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10 Linux predictions for 2003

Plus, a scorecard of Joe Barr's 2002 predictions.

(LinuxWorld) — It's that time of year again. Luckily, playing the fool is not a new game for me so making predictions about the future isn't that bad. As has now become traditional, let's start with a look back at 2002 to see how I did. Or should I say, how I can best distance myself from some of those picks.

First, the good news. I am in the running for DPY (Densest Prognosticator of the Year) for 2002. My nomination came as the direct result of misreading my crystal ball and opining that the MS "settlement" would be thrown out. I guess I should have known it would be justice that would be set aside, not the "settlement."

As far as my prognostication about a three-letter intelligence agency suffering a public and catastrophic loss because of using Windows software, I can't reveal any details of it here lest I be forced to kill you. It's safer for us all if I simply deny ever having predicted such a thing.

As for the rest, well, in a couple of cases I could have been a contender. If only there wasn't this built-in statute of limitations with annual predictions. In my 2001 predictions, for example, I said that survival of the HP/Bruce Perens merger was a 50-50 deal. They split this year, one year too late to count.

I also predicted that Tech TV would begin showing a Linux program. This one came so close to being right that I could just spit. I was interviewed about this prediction on a radio show last January. A petition to Tech TV was started to get them to do a regular Linux show. In fact, Chris DiBona of OSDN has become a regular guest on TechTV, appearing once or twice a month to talk Linux. That's about as close as you can get to the brass ring without actually grabbing it.

Another prediction was that at least one major OEM would start offering Linux on its desktop boxes. Wal-Mart is selling Linux PCs, but not from tier-one firms. Sorry, close but no cigar. A recent story in India's Financial Express (see resources for the link) suggests that IBM will soon start doing exactly that. This could be another one that just doesn't occur in the allotted time.

I did better on a couple of others. I predicted the Linux desktop would begin to appear in public places, and that has certainly happened all around the globe. Microsoft may go broke trying to stamp out the Linux revolution with its bribes in South America, India, and wherever else it can. I also said an AOL client for Linux would show up. There were rumors of a beta floating around, but I saw nothing but the smoke. Grumble, grumble. Just wait 'til next year!

One I did very well on was in Red Hat leading the "ragtag band of open source survivors" into the land of the black bottom line. It's official. Red Hat's financials (produced with GAAP, not Enronesque trickery) show a profit for the 3rd quarter 2002.

Saying goodbye to 2002 is not without a little sadness. The thing that pains me most about leaving 2002 is that I also have to leave behind my very special little friend Princess Angel Hair Pasta, a rescue kitten whose heart gave out. Princess was born with both heart and lung problems, and wasn't expected to live more than six months. Nevertheless, her condition never kept her from spreading joy. She was quite a fighter, living three times longer than expected. Rest in peace, Princess. You won't be forgotten anytime soon.

Now let's look ahead to 2003

  1. Mandrake will merge with another firm looking for a way to stay alive. Users can help keep the company afloat for only so long. Maybe it will cut expenses by joining United Linux. Maybe it will get together with its Latin language sister firm Connectiva. Or maybe Microsoft will step forward with a smile to offer the struggling distribution much needed cash in order to get in the game.
  2. Matthew Szulik and Red Hat will split the blanket. The reason will be opposing views on how to be true to the spirit of Linux and still make a profit. That conflict -- if not resolved -- could prove disastrous.
  3. The pace of Linux adoption by governmental/educational entities around the world will continue to increase. Even in the United States, where politicos are traded on the commodities market.
  4. Microsoft will release a Linux version of Microsoft Office, but it always trail the current Windows version by at least one release. The Redmond monopoly will do this even as it continues to prowl around the edges of the community, looking for some way to gain leverage with developers to control the future of Linux. Of course, if it ends up with a share of Mandrake, it could make MS Office run only on that distribution and have instant monopoly leverage.
  5. At least one state will pass legislation making the Business Software Alliance's campaign of terror and extortion on behalf of Microsoft and others illegal. Too bad we are a "civilized" nation. I think piñata justice is called for in this case.
  6. A Loki-like replacement will appear on the scene to bring top-flight games to the growing population of Linux desktops once more. By year's end, Linux users will no longer be treated as second-rate by the gaming community.
  7. Adobe will announce plans to port PhotoShop to Linux. Adobe will find it tough gaining traction with the Linux crowd, however, because of their involvement in the arrest and prosecution of Dmitri Sklyarov under the much-hated DMCA.
  8. Linus Torvalds will "retire" from Transmeta and not immediately seek new employment. Instead, he will spend more time with his family, and of course in caring for the kernel.
  9. Bill Gates will admit publicly that not only has he been a closet Linux user for years, he will admit it is better/stronger/faster than Windows. He will also confess that he never has told the truth when speaking in an official capacity for Microsoft, and plead for forgiveness because of childhood hardships.
  10. The revolution will continue apace. For the third year in a row, I close with this prediction, just to make sure I get at least one out of ten correct. No matter how dopey or off the mark any of my previous nine shots in the dark turn out to be, Linux and the free/open source revolution will continue to gain users and support around the globe.

There it is. A whole year's worth of silliness rolled into one column. I'll close by wishing all of you, whether Linux user or still a wannabe, a safe, happy, and prosperous 2003.

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

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