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What Will Linux Be Capable Of, 3 Years Down the Road? 679

An anonymous reader writes "In a prediction of the open-source future, InfoWeek speculates on What Linux Will Look Like In 2012. The most outlandish scenario foresees Linux forsaking its free usage model to embrace more paid distros where you get free Linux along with (much-needed) licenses to use patent-restricted codecs. Also predicted is an advance for the desktop based on — surprise — good acceptance for KDE 4. Finally, Linux is seen as making its biggest imprint not on the PC, but on mobile devices, eventually powering 40 million smartphones and netbooks. Do you agree? And what do you see for Linux in 4 years?"
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What Will Linux Be Capable Of, 3 Years Down the Road?

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  • by Facetious ( 710885 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:49PM (#24606691) Journal
    I'll go out on a limb here and guess that Linux will still look like a penguin.
    • by jgarra23 ( 1109651 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:23PM (#24607259)
      Four years from now will be the year of Linux on the desktop!!
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2008 @08:44PM (#24609035)

        Here's a conversation I found from a fedora discussion []:

        Non linear ogg editor/ screencast helper

        Status: Proposed

        Summary of idea: Still we are missing a good non linear editor for ogg videos. This can be a simple GUI based application to do non linear editing of ogg. Like cutting, mixing the videos. Adding still frames to the video etc. Though this is not a project to be finished within 2-3 months, but we should be able to have a basic application running to do simple edits. May be having feature of upload videos to fedoratv or integrate itself with recordmydesktop to get screencasts directly. I am looking for more ideas on this.

        Contacts: KushalDas kushaldas AT fedoraproject {NOSPAM} DOT org

        Notes: Recommended choice of language is Python or C

        ValentTurkovic: I have 2 suggestions; First is to try and resurrect Diva Project who started as GSC project in 2006. Second is to work with Pitivi Project because it is on a good path and has ogg editing functionality and easy enough interface. To get an overview of this Diva Project rise and fall please read these two posts. UPDATE: There are two projects that look promissing: saya-videoeditor [2 []] and myvideoeditor [3 []]

        So between these and Cinelerra's successor, Lumiera [], I'm sure 4 years will be more than enough to have an actually usable professional Video Editor for Linux.

        And I think that these 4 years will give Krita and GIMP the time they need to become full-featured and more user-friendly, respectively.

        (And don't get me started on WINE, these guys are advancing fast!)

        • Mod parent funny (Score:4, Insightful)

          by sentientbrendan ( 316150 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @03:36AM (#24611853)

          Seriously, reread that post. If you think he's serious about "4 years will be more than enough to have an actually usable professional Video Editor for Linux" is serious, then you must be new to software, and open source software especially.

          >And I think that these 4 years will give Krita and GIMP the time they need to become full-featured and more user-friendly, respectively.
          Yeah, GIMP, which was started in *1995*, just needs another 4 years to be not such a piece of shit.

          Do you guys get it now? It's *funny*, *laugh*.

          • by dodecalogue ( 1281666 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @07:30AM (#24612899)
            I think the problem is that we've been given a pretty amazing gift by the early pioneers who (of course) didn't grow up with it, like people increasingly are. I think the job was in a pretty big way its own reward, at the time, and that prompted more dedicated work for less (apparent) reward. but now we're becoming like some bratty kid who's given a really nice car and never changing the oil, throwing a bunch of bumper-stickers on it to improve how it looks/make a statement, and then being all annoyed when the 2nd sunroof we cut out of the ceiling starts to pull the whole roof off.
      • Re:Think Antarctica (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:36PM (#24610047) Homepage

        Well as it turns out. It might never be Linux's year on the desk top. Fours years down the round, multimedia desknotes, UMPCs, smartphone/PDA, smartTVs and, maybe, just maybe, walk around virtual reality will be approaching. Now when it comes walk around virtual reality who seriously would want M$ DRMing your personal view of the world, talk about suck.

        The real shift will be a hardware shift,with software supplied 'FREE' as in 'FREE' with the hardware, which combines compatibility across a broad range of different hardware platforms all free of licences. Typical family home, 4 phones, 2 Multimedia desknotes , 4 UMPCS, 2 smartTVs, 1 Family Server(email,VOIP messaging, streaming) yeah we are all stupid enough to pay for 12 OS licences every two years, or even every time we replace the hardware, then add to that another 12 office suite licences every two years now add the cost of fully functional unDRMed family server, plus additional user licences for guests. I am not even going to bother to calculate the cost, as it is obviously way out of the ballpark for the average family. Lets not of course forget some of the other content that still has to be paid for, games, movies and music.

        So M$ is doomed, doomed I tell you ;), when it comes to windows and office, why else would ballmer be so myopic is his bid for yahoo as a result of a failing MSN if he did not know the writing was on the wall for M$'s monopoly OS and office suite pricing rip off (that monopoly is slowly but surely being eaten away by millions of voracious piranha penguins) ;D.

        • Re:Think Antarctica (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @06:22AM (#24612575)

          Microsoft is (and has been for a few years now) fighting hard against the Linux tide on the sub-desktop. Currently, they say its 50-50 []... but that was years ago. I guess that's why the first result in every API search at the time returned the WinCE version.

          Fast forward today, and Windows is sliding [] against the Penguin, which could suggest why the first result in every API search returns the .NET equivalent, and how if you install the Platform SDK, you cannot uncheck the option for .NET embedded APIs.

