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Five FOSS Wishes for the New Year

Father TimeIt’s almost Christmas, which means that the day isn’t far off when ol’ Father Time rolls the odometer over yet again. This, of course, is the time of year when news writers like to publish lists, partly because they’re easier to write than real news stories. It’s not that we’re lazy, mind you, we’re just too busy shopping and decorating and drinking egg nog…especially drinking egg nog. We love drinking egg nog.

So here’s my list of the top five things I’m wishing for the FOSS world in 2016.

  1. Microsoft does what it needs to do to become a good open source citizen: Okay, this should really be last on my list, because most of me doesn’t give a rat’s behind whether Redmond gets with the program or not. Actually, as a FOSS journalist, if Microsoft were to clean up its act and began to truly play nice with the Linux and open source community, my job would become much more difficult, as that would remove a major go-to topic for slow news days.

    So why am I wishing for the once and future FUD masters at Microsoft to do right and quit extorting Linux device makers while continuing to sow FUD against desktop and server Linux with claims of unshown and unknown patents it’s infringing? Well, mainly because that would be good for Linux, but partly because it’d mean I’d no longer have to spend time considering whether to defend my position on whether Microsoft qualifies, at least partially, as an open source company.

    As things stand, whenever I write an article on Microsoft I get flack from both side of the aisle. From the free software side, some people are upset I would even suggest considering giving Microsoft any open source cred, even though I’ve been clear on what I think Redmond would need to do to get a nod. On the other side of the aisle, some Linux users on Reddit, and in the comments on FOSS Force, say I’m “FSF” and “a fanatic” for not putting the past behind and embracing “the new Microsoft.”

    Come on Satya, do the right thing and get with the open source program. Or you can continue your downward slide into irrelevancy. I don’t care either way. I would prefer the later, but I’m still willing to consider the former. Your move.

  2. A fully functional Ubuntu phone available in the good ol’ USoA: There is a Ubuntu phone available for U.S. delivery, the Aquarius E5 Ubuntu edition smartphone. As The Verge pointed out during the summer, the $220 device is a pretty nice if fairly basic phone when used in Europe. Here in the States, it’s little more than a high tech brick. It doesn’t have LTE, and its HSPA+ antennas don’t support the frequencies used by T-Mobile and AT&T, the two carriers with which it’s kinda sorta compatible. You will, however, be able to connect with 2G, which means the relatively lightweight pages FOSS Force serves will take several minutes to load. The ad laden sites that supply the click baity quizzes you like to go to from Facebook will probably load in an hour or so — if you don’t get some kind of time out error first.

    It sure would be nice to have a Ubuntu phone so we could finally have the GNU/Linux experience on mobile, no? We might discover that mobile doesn’t really suck if it’s on an operating system that wasn’t designed with shopping in mind.

  3. For LibreOffice to adopt Thunderbird: At this stage of the game, I’m not at all interested in Mozilla keeping control of Thunderbird, even if it changes its mind about letting it go. As “little” Brenda Lee would say, there’s too many rivers to cross and too many dreams that have been lost. Mozilla has all but already abandoned this child it fathered, so it’s time we find this popular and best-of-breed cross-platform email client a foster home. As far as I’m concerned, LibreOffice would be a perfect fit, and the first thing the new foster parent could work on would be a plugin to integrate Thunderbird with LibreOffice.

    An email client that can be closely coupled with Writer is actually already in the office suites DNA. Back in the days before Sun Microsystems open sourced Star Office as OpenOffice, the suite included a built in email client which could send an opened document, not only as an attachment — a capability that LO has now — but as a simple text email, with one click and without having to copy and paste. Star Office of old also shipped with a built in browser as well — just in case you’ve been looking for a little software history lesson.

  4. For a major OEM to get behind GNU/Linux and push it as its operating system of choice: Like that’s ever going to happen.

    Back in my radio days, I worked with a salesman who was legendary in our local market, and he would tell hard-to-get prospective clients to “not buy just enough time to prove radio advertising doesn’t work” — which is exactly what the major OEMs have done with Linux. Several OEMs — Dell and HP come immediately to mind — have made feeble attempts to offer machines with Linux preinstalled, but if they haven’t buried the Linux offerings on a back page, they haven’t given customers a good reason to buy the penguin either.

    How about a big medallion at the top of the page saying “we recommend Linux” and just include Windows 10 as a secondary option? Heck, if I were Michael Dell, I’d customize Ubuntu, get rid of any major bugs, drop Unity in favor of something more readily understandable to the average Joe or Jane, like maybe Xfce, and proudly proclaim, “we recommend DellOS 11 Premium Edition” or some such nonsense. We already know from patrons’ experiences at public libraries that have replaced Windows with Linux boxes, that the learning curve doesn’t exist anymore — and probably hasn’t for the last decade or so.

