Open Source in 2007 : Complete Coverage

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[Guest post by Raseel Bhagat, die-hard Open source enthusiast and is the brain behind opensourcedeal.com, an initiative to make oss easily available in India.]

There have been so many things going on in the Open Source world that I’m almost feeling guilty that I am unable to cover everything. But nonetheless, I will do my best to highlight some of the main events .

Since I have been working on Linux for more than 3 years now, I will update you mostly with Linux related stuff. To do justice to all the events in 2007, I will categorize the information and give links instead of going into the details of each event so that the interested reader can follow as per his wish (this , in true-blue open source style in giving complete choice to the end user :-D)

ubuntu

Kernel :

  • In January , the core of the GNU/Linux operating system, the Linux kernel, saw a new release , viz., 2.6.20. The special thing about this release was that the KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) code was added, acknowledging the omnipotence of Virtualization technology.
  • Microsoft claimed that Linux violated 235 of its patents and that it might sue the developers and might even think of extracting royalties. But this was soon put aside as baseless, after the top honchos of the Open Source world dared Microsoft to point out the exact code which violates the patents. After a complete radio-silence from Steve Ballmer, the whole issue was forgotten.

Microsoft Controversy :

  • Further controversy from Microsoft as it made “compatibility” deals with Novell ,Xandros and others , declaring the users of these Oses will not be subject to any patent violations.
  • The open source community reacted by condemning Novell for this blasphemous act.
  • The fight between the ODF and Microsoft’s OOXML still continues as many nations and states completely ban OOXML over ODF.

GPL :

  • In terms of contoversy, the GPLv3 , which was the subject of many a flame-wars on the Linux mailing lists, was released.
  • Again, this turned out to be much ado about nothing as most of the major software vendors stuck with GPLv2.
  • One of the significant players in open source , Samba, announced that they will release Samba 4, under GPLv3.
  • Linus Torvalds admitted that the GPLv3 “was not all that bad”, albiet the fact that he still thinks GPLv2 is better than any other license in the world. Typical, I say.

Distributions :

  • Ubuntu released 7.04 and 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon with a great support for wireless cards. Ubuntu is slowly becoming the preferred Linux Desktop and was giving a tough competetion to Fedora.
  • Fedora however responded back with its new Fedora 8 version with lots of eye candy and great Desktop experience.
  • Mandriva 2008 was touted as Mandriva’s best release yet and all-in-all a great Desktop solution.
  • OpenSuse , the last of the Big Distros , also made its 10.3 release, determined not to be left out of the race.

Desktop Environments :

  • The batten continues between the two market leaders, GNOME and KDE.
  • GNOME’s latest stable version, 2.20 , has a lot of bug fixes and there’s more to come in 2.22.
  • KDE, with its latest stable version , 3.5.8 , are more in the news for their KDE 4.0 release. The new Plasma look seems quite mature and classy.

Window Mangers :

  • Compiz and Beryl , two Open Source 3-D Desktop Window managers, merged together to form Compiz-fusion.
  • What Compiz-fusion has achieved with community development and distributed free to cost, Microsoft spent over 5 years, about 6 billion dollars in development , charged people hundereds of dollars for it and called it Vista.

Browser :

  • Firefox still remains the leader in open source browsers.
  • With Firefox 3 due to be released soon, the Mozilla guys are touring the world to spread Firefox. ( I am already using Firefox 3 Beta and it Rocks !!! )
  • Firefox also has started new developemnts for its smaller version browser, named Minimo, for Mobile Devices.
  • Flock is a browser based on the Mozilla engine but customized for the Web 2.0 world. It’s design aim is to have a browser fully compatible with for all the Web 2.0 enabled websites.

Mobile Internet Devices :

The Embedded market is embracing open source, and Linux in particular, like never before.

Laptops :

  • This has been one of the best years for Linux on Laptops, with the support ever-increasing.
  • The Dell laptop’s with Ubuntu pre-installed are selling hot cakes. This shows the penetration on Linux in the Desktop market.

Mobile Phone :

  • Motorola’s A1200 (Ming), and the Rokr-E2 are both Linux based smart-phones.
  • There is a huge collection on software, developed by community hackers for Motorola’s A780
  • OpenMoko , touted as the iphone-Killer, is a open standard based smart-phone by FIC.
  • A group of companies formed the LiMo Foundations, aimed at creating the first open, hardware-independant development of Linux as an OS on Mobile devices.
  • Linux’s omnipotence in the embedded market was further obvious, with Google’s new Android platform.

It has been quite an eventful year for the open source community. However, as we bade goodbye to 2007, the stalwarts of the indutry promise us that 2008 is going to be Linux’s year with an ever deeper penetration into Desktop, Enterprise, Server, Embedded, Web 2.0 and Virtualization markets.

  • 2.6 Kernel with KVM , MS claims
  • Gnome 2.4 and KDE 4.0 Plasma Beta
  • Compiz Fusion, Enlightment
  • Firefox, Flock, Minimo
  • Mandriva 2008, Ubuntu 7.10 and Fedora 7,8
  • OLPC, ASUS eeePC, Nokia N81, Dell
  • Motorola Ming, OpenMoko, LiMo, Android
  • FOSS.in/2007
  • Novell, Xandros, Microsoft deal
  • GPLv3

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