          So.. Linux for the future, I reckon so simply because the biggest and best weathervane for increasing Linux adoption is shouting how worried they are (ie Microsoft). If MS were ignoring Linux and F/OSS then I'd think it was all hype, but as they're coughing up cash for various OSS projects, declaring how open-source friendly they are, creating their own OSS repository sites (codeplex), getting various OSS projects better integrated with Windows.. all that just shows how worried they are, so Linux is a big deal at the moment.


        • by drix ( 4602 ) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:26PM (#24617943) Homepage

          The ship has sailed. While 100,000 of us spent the late 90s grousing on /. about how next year would finally be the year of Linux on the desktop, a company named Apple went out and actually built the thing. Unix on the desktop has been done and done right. Linux had a huge window of opportunity in the early part of the last decade, and blew it. Draw whatever conclusions from that you want about the free software "movement." Mark my words: barring a direct meteor hit on Cupertino, Linux will never, ever be a major player in the desktop market.

    • Re:Think Antarctica (Score:5, Interesting)

      by carlmenezes ( 204187 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @08:28PM (#24608879) Homepage

      I agree 100% - wild and cute enough to make you want to play with it.

      Linux has laid the foundation.

      Firefox has taken good care of our browsing.

      OpenOffice + Google docs have given us portable information.

      KDE 4 has given us a flashy desktop, GNOME has given us a simple yet powerful one - both are beautiful in their own right.

      VLC/Mplayer have given us independence of video formats.

      Linux + Firefox + KDE 4/GNOME + OpenOffice + VLC/Mplayer = desktop independence. Only piece of the puzzle left is gaming. Once we have gaming, drivers on Linux (for anything consumer oriented atleast) will no longer be a problem. I definitely see that happening within the next 3 years, but we as a Linux community HAVE TO back whichever video card manufacturer gives us the best Linux drivers. Make them work for our cash and very soon, Linux will be a standard platform to release for.

      • by Repossessed ( 1117929 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:26PM (#24609941)

        Why do people continue to insist that PC gaming, which is only done by a small percentage of computer users, is so important to Linux. It would be a simple matter to capture 90% of the PC market without ever having a single 3d driver, let alone anything more than the casual games Linux already has.

        Hell, before Aero was announced, most systems had almost no graphics (and thus gaming) ability anyway.

        • by MindPhlux ( 304416 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @11:02PM (#24610229) Homepage

          I would bet you that 90% of the nerdy guys who know how computers work, support the average user working at helpdesks and IT shops, and sell things to the average consumer at best buy play (or have played) games.

          I am one of these nerdy guys. I learned how to use linux when I was a kid to run bots for an efnet channel and bsod windows clients and stupid shit. I liked it because it was robust, I could do things without a GUI, and everything worked off of C, which I knew enough of to get around. So, I imagine I am about as willing to use linux as the average nerd. The thing is, I haven't touched it since I was 16 because it doesn't run games.

          I think it's great, but would I be comfortable installing it on a friends' or a coworkers computer? heck no! I don't have the years of experience supporting it that I do with windows based systems, so when they ran into some strange driver error or something, I wouldn't really be able to help.

          And again, I want to emphasize that the only reason I don't have this experience is that Linux doesn't support the games I play, so I have no lasting motivation to switch my OS.

          When I think about how many people I know who feel pretty much the same, and work in similar positions supporting end users, it's really wholly apparent how important gaming is to the Linux movement. If you truly cared about Linux, it seems to me you would do everything in your power to bridge this divide.

      • by Mr. DOS ( 1276020 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @10:51PM (#24610161)

        (Before I go further, I want to note that I am not trying to start a flamewar.)

        With all due respect, I think you're forgetting a few things thing. Let's start with what's the biggest for me: a distro that handles the install properly. I have tried many distros over the last few years, and while they've all moved forward with leaps and bounds, none of them "just work" out of the box.

        Let's use Ubuntu as an example. It's far better than it was even a year ago, but it's still not perfect. For example, on Saturday, I started the quest of installing Ubuntu as the primary operating system on an older PC. The install seemed to go fine, but after doing the updates, I suddenly had no sound from my SB Live! I managed to resuscitate it after a bit, but that's the sort of thing that just shouldn't happen. Also, earlier today, BMPx randomly stopped working. I had closed everything and put my computer to sleep, and when I came back three hours later, BMPx refused to start.

        You make a good point with your video comment: it's pretty easy to play video on Linux now. Will pretty much any video play? Yes. Is it blindly obvious as to how to play an encrypted DVD? It's getting there. Audio's the problem now. People seem to be focusing so much on video now that information on installing support for such things as WMA audio (c'mon, do you really expect people to rerip everything that they most certainly own? :P ).

        And then there's the ubiquitous gaming comment. Thankfully, Wine's making progress, but contrary to what Linux zealots want us to think, it's not actually perfect! Support for games using OpenGL is pretty good, and as someone said earlier today in another comment (forgotten where, sorry), so is support for programs that were actually written the "right" way, but it's still far from perfect.

        So, I guess, to sum up: these days, Linux is pretty (or at least, not butt-ugly as it used to be), user-friendly (once it's all working properly), and there's a wide range of utility programs out there. It just needs better gaming, easier-to-find information on installing support and codecs for protected audio formats, and it needs to just work (and keep working!) out of the box.

