrying them is another.
So what did your editor miss entirely? The seeming increase in
high-profile forks (LibreOffice, Mageia, IllumOS, ...) is one of them. The
creation of MeeGo through the merger of Moblin and Maemo was another. In
retrospect, it's not surprising that the sharks would start to circle
around Novell, but your editor certainly did not think that the company
might be in different hands by the end of the year. The failure of PHP6
was also obvious in retrospect.
One other interesting omission might, at the beginning of the year, have been
phrased something like "the embedded Linux world will begin to get its act
together." In this year, we've seen the creation of the Linaro project to
try to improve tools and support for the important ARM architecture. The
Yocto project - meant to ease the process of creating embedded
distributions - launched. A number of embedded vendors came together and
decided to standardize on the 2.6.35 kernel, which will receive improved
long-term support as a result. The number of embedded vendors contributing
to free software projects is growing. There is plenty of room for
improvement yet, but things seem to be headed in the right direction.
The most obvious prediction of all was that free software would be stronger
than ever. Despite our ups and downs, our flame wars and lawsuits, our
bugs and our forks, we're doing great. It's been another good year for
Linux and free software, and it has been a pleasure covering it for this
audience. Thanks to all of you for making this community happen.
to post comments)