Open Ballot: Que sera sera


Twenty two years and one day ago, an ambitious young Finn posted this on the comp.os.minix mailing list newsgroup:

Hello everybody out there using minix -

I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Linus (

PS. Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.

Even the great man proved to be hopelessly bad about predicting the future. It is big and professional, it is portable and it does support other hard drives.

Our question this fortnight is: Where will the free-software be in another twenty-two years?

Will desktop Linux then be the standard, and will we sit around listening to a podcast by a group of guys who drink too much beer and create a magazine called BSD Format?

Will Linux remain niche while OSX Space Liger and Windows 8 SP 22 fight it out for supremacy?

Will desktops only feature in stories we tell young-folk whose only knowledge of computers are the chips in their brains?

Will we be secretly distributing free software via an illicit telegraph system after Lord Emperor of the Universe Obama (as he will be known) declared any tools not created by the NSA criminal?

Will Gnome 10 have simplified their way to a blank screen?

Will KDE 10 have so many configuration options that it's actually impossible to set it up before it becomes obsolete?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and we'll read them out on our upcomming podcast

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Your comments

It might be that there is

It might be that there is just the one operating system; it became the standard and is used on just about every smart device except Nokia.

The NSA and all the spy types are illegal and sit in their bunkers trying to get someone to update their computers but no one can figure out the ridiculous code base for Windows/MacOs 13¼.

Or all technology is deemed as witchcraft and we have to rub sticks to make fire.

Usenet, not mailing list.

It was actually posted on a usenet group, not a mailing list.

The company who this ad is

The company who this ad is from will have gone bust


In 20 years, Linux will still be the defacto free operating system. I might actually have my Arch install up and running by then, as well.


I thought the third post got the ad:-(

Microsoft Linux.

RMS will be vilified for what he is saying at the time.
RMS will be praised for what he said two years before.

Double digit

Desktop market share will be in double digits, Android will become irrelevant and will be replaced while supercomputers will still stick with using Linux.

Either that, or computers will be completely replaced by talking watches and the world will be ruled by global corporations that manufactures those talking watches

The Mobile Desktop

People will have mobile devices powerful enough to act as a desktop. Simply hook it up to a monitor and keyboard. All data will be in "the cloud" preventing loss when you get mugged. Microsoft will dump Windows classing it as "Legacy" and pour its might and resources into a completely new OS... a clean start. The corporations will buy it as they know the company, they can get drivers for everything (that work!), and everyone is writing stuff for it (that works!) as they can make money and money makes the world go round. And thus M$ will roll on and re-gain its market share... And even the spy agencies will be happy as they can get at your data directly from one place.


I may be dead by then and replaced by a Linux Robot.

10 years to Mainstream follow by a major fall out and then back

Within 10 years Linux will have gone mainstream or bust. Then all the arrogant programmers (Linux doesn't have any of those) will think they can decide for everyone else and there will be a backlash. Followed, finally, by the realization that it is stupid to pay for an operating system when you can get it for free.

This will lead to the golden age of Linux. The problem will then be how to maintain the level of innovation without the competition.

If the people who create the

If the people who create the future of computing have no idea and get it wrong, what chance do the rest of us have?!

I have no idea where free-software will be in 22 years, but I am looking forward to the ride.


I doubt there will be any real proprietary software left. But no one will notice as free software will be so pervasive. It already is, but it's only bound to increase. Anyone coming out of school/uni now already knows about it. Knows about the Pi. The more they are using it in arduinos etc. the less likely they are going to use proprietary software in employment. I think it'll have almost infinite appearances, from general purpose desktops to specialist interfaces. And I'll be there swooping in to consult for stupid money to clean up 2038 Problem :)

I might have gotten my first LXF magazine from my subscription by then.... maybe :(

Linux will be everywhere but

Linux will be everywhere but practically no one will know nor care about it. Every Linux device will be sending parsed personal data to the NSA by default, even when set to flight mode. Also the captcha to send this message says "Talmudic serwein". What is a serwain, please?


Doctor Miles Dyson will invent the neural net processor that runs open source software causing Microscoft and Apple to invert a time machine to send arnold schwarzenegger back to 1991 to assassinate Linus Torvalds.

This and that

RE: JSM. Thanks for pointing this out. My brain thought news group, but my fingers typed mailing list.

RE: Anonymous Penguin with headphones. Noooo. I don't know what happened there. We did change out ad code yesterday so our advertising team can sell your eyeballs more effectively (isn't that a comforting through), but if shouldn't have changed this.

RE: dandare1000. We don't restrict on geography, but we do delete from IPs based on the database. Unfortunately, this means if you share an ISP with spammy neighbors, we might delete some of you posts. I've just taken a look at your IP, and your current one looks fine. The other issue could be that any comments with links in them automatically get hoovered up by our spambot.

Darwin will win.

Because there are so many developers working on Linux and other related Open Sourced projects, shear numbers will help it react positively to evolutionary dead ends. Proprietary developers can never keep up, (they will be too busy patting themselves on the back) to react to what people want or need.

Just look at the recent development within the desktop environment sphere over the past year or so. Some developers didn't like the way certain other developers were taking the art, so they forked it. This would never happen so rapidly in the proprietary world, if at all.

So, as Darwin would say, the survival of the fittest and that, to my mind is Open Source will be fitter than Proprietary. As Linux is open sourced, it will still be there but, maybe forked to a different name!