              --- Mr. DOS

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:50PM (#24606699)

    1998 Nope

    2000 Nope

    2002 Nope

    2004 Nope

    2006 Nope

    2008 Nope


    • by fireman sam ( 662213 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @07:13PM (#24608035) Homepage Journal

      With the way desktop software is heading, to get Linux on the desktop all that has to be done is for it to remain "free", as in "I'm free to do whatever I want with my computer".

    • by againjj ( 1132651 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @08:21PM (#24608801)

      What Will Linux Be Capable Of, 3 Years Down the Road?

      And what do you see for Linux in 4 years?

      I also will go out on a limb and say it will enable Slashdot editors to make titles consistent with summaries!

    • by fuzzix ( 700457 ) <> on Thursday August 14, 2008 @09:11PM (#24609291) Journal

      The desktop may ruin it... If their "open source expert" is to be believed "...command-line hacking for basic system configuration is a thing of the past"

      Now, if you consider 'sudo vim /etc/apache2/httpd.conf' or whatever invocation you prefer/require as anything approaching "hacking" you may be in need of a little more learning.

      If this guy is to be believed I'll be running unnecessary X sessions to start BIND...
      ...or maybe just a little, very simple text file manipulation is all that's required to get a service going the way you like it.

      The shell will never be a "thing of the past" as it is (and probably will be) the most efficient way to achieve certain simple (and very advanced) things.

  • KDE4 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Random BedHead Ed ( 602081 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:51PM (#24606733) Homepage Journal

    based on â" surprise â" good acceptance for KDE 4.

    Definitely agree there. KDE4 is going to dramatically improve very quickly. They've made a huge development investment in the underlying libraries, and that will come to fruition this year (and already has somewhat with KDE 4.1). My impression is that it's going to get better. Couple that with a maturing, and you have the makings of a beautiful desktop.

    • Re:KDE4 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by V!NCENT ( 1105021 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:01PM (#24606923)

      Instead of thinking about a beautiful desktop, let's think about a more usable desktop. The underlying base makes it possible and very easy to do everything you want to do with it in virtually no time at all. I have seen eye candy enough... it's time for some serious evolution.

      Speaking of evolution: touchscreen support? There already YouTube videos of people gaming on Linux with touchscreens!

      • Re:KDE4 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:54PM (#24607761)

        Precisely, I'm always confused why Linux so often comes with a default desktop environment which is as bloated as Windows' is. I realize that not all distros are like that, but most of the ones I've tested out over the years have.

        It's really a shame considering how much progress has been made over the years to scum it up with a UI which mimics the bloatedness of Windows.

        But then again, perhaps that's just my fondness for just a window manager sans most of the environment.

        • Re:KDE4 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by khellendros1984 ( 792761 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @08:17PM (#24608759) Journal
          And the beauty of Linux is that you have that choice. I like Gnome, I've enjoyed KDE at various points in the past...but sometimes, something like xfce or fluxbox is good. I don't see it as a shame that "bloated" environments exist. I see it as a benefit that the choice is available for those that miss a Windows-like interface.
    • Compiz FTW (Score:5, Insightful)

      Base window manager is irrelevant. Users don't care whether it's KDE or Gnome. Behold the Cube! Behold the wobbly windows. Behold the 3D tiling! Behold I say! []

      Show potential Linux users a demo of that floating cube, and you will ship millions of Linux boxes. I have observed this effect, first hand []. If you've got a business selling Linux boxes and you don't have such a demo set up in shop, you are wasting your time. You think OSX got where it is because of its Kernel features?

      • Re:Compiz FTW (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wtfispcloadletter ( 1303253 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @07:27PM (#24608185)

        Yeah, but too many geeks say that "shiny" doesn't matter. It's "shiny" that sells. Sure looking back Windows 95 and 98 and even XP, aren't all that sexy, but compared to what was available at the time, their interfaces were cutting edge, sleek and sexy looking.

        More people are buying Mac purely because of how sexy it looks. It sure as hell ain't the price, it's purely because it looks cool.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Culture20 ( 968837 )
        Don't forget to use the screensaver auto-spin demo plugin. Zooms in and out, auto-spins back and forth. Great for demos.
    • Re:KDE4 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phorm ( 591458 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @07:18PM (#24608091) Journal

      I've been a KDE3 user for quite awhile. My first impression of KDE4 was "WTF, are they trying to copy Vista?"

      As a whole, I'm hoping it will turn out quite well, but the colour scheme and little boxes everywhere really do seem reminiscent of certain Redmond OS's. C'mon guys, I know you can be more creative than that!

  • No Microsoft (Score:4, Insightful)

    by V!NCENT ( 1105021 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:52PM (#24606761)

    No it's not predictable. I am not (well at least not trying to be) flamebaiting and/or trolling but given this is Linux we are talking about FLOSS and innovation, so we can't possible know.

    Innovation wouldn't be innovation if we allready knew what is going to happen in three years, now would it?

