Don Marti

Wed 31 Dec 2008 06:10:09 PM PST

Predictions for 2009

It's almost 2009, so time to make predictions again. First, let's check on my predictions for 2008.

Finally, some license consolidation. I'm going to give myself this one. There's only one license in the License Proliferation Institute's "License Approval" queue. All those corporate lawyers spent all that time participating in the GPLv3 process in 2007, so it wouldn't have looked good for them to admit they didn't get what they wanted from GPLv3 by going back to vanity license writing already. (There's now a consensus set of license gatekeepers: What will make it into Debian and Fedora? Meet the "Debian Free Software Guidelines" and Fedora's equivalent, and nobody will give you grief for calling the software "open source" too. Pass the OSI's process and you're still not necessarily in the major distributions. So why not scrap the OSI and replace it with one wiki page that just lists the licenses that pass muster with both Debian and Fedora?)

Analyst-reported Linux market share continues downward trend. Wrong. But at least it's in a "stalling server market." So I'm at one and one.

Fancy-pants Internet marketing consultants rebrand selves as fancy-pants customer service consultants. Yes, but that was already starting in late 2007, so I probably shouldn't get full prediction credit for how Twitter frenzy has turned into customer-complaint-deflecting stuff such as "Comcast Cares". But I'm taking it anyway. Two and one.

Microsoft buys Yahoo and Facebook. Wrong. So near and yet so far. I predicted this well before MSFT's February announcement. Problem is I didn't predict Joe Nocera at the New York Times giving Jerry Yang his own version of the Marsellus Wallace "That's Pride ....... With You" speech from "Pulp Fiction." And the Yahoo version of letting pride get to you didn't play out as well as the movie. Oh, well. Two and two but only because Yang didn't know when to take the money and go be a Visionary or something.

L---x on the d-----p, sort of: first deployments of "sanitary sealed" MSFT Windows. Half right, but not the Linux half. The Qumranet deployments are sanitary-sealed guests, but so far on Windows XP-based thin clients. Linux on the desktop proponents take heed: it's easier to pay for at least one extra copy of Windows per user than to administer one copy on the user's desk. The license price is noise—Linux on the desktop has to win by cutting the real costs, which are in the admin burden. So I'm tied at 2.5.

Dell continues Linux laptop sales, and concentrates on high-end models. HP and Lenovo join in. Two-thirds right. Dell is still doing pretty nice Linux laptops, and HP announced Linux laptops and PCs in March. As we saw in the netbook market, the only way to get MSFT's attention price-wise is to run up the Linux flag. Meanwhile, though, Lenovo is still getting the Microsoft Loyal Customer Pricing. (Hey, Lenovo, want to add $20 million to your bottom line? Open up "nude" ordering for two high-end ThinkPad models, one lightweight and one desktop replacement; give EmperorLinux a crate of laptops, a Lenovo banner, and some co-op money to take them to OpenSource World (my connection) or another media-attended trade show; wait for the same phone call that got Michael Dell to ditch his Ubuntu box. Closest thing you get to money for nothing.) So I'm at three and one-sixth to two and five-sixths.

Now, predictions for 2009.

Google buys TomTom. You need local business info to sell all those local-newspaper-killing ads. You need reliable maps to do good local business info. You can't have a key source of map data, TomTom's Tele Atlas, picked off the way (phone platform competitor) Nokia picked off NAVTEQ. Yes, Google is ga-ga for open maps, but at least for the short term it needs Tele Atlas.

Red Hat buys Hyperic. What, you mean Hyperic isn't part of Red Hat already? Red Hat has shown it's willing to pay to hold onto projects that are less integrated than Hyperic already is. And Hyperic and Red Hat are increasingly snarled together. So hit "send" on the press release already.

Hollywood buys some Senators. Yes, President-Elect Barack Obama is all cool and Web 2.0 and stuff. But the mainstream Democratic Party over in the Capitol is still just as ga-ga for extractive industries on our culture as the mainstream Republican Party is ga-ga for extractive industries on the Earth's crust. We will see a CBDTPA bill with heavy sponsors and hearings in 2009. (Yes, it'll make the next illegal, but that's not this administration's problem.)

Thin clients catch on—as a backup for BYOL users. The IT department doesn't want to be in the desktop support business. It's expensive and time-consuming, and the best you can get the employee is back where he or she started. So Bring Your Own Laptop is finally catching on. But what do you give people on their first day or when the laptop is in the shop? A loaner thin client, kept in the supply cabinet by the three-ring binders.

A GPL enforcement case uses the US Customs Service's administrative procedure. This is a powerful legal hack, which trademark holders use all the time. (And some rat-bag antivirus vendor is using it against Barracuda.) You see, if someone brings in a container-load of unauthorized Transformers underpants (what kind of designer thought a robot face on your package makes fashion sense?) the trademark holder can have it held on the dock with only an adminstrative hearing, not a full lawsuit. Works for copyright and patent holders, too. Only a matter of time before the increasingly vigilant GPL enforcement actions use it too.

Kernel and X make their time quotas for five-second boot but the fastest mainstream distribution is still over 15s at the end of 2009. Arjan van de Ven demonstrated a Linux system booting in five seconds, but it required some new functionality. A couple of kernels later, and with kernel modesetting for X in the pipe from Dave Airlie, you're going to see kernel and X in two seconds booting from SSD, but still a while after that to actually log in.