‘I’m Linux’ and Other Dreams for 2009

As 2008 draws to a close, the time for dreaming of White Christmases, sugar plum fairies and Ubuntu-loaded netbooks is over for another year. Here’s hoping everyone got their heart’s desire!

Now it’s time to move on and turn our thoughts to the promise of the upcoming year. It’s a time to dream of change, of what might be — and of how to make that happen.

That, it appears, is at least a rough approximation of what was going on in the thoughts of those over at the Linux Foundation, which recently launched a video contest (as part of the group’s new video channel) to compete with recent ad campaigns by both Microsoft and Apple. Forget “I’m a Mac” or “I’m a PC” — now the Linux Foundation is asking for video submissions on the theme, “I’m Linux.”

“While the Linux Foundation would love to spend millions promoting Linux on TV, it’s simply not our style (or in our budget),” the LF team explained. “Even more importantly, Linux isn’t a top-down, commercially controlled operating system. It’s a grassroots product of mass collaboration. That’s why we’re sponsoring a community contest to create a Linux video that showcases just what Linux means to those who use it, and hopefully inspires many to try it.”

Free Trip to Tokyo

As if Linux fans need any extra motivation to stump for their favorite technology, the winner will receive a free trip to Tokyo for the Linux Foundation’s Japan Linux Symposium next October. The winning video will also be unveiled at the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit in San Francisco in April.

News of the contest was immediately picked up, both on Slashdot, where it garnered some 450 comments within 24 hours, and on Digg, where more than 250 comments and 1,200 Diggs followed in just 12 hours.

Many bloggers expressed concern over the fact that Linux isn’t a single operating system or brand, making it tough to create a unified ad. Nevertheless, the ideas flew fast and furious as geeks throughout the blogosphere dusted off their director’s hats and got their creative juices flowing.

‘We Are Ubuntu’

“My idea was this,” began plantman-the-womb-st on Slashdot:

“(wannabe hipster walks up): I’m a Mac.

(up steps the old middle management guy): I’m a PC.

(scene FILLS with people, 200-300, all dressed in various profession/regional/ethnic attire): *in unison* We, are Ubuntu.”

Then, some embellishment: “And in the credits a fat bearded guy yelling ‘I’m GNU/Linux,'” quipped DiegoBravo.

‘I’m Linux’

Hooya saw it differently: “Starts off as a regular Mac ad. The camera then zooms back to reveal the two dudes standing in front of a white sheet… zooms further out to reveal the sound guy, the director, the stage hands… all wearing ‘I’m Linux’ shirts.”

Then again, yet another perspective: “Too bad there isn’t any decent video editing software on Linux yet. They’ll have to make their entries using a PC or Mac,” wrote cosmicr on Digg.

Current realities notwithstanding, the end of the year is undeniably a good time to envision what could happen over the coming year, and that’s just what Thomas Teisberg over at the Linux Loop asked readers to do not long ago.

Linux Dreams for 2009

“The question is: what do you want to happen in this upcoming year?” Teisberg wrote in his post earlier this month. “The ‘dreams’ do not have to be realistic, specific, general, or anything, although they can be. The only rule is that they must be something you would like to see happen to Linux in the next year,” he explained.

A broad range of dreams ensued, including — perhaps not surprisingly — faster boot and load times and more commercial game options.

With the dawn of the new year just days away, LinuxInsider couldn’t resist taking a similar poll on the streets of the blogosphere. What, we asked an assortment of bloggers, are your Linux dreams for 2009?

Focus on Gaming

“I really think that a major factor in getting Linux to a complete mainstream state has a lot to do with the PC gaming industry,” Foogazi blogger Adam Kane told LinuxInsider. “In 2009 I would absolutely love to see major game manufacturers step up to the plate and produce or, better, port some of the popular games to Linux.”

Such a move would have “a tremendous effect on Linux, and I believe would launch it above Windows,” Kane explained. “We as a Linux community have proven that a distro like Ubuntu can sell on store shelves; now the game manufacturers need to step up and take notice that there is a market.

“I’m confident that if all of the popular Windows games were available on Linux — not through Wine or another application, but directly out of the box — distros like Ubuntu would sell a lot more CDs,” Kane added.