    • Re:No Microsoft (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) * on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:59PM (#24606895)

      we are talking about FLOSS and innovation

      Technically, no we aren't. We're talking about where Linux will be in 3 years, and "in the same spot it is now" is a valid, though unlikely, possibility. Besides, a rather likely scenario is that there won't be any major innovations, but things will continue to evolve bit by bit, just like they are now. Innovation is rare.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lysse ( 516445 )

      Whilst there is certainly innovation to be found all over the Free Software world, Linux (the kernel), GNU (the userspace collection) and the desktop environments ain't it. Kinda by definition - innovation and compliance (whether with standards or with users' preconceptions) are necessarily antonyms.

      Linux the development process is a different matter, of course...

    • Re:No Microsoft (Score:4, Informative)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Thursday August 14, 2008 @08:11PM (#24608685) Homepage Journal

      Some aspects of innovation are very predictable. There is a crude 10 year cycle for each stage of development (from blue-sky to usable prototype, from early garage to first home users, etc). This is repeated, over and over, until you finally get something that is an integral part of domestic life. Linux has shown much the same pattern, minus the initial blue-sky phase, as the concepts were already well-known.

      Four years is a little soon for seeing significant pick-up in the home, but it's near enough the next boundary for me to say that carrier-grade Linux will have made dramatic inroads in the embedded market, and that Linux will EITHER kill off Windows Cluster Edition in the extreme-end market, OR be killed by it. The two cannot coexist, the market is simply too small.

      So, anything that is experimental (in both concept and code) now and has been introduced within the last 3 years will not be close enough to the 10 year boundary in the next 3-4 years to move to the next stage of acceptance.

      Anything that is experimental in only code, but is already widely adopted in concept, even if the code was introduced recently, may well hit the next level, but you can't really depend on it. Code, however, does mature faster than the conceptual and the underlying technology, so it's reasonable to expect some/all of it to have matured.

      Anything that is stable but under-utilized now, but already widely adopted in concept, WILL be widely adopted as implemented within 3-4 years.

      Anything that has been blue-sky for at least 6-7 years, but looks like it is making progress, AND out-of-mainstream work is being tried out, will likely become adopted by a significant group within 3-4 years AND make it into the mainstream kernel, but there is never a firm guarantee of things like that. The variable tends to be more of whose version goes in and whose vision is adopted. eg: Although there is now support for CAN buses, it was not the COMEDI code that got integrated. I expect the network code to improve in performance and tuning, but that doesn't mean it'll be Web100 that'll be added. There will be a parallel filesystem available, but there's no guarantee that that'll be Lustre. Polyserve's filesystem was - by all accounts - much better, and HP (who now own Polyserve) may use it as leverage to get into the Linux market, an area they've worked at for some time.

      I expect distributed shared memory to appear in some form or other in 3-4 years - Infiniband is getting close to being fast enough, tipc is evolving nicely, and implementations of reliable multicast have existed long enough to push the concept onto the next ten year cycle. If it fails to make the transition, it will never appear at all.

  • by Skadet ( 528657 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:52PM (#24606765) Homepage
    Will it be capable of, correcting grammar?
    • by actionbastard ( 1206160 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @08:01PM (#24608567)
      Tux has detected that you would like to write a letter. Would you like to use vi or emacs?
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:54PM (#24606803) Homepage Journal

    Linux hasn't had any major changes in the past three years, why would you think it'll have any in the next three?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Linux hasn't had any major changes in the past three years, why would you think it'll have any in the next three?

      Sure it has, just not for the desktop. The reason some believe it might improve more over the next few years is that companies are starting to use it as the pre-installed OS on low-end and low-power systems. Those companies have a direct, financial incentive to spend money on making it a better desktop OS.

      • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:45PM (#24607655)

        No I doubt it. Linux is a server OS and I really think it is going to stay that way unless there is some huge change in attitudes among the FOSS Community.
        Change one: Learning having more features doesn't make it better. Can linux do X... Most likely yes. However its defaults are not really setup for that.

        Change two: Easy Drivers. Installing a driver should be as easy as drag and drop a tar ball, if it doesn't work drag it to the trash. It should be done via GUI alone

        Change three: Make the command line last resort or if you really want to use it. Still there is a lot of stuff depending on the command line, Geeks like us have no problems but if you are use to Mac or windows and you get a blinking cursor what to type? beats me. For example for those who never used a VAX before login to a VAX terminal and try to move around without googling all the commands...

        Change four: If you put it in make sure it works. I have seen many apps that just don't work correctly. If it doesn't work don't put it in.

        Change five: Eye Candy is not a good GUI make. Yea it is fun for a bit then it gets annoying. Every eye candy element needs a good GUI reasoning for it.

        Change six: Listen to complaints don't marginalize them. Yes yes you have invested emotional interest in Linux however people are having real problems with it, and just saying you are dumb or google it, or you google and give them a non working issue actually take it into account and see if you can fix the problem, or make it better. As well acknowledge it is a problem don't blame hardware for having closed source drivers if your open source one doesn't work. Just say it doesn't work or fix it or both.

        Change seven: Learn other usage habits just don't copy your own. A software developer uses a computer much differently then a non-developer. You will be surprised how differently if you are willing to examine it. These people are not dumb they go the path that is most intuitive.

        Change eight: Getting threw the boring stuff. There is fun stuff to code and annoying stuff. The stuff that is not really hard or easy just annoying. But it needs to get done to give it polish.

        Change nine: Swallow you CS Degree pride. I am not saying make sloppy code but be willing to break the rules when it make sense. I have seen many apps that run very poorly because they try to make their CS Professor happy.

