9 Important Linux and FOSS Stories for 2011
Gnome 3.0. Chrome OS, LibreOfficeBruce Byfield peers into his crystal ball to pick nine Linux and FOSS stories likely to make headlines in 2011.
This year, I'm giving up making predictions. By my count, my record for 2010 was slightly worse than random chance, and my inability to impress readers individually with cold readings makes me conclude that I should leave fortune telling to the tarot readers.
Instead, here are the stories that are likely to make headlines in 2011 for free and open source software. The New Year being an arbitrary division, the majority of them are developments of stories that began in 2010, or even earlier:
1) The Response to GNOME 3.0The next major release of the GNOME desktop was delayed twice in 2010 -- predictably, since cleaning up and revising an operating system is a large undertaking. Also GNOME developers are hoping to release a polished new version, rather than a work-in-progress like KDE 4.0, whose unfinished state received such a hostile reception in 2008.
Unless GNOME developers can pull a last minute rabbit out of their collective hat, a mixed response for GNOME 3.0 seems inevitable. Even then, a fork to continue development of GNOME 2.0 is probable. A strongly hostile reaction may weaken GNOME's dominant position on the desktop, increasing the popularity of KDE or opening the way for Ubuntu's Unity desktop.
2) The Reception of Chrome OSThe much-delayed Chrome OS should make a debut some time in 2011. A cloud-oriented operating system, Chrome will officially be available only as part of bundled computers, although the source code and unofficial builds are available online.
Some pundits see the potential for Chrome to become a major competitor to Windows. However, while Google's size alone could give it clout, Google's sometimes lackluster marketing of the Nexus phone proves that size is only part of the formula for success. The limited functionality of online apps, combined with issues about privacy and availability, may severely limit Chrome's success. Even if users don't use 80% of the features in most software, they may still prefer to have them all available.
However, Paul Buchheit predicts Chrome OS's real competitor may be Google's own Android OS. As Buchheit tweeted, "ChromeOS has no purpose that isn���t better served by Android (perhaps with a few mods to support a non-touch display)."