Open Ballot: What will Linux look like in 10 years?


It's crystal ball time as we get prepared for the next TuxRadar podcast. We want you to tell us: how do you think Linux will look like, one decade from now? We don't mean in a cosmetic sense (although you're free to comment on that if you want). But rather, what sort of OS will it be, and how will most people be using it? For instance, you might predict that the desktop wars will die out and most users will be running little more than a browser on the kernel. Maybe via Android it'll morph into a free alternative to iOS.

Whatever the case, and no mater how ker-azy your ideas, let us know in the comments below and we'll read out the best in our podcast. Extra points will be awarded to those who fit MikeOS into their visions of the future.

You should follow us on or Twitter

Your comments

It would not change much

Given the last 10 years of development, I do not think the core structure or routines should change much.

Framebuffers could probably get a bit easier to manage, given how much Novell/SuSE, Fedora and Ubuntu seem to prefer framebuffer support early in boot.

I do believe that someone may fix a GUI config, that should be more useful than menuconfig.

Also the code should more then double in size, and support more devices.

I also should wager that it expand on it's microkernel-like features.
Perhaps even supporting drivers entirely as kernel-space daemons, though there are political reasons not to go that path.

And lastly I predict driver-rot, specifically drivers for devices no longer commonly used because of age, might rot as a result of a need to change the code, but no longer being able to properly test the changes.
I can, as an example, point to the SoundBlaster-compatible driver in ALSA not working with some older SoundBlaster-compatibles, while the OSS driver does.

It won't be known as Linux

Google showed the way already: they made up a new user interface and called it Android and millions of users are very happy with it. Apple showed the way also: their base is BSD not Linux, but it's still a Unix fork; and they called it OSX; and Leopard and Lion etc. The reason is that Microsoft have put fantastic pressure on the computer industry and the media to talk down Linux; they have made Linux a bad name in the minds of the public.

Knowing that, Google chose to use Linux but just called it by another name. Thus, in the future, others will do the same; they will develop a usable desktop that runs on an unmentioned Linux base and software developers will write their programmes to suit. Windows X anyone?

Technology Specialist in S. UT

Yet more distos and more diversity, From bigger and more powerful robust VM Cluster distros to micro embedded versions with custom kernels to control lighting, temperature, alarm systems etc, Linux will own everything really big and really small and while Desktop importance will have dropped tremendously They will still be as prevalent, because Desktops will be used to login via VNC like technologies over the Internet to a VM running on your own smart-phone. That will be becoming the norm for Desktop use. There still will NEVER have been the awaited "Year of the Linux Desktop" but will be the continued gradual adoption it has always been and because of the increased numbers of users few companies will ignore it and those that didn't figure it out will have suffered financially with the early adopters gaining the advantage in this steadily growing market. There will be new and amazing features to every OS and Steve Jobs foresight to totally re-write Mac OS as a POSIX compliant OS and build a smart-phone will Apples salvation in the times ahead. Microsoft will still be selling OSes because of their lingering fame. However the OS and native software will be less relevant than the Web-Based applications and remote systems access. Nearly every device will have a full time high speed Internet connection and device interconnectivity will be enmeshed.

GUI set to change

Linux has come a long way in the last 10 years, and in another 10 years it will be competing with Mac OS X to be the most popular desktop operating system. (MS Windows will still be losing popularity).
The GUI is likely to see bigger changes than the underlying OS, though that will also improve continuously.
Gnome 3, though better than Unity (IMHO), is still for today and more vision is needed for the future of the user interface.
On high end versions of Linux, there could be a 3D and voice operated experience, making the user feel part of the system and able to operate most applications by using voice controls, which will also help accessibility for disabled users, and very easy for new users to adopt.
(Because Linux offers so much choice, there will still be popular versions to support lower end systems).
Rolling releases would be preferable to having to upgrade the whole system every few months.
Linux will be taught and used in schools and across a multitude of other institutions. In particular, there will be a much larger uptake by Industry and Commerce.
The OS might need more in-built ability to repair itself in the event of a problem, even though it's already pretty good, to reduce the need for large numbers of highly qualified support staff, though many of current IT support staff will have retrained to support Linux platforms by then.
It may take a little longer than 10 years, but probably not much.