        Change ten: swallow your pride, sometimes your ideas loose, embrace the winner and make the most out of it. Keeping you gopher client and adding new features is a wast. Or stop tinkering with the token ring driver in hopes it will kill TCP/IP in the future.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2008 @07:08PM (#24607953)

          Change two: Easy Drivers. Installing a driver should be as easy as drag and drop a tar ball, if it doesn't work drag it to the trash. It should be done via GUI alone

          No, installing a driver should be as easy and checking a box. Drivers aren't something you download as tarballs; they're something that comes with your kernel. They are part of the kernel, not add-ons. You don't install drivers, you enable them (assuming they were disabled for some reason).

          Installing drivers is so 1900s.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hedwards ( 940851 )

          Why? They say the same thing about FreeBSD and yet I'm using it as my desktop. And it does a damn fine job of that. Not as good as Linux, but that's mainly because of Flash, somewhat limited wine support and the nVidia binary drivers not being updated for amd64.

          Linux does a pretty good job as is. I'll have to boot back into it to really check how the amd64 support is, but I'd doubt that it's too bad at this point. The amount of effort it takes to find hardware that support either Linux or *BSD these days is

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by LaminatorX ( 410794 )

          I wrote that token-ring driver, you insensitive clod!

  • Outlandish? (Score:5, Funny)

    by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:55PM (#24606815) Homepage

    Wait ... are you saying that the Linux kernel will remain free in the future, but that people will pay for extras on top of that, including commercial software in some cases? That is just ... insane! What barking madman would even conceive of such a concept?

    Incidentally, how do you go from what that article actually says:

    Expect to see a three-way split among different versions of Linux. Not different distributions per se, but three basic usage models: ... For-pay ... Free to use ... Free/libre "Linux forsaking its free usage model"? What are you, running for Congress?

  • by CaptainPatent ( 1087643 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:56PM (#24606833) Journal
    Linux distros into one category.

    In four years Distros made to be user-friendly like Ubuntu will probably be heavier on system requirements but nearing the ease of use of Windows (IE easier driver and plugin installs as some are still a bit touch-and-go)

    Distros like Puppy will still be lightweight and have little change to fit on those old Pentium 2s you just can't bear to part with.

    Distros like Gentoo will still be hardcore users only with every option available only after heavy config and compiles.

    I think usability for the average user will improve on the "fluffy" side of linux, but a lot of the distros do exactly what they're made to.
  • by Cocoa Radix ( 983980 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:56PM (#24606837) Homepage
    So THIS is what the Mayans have been predicting. Linux calls forth Armageddon in 2012. Wonderful.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:58PM (#24606867)
    Most Linux systems are already embedded systems (phones and the like). These far outstrip Linux usage in desktops and servers. The trend will only grow as more and more phones switch to Linux and desktop usage stays about the same.
  • Drivers? Codecs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:59PM (#24606887) Journal

    I hope it doesn't become a mess of binary drivers. Binary drivers are one of the worst things happening to Linux. They ruin the stability and the usefulness of hardware. As fas as I am concerned, they are not the pragmatic choice. I consider an idealist to be a pragmatist who thinks about the future. I have found that the "pragmatic' choice always comes back to bite me, at which time it stops being pragmatic.

    Anyway, enough of that rant. On to CODECS. That depends on the patent systems in various countries. Currently FFMPEG has had a history of producing extremely find implementations of CODECS. They sometimes lag behind on the very newest ones, but their more mature ones suprass all others in terms of quality and speed. And they generally get better with time. Anyway, software patents don't exist everywhere and they are unlikely to do so within 3 years. So, it looks like codecs will remain free and FREE for a while yet.

    • Re:Drivers? Codecs? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:13PM (#24607093)

      The patent situation will be a non-issue in 2012. All the major codec patents expire within the next 3 years, including MP3.

      Binary drivers are also becoming less of an issue. Nvidia and Broadcom are the last two holdouts. Nvidia is doing a good job of driving themselves into bankruptcy, and since every other major wireless chipset manufacturer now has open-source drivers, you can just not buy Broadcom.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi ( 719324 )

      I hate it how the way major distros are packaged (regarding patents/etc.) is tailored towards US market...why do I (and...most people on the planet) have to download mp3 codec or dvd decrypting library after installation? (necessitating internet connection - yes, it happened few times that I could switch to Linux somebody without net access; but...nope, way too much hassle with installing all the things that should be there from the start)

      Why "two versions, full and castrated one for US" model didn't ever c

  • by mule007 ( 767116 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @05:59PM (#24606891)
  • by kabocox ( 199019 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:11PM (#24607057)

    I can see linux being on a 2-4 GB flash card and the "computer" being the same size and the entire device running inside your tv, LCD picture frames, microwave oven, toaster, refrigator, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, or your air conditioner. The price for the computer and storage will be like $2-5 on the bulk side so that cost has to be able to be hidden in the products. Linux'll be running all sorts of things that you never really figured even needed a computer per se or even 2-4 GB of storage. What the heck does my dishwasher or toaster need 2 Gb of storage for? Well, we'd find out when it's "cheap enough" to through in everything. Licensing and cost is what'll get Linux in the door and keep MS out. MS just can't afford to give away MS embedded edition.