22 years? Are you serious?

In that amount of time, who knows what will happen? Do you have any clue how quickly technology changes compared to other things?

If you asked me about 10 years down the line, I'd say the software situation is going to be a lot worse, but 22? Freedom will win out and be the dominant option, mainly because it's free. I think things are going to get worse before they get better, but they will get better.

And don't try the whole "but free software is getting so much more popular these days!" argument--proprietary software is more popular than ever, too. I think software in general is more popular and accessible than ever, and we're reaping some great benefits of all the work that's been put into free software the last 22 years during this period of immense growth.

Oh, and Ray Woods (not verified) should be careful about his phrasing... he does realize that Darwin is Apple's kernel I hope!

The desktop won't... doesn't exist anymore

People will use tablets, phones, and whatnot. Microsoft will be... is dead. Free software advocates will start writing `Googl€'. The linux desktop? Seriously? The linux desktop has no future, no present and no past, it's a piece of crap. Live long to the console.

Re: Darwin

Right, but one must be careful in a discussion of operating system development and competition not to reference Darwin willy-nilly!

And I don't mean to be a pendant, but it's "On the Origin of Species", not Evolution of Species.

It further complicates things that you're using his theory of evolution by natural selection metaphorically to talk about operating systems rather than what it's actually talking about!


I've finished my first year in Linux, going from dual boot to having it as my only OS. I don't think I'll be switching any time soon!

As a side note, glad someone mentioned the ad, I use Ad-Block plus, but I've now disabled it on this site, since the ads are reasonably unintrusive.

Keep rockin' guys!

47th time lucky

I am waiting for MikeOS, its the future.

Cant find it anywhere though :-(

in 22 years

I will consult a computer via my direct brain interface, just by thinking about Pink Ponies... when I meet friends there details will be prompted so I can remember their names, ask them about their recent holiday, baby, other significant event. And people, advertising, and other things I no longer want to see are masked out of my vision.

Sensors monitor my heart, liver, breathing, blood chemistry, and make subtle interventions to improve my well being.

In this era the software is all open source because that is the most reliable software. When a computer is mediating my entire world it very important that the user is in control of his body, and that includes their computers.

I am optimistic...

In 22 years...

We will all be subservient slaves to the machines that run the planet, as by Moors law the average computer is now 200 times more intelligent that a human. It doesn't matter that the code is all open source because no human can understand it.

I am a pessimist...

The android shimmee

Within 5 years, people will be wondering why their os doesn't work like phone. Android is ideally placed to pull people to Linux (on the desktop/tablet/etc)

My Android phone: it just works. The wife's Windows phone (is a major frustration for her... why can't she just copy music to it like an MP3 player?)

Ease of use for the masses always wins.

I hope Android will be replaced

Assuming Android is replaced by a real (multi-tasking, configurable, sane) Linux on mobile devices, I'll be fine. As is, I'm only happy on the desktop. And by "sane" I mean a system that doesn't require tapping back a hundred steps to exit an app completely, doesn't force on you ridiculous translations in the app store, doesn't show a collection of randomly rated apps in what it calls "best apps", provides you with some filtering options for your app search, etc, etc. (is this system actually made by a... SEARCH giant?!) I could go on about it. I truly marvel at Android's success, it's got so much crap in it...
Looking forward to what Ubuntu will offer mobile-wise.

22 years on

By this time:
Ubuntu will have worked its way round the colour wheel to a lovely shade of green, sparking a war with OpenSuse about which distro is most green.

Elementary OS will be on version 0.6

Android Waffle will be the dominant OS because all computing is done with a phone/tablet in an omni-device dock and Microsoft went bust during the post-Ballmer riots of 2014. This boosted sales of MacBook Helium devices that are just a pad of A4 paper, which users love because it "just works".

The TuxRadar podcasters hate KDE 9.5.1 because it requires 2 screens as standard - one for the desktop itself and one for all the menus. They also dislike Gnome 4 because development stopped when they couldn't remove any more from the desktop.

Graham's Discovery of the Week/fortnight is a synth of some kind.

Cannot say

I can't say for sure where it may be in 22 years
but I guarantee that there will be something like it
as it is now that wil be then.
The wonderful and beautiful thing about the open source movement and all it conveys is that it ensures a potential longevity that exists beyond it's immediate situation.

It is actually a philosophy that goes beyond mere software and electronic engineering, but out into the world and can be applied to larger projects, as is actually happening.

maybe there will never be only one "software to rule them all" but I am sure there will be the potential for several software solutions to deal with real world problems.
Even the paid-for software will owe a lot to the open source idea, development and sheer hours of work done for
a sense of contribution.

Actually I can't answer whether this is right or not.
but somewhere deep in my soul, I feel that this is right,
that there is a purpose for it.
There is no such thing as a problem
without a gift for you in its hands

mixed up

I think that what defines open source in 20 years will be blurred. we already have "open source" projects with Proprietary code like android and "Proprietary" programs like iTunes that use stuff like openSSL. the line between open source and Proprietary will be blurred.

mixed up

I think that what defines open source in 20 years will be blurred. we already have "open source" projects with Proprietary code like android and "Proprietary" programs like iTunes that use stuff like openSSL. the line between open source and Proprietary will be blurred.

Linuxuser for fun

I started using Linux twelve years ago. I am 84 years old. In 22 years I will be 106 and still happily using Linux!

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