A Look Ahead to 2015
Photo source: antoinemaltey https://www.flickr.com/photos/antoinemaltey
With us now well into the new year, I thought it was time to take a look at the year ahead and explore what might be coming our way in 2015.
2014 ended well, with new versions of all the major distributions (Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora) coming in the last few months. It’s great to see all this development, even if it does awaken the distro-hopping bone in some of us! Even with all this newness, the year seems to be starting off a little quietly, but the next 12 months promise to bring some exciting changes for the FOSS community.
Widely speculated that the Ubuntu phone would appear in 2014, but now expected in the first half of this year, the world awaits the arrival of the first Ubuntu phone. For the first time, we’ll have a phone that should ship free of commercial / propriety software and offer us choice like never before. Instead, we’ll be free to choose the software that fits our needs and not have to worry about the interests that the big corporations have with our data. We’ll no longer be reliant on Google, Apple or Microsoft.
The Ubuntu phone will be running Unity, which means that we should also have seamless integration with a laptop or tablet running Ubuntu too. We can truly become independent and release the tether around our necks. Of course it’s certainly true that Google, Apple and Microsoft have brought us great innovation and design that we’ve enjoyed, but because Ubuntu is free and open source, we’re all free to contribute and scrutinize the software, making it better and safer for all.
It’s also likely that updates will be more frequent and vendor independent, meaning that there’ll be no more waiting for your carrier or phone manufacturer to release the latest version, an issue of frustration that many Android users felt when Lollipop was released in December 2014. There should also be a plethora of applications, with reports of Libre Office and Gimp coming to the platform. If you’re in the market for a new phone, I would recommend waiting for a few months and holding out to see what the Ubuntu phone has to offer.
Desktop UX (User Experience)
We’ve never had so much choice when it comes to Linux Desktops and with the Ubuntu phone around the corner, it’s likely that we’ll see further changes to the Unity Desktop this year. Gnome 3.16 is also rumoured to be coming in March, with more social network integration, GTK widgets, support for EPub formatted books and improvements to the appearance of notifications.
All of these improvements both in Gnome and other desktops, like Unity, KDE, Mate and Cinnamon bring polish and beauty to the Linux desktop and will assist greatly in the adoption of Linux by new users. The design of OS X has been a major attraction to users of MacBooks in recent years and in my view, although Linux desktops are not quite on a par yet, they are fast encroaching. As a developer, I’m just as productive using Linux as I ever was on OS X or Windows and what’s more, I have complete control over my setup and workspace. Did I mention that all the software I use is free?
One of the major stumbling blocks in the past for Linux users, was the problem of finding hardware which runs smoothly and behaves itself. If you could find hardware that works out of the box, then you had done very well indeed. Today, it’s getting much easier to find hardware and there are plenty of desktops and laptops that play very nicely. You can read my article on Computing for Less Than £160 for more on this and I’ll soon be publishing a list of my top 5 recommended pre-owned laptops.
If you like new and shiny things, then you’re in luck too, as there are some good dedicated manufacturers, like System76 offering high specification desktop and laptop models. I don’t think it will be much longer, until we see some of the traditional manufacturers shipping their hardware with Linux pre-installed. In fact some like Dell already are.
If you’ve got any hardware recommendations, then get in touch or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your experiences.