    Of course Linux will run on things like cell phones and DVRs as well, but you'll shortly find it running things like McDonalds' toys as well. What could a McDonalds' Toy use Linux for? I haven't a clue, but, once the hardware is cheap enough, we'll find out.

  • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:14PM (#24607113)

    This probably won't be an issue by 2012, but it will be interesting to see how linux fares when Linux and/or people like Andrew Morton are eventually forced to remove themselves from the day-to-day maintenance of the kernel. We saw what happened to ReiserFS when it lost its namesake. In that situation, it was easy to chuck ReiserFS in the trash because there were several other mature alternatives. If/when Linus dies/retires, does Linux adoption falter?

  • Uptime (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:16PM (#24607147)
    Another 1000 days, more or less.
  • by Godji ( 957148 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:18PM (#24607169) Homepage

    Linux forsaking its free usage model to embrace more paid distros

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    where you get free Linux along with (much-needed) licenses to use patent-restricted codecs

    As if. Just because the US has a broken patent system. Or was that the whole world? Ih wait, the US is the whole world.

    Also predicted is an advance for the desktop based on â" surprise â" good acceptance for KDE 4.

    Whether you like it or not, GNOME will be the big one, because nobody controls it. With Nokia owning Trolltech, no other company (whose primary business is not Linux itself) will touch KDE. I know that's not justified, but don't expect large corporations to care.

    Finally, Linux is seen as making its biggest imprint not on the PC, but on mobile devices, eventually powering 40 million smartphones and netbooks.

    That's clearly the future. The question is - besides having Linux as the kernel, will the phone of the future be any different? Will free userspace triumph on phones, or are we going to see locked-down Linux? That's the interesting and harder question.

    And what do you see for Linux in 4 years?

    Let's see... a kernel that supports the latest hardware and runs the latest software?

    The article is nonsense, but the discussion should be good.

  • Linux in flash BIOS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by moteyalpha ( 1228680 ) * on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:18PM (#24607181) Homepage Journal
    It seems that if Linux were available as a free alternative in every PC shipped, it could provide a longer life to products that could be shared ( like hand me down clothes ) to younger siblings or new users to make the best use of the effort of creating machines and the least toxic landfill. I would think that it would be in everybody's interest to contribute to open source, like any system that exists to fill a need which is not commercial ( like Red Cross ) but serves a need of humanity.
  • equilibrium (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:19PM (#24607207) Homepage

    I think Linux has gotten to a level of equilibrium where it's probably not going to improve vastly in any ways that will be obvious to users. There are some things that are just design decisions, and aren't going to change. E.g., for audio applications, it can sometimes be a problem that linux doesn't have a lot of real-time support; there are real-time patches, but they don't look like they'll ever make it into the mainstream kernel, and in any case linux was never intended as a hard real-time system like qnx. There are some things that aren't going to change because of economics. Currently, we have decent hardware support for many devices, but it's still often a hassle, the quality is often lousy, and the drivers are often binary blobs; even if linux increases its share of the desktop significantly in the next four years, it will still be a tiny niche compared to Windows, so we'll still probably have a lot of the same hassles. Similar situation for availability of more preinstalled systems through more retail channels -- there just aren't enough people interested, for example, to allow linux boxes to be sold at places like Circuit City, and I don't think that will change in 4 years.

    Ease of installation is already pretty good, and I think the low-hanging fruit has already been picked. The vast majority of users will never be able to handle installing an OS on their own, and that's not going to change. I'm still experiencing problems like not being able to handle odd-sized flatscreen monitors, and I kind of doubt that's going to improve vastly, because it's like whack-a-mole with the low-end hardware manufacturers in Asia who basically want to sell as many widgets as possible to Windows users in its 1-year product lifetime.

    As far as codecs ... well, you can already pay for codecs, so if you can pay for codecs in 2012, how does that qualify as a change? For mp3, decoding is already royalty-free, and as far as encoding it kind of depends on which patents you really think are valid and which are just trolls, but I've seen statements that encoding will be patent-free by 2010.

    Apps? Firefox is already a browser, and in 2012 it will still be a browser. I think OOo has already long since reached a state of equilibrium in which the codebase is such a mess, and the developer community so closed, that there is basically no more improvement going on. E.g., users (myself included) have been begging for years now for better curve fitting, and better integration of curve fitting into the GUI; the result is that over all those years there has been marginal improvement in this area, but it's still way behind what my students are used to in Excel.

    • Re:equilibrium (Score:5, Informative)

      by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <fred_weigel AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:45PM (#24607651) Journal

      "there just aren't enough people interested, for example, to allow linux boxes to be sold at places like Circuit City, and I don't think that will change in 4 years."

      Linux boxes ARE being sold at places like Circuit City, and people like them. Asus eeepc and aspire, hp small notepad, etc.

      As to the rest? Not equilibrium yet. Linux is growing in datacenters; support for large SMP will improve (especially in management; I'd look for the most growth in virtualization). The "GUI" will improve also. There should be growth with 3D drivers (especially AMD(ATI) chipsets). Intel Larrabee should inspire growth in super-computing. standard applications are coming along nicely. But, with improved 3D will come standard 3D desktop *and* application support (currently, only available with nVidia's hardware and drivers). This should also be possible with ATI and Intel graphic stacks. In turn, this should inspire extra visual support in applications (think real-time graphics rendered from a spreadsheet). Also, I would expect growth in media transcoding.