The ever evolving Penguin

I got my first taste of Unix and X in 1994 when I was a CS major at WKU. Four years later, I got my first Debian desktop. When I think to the future, I also look to the past as to what has changed and what is still the same. Although computing power grew in various leaps and several lulls, but through it all our basic computing experience has not changed much at all. Even as we see more and more tablets and smartphones they are still not able to replace the desktop. Just as WebTV, MS Media Center and MythTV were supposed to integrate our entire existence into one package, the tablet market is going to fall short of being able to truly replace the good old computer.

I expect to see fewer Linux/GNU distributions. I truly believe Ubuntu has grown and matured to a point of sinking most of the other distro's out there. Just looking thru the numbers on, it's not hard to see that most users are going with the Debian based distro's.

I think the thing that will hit me the hardest is if KDE is killed because of Qt. I have never been a fan of Gnome and for me the ability to customize KDE is one of it's greatest strengths. but that being said, MS now owning Qt, I see it as a matter of time before they shut it down, which will require KDE to be re-written from scratch or abandoned.

My forecast is...

I believe that there are two major probabilities that could happen to Linux within the next 10 years: either it will grow exponentially in popularity on the desktop, or it will grow slowly-but-surely. In either case, it will be much more popular then, than it is now.

If it spikes and goes exponential, I think it will achieve second place in popularity and then rival first place pretty closely, but not quite take the lead because of vendor lock in, back room deals, public misinformation, and whatever other dirty stuff Microsoft etc. can come up with. Within ten years, I expect to see Linux at an "official" adoption rate of about 15-20% if this is the case. Ubuntu will probably have the lead in user numbers, but be on the decline, with one or two other distros slowly taking them down. Or, it will have suicided and been replaced by some other distro, probably Mint based on Debian.

If it is a slow and steady increase, we'll see it "officially" reach probably 5-7% market share, and it will be much better known to the average Joe, but not necessarily in a positive light thanks to the commercial options companies' marketing, and the general lack of marketing from Linux. The numbers will be rising and inevitably so, however.

One serious possibility is that China wholeheartedly embraces Linux, and other governments begin following suit in an effort to keep at least an equal security perimeter for themselves. If this happens, the average Chinese will be more likely to use Linux, but Windows will probably still be the dominant OS in China for a long time because of the memes of the people. However, the other countries using Linux will be dealing with different populational memes, and some of them will have people begin seriously using Linux in larger numbers, both at work and at home on the desktop. If this scenario plays out, Linux will be quite dominant in 10 to 20 years as a desktop operating system, if such a thing even still exists.

Gnome may die, but most likely will transform itself into something nobody wants to use at least once more, while KDE will be losing popularity because its programmers have so confused everyone by calling it something different every week that nobody knows what the heck it is anymore, and it's ultra-huge and takes 60 gigabytes of disk space and 12 gigs of RAM to run. This will force the Linux users to switch to other DEs and at least two others, probably three, will be rapidly on the rise popularity wise.

In general, I think Linux is going to be more well recognized in general, in business, and in schools, and there will be a serious demand for training in Linux, as well as things like high end games. A major gaming company will arise and actually survive , being a smaller, but still viable competitor in the gaming market, and it will ride a growing wave of success because Linux is so much more efficient in general for high end FPS type games.

Most of the world will still be using proprietary software for things like office work, but not by much; I think about 40% of the software market for "killer apps" like office suites will be Open Source by then.

Microsoft should suffer a major defeat of some sort around 2017, and this will give Linux a major boost. Windows will take a major hit for its user base, and will be bleeding users for a long, slow, painful - but inevitable - death sometime in the decade thereafter.

unfortunate end

it will unfortunately pass into oblivion as a generation raised on phones and tablets shuns interfaces that require mice or even keyboards. As much as the Unity interface is derided something like it with the addition of voice recognition will be the only future of Linux. desktop distro's built for older hardware will become the hobby of a few small groups of die hards; this is a shame IMHO as i fell much good usable hardware will go to waste. I curently run Ubuntu 12.04 on a Dell dimension 4700 and use XBMC 11.10 all of these work beautifully and with Splashtop2 I can use my tablet to control the PC; something like this is the future of linux. i have an old athlon XP 2800 laptop running Puppy Linux; little distro's like it will be the last refuge of scavengers like myself that try to use old harware as long as possible.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Username:   Password: