The Economist makes three technology predictions for 2008, two of which concern web surfing and the third of which concerns everyone, whether they surf the web or not. The Economist's third prediction is that the technology world will open up:
The embrace of "openness" by firms that have grown fat on closed, proprietary technology is something we'll see more of in 2008....
Pundits agree: neither Microsoft nor Apple can compete at the new price points being plumbed by companies looking to cut costs. With open-source software maturing fast, Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox, MySQL, Evolution, Pidgin and some 23,000 other Linux applications available for free seem more than ready to fill that gap. By some reckonings, Linux fans will soon outnumber Macintosh addicts. Linus Torvalds should be rightly proud.
What's most interesting about its analysis, however, is where it sees the biggest impact for open source (Linux) and why (Ubuntu):
That's largely the doing of Gutsy Gibbon, the code-name for the Ubuntu 7.10 from Canonical....Ubuntu (and its siblings Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu) has smoothed most of Linux's geeky edges while polishing it for the desktop.
No question, Gutsy Gibbon is the sleekest, best integrated and most user-friendly Linux distribution yet. It's now simpler to set up and configure than Windows. A great deal of work has gone into making the graphics, and especially the fonts, as intuitive and attractive as the Mac's.
Like other Linux desktop editions, Ubuntu works perfectly well on lowly machines that couldn't hope to run Windows XP, let alone Vista Home Edition or Apple's OS-X.
It's good to see Ubuntu getting the credit it deserves. I'm not sure I'd credit it with the Linux boom, but what's a little hyperbole among friends?