11 predictions for Linux in 2016

The Linux world changed a lot in 2015. Will the momentum continue?

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Peer into the future

The Linux world changed a lot in 2015. Perhaps the biggest change was at Microsoft, which turned from a foe into a lover of Linux. We saw the first Ubuntu Linux powered smartphone. Samsung launched a smartwatch running on Tizen Linux. In the enterprise, Linux and open source continued to become stronger with technologies like OpenStack, Docker, and Cloud Foundry. It has been an exciting year. 

What does 2016 hold for Linux? Here are my predictions.

google drive linux
Credit: Google Drive
1: Google Drive

Google is a heavy consumer of Linux. Its Chrome OS and Android are  Linux-based operating systems. Its entire infrastructure runs on Linux. But the company seems apathetic about desktop Linux.  Despite early promises, the company hasn’t released a Linux client for Google Drive.

Developing a Linux client is not a herculean task. Much smaller players like ownCloud, Dropbox, and Copy, among others, offer Linux clients. So it’s not about it being hard; it’s about Google not being interested in desktop Linux.

My prediction: Google will not launch the Drive for Linux in 2016.

itunes android
Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya
2: iTunes

When Tim Cook took over Apple, he said that he wouldn't mind bringing iTunes to Android. That was a U-turn for Apple, which, under Steve Jobs, had waged a war on Android.

Last month, Apple published Apple Music for Android, putting Android users on par with iOS users when it comes to music. And Android's market share continues to grow.

My prediction: Apple will bring more apps to Android, including iTunes and Apple Movies.

microsoft loves linux
Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya
3: Microsoft

Microsoft loves Linux the same way whales love plankton. In the cloud, Microsoft needs Linux for it’s survival. And it will continue to play nice with Red Hat and Canonical and bring them to its cloud. But in the enterprise and consumer space, the company will continue to play Harvey Two Face.

On the enterprise side, Microsoft will open source software that either no one uses or is critical for developers. On the consumer side, it will keep its code proprietary and continue to sign patent deals with those vendors that offer Linux based products.

My prediction: Microsoft will acquire some Linux vendor so that it can offer its own Linux distribution to enterprise clients. I will leave it to you to guess who is the most attractive acquisition target for Microsoft.

ubuntu phone
Credit: Canonical/Ubuntu
4: Ubuntu Phones

The first Ubuntu smartphone hit the market in 2015.  But we haven’t seen any progress in the market -- despite the availability of repurposed Android phones. The market for Linux phones in general looks gloomy in 2016, as Mozilla has killed their Firefox OS and Jolla is also facing trouble.

My prediction: Canonical will put the brakes on its mobile plans, keep the desktop as a community project and increase focus on the enterprise space.

photoshop linux 1
Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya
5: Photoshop

As much as I love Linux, the only reason I use Mac OS X and Windows is image and audio/video editing. Linux doesn’t have any professional grade replacement for Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications. And Adobe hasn’t been a very good friend of Linux.

My prediction: Adobe won’t offer it’s Creative Cloud to Linux users.

mir ubuntu
Credit: Nick/Flickr
6: MIR

The birth of MIR, Canonical’s display server, was steeped in controversy. As a result, Wayland developers woke up and sped up development of the Xorg successor.

While Wayland has much wider support from Linux distros and desktop environments, MIR is a Canonical only project.

My prediction: Canonical will adopt Wayland and stop developing MIR. And Wayland will be shipped as the default display server by some major Linux distro.

chromecast
Credit: Google
7: Chromecast

This year Google launched Chromebook Audio, which turns regular speakers into smart speakers. Major electronics vendors like Sony and LG are baking Chromecast support into their hardware.

My prediction: Chromecast will become an industry standard like AirPlay.

chromebook
Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya
8: Chrome OS

In 2015 Chrome OS continued to gain market share; it was literally eating Microsoft’s lunch and dinner. Amid the marketshare gains, rumors circulated that Google would merge Chrome OS and Android -- although Google refuted those rumors.

At the same time, Chrome users were anxiously waiting for Android developers to port their apps to Chrome. Last week, VLC made its popular media player available for Chrome OS. "In a blog post, VideoLAN president Jean-Baptiste Kempf revealed that the program is essentially a port of VLC’s Android version, using the App Runtime for Chrome tools that Google released in beta earlier this year," writes PCWorld's Jared Newman.  This may trigger the much needed revolution and encourage Android developers to port their apps to Chrome OS.

My prediction: Chrome OS will continue to gain market share in 2016 as it continues to make inroads in businesses, education and the consumer space. At the same time, Google will work towards bringing Chrome OS and Android closer to each other, and more Android apps will be available for Chrome OS. We may also see a $500, high-end Chromebook, similar to Pixel C.

android pixel c
Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya
9: Android

In 2015, Google built its very first Android tablet, Pixel C. The tablet aspires to compete with Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Apple’s iPad Pro. But to make the leap, Android needs more desktop-like capabilities.

My prediction: Google will get serious about making Android a player in the desktop space and the upcoming releases of Android will have more desktop-like features.

linux
Credit: Swapnil Bhartiya
10: Linux Stagnation

Despite the new Plasma 5,  improved Gnome and elementary OS, Linux distros have reached stagnation. New distros try new UIs, but in terms of what you can do on Linux, desktop Linux remains where it was a year ago.

My prediction: As our computing is moving to the cloud and ‘software as service,’ more Linux users will switch to Chrome OS and Android as their primary system.

amazon prime
Credit: Amazon
11: Amazon Prime

Amazon made a lot of users upset when they banned Google’s Chromecast and Apple TV from their online store. The company said it will sell only those players that work well with Amazon Prime. The irony is that both Apple TV and Android-based devices like Chromecast are open to developers and Amazon can easily publish the Prime app for these platforms.

My prediction: Amazon will offer Amazon Prime app for Apple TV and Android-based devices.