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11 Predictions for Free Software in 2008

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OSS

"You must be mad," Gary Trudeau says in a self-interview in one of his Doonesbury collections, when he raises the subject of political predictions. "I only do post-mortems."

As a journalist, if a very different kind from Trudeau, I appreciate the sentiment. Looking back at 2007, who could have predicted that, after all the posturing by open source advocates, that the new version of the GNU General Public License would have caused so little division? Or that Linspire and Xandros would have followed Novell and made their own deals with Microsoft? Or that virtualization, which was such a hot topic in 2006, would have settled down to just another technology?

Still, despite the dangers of prediction, and the near certainty that I'll miss at least some of the big stories, here's my list of the high and hot spots we're likely to see in free software next year.

KDE 4 launches

2008 will kick off with the long-awaited release of KDE 4 on January 11. Traditionally, a major version number indicates major changes, and KDE 4 will be no exception. Performance, look and layout are all being radically rethought. You can expect some controversy and complaints, but also considerable enthusiasm for the final release.

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Android Leftovers

Graphics: XWayland and Mesa

  • XWayland Gets Patches For Better EGLStreams Handling
    While the recently released X.Org Server 1.20 has initial support for XWayland with EGLStreams so X11 applications/games on Wayland can still benefit from hardware acceleration, in its current state it doesn't integrate too well with Wayland desktop compositors wishing to support it. That's changing with a new patch series.
  • Intel Mesa Driver Finally Supports Threaded OpenGL
    Based off the Gallium3D "mesa_glthread" work for threaded OpenGL that can provide a measurable win in some scenarios, the Intel i965 Mesa driver has implemented this support now too. Following the work squared away last year led in the RadeonSI driver, the Intel i965 OpenGL driver supports threaded OpenGL when the mesa_glthread=true environment variable is set.
  • Geometry & Tessellation Shaders For Mesa's OpenGL Compatibility Context
    With the recent Mesa 18.1 release there is OpenGL 3.1 support with the ARB_compatibility context for the key Gallium3D drivers, but Marek Olšák at AMD continues working on extending that functionality under the OpenGL compatibility context mode.
  • Mesa Begins Its Transition To Gitlab
    Following the news from earlier this month that FreeDesktop.org would move its infrastructure to Gitlab, the Mesa3D project has begun the process of adopting this Git-centered software.

Welcome to Ubuntu 18.04: Make yourself at GNOME. Cup of data-slurping dispute, anyone?

Comment Ubuntu 18.04, launched last month, included a new Welcome application that runs the first time you boot into your new install. The Welcome app does several things, including offering to opt you out of Canonical's new data collection tool. The tool also provides a quick overview of the new GNOME interface, and offers to set up Livepatch (for kernel patching without a reboot). In my review I called the opt-out a ham-fisted decision, but did note that if Canonical wanted to actually gather data, opt-out was probably the best choice. Read more

How CERN Is Using Linux and Open Source

CERN really needs no introduction. Among other things, the European Organization for Nuclear Research created the World Wide Web and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, which was used in discovery of the Higgs boson. Tim Bell, who is responsible for the organization’s IT Operating Systems and Infrastructure group, says the goal of his team is “to provide the compute facility for 13,000 physicists around the world to analyze those collisions, understand what the universe is made of and how it works.” Read more