      What should remain stable is the CLI interface, and base software (VIM should still be VI, with enhancements, GCC should improve, but not be radically different, LaTeX will still be kicking, etc.)

  • by Slugster ( 635830 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:25PM (#24607303)
    By 2012, Linux will pass the critical "100 different unpronounceable text editors" criterion, where adoption will begin to accelerate at a geometric pace as the common person forgets about all the useful Windows-based software and hardware at the store and entertains themselves solely by writing new window managers.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:36PM (#24607487) Homepage

    People who use "desktop" computing, your days are numbered... I just have no idea what that number may be. ;)

    With this interest in cloud computing growing, I predict that specific-purpose devices will be used and linked in through various networking technologies (mobile phones, wi-fi, bluetooth, ethernet, something that hasn't been thought of yet, quantum link networking, whatever) to personal servers. These personal servers will be without a direct user interface although us hackers will still have terminals to connect to them to do our hacking and developing, but our personal devices will all link to our personal servers using whatever means is available to do so that is appropriate and capable for the application we're using. The fact that our personal servers will run Linux will be irrelevant to most people... it'll just work or not work.

    All of our personal devices will be from various manufacturers using a similar pool of networking technologies that, hopefully Microsoft will not have patented or controlled in some way, and serve our purposes accordingly. For most people, they will simply have their TVs, phones, mobile phones and gaming consoles linked through our personal servers and the public network infrastructure. The rest of us will continue using laptops and desktops because we're busy developing, hacking, analyzing and all that sort of thing.

    Business apps will continue to follow similar models of client/server because business cares where their data is stored and what network channels are allowed to access it. I don't care how "non-evil" Google is, they aren't going to store my company's data. They just AREN'T.

    But it is because Linux works SO well in dedicated devices (especially hand-held) this is where Linux will grow the most. I find it difficult to predict whether or not it will be proprietary and/or restricted protocols that will interconnect our devices to our personal servers, but I can only hope the protocol will be open for all to use without being worried about getting sued and crap like that.

    I predict an environment where it will be the device that is important to users, and not the OS that runs on them. This will make the OS a bit less relevant to all but the gadget-hackers. Microsoft will be a player in this scheme, and they will likely their their interoperability monkey-wrench into everything they can... business as usual for Microsoft... but as long as they don't buy laws that restrict people from making stuff compatible with Microsoft's crap, then, like Samba, we'll all be fine in the end. (But then again, there's the lords of copyright to interfere with this notion... technologies "forbidden" to work with like DVDCSS on our personal networks... who knows.)

  • Well, duh, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:38PM (#24607533)
    The most outlandish scenario foresees Linux forsaking its free usage model to embrace more paid distros where you get free Linux along with (much-needed) licenses to use patent-restricted codecs

    The OEM system install has been the gold standard in the home and SOHO market for close on to thirty years.

    It has been demonstrated time and time again that the system that "just works" is what sells - and that there is no room at the bottom.

    gOS at is being unloaded at fire sale prices - and the chain has effectively black-flagged the OEM Linux box as a do-little web appliance.

    MS Vista at is priced from $350 to $1700.

    The budget netbook to the 64 bit MS Vista Quad Core HP Elite with 4 GB RAM, NVIDIA DX10 graphics. Blu-Ray play, HDTV tuner and a tetrabyte of storage.

    The very notion may throw the geek into cardiac arrest - but the "upgrade" to XP or Linux is utter fantasy when you look at systems with specs like these - and what is high-end for MS Vista today will be mid-line tomorrow.

  • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <> on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:39PM (#24607555)

    And the US Supreme Court will rule that software is not patentable, software is copyrightable but EULA's are 100% unenforcable. And DRM will be outlawed.

    And Microsoft, the RIAA, and most of the telecom industry will be broken up for various illegal activities, and forced to reform as smaller non-profit organizations with strict oversight.

    Maybe I'll even have a date by then.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:51PM (#24607725) Homepage

    100,000 packages in Debian.

  • New frontiers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @06:59PM (#24607847) Homepage Journal
    What will be hot regarding linux by then?
    - Usability: will be one of main objectives for developing things for it, including new widely available devices like multitouch screens.
    - Mobility: cheap and powerful for today standards cellphones based on linux (Android, LiMo, whatever) probably will be the most used. Not sure if will be market for tablets/subnotebooks/etc or cellphones will take that role, in any case, probably linux will be the most used core OS for those devices.
    - Embeddable: It happens now, it will happen far more then. Internet will be the main reason for this.
    - Security, linux will be more attacked, specially in preinstalled computers, cellphones and devices.
  • Whatever happens, there'll be more people using Linux-based OSes in 3/4 years. However, there's a long way to go before it can properly overtake Windows, IMO: there are several major problems that stop GNU/Linux becoming the ideal consumer desktop OS.

