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The 2008 Linux and Free Software Timeline 133

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the year-in-review dept.
diegocgteleline.es writes "Here is LWN's eleventh annual timeline of significant events in the Linux and free software world for the year. As always, 2008 proved to be an interesting year, with great progress in useful software that made our systems better. Of course, there were some of the usual conflicts — patent woes, project politics, and arguments over freedom — but overall, the pace of free software progress stayed on its upwardly increasing trend. 2008 was a year that saw the end of SCO — or not — the rise of Linux-based 'netbooks,' multiple excellent distribution releases, more phones and embedded devices based on Linux, as well as major releases of software we will be using for years (X.org, Python, KDE, ...)."
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The 2008 Linux and Free Software Timeline

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  • 2009 (Score:5, Funny)

    by RMH101 (636144) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @12:29PM (#26373133)
    ...is presumably the Year Of Linux On The Desktop?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SombreReptile (455564)

      It is in Vietnam!

    • Re:2009 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by StormReaver (59959) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @05:59PM (#26377969)

      1999 was the year of Linux on my desktop. And 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, to infinity and beyond.

      You got modded as funny because people who were raised on Microsoft desktops just can't imagine anything else. But remember that Linux doesn't have to destroy Microsoft to win. Linux just has to even the playing field, something that is occurring slowly but steadily. The moment that Microsoft loses its ability to dictate something because Linux provides an alternative, Microsoft has lost something. Over time, those little losses add up.

    • by cp.tar (871488)

      ...is presumably the Year Of Linux On The Desktop?

      No. It is not.
      And why should it be?
      The market is slowly moving away from the desktop and towards laptops, netbooks, embedded devices... and Linux is not that uncommon there. And is getting commoner.

    • It is the year of "Desktop Indifference". It doesn't matter anymore which operating system you run for the desktop of the future. Exit costs are getting lower. It is natural now for new software to support Mac and Linux users as it is coded platform independent.

      We will see new Linux desktops as LXDE or XFCE gain ground that focus on key functionality and simplicity. 2009 is also the year when KDE4 gets usable.

  • As always (Score:5, Funny)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @12:34PM (#26373221)
    Just a funny way to phrase it: As always, 2008 proved to be interesting... It sounds like 2008 happens all the time, and it is usually interesting...
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @12:47PM (#26373395)

    Yes. Our community has made excellent progress this past year. We created our first undead corporation. We shall now replicate this process to form legions of unkillable tech companies that are immune to lawyers, governments, and fanboys. And Microsoft outdid themselves... We thought Microsoft Bob was their rock bottom, but Vista proved that our expectations were, perhaps, not low enough. Wonder twin powers of Vampirism and Suck unite!

  • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @12:50PM (#26373421)
    The most exciting thing for me that's happened in free software in the last year was Wine 1.0. The "1.0" is not itself as important, but the usability in wine of many apps has improved dramatically in the last year. I can remember that wine in principal was a fantastic idea, but in practice it was so difficult to get anything to run your time was better spent dual-booting. E.g., this time last year, I was still having to run a patched version of winex from cedega to get the map editor in neverwinter nights to run and even then it still crashed periodically. This year, that app runs using the stock wine code.

    The thing is, I'm no longer playing nwn because I can run Civ IV, Medieval 2 and a bunch of other newer games using wine instead. Yes, I still have to dual-boot into windows to run the newest games at high resolutions and good frame-rates, but older games are getting very playable using wine and the number of hacks you have to do to get them to run is decreasing. It's great! Just about the only one that you have to install on a regular basis is the no-CD hack, but that's a useful thing to have anyway. Some stuff just makes me laugh, like when punkbuster runs for Far Cry 2 and bitches at you because it thinks you're a punk, you just close the window and the installation continues. (Unfortunately Far Cry 2 is one of those that doesn't run very well at high resolution.)
    • E.g., this time last year, I was still having to run a patched version of winex from cedega to get the map editor in neverwinter nights to run and even then it still crashed periodically. This year, that app runs using the stock wine code.

      The NWN map editor wasn't released as a Linux version like the NWN client was?

