Image: Jack Wallen

I’m on a roll. I’ve made predictions for Android and Mobility. Why stop there! Let’s turn the focus to one of my favorite topics (one which I have covered for almost twenty years now).

Open source.

2015 was a fairly important year for open source technology. There was no doubting that Linux had made major inroads into enterprise computing. Android and Chrome OS continued their dominance, and plenty of other open source projects were gaining serious ground.

But what’s in store for 2016? Will the growth continue? Let’s gaze into that magic globe and see what there is to see.

The rise of the alternative distribution

2015 saw a proliferation of alternative desktop distributions. What you saw then will pale in comparison to what is coming. Distributions such as Elementary OS Freya, CloudReady, and Solus Project will wind up at the top of the heap…even possibly displacing the likes of Ubuntu and Linux Mint as the top dogs.

Why will this happen? As Ubuntu continues struggling with Touch, and Mint retains its old-school look, users are going to want something more efficient to use, with a flair for modern, more mobile-centric look and feel. Elementary, CloudReady, and Solus already bring that to the table…and do it really well.

SUSE will win over US enterprise

The European market is already enamoured of SUSE…as well they should be. The challenge for the German company has always been the American market. Thanks to their work with big data, SUSE will see a serious upswing in usage from the States. Part of this will be helped out by SUSE bringing openSUSE Leap to life. This open source version of SUSE Linux Enterprise will make it far easier for US enterprise companies to test out the product and see what the best of the best has to offer.

Ubuntu will scrap the Ubuntu Phone

Understand this…I wanted to love the Ubuntu Phone. I was ready to toss Android to the side and adopt what I assumed was going to be the greatest mobile interface on the planet. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. After working with the Bq Ubuntu Phone for months (desperately trying to find something to make me want to keep it) I realized there was no way. Not only was the device ridiculously slow, the interface was unintuitive, and the apps were, as you might have guessed, not there. I predict, by the end of 2016, Canonical will finally scrap the Ubuntu Phone (due to lack of interest from major carriers and continued difficulties getting Unity 8/Mir launched).

Desktop adoption…finally (sort of)

Okay, don’t scoff at me yet. I’m not going to make the claim that world domination will finally happen for Linux on the desktop. What I am going to say is that Linux desktop adoption will see a significant increase in 2016. The cause? Continued dissatisfaction in the Windows platform by users and the proliferation of Chrome OS-like distributions ready for non-chromebook hardware. I believe adoption will be further fueled by the rise in popularity of alternative distributions that aren’t locking horns with the past or with a future that they cannot seem to grasp.

But more importantly, the growth in Linux desktop adoption will be aided by the spread of information. More and more people are becoming aware that alternatives do, in fact, exist and those alternatives are actually more cost-effective and reliable. And with the continued adoption of Chromebooks, the average user now knows what it truly needs to get their work done…a browser and a reliable platform with which to use it.

LibreOffice will finally reach the clouds

This is inevitable. If LibreOffice is to compete, really compete, with the competition, they are going to have to bring their product to the cloud. 2016 will finally see the beginnings of this. I don’t believe they will come out with anything remotely resembling a finished product, but the workings were already in place when Collabora (one of the major contributors to LibreOffice development) announced a partnership with IceWarp. The plan was to have something delivered by end of 2015. That didn’t happen (at least not in any form ready for the public). You can, however, request a demo of the product (I’ve tried the demo. It’s not a demo…and it has a very, very long way to go before it’s ready to be viewed by consumers). I do believe, however, they will make this happen by the end of 2016. If not…LibreOffice will continue to fall behind the competition.

Mobile will give rise…

There is no going back from the continued dominance of mobile technologies. People now live and die by their smartphones. Because of this, sites must evolve or suffer some major consequences. This is where open source will discover even more growth. With site solutions like Magento, WordPress, and Drupal (all mobile friendly), 2016 will see even more domination by open source projects. This effect will trickle down from enterprise into mid- to small-sized businesses as they need a much more agile, mobile-friendly approach to their web presence.

2016 is going to be a banner year for open source. From servers to mobile and back again, the world will be seeing much more of Linux and open source. Will any (or all) of these speculations come true? Only time will tell.

What are your predictions for open source in 2016?

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Another gaze into the crystal ball..this time, open source