A look ahead at 2017

7 Linux predictions for 2017

I see changes for the Linux desktop market, Canonical shifting its focus, changes for Ubuntu installation, a new Linux-based phone OS and more

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What the Linux world can expect in 2017

Last year I made a set of predictions of events that I thought would happen in the tech world (focused primarily on Linux and free software). I was mostly right. This has emboldened me to make another set of predictions for 2017. I have no inside knowledge on any of these—I am basing this entirely on the twin scientific principles of star maths and wishy thinking.

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Linux desktop market share will increase to 3%

As 2016 comes to a close, Linux (desktop Linux, that is) market share is hovering just a hair over 2 percent. All by itself, it’s nothing to sneeze at. By the end of 2017, I expect that number to rise to 3 percent.

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Canonical will change focus—again

In 2016, I predicted Canonical would slowly stop focusing on phones. That seems to have happened, as they have shifted their focus onto enterprise functionality. I made this prediction based purely on one thing: They shift focus a lot. In 2017, I think they will pivot to focus on something different again. What? I have no idea. Just call it a hunch. If I’m wrong, my Canonical/Ubuntu friends can spend all of 2018 telling me how stupid I am.

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Ubuntu will begin requiring an account to install software

This is a pretty tame prediction really. Canonical already requires creating (and using) an account to install or update software on phone or tablets. With their migration away from the existing package management tools, I would expect them to use the same functionality on desktop and server installations as well. If it doesn’t happen in 2017, it’ll happen the year after. But I expect it near the end of 2017—probably with Ubuntu 17.10. It just seems likely.

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New Linux-based phone OS will debut, fail to gain traction

One of the few predictions I made for 2016 that did not happen was that a new, Linux-based phone OS would appear and make some waves. That didn’t happen. You know what they say: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Wait. Or was it, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it?” Ah, well, either way I’m making the same prediction again. But this time I’m guessing it’ll fail (utterly) to gain any real traction.

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Steam Machines will be pulled off the market

Valve’s SteamOS-powered Steam Machines is a PC/console hybrid that was set to bring about the golden age of Linux gaming. That hasn’t really happened, as they seem to have failed to sell all that well. In 2017, they’ll be pulled off the market entirely.

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Google will launch yet another messaging platform

How many instant messaging platforms does Google own? Google Talk, Hangouts, Allo. They just keep making new ones. Well, in 2017, they’ll do it again. A new messaging platform. From Google. Because you don’t have enough already.

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Microsoft will continue to play both sides of the Linux coin

Microsoft’s relationship with Linux is … tricky. On the one hand, Microsoft has been historically hostile towards free software (and Linux, in particular)—even issuing threats to Linux companies to pay Microsoft in order to avoid patent lawsuits. On the flip side, they also do a lot of work with various Linux companies, support Linux in their cloud, and have even joined the Linux Foundation. In 2017, I expect this strange relationship to continue. There will be much confusion and gnashing of teeth.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.