      • Nope, never was. That was incredibly annoying for me because it basically meant I was shut out of any developer stuff on my server until I managed to get the map editor running using winex.
        • That's pretty weird. I had nostalgic fun running NWN in Linux when the client came out, but I never tried using the map editor.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Fuck you. Because of you I now have to reinstall a large bunch of old games on Wine to see if I can make them work again.

      I hope you are proud of yourself now, asshole.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's a shame that Linux distros don't take wine seriously.

      On desktop distros, wine should be installed by default so that installing a windows game is as easy as in windows (run setup.exe automatically - or at least ask the user, etc).

      And it's not impossible to have a database of "hacks" which automatically detects (hashes, file names) which game is being loaded, and applies automatically the required hack.

      • All that is needed basically is more Wine development. Wine development does not scale very well. The future will be probably dedicated development. E.g. a team that will just work on getting a popular application X work and is funded to make sure the application does not break under wine and all bugs get smashed. I guess many users would be willing to pay 20$ to fund a stable running of MS Office 2003 under Wine. Some software manufacturers can find it useful to make their applications run unter Wine or is

    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @03:06PM (#26375289) Journal

      And yet, bug 6971 [winehq.org] is still outstanding. It's the second highest voted bug on their bugzilla, and it's been open since 2006. They call it a "normal" severity bug, yet it clearly meets the definition for a "major" severity bug. That is: "Major loss of functionality for a wide range of applications." Just about every Unreal engine game is unplayable because of this bug. It was supposed to be fixed for 1.0, but it keeps getting deferred. I don't see why this isn't a higher priority for them. It obviously affects a lot of users, just look at all the duplicate bug reports for this one!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by David Gerard (12369)
        The answer is, of course, "so code it please kthx." Or buy Codeweaver Games and ask they get onto this one.
      • Reading through the comments on that bug, it seems that a fix relies on a change in Xorg which they said happens at a glacial pace, and this bug is deferred till that change is made. Not a lot they can do about it really.
  • Ah Yes... (Score:5, Funny)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @01:14PM (#26373795)

    As always, 2008 proved to be an interesting year

    Yes, I remember the last time 2008 rolled around...we celebrated until dawn, frolicking in our pantaloons, firmly supported by our onion-garnished belts...

  • Looking at the changes to the kernel over the year, there have been a few minor releases. The change notices for these summed them up as

    ".. most of it really is one-liners, and mostly not very exciting ones at that."

    So it seems to me that all the advances have been in products and peripheral applications, rather than in the fundamental core of Linux: the operating system. This is a rather ominous sign as it makes me think that the development initiative has pretty much stalled - since nothing new in th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is a GOOD thing. A major issue facing Linux concerns the availability of drivers, especially for obscure hardware, and one of the reasons that smaller hardware vendors shied away from driver development early on was that the kernel changed too many times, and those changes required constant work on their drivers. The Windows driver API was static for so long that small hardware vendors became comfortable just releasing a driver for Windows and not touching it much for years on end. If we finally hav
      • by petes_PoV (912422)
        yes, I agree that instability in the interface is a bad thing and makes vendors stay away from Linux. However it's not impossible to design a decent ABI (or API, even) with enough flexibility to allow for future developments.

        What I'm concerned about is that Linux seems to have stalled - if minor point releases, bug fixes and new hardware are all they're doing, then I think it will be hard to keep developers interested in doing kernel work - it will seem too much like real work, but unpaid. Linux used to b

        • Many Linux kernel developers are paid -- they work for companies like Red Hat or IBM, which have a vested interest in a minor releases and bug fixes. Linux has come a long way since the days of arguments among volunteers on Usenet...
        • Maybe there's no major changes because it's almost finished? (insert your own Duke Nukem joke here).

        • [...] then I think it will be hard to keep developers interested in doing kernel work - it will seem too much like real work, but unpaid.

          Well, it was well advertised before that kernels have little to no interesting challenges - all problems are well known and 30+ years of research is easily available.

          Frankly, I'm pretty happy that Linux reached such level of stability. Perl is in the same state: after 5th release, there were very very few major changes. But why to changing anything if it works well already??

