Open source in 2020: the future looks bright

Jack Wallen offers his annual predictions about what 2020 has in store for open source.

Image: Getty Images / iStockphoto

Mirror Mirror on the wall.

Wait; wrong glass.

Crystal, crystal on my table, predict for me if you are capable.

Much better.

This time it’s all about open source. It is the year 2020. The future looks bright and my shades are prepared and ready. Shall we predict?

SEE: 2020 IT budget research report: security, cloud services and digitization are top budget priorities (TechRepublic Premium)

1. Deepin Linux will change the open source landscape

It is not often that I predict that one Linux distribution might change the landscape of open source, but everything I have seen and heard about the upcoming release for Deepin Linux makes me think that this could be the solution. The developers of Deepin 15.11 are planning to release a feature that could shift the tectonic plates of Linux distributions. That function is Deepin Cloud Sync.

This function synchronizes system settings – optionally – with the cloud. For example, you can install another copy of the operating system, connect it to your Deepin Cloud Sync account, and have that new copy of the operating system synchronize your settings automatically. Imagine how much time that would save for the deployment of multiple desktop instances. Link that to how beautiful the Deepin desktop is and you have something special.

Deepin Linux will attract attention and many users will leave the ship of their favorite distribution.

SEE: Top five open source Linux server distributions (TechRepublic Premium)

2. Pre-installed Linux machines will excel

This has been in the making for a long time. It is a slow-burning, slow blow that will help Linux increase market share – perhaps reaching double digits for the first time. What is this remarkable moment? I believe that more OEMs will start selling machines with Linux pre-installed.

We already have System76, Dell, Pine64, Lenovo, ThinkPenguin, Star LabTop and more, and by the end of 2020, I predict that we will not only see an increase in smaller OEMs (mostly rebranding Clevo hardware) with pre-installed Linux, but also some larger OEMs. I expect Acer, HP and ASUS to compete, so by the end of 2020, don’t be surprised if every desktop and laptop manufacturer in the world offers a Linux version of some of its hardware.

3. Open source will dominate his enterprise

Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of enterprise activities that don’t dominate open source – it’s everywhere. It’s in the cloud, containers, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing – you name it – and open source leads that charge. If there is one more area that Linux still needs to conquer in the company domain, then it is the desktop, but be prepared that this will change – on a small scale – towards the end of 2020.

The cause will be safety. I predict a new increase in Windows ransomware attacks, which causes some companies to look for a more reliable alternative: Linux. Companies that realize how much depends on open source workflow and business results can also drive this shift. I realize that most of us have been saying this for years, but 2020 could see a perfect storm bringing the change we had hoped for.

SEE: Predicting 2020 trends in DesignOps, AppDev, AI, IoT and 5G (TechRepublic)

4. Docker bounces back

I’m not talking about Docker’s company (although I have crossed my fingers it will get a solid foundation this year). I am talking about docker the engine that launched the popularity of the container as it is today. 2019 was not friendly to docker – Kubernetes became the container orchestrator of choice – but I believe there will be developments with the docker engine that will bring it into line with Kubernetes.

These developments may include more powerful, user-friendly docker swarm tools or a new client tool to make orchestrating docker clusters easy. Ultimately, the management of the docker will lead to the return of the docker. As Kubernetes becomes more powerful, it also becomes more complicated. If docker can regain simplicity – while retaining its strength and flexibility – it will regain a much needed market share.

SEE: What is Kubernetes? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

5. Open source automation is getting scary

This prediction comes from the fiction writing side of my brain. You have been warned.

Thanks to the drive for more efficient CI / CD pipelines, we have witnessed an increase in impressive automation. With the help of Helm, Terraform and other Kubernetes-centric tools we can create systems that update themselves, test code and refuse to promote it to production (if there is a problem), and much more.

In 2020, open source automation will come close to the realm of fiction, with systems that ‘think’ for themselves, and for the first time we will experience a system that optimizes itself based on experience (from AI) and prediction. The big questions are: how far do these systems go with the tasks, and can we close them if they pass an unknown event horizon? You could mock the idea, but the more you look through the rabbit hole of CI / CD, the more likely it becomes.

SEE: Forrester: The 5 IoT predictions pave the way for 2020 (TechRepublic)

6. NVIDIA will unveil its big Linux surprise

NVIDIA has announced that it will have a big surprise for Linux in 2020. Those outside the open source loop may not understand how big this might be, but I believe NVIDIA is planning to do one of two things: the Nouveau drivers or open source are official NVIDIA drivers. Why? I think NVIDIA sees writing on the wall, and getting on board with Linux is the only way forward.

This will be a huge win for Linux for two reasons: the Nouveau driver has never been so great to play; If NVIDIA contributed to the Nouveau drivers or opened its official drivers, this could be a blessing for gaming on the Linux desktops and cause an increase in Linux’s popularity. Gamers would love a platform that is more reliable and secure than Windows. Give them the option, and we’ll see that Linux not only crashes through that double-digit market share, but maybe catches up with macOS for that coveted second place.

Happy New Year

Thank you in person for continuing to read my words and supporting open source software and TechRepublic. I hope you have a productive, excellent and joyful year.

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