First my FOSS predictions for 2015: cloud, systemd, vulnerabilities, containers, and Linus uses the “F” word.
Let’s forget predictions; they’re boring. They’re either too obvious or they’re not likely to happen. So is my wish list, with two major exceptions. First, wishes are much more subjective, making them much more fun for the wisher. Second, when predictions don’t happen, they’re wrong. When I wish for things and they don’t happen, they’re still things I wish for, so they’re not wrong, they’re just not happening. Caution must be exercised, however. Remember the old proverb ascribed to the Chinese about the possibility of wishes coming true…
Oh, one last thing about how I wish. Sometimes I wish in very great detail. My friends who believe in magic tell me this is good, that it will help bring my wishes to fruition. Time will tell. Stay tuned…
- Dell and Linux Mint form partnership
Actually, in this wish, it could be any of the major OEMs, but Dell would be the most likely candidate. Also, the distro wouldn’t absolutely have to be Mint, any distro would do. I just think Mint would be a good choice to put before a general public composed mostly of (blush) Linux virgins.
The way I dream it up, Dell and Mint team up to create a special LTS edition called “Dell Mint,” or some such nonsense, which has been polished and configured to work seamlessly with all Dell hardware choices. Although this edition will be offered as a download alongside the other Mint versions, the focus of this distro will be on preinstallation and will be offered on all Dell desktops and laptops alongside Brand X from Redmond.
In this partnership, Dell will pay Clement Lefebvre and his crew both to develop a bug free and polished initial product, as well as for continued development. Dell will use the OS to get a leg-up on the competition, marketing Dell Mint as a great improvement over “old fashioned vanilla” Windows (that would be the Brand X I was speaking about). Indeed, visitors to the Dell website will see that the old “We recommend Windows 666” stickers have been replaced with stickers reading “We recommend Dell Mint,” with a question mark, further info link offering the following explanation:
“When you order a computer with Dell Mint, not only are you getting a superior operating system which has been specifically matched for peak performance on all quality Dell computers, you’ll receive added value as well. Unlike our Windows products, all Dell Mint computers come with all of the software you’re likely to need at no extra cost. And in case you need software that’s not installed, each Dell Mint computer can connect to the free Dell Software Center so you can download and install additional software, completely free of charge. As an added bonus, each and every Dell Mint computer comes with free telephone technical support for 30 days for all the software installed.”
In order to reduce confusion from customers who aren’t used to choice, only one desktop environment, either Cinnamon or Xfce, will be preinstalled. For the same reason, preinstalled software will be limited by function — only one office suite, one financial planner, only one DVD player, etc. To help mitigate the technical support costs, each Dell Mint computer will include a well laid out owner’s manual which will give step-by-step instructions on using all preinstalled software. This would include, of course, instructions on how to use “Dellnaptic” and the “Dell Mint Update Manager.”
- Linux Mobile Devices widely available
By Linux I don’t mean Android, which is about as much like Linux as is Windows. Well, it doesn’t crash or hang as much, but you catch my drift…
I know that there are several Linux mobile OS’s available for download if I want to jailbreak and install myself, but to tell the truth, I don’t really have enough interest in mobile devices to bother.
I live in a house that has no smartphones (I’m not interested in one of those whatsoever — my feature phone will do fine, thank you very much) and one tablet, a second generation Nexus 7 belonging to my roommate — which I don’t care for much. My roommate, who doesn’t really like full fledged computers, loves the thing. Since she got it for Christmas 2013, she’s pretty much abandoned her Windows laptop and uses it pretty much exclusively. Of course, her computer use is pretty much confined to playing on Facebook and searching Google in attempts to self-diagnose her aches and pains, so the tablet is a good fit.
I don’t like Android, in spite of its Linux core, because it feels more locked in than Windows, or even Apple. If I could run down to the Best Buy, or whatever, and pick up a phone running Ubuntu, or better yet, some other distro — you know, something that doesn’t try to hide the operating system from me and which isn’t constantly trying to sell me stuff — I’d probably get myself a tablet in a heartbeat, just to have. But as long as my choices are Android and the iPhone, I’m not interested.
- TaxACT for Linux
Actually, it doesn’t have to be TaxACT; it could also be TaxCut, as a last resort TurboTax, or any other proprietary tax preparation software.
Yikes! Did I really say I wanted proprietary software to run on Linux? Well, I know this is certain to tick a few of you off, but I think tax preparation software is an excellent example of a class of software that needs to be proprietary, at least for the foreseeable future. Although there’s Open-source Tax Solver (OTS) which might be acceptable for simple returns or for those with more than a layperson’s knowledge of tax codes, it doesn’t suit the needs of those of us who need a little guidance and hand holding as we sweat to put a smile on Uncle Sam’s face. Maybe some day it will, but not yet.
It all has to do with legal and financial accountability. Tax software deals with issues that are both legal and financial. Also, the fact that tax software comes with a guarantee to cover all fees and penalties resulting from shortcomings in the software is important to users.
Tax software is expensive to produce and maintain. Lawyers have to be involved year round, and as a team they have to keep up to date on not only federal tax laws, but with tax regulations in each of the states and territories. Top drawer accountants need to be involved as well, and they have to keep up with rates and such, also both on the federal and state level. All of these folks cost money — so here’s a case where the proprietary model makes sense.
Unfortunately, none of the tax software programs will run on Linux, except as an online service. Unfortunately, for those of us who do taxes for both ourselves and for family members, that’s not a viable option as the online services charge per return. In my case, for example, if I were to prepare the returns that I normally prepare for myself and some family members, I’d have to spend about two hundred dollars online. The cost if I download the software and prepare from my machine? About thirty bucks.
In years past, I’ve always kept a machine around that could boot into Windows, mainly just for this purpose. This year, however, I’m finally Windowsless, with Linux only on all my machines. I’m not going to go out an buy and OEM version of Windows 7, even though I could get a legal copy pretty cheap, because I’m now through with Microsoft for good. I’ve looked into using WINE, but even folks with WINE skills have had difficulty getting that boat to fly. So this year, I’ll be telling my family members they’re on their own at tax time and I’ll just do my own taxes.
- Peace on Earth, goodwill towards humanity
Well, that’s almost definitely not going to happen, but we can each try and do our part. It would be good for Linux and FOSS and everything else on the planet if we could somehow make it so.
One last wish before I go. I wish each and every one of you a joyful and prosperous 2015.