          Also, stabilization of core Linux means that developers have a chance to rethink many design decisions and correct them. Before,

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_24 [kernelnewbies.org]
      http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_25 [kernelnewbies.org]
      http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_26 [kernelnewbies.org]
      http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_27 [kernelnewbies.org]
      http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_28 [kernelnewbies.org]

      Those are the 2008 kernel releases. They look exciting to me...

    • by jd (1658)
      News of a new, fully-integrated real-time patch seems exciting to me. But, then, I'm weird. However, I want to know when Sun acquired the Lustre filesystem and if it was this year, why it wasn't mentioned anywhere. Sun's debacle with MySQL isn't boosting my confidence any, Lustre no longer post their development snapshots or news on what's being changed, resulting in one of the premiere open-source distributed filing systems becoming distinctly less open. THAT bothers me.
    • by ianare (1132971) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @03:12PM (#26375377)
      The Linux code base has done anything but stall, it is growing, and has been growing even more rapidly in the last couple years.
      looky here [wordpress.com]

      As far as quality of code, good news there as well, 2008 saw some nice updates to kernel scheduling, better virtualization, a completely new kernel-level graphic manager, and the EXT4 filesystem. These are all 'big deals' in both difficulty of coding and improvements they bring.
  • Jan 3rd 2006 - Installed Gentoo Linux as a firewall+tarpit\snort\IDS\reporting server. Set up scheduled Emerge update world in Crontab
    Sept 11th 2007 - rebooted said server moving to 2.6 kernel. Some issues with with portage after reboot but nothing the Gentoo Wiki didn't answer.
    Sept 12th 2007 - Went to bar with friends.
    Today - no reboots yet, 99.9% uptime for all reported services.

  • 1) Unified API for interacting with the umpteen number of desktop environments like GNOME, KDE, Englightenment, ad nauseam. 2) Decent voice chat clients (no please do not tell me Skype Beta works in your *picked for linux* hardware) 3) Unified package management system. 4) Decent IDE for Python that does not suck balls (Anjuta, Pydev do not cut it). 5) Google Chrome 6) Default system fonts that do not make you puke.
    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      7) a killer webcam application that "just works"

      8) a desktop based on "what do you want to do?", rather than "guess which one of the cutely named, but obscure application with far too many overly-complicated and poorly explained options, might just do half of what you want"

      • 8) a desktop based on "what do you want to do?", rather than "guess which one of the cutely named, but obscure application with far too many overly-complicated and poorly explained options, might just do half of what you want"

        When click on the system menu here I get a list of applications called, 'Web Browser', 'Text Editor', 'E-mail Client', etc. This on a Fedora 10 KDE 4 desktop. I think that if I wanted to do something like take a screenshot, I might click on 'Graphics' and then 'Screenshot Capture Program'. Compare this to Windows, where if you want to carry out a task you usually have to remember which company wrote the piece of software that you intend to use.

        You're either a troll or an idiot who hasn't touched a Linux wor

        • by cp.tar (871488)

          By the way, what would you guess each of these does from the name: Outlook, QuickTime, Skype, Safari, Excel, or Cubase?

          Outlook: either for looking out the window(s) or for estimating the odds for something. So maybe some kind of spreadsheet?

          QuickTime: something to make the time pass quicker. Something to do on a boring day at work? Maybe one of those programs where you detect hidden mines?

          Skype: begins like a sky, rhymes with type... maybe one of those old-style text processors like WordPerfect which let you type on a sky-blue background?

          Safari: roaming in a car and looking at wildlife. Sounds like browsing. Especially when

      • by Tweenk (1274968)

        7) In Gnome that would be Cheese, but it depends on the drivers. Most webcams are based on the USB Video class or on GSPCA, and both of those types are supported on recent kernels. I haven't used it much (I don't have a webcam myself), but it looks OK.

    • 1) Unified API for interacting with the umpteen number of desktop environments like GNOME, KDE, Englightenment, ad nauseam.

      I'm not sure what you're actually asking here. Could you expand a bit?

      2) Decent voice chat clients (no please do not tell me Skype Beta works in your *picked for linux* hardware)

      The Skype client works just fine on my bog-standard-off-the-shelf hardware. But I agree that a free software client would be nice. Have you tried Ekiga?

      3) Unified package management system.