  5. For the Steam Machine to catch on big time and become the gaming platform by which others are measured: Let me be honest: I don’t play computer games. When Pong, the granddaddy of all video games, came out I was working for a joint in Toronto that immediately installed it in the dining room alongside its pinball machines. I didn’t play it.

    I was once something of a street level hood, and a pinball addict, but when pinball quit being a purely electro-mechanical game — rooted in 1930s technology replete with clacking and clicking noises that could be felt through the machine — and became computer driven, with the comfortable organically produced sounds replaced by artificial computer generated effects, I gave that up too. These days, I’m somewhat infamous among my friends for being the curmudgeon who won’t allow any games at all to be installed on my computers, meaning no one wants to sit and play on my computer when they visit — which is just fine with me.

    Given this, you might wonder why I would be wishing Valve big success with its Steam Machine. Because it’ll help Linux. Gamers tend to be extremely technically astute and are known to tweak their Windows machines to performance levels that even Bill Gates didn’t know were possible. If Valve and its hardware partners can get all the bugs worked out of the Machines, and serious gamers start buying them and learning what we already know about Linux… You get the point. And they’ll be helping their technically challenged neighbors get Linux on their computers, too.

Well, there’s the top five FOSS wishes on my list for 2016. Of course, I have more than five wishes for FOSS in the upcoming year. For example, my sixth wish would be for each and every one of you to give FOSS Force your vote of approval with a small contribution, which we’ll use to continue doing what we do — bills must be paid, writers must be fed, and all that.

So what are your FOSS wishes for the New Year? Do you wish for something different than what I’ve put on my list? If so, don’t be shy. That’s what the comments section is for.

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  1. 3arn0wl 3arn0wl December 23, 2015

    Funding insecurity seems to make FOSS flaky – I say that as a relatively recent convert to, and evangelist for, Open Source. Maybe apps would be more secure if they coalesced around a hub, and LibreOffice seems the obvious candidate. Or perhaps GitHub should crowdsource some funding. (Just thinking out loud).

    I too am hoping that some OEMs wake up and smell the coffee: start building and marketing produx for Linux. Personally I’d really like an A5 dimention world-phone running converged Ubuntu… ’tis the season for dreaming, after all! Why do they keep offering unqualified support (and paying license fees) to a floundering OS maker?

  2. 3arn0wl 3arn0wl December 23, 2015

    Incidentally, I was pointed towards the website recently. I’m happy to donate towards desired apps and app-feature improvement. & I guess others would be too…

  3. Nomen luni Nomen luni December 23, 2015

    Good article, Christine.

    The Microsoft thing’s never going to happen. I’m not buying M$ new ‘linux friendly’ face at all.

    I think OEMs will get behind Linux, but it’s a slow process. It would be commercial suicide to put it front and centre at this stage.

    Thunderbird/Libre- really hope this happens as soon as possible. A no brainer, IMO.

  4. Mike S. Mike S. December 23, 2015

    For what it’s worth, Christine, I think your position on Microsoft is accurate and reasonable.

  5. Dave Lane Dave Lane December 23, 2015

    The same way that MS quietly killed Linux “netbooks”, it’ll kill OEM adoption of Linux on the desktop – MS’ll simply (behind NDAs) threaten to raise the price of pre-installed Windows on those OEM’s machines, which would erode their already razor-thin margins. That’s how MS hobbled netbooks (insisting on a low max spec – 2gb ram, low res screens, lame atom processors) and killed non-Intel ARM-books (like the very cool one from Paragon and Qualcom shown at the 2009 CES) in the cradle by putting massive back-stage pressure on ASUS and its manufacturers.

  6. CFWhitman CFWhitman December 24, 2015

    It was very obvious that Microsoft put pressure on ASUS and other companies not to release ARM based laptops a few years back (it’s funny that it was so obvious while being also almost certainly illegal, yet had no repercussions).

    I would love to have the option of a Linux based ARM notebook. Unfortunately that still isn’t possible to do fully. Yes they have ARM based notebooks now, but they are pretty much all either Android or Chrome OS. It’s possible to run a conventional Linux through Chrome OS, but it’s very difficult, at best, to completely replace Chrome OS with a conventional Linux distribution. Well, at least I have my current palmtop, an OpenPandora, and am very optimistic about it’s heir apparent, the Dragonbox Pyra.

    Of course, there is the project to make a notebook out of a Raspberry Pi or other SBC. That at least looks kind of fun. It seems like eventually we’ll get there, but it stinks that what I was looking forward to would already exist if it hadn’t been supressed by Microsoft.

  7. Eddie G. Eddie G. December 28, 2015

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who isn’t too trusting of M$’s “new” attitude towards Linux and Open Source, I mean…yes it’s possible for people to change, but M$ is not a person, its a company ,and it’s one purpose? is to MAKE MONEY, so if that means sliding into bed with the Open Source Community now…in order to make even more millions later then that’s what they’ll do! I still will never support M$ or their new efforts to step in and “mingle” with Open Source

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