XBMC-based Media Center

“I’m wanting Linux distros to start focusing on load times, speed and memory usage,” Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack told LinuxInsider. “I’m also wishing for an end to window managers written in interpreted languages. My biggest wish, though, is to have a commercial prepackaged XBMC-based media center.”

For Slashdot blogger Mhall119, one dream for the Linux ecosystem could be at least partially realized by the Linux Foundation’s video contest:

“I’d like to see a consortium of desktop Linux vendors (Canonical, Red Hat, Novell) put up a commercial, on prime time, on broadcast,” Mhall119 told LinuxInsider. “I’d like to see something along the lines of Apple’s iPhone commercials, where the narrative is limited, the visuals are engaging, the music gets stuck in your head for days, and the audience is left asking, ‘Where can I get this awesomeness?'”

We’ll see what the contest produces!

Calling Adobe

Also for the ecosystem, “I’d like to see Adobe at least announce that the next release of their creative suite will run on Linux,” Mhall119 went on. “They’re already going to have to do significant work to port it to 64-bit OSX, so they may as well run it on a compatibility layer like AIR.”

And back to gaming: “I’d like to see the next blockbuster game be OpenGL, with a native Linux binary on the install CD,” he added. “With OSX and Linux gaining market share, the reasons for using DirectX instead of OpenGL are dwindling.”

Among Mhall119’s personal, technical dreams for his desktop, “I’m looking forward to the changes to fast-user-switcher that Ubuntu has been talking about, like setting a status message that gets propagated to Pidgin, as well as social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook,” he explained.

‘Come On, Sun!’

Other personal desktop dreams for Mhall119 include the following:

  • GEGL in Gimp. “I know it’s already there, technically, but I want to be able to use it, see it in action, show it off to my Photoshop-using brother, who’s been saying for a while now that Adobe needs to switch to a non-destructive editing graph,” Mhall119 said.
  • “I want to start playing with JavaFX, but it’s still Windows/Mac only,” he added. “Come on, Sun!”
  • “Continued improvements, like RandR 1.3 and MultiPointerX. I’d really like to see a combination of Xvnc and MPX, where every VNC client gets their own cursor and keyboard input–that would take online collaboration years ahead of what is available on other platforms,” he explained.
  • “And of course, better hardware support. Ubuntu detects and runs all of my hardware just fine, but the wireless card doesn’t wake up from suspend/hibernate, and my ATI card still gets funky sometimes — though, to be fair, I’ve forced it to run Compiz, even though it’s not technically supported.”

Year of the Desktop?

And what of Linux on the desktop — will 2009 be The Year?!

“Desktop Linux is a dead horse,” Monochrome Mentality blogger Kevin Dean told LinuxInsider. “I don’t want to beat it.”

Where Linux will shine is in embedded devices, Dean predicted.

“I’d like to see all kinds of Linuxy goodness dominate the mobile phone market,” he said. “Right now there are several competing organizations and stacks pushing for market dominance. Openmoko and Android and Symbian and Maemo and a ton that I’m missing will all push Linux to more and more people.”

Dreams of Collaboration

Dean’s dream is that “they work together on it, even if it doesn’t mean a merger,” he explained. “They’re in a position right now to create or implement frameworks that could be used across thousands of devices to give mobile, open source programmers the ability to develop and deploy great applications.”

Mobile manufacturers are “starting to see that devices that meet people’s needs build stronger brand loyalty, excitement and utility than having a phone from the largest retailer,” he added. “A common base would allow each company to focus more on exciting new ways their devices can meet customer needs without having to reinvent the wheel each time.”

And finally, for blogger Robert Pogson, broader availability is the overriding dream for next year.

Widespread Availability

“My dreamy outcome for Linux in 2009 is that GNU/Linux systems will be available everywhere in retail stores,” he told LinuxInsider. “This would eliminate the barrier to entry that M$ has built by exclusive dealing with OEMs and distributors so many years ago.”

That dream “likely will not happen,” Pogson acknowledged, “but good progress has been made and is continuing. The netbooks, the motherboards that boot Linux in a few seconds, and some moves by big players to promote GNU/Linux systems are all good steps to make this possible.”

Regardless of what happens, however, “GNU/Linux will have a good year,” Pogson predicted.

And on that note, dear readers, we here at LinuxInsider would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Here’s to the realization of all those Linuxy dreams!

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