      You're making a classic mistake. Linux is an operating system kernel. Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu and SuSE are operating system distributions. Windows is an operating system distribution and an operating system kernel. You should compare Windows to Ubuntu, or compare Windows to Fedora, or compa

      • "You're making a classic mistake. Linux is an operating system kernel. Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu and SuSE are operating system distributions. Windows is an operating system distribution and an operating system kernel. You should compare Windows to Ubuntu, or compare Windows to Fedora, or compare Windows to Debian, not compare Windows to Linux"

        Joe Sixpack: I've heard of this new OS called Linux. Should I get it instead of Windows?

        Linux guy: No, Linux is just a kernel, you can't do anything with it.

        • Joe Sixpack: I've heard of this new OS called Linux. Should I get it instead of Windows?

          Linux guy: No, Linux is just a kernel, you can't do anything with it.

          Linux guy with a clue: "Well, it's not as simple as that... believe it or not, you probably already have a computer that runs Linux, you just don't know it! You see, ..."

      • by cp.tar (871488)

        Do you mean that you should be able to sit at any Linux machine and use exactly the same command set and package names to manipulate the software load? Do you mean that you should be able to take package of binaries from a vendor and install it on any Linux machine? The latter is perfectly possible, as long as the vendor statically links all of the required libraries. They can even wrap it in a nice executable install script for you. See for instance the Quake 4 installer. And if the distribution you're installing it on top of complies with the Linux Standard Base, you might even get desktop icons and file associations.

        I don't see why that would be a problem, as the same thing is used in OS X .app bundles. Therefore, the GP is just whining.

    • by ianare (1132971)
      what's this new python IDE you speak of ? The new netbeans implementation [netbeans.org] ?
    • > 4) Decent IDE for Python that does not suck balls

      You want Eric [python-projects.org]. Great piece of software, very complete, great debugger integration.

    • The purpose of freedesktop.org is to solve 1., and a lot of stuff is now in fact working well between the two (and others).
      • by Tweenk (1274968)

        Except there is a bit of stagnation around the specifications. For example, no standard suspend and hibernate icon names since 2 years. This is rather annoying, but I hope they will add them soon.

  • Yes, programs were updated, "distro" isos bundled those updates, another fun year of Linux software development indeedy. ^^

    Politics and such can be interesting sorta, but the most interesting things to me are the best new software features, and great new Linux software in general. IMO, Linux software projects should be much more of a focus in the media, and less politics. New features and new software, especially that which is cross-distro so everyone can have access. (was going to say cross-platform
  • I must've been asleep when that was announced.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @03:28PM (#26375597)

    Jan: Linux conquers the desktop!
    Feb: No, wait...
    Mar: OK, now!
    Apr: Nope. Hang on...
    May: Linux conquers- no, wait.
    Jun: Vacation
    Jul: Staycation
    Aug: OK, conquering in 3... 2... wait...
    Sep: Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnn...
    Oct: ...nnnnnnnnnnnn...
    Nov: nnnnnnnnnnnnow!
    Dec: No, wait...

  • by mcubed (556032)

    Sept: "The Debian project runs into problems with firmware (again) along with an unclear general resolution ballot which causes discord, eventually leading to the resignation of the project secretary"

    2008 was a typical year for Debian. By the time Lenny is released, it'll be retro-cool.

  • by Palal (836081) on Thursday January 08, 2009 @04:27PM (#26376469) Homepage
    I switched, that's worth something, right?
  • I was quite impressed by the Eee PC when it came out and it was fantastic to see Linux on a system selling large amounts of units.

    I haven't yet got a netbook but I do want one, I'm just not sure if I'd use it enough.

    Last weekend whilst out shopping I had a quick look in all the electronic stores to see what was available, there's suddenly so many netbooks there.

    The problem is, not one of them was Linux based anymore. To make it worse, they were all XP Home, not even professional.

    Of course, you can install L

    • The netbooks run XP. A cool device with a old operating system that happens to be more reliable than Vista. XP which they wanted to abandon customer support for. XP which is good enough for most users.

      Linux based netbook systems will beat windows xp because they will look better and be more modern. It is just a matter of time when hardware manufacturers will realize that Xandros was a poor choice and you need to focus on performance.

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