Without a doubt, the progress Linux vendors made integrating open source solutions into platforms such as automotive computers, Android-based mobile devices and Chromebooks, all of which the Linux Foundation highlighted, were very notable. They represent key areas in which Linux is likely to enjoy continued momentum going into 2012.
Linux in the CloudI was surprised, however, that the Linux Foundation paid such relatively little heed to the success of Linux and other open source technologies in the cloud over the last year. With the establishment of the OpenStack Foundation and the maturation of Big Data platforms including Hadoop and Ceph, open source has seemingly cemented its toehold in the cloud market.
Perhaps this news didn't make the Linux Foundation's list because it doesn't exactly involve Linux specifically. These technologies are open source, but they're not based on the Linux kernel. Still, their prevalence in enterprise cloud infrastructures means Linux, too, will continue to remain highly relevant in these environments, since it's so tightly integrated with platforms such as OpenStack and Hadoop.
Desktop Linux in Developing MarketsAnother important item the video did not note is the explosion in the last year of sales of computers with desktop Linux preinstalled. Sound like something you missed? If so, it's probably because you live in a developed market, where commercial opportunities for Linux OEMs remain limited to small niches. But in countries such as China and India, where Dell and Canonical have placed Ubuntu PCs front and center in retail displays, the story has been very different.
In other words, novel developments such as Dell's Project Sputnik, which released a high-end Ubuntu-based laptop earlier this month, might be a big deal in the United States and Europe, where no other OEM of Dell's stature offers Linux-based PCs. In developing markets in which proprietary software is less entrenched, however, the commercialization of desktop Linux has been one of the most remarkable developments of 2012 in the open source channel.
So, will 2013 be the mythical Year of the Linux Desktop? In the world as a whole, certainly not. But in developing markets, at least, desktop Linux just may be taking off in unexpected ways.