    • Linux still uses the outmoded FHS at the front end - I know I'll get flamed for this, but look at the other options. Windows installs end-user applications in /Program Files, dependencies either in the application folders or in /Windows/system32, the documentation and resources within the application folders and the rest of the core system files in /Windows, and puts all the home folders in /Users. I like Mac OS X's system even more: end-user apps live in self-contained packages (sometimes with dependencies) in /Applications, the home folders live in /Users, system resources live in /System, and dependencies (if not contained in the packages) live in /Library (or ~/Library). The core toolchain lives in the old FHS system for backwards compatibility. I suggest adopting a similar approach to GoboLinux, but sticking non-'end-user' programs such as ls, sh, etc in /System/CoreToolchain or something along those lines. Libraries should live in /Library or something like that, users under /Home or /Users, and end-user applications (like in /Applications or /Programs. On first run, these apps unpack and install their dependencies, and then sit in /Applications, ready to be launched at the click of a button. There could even be an option for System V zealots to retain the old FHS at install.
    • Linux needs to stop preaching about free software and get back to work - in the end, users don't give a damn whether or not they can 'modify' this new driver they're installing to get compiz to work. As long as it's free as in beer and it works, they're happy. At most, an EULA dialog should be thrown up.
    • Users don't want to be rebuffed with the old 'that's the great thing about FOSS - if there's something you don't like, you fix it yourself' line - in the end, the user wants to press a big red "INSTALL" button, get a coffee while his system configures itself, and then wants it to get out of his way and let him work. This is why I believe KDE is unsuitable for consumer use as yet - as a power user's DE it's great, but it has a switch and a knob for everything. GNOME, on the other hand, is elegant, speedy, and gets out of your way and lets you get on with your work. Look at the other options: first setup and configuration of a new iMac, say, is a fifteen-minute job. You can literally pick one up on your way to work and have it working perfectly by the morning coffee break. In short, developers need to drop the "someone else'll sort that out later, I can't be arsed" attitude - they must be diligent and include every feature a user could possibly want and more besides.

    In short, devs need to really get their fingers out and concentrate on creating a truly kick-ass operating system that'll work out of the box on practically any machine you throw it at. This is what led Apple out of its slump in the mid-90s - if the FOSS community can do it now, when the popularity of FOSS is booming, it will truly be a force for Monkey Boy to reckon with.

    • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @07:35PM (#24608259)

      Linux still uses the outmoded FHS at the front end - I know I'll get flamed for this, but look at the other options. Windows installs end-user applications in /Program Files, dependencies either in the application folders or in /Windows/system32, the documentation and resources within the application folders and the rest of the core system files in /Windows, and puts all the home folders in /Users.

      I think you're *seriously* oversimplifying the way Windows does it.

      For starters, the configuration of a user's applications is usually held in the combination of a folder under "Documents and Settings" and the user's own chunk of the registry which is, to say the least, not the *easiest* place to pull configuration settings out of. Half the time, when you try to copy the Applications folder somewhere else to back them up, the folder is protected & you then have to boot to "Safe Mode" to do it.

      And even when you've done that, and somehow worked out what bits of the Registry you need, there's absolutely no guarantee that by putting that chunk of the registry on another machine or another user, that you won't just trash the whole thing.

      By comparison, knowing on Linux that your configuration file is likely to be a text file somewhere in /etc or in your home directory and maybe having to read the man page to find out precisely the name and location of the file, is infinitely easier.

      Unfortunately, Windows suffers from the *MY* mentality ("My Documents", "My Pictures") without thinking that there might be the remotest possibility you might want to move an application to another machine without having to reinstall it.

      You seem to be quick enough to diss FOSS without considering the fact that, by it's very nature, FOSS software at least makes a good attempt at storing configs in an easy to read text or XML file which you can easily back up and put somewhere else very easily - even on Windows.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pherthyl ( 445706 )

      >> Linux still uses the outmoded FHS at the front end

      Why do you even care where your files are? At first it bothered me too that files for one app are in multiple folders, but then I realized that I shouldn't even concern myself with such trivialities. That's the computer's job. Keeping track of files is what computers are good at. There's no benefit to having them all in one place aside from some abstract concept of "cleanness" which doesn't even apply here.

      >> Linux needs to stop preaching

  • virtualization (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nate Fox ( 1271 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @07:09PM (#24607969)
    see all that fancy stuff vmware does with its VMs and hypervisors? I'm thinking much of that will be commodity in 3 years. linux will be the backbone a lot of IT companies due to it being the hypervisor to their windows installs.
  • Is it just me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 14, 2008 @07:23PM (#24608145) Homepage Journal

    ...or is the author basically predicting that in 2012 we'll have the things we have now?

    We currently have pay distros, free distros, and libre distros. KDE 4 already exists. There are already Linux netbooks, and major OEM preinstalls. In the future apparently we'll have Gmail and OpenOffice.

    The author also MAGICALLY predicts storage costs will go down.

    Linux will also be on servers, and support virtualization.

    Will all this stuff happen before 2012?

    I'd say so, considering it is all true today.

  • Pre-installation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @07:34PM (#24608255)

    I see the start now with the smaller ASUS machines. What would be grat is pre-installation on all machines. If possible dualboot or at least the ability to select from either Windows, GNOME or KDE. Yes, also the ability to choose Windows. Choice is good.

    The downside might be that one distribution becomes very dominant. The upside will be that it will be out there in greater and greater numbers, which means some serious decision for Microsoft to take (They are not going away) on how to work together with Linux. Hardware developers will write drivers and people selling software will write (closed source) software for Linux, like games.

  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @07:44PM (#24608367)

    Working, with sound and video, on a late-model iMac G5? That would be nice. Might save me a few grand.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @09:59PM (#24609719)
    Three years down the road, Linux will still be suffering from too many distributions and continuing to think that is an advantage.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes