Open Ballot: What will Linux look like in 10 years?


It's crystal ball time as we get prepared for the next TuxRadar podcast. We want you to tell us: how do you think Linux will look like, one decade from now? We don't mean in a cosmetic sense (although you're free to comment on that if you want). But rather, what sort of OS will it be, and how will most people be using it? For instance, you might predict that the desktop wars will die out and most users will be running little more than a browser on the kernel. Maybe via Android it'll morph into a free alternative to iOS.

Whatever the case, and no mater how ker-azy your ideas, let us know in the comments below and we'll read out the best in our podcast. Extra points will be awarded to those who fit MikeOS into their visions of the future.

You should follow us on or Twitter

Your comments

Obvious really

It will look like a cross between Android and MacOS. Probably. Unfortunately.

the future

I suspect that we'll see a shift to the sort of thing Gnome 3 and Unity are trying to do. Much as I dislike the desktops they created, the touch-screen friendly distro might be here to stay.

I hope to see a shift in ICT teaching in schools to move away from just teaching stuff like MSOffice.

Moving off linux, but staying with computers, I also think that Wifi hotspots will be pretty much all over the place. Everywhere bar rural areas will have access via Wifi. I also think standardised laptop charging points may become available.

The Decade of Linux on Everything

We are seeing almost every new embedded device with an underlying kernel, as devices move more towards this mobile space, Linux will be ubiquitous but also invisible in many ways.

As companies such as Google concentrate on a browser-based computing environment, the underlying OS becomes insignificant to the user, but the rock-solid flexible base which Linux provides will mean that it will be the number one choice in almost every device.

In 10 years, most people will still regard the word Linux as a complete mystery, known only by the tech-savvy community but the reality will be that the majority of their tech devices will be running some flavour.

In terms of kernel development, we may also see the rise of some influential forks of the Linux kernel, this is already happening with Google, so who knows whether the kernel will be the kernel maintained by Linus.

More walled garden?

KDE & Gnome will continue to exist but some new desktop will join the mix to replicate the Lion/Win 8/touch-based desktop changes. But the big change will be the coming app store.

Every distro will offer one (except Slackware) because there will be a source of funding in the ease of install. That app store will have the effect of promoting some open source projects while sidelining others. The world will look different

The Desktop Enviroment teams will come to their senses

After Gnome 3 and Unity trumping each other in imitating the look and feel of MacOS X and Windows 7, one of them will succeed in duplicating everything pretty soon. That development team (doesn't matter much which one; will then come to it's senses and think about making a useable d.e. without imitating mistakes from other OSes - like that dreaded idea of giving me 4 desktops and that's all, i bet even a not completely green Mac user feels limited by that concept.)

If this doesn't happen, then maybe one of the small desktops will fill in the gap.

Now i only commented on desktop enviroments, and that's because it's really the only problem i see at the moment.
Applications aren't a problem anymore with Libreoffice, the mozilla suite and free open source projects for almost anything (I'm mainly into music and audio, but the rest of the applications like gimp and such already have the functionality and will hopefully get the useability of their big competitors, too).
Drivers aren't a big deal either with the opensource drivers for my GFX card working fine out of the box with Hardware acceleration (and the card is 2 years old - something that would have been a showstopper only 10 years ago), and the closed source drivers taking care of the rest.

So hopefully we will see more Laptops, Netbooks, and Smartphones running a preinstalled linux with foss software, and if people get used to it on their mobile devices they might as well throw out their Windows machines as well.

OS X is an ordinary UNIX under the hood anyway, so any mac power user will be at home in linux anyway. And windows hasn't been innovating for quite some time.
So unless both Gnome and Unity teams screw up big time (hint at least one - probably gnome - should still allow users to customize stuff like the default terminal emulator), I see a bright future for linux.

Keep the different user bases in mind tho - there should be a linux for dummies (even easier to use than the current ubuntu - if that's possible) and there should be options in between. An activateable advanced mode is not a sign of a bad configuration concept, but a sign that the user is taken seriously and not forced to edit registry entries like in windows.

What ever microsoft

will look like in 15 years time :D, and possibly what apple will look like in 5 years time.

or the world will end

Think the only thing I can

Think the only thing I can predict is "same same but different". That is it will smash the competition on the server and embedded market, but still be the underdog of the desktop for the home user. I don't expect Linux to change all that much, but the software is hopefully going places, and with that the way we use computers. The same is of course true on the other platforms making the real question what will evolve into the thing that will interest us(general term for all users no matter the platform) the most.
To that I don't think anyone has an answer, but everyone obviously hope its their platform of choice.

Gnome 4

Yes, Gnome 4 will come into being. Guess what, it will look just like Gnome 2.

The future desktop

I spend a lot of time trying to interest the average user into using Linux. Until these users stop saying.. "It's like going back to Win 3.1"...Linux will be a wannbe system.

Keeping up with Apple and Microsoft, will be a formula for distant third place at best.

The Linux Desktop of tomorrow must leap ahead of both.

I think the CUI is ever evolving, Are we done with windowing? perhaps, Mice? maybe, more touch controls like spinners it's all rather contingent.

A big lever would be the empowerment of users by giving them a non-code method of creating personal apps. Also, resource efficient eye-candy. Tight cell phone and tablet integration.

It just works driver handling is big, we are almost there now, people love this!

Mostly stop whining when a distro steps out and changes things, thats where progress happens.

I see a PC without mice, without keyboards, without control bars. Gesture based interface, context word prediction and 3D displays.

Stop creating an OS for 5 year old hardware!


It won't exist, as the Hurd will have taken over...


10 years? I love the command line but how about a GUI where you don't need the command line to fix everything.

The future will and always will be a mystery!

Personally, I think the only way linux will ever make it to the mass home user market is a computer manufacturing company giving the option to ship their computers with linux as well as providing good guidance of how to use the system to knew users.

The problem over recent years has not been software availability or hardware support, in fact I think for my day to day tasks linux makes tasks easier than on Windows, it has been new users fear to try something new because Microsoft and Apple have gotten users to used to their interfaces and software. I would say if more people new about linux, how it was free and much more secure than windows, and it was made easy to use as suggested above with no need to ever use the command line then it could be a huge success. Distro's designed for new users such as Ubuntu still require to much configuration and command line to set up multimedia repos etc.

On the interface front, I disagree with some of the above comments. I think that Gnome shell and kde will continue to co-exist alongside each other because that is what linux is about, freedom to choose what you want to use. I can see smaller projects struggling to keep up with the development speed of the GUI giants and possibly falling behind. I can't see any major changes coming to kde other than more wow factor, but I think that gnome may fork to have a gnome 3 style interface and a gnome 2 style interface.
Also because it is a free and opensource world out there, you never know what could happen. A huge company could hire a whole load of boffins and create a brand new distro which would take off in a similar fashion to ubuntu (although i hope its rpm based!). That said, there is nothing to stop MikeOS becoming the next big thing either, could be a Facebook moment for Mike, sits down one night and programs the next big thing! Although it would probably be stolen in an instant by other devs!

I've often also wondered why people are always talking about the year of linux, because the people developing linux are already using, getting home users on board isn't going to yeild more developers (unless some decide to help out!). So as long as it keeps going and moving forward I dont think market share is really relevant. People who don't care about freedom and free software have no good reason to user Linux.

I think the move away from licensed media formats may help linux in the future. The recent news that adobe may be moving away from flash and towards HTML5 will simplify the desktop experience. MP3 support is also an annoyance currently, especially for me on fedora 15, a move to an equal format quality wise such as ogg used for the podcasts would also be a giant leap forward.

On the other hand I don't want my distro to become completely for novice users. I'm more than happy to fiddle with the command line, in fact I find it much quicker for simple tasks. But I do believe that any distro that aims to be newbie friendly needs to try harder.

There is no doubt in my mind I will continue to use my distro for the next 10 years, unless something major changes then I can always change to another!


The Desktops

I think what ever the technology is upgrading, there is no substitute for desktops. Yes, linux had conquered server side of the battle. But we need to concentrate on desktop also.
If linux works on office utility part then there will be a better chance of competing for desktop side.

And as above comment. Yes, majority of the devices will be running linux some way or the other.



more of the same

Gnome and KDE will have merged. GnoDE will use 100% system resources to present an elegantly simple desktop. Impossible to use, but beautiful.

The US Congress will be considering making the possession of encrypted disks a felony with a 20 year minimum sentence.

Anyway. The way things are going

Free software will be illegal.

Only used by terrorists and sex offenders. A few well place mass media scares and it'll be finished.

My Hope: A server for everyone

I hope that the big user-facing change in Linux in the future will be the rise of cheap, plug-in servers.

Whether or not the Desktop as we know it sticks around, the web is taking the lion's share of the dev focus and hype. Personal plug-in servers that let you manage your own profile, tweets, blog, etc on your own turf but also connect to larger cloud services strike a good balance between owning your data and taking advantage of it in the cloud.

Moving to personal severs seems like it would uphold the things I value most about Linux: freedom, capability, and configurability.

QUOTE: >> Gnome and KDE

>> Gnome and KDE will have merged. GnoDE will use 100% >> system resources to present an elegantly simple desktop. >> Impossible to use, but beautiful.

The US Congress will be considering making the possession of encrypted disks a felony with a 20 year minimum sentence.

Made me chuckle, luckily there's still xfce and xlde (or was it lde) which will fill in the gap.

Middle Age Crisis or Star Trek

Linux will have an identity crisis. On the one hand it'll want to be youthful and new and bouncy (and birds will be fluttering in the sky above in wonderous harmony). On the other hand it will know it's ten years older and will be beginning to feel it's age. It will be listening to the same Creative Commons licenced music of 2010 and not really understand what all this "new" stuff is all about. Maybe it'll even grow a beard to show its maturity. The question will be how the beard appears. If Linux is already turning grey, should it go for a tidy beard (like Kenny Rogers) or try a wilder ZZ-Top style beard.

Actually scrap all the above. Linux will have become LCARS from Star Trek: The Next Generation. We'll be able to talk to our computers, thus requiring very little input devices other than our voices. And go around with officially-licenced Star Trek PADDs. That'll be the future. I know this because I've already seen it on telly.

Hardly every mentioned

Because it will underlie most computing applications in the world, people won't talk about it - just the applications that run on top of it. Whether you are a FOSS coder or a proprietary, you will differentiate yourself by what the user sees, not what is under the hood.

So KDE, Gnome, LXDE and sfce won't go away; they will be joined by a plethora of interfaces designed for different situations - cars, aeroplanes, trains, coaches, etc. etc.


Since we all have our brain implants installed, Linux will be the funny voice in your head constantly talking to you:
Mum is calling....
Deadline tomorrow....
Next turn left....
Tuxradar updated....
Home temperature set to 20 °C....
You got mail.....

only seperated by advertisement jingles like
"You passed IKEA where you can buy 2 bedroom for the price of one only today"


we still can call Emacs M-x shut-the-f*ck-up

Totally new way of working

We will boot into a system which great us with a single window which we will call a frame. Within this frame there will be panels which we call buffer. There will be a single command line at the bottom which we call minibuffer. We refer to the cursor as pointer and can set marks to define what we will call a region.
There will be wizard like keystrokes decrypted in a strange code starting with M- or C- and these spells will be of immense power. Finally we can install a shear amount of apps/add-ons which we will call "modes".
And there will be a church and within this church there will be a sanskript... and we will call it elisp.

Ohhhh it will be so wonderful!


...we'll all be running MS Linux... lol

My glass is half empty...

At my age I may not be around to see it evolve...

However IF it goes anything like Linpus Linux then I'll be glad not to be around... ;oD


To heiowge...

"MS Linux"

That was called Xenix... ;o)


Linux on a stick?

Well, Linux on two sticks perhaps. Those are the two sticks I'll be rubbing together to try to make a fire, in my cave, if I'm unlucky enough to live that long.

Linux on Acid

One version of the kernel will run in the DNA of a simple biological cell. Organelles will be devices. A network organelle will code proteins from electrical stimulus and vice versa, allowing an interface between biological and electronic machinery. Hobbyists will program their linux cells to eat, grow, and excrete all sorts of organic substances.

For the Linux scene in

For the Linux scene in general I feel there needs to be few distros because I believe people get confused by the sheer number of choices. I also think there are to many different desktops, again I believe this confuses people. Its like Linux is competing with itself so I see some slimming down and a focus on competing more with Windows and Mac.

To make Linux more popular in the home I also feel we need more top quality games. With few distros and therefore fewer coders working on distros perhaps those "redindant" coders could work on these games. I feel there will also be coders left over who can work on more applications

I see a bright future for Linux but it will be more focused due to less distros and desktops.

For how Linux actually looks, ease of use is the key so see the terminal being tucked away just as Dos is now in Windows. I also see less menus but folders on the desktop containing programs instead.

Doom on you!

Windows and Mac will eventually fall under the might of Linux (with some help from BSD) but after the war Mike will turn to the dark side and start Mikeosoft the new proprietry software giant, which will put a non-free editions of MikeOS on every server, desktop, notebook, netbook, tablet, smartphone, dumb phone, ebook reader, tv, gps and even nintendo 64! None shall survive GNU/Linux will be CRUSHED! Mwhahahahaha!!!!!!!?!!!!!!!!!

A few good distros

I reckon that there will be a few really good distros that will go mainstream and be used by many, perhaps just 3 or 4. The others will still be there, fulfilling specialist niche roles or just used by those who love them.
I think it will, even on the desktop, become either no. 1 or no. 2, with Mac OS (whatever it might be called then), with less MS Windows.
Maybe there will even be a completely new distro to rival Ubuntu, that will be radically different to all other OSes and work really well, but still based on Linux.
As for the kernel, it will have moved on so much with far better features.
I also see Linux PCs that boot instantly, can do much multitasking and taking advantage of the advanced hardware.
And it will still be FREE!

The next step...

The past decade has been working towards mobility and ease of use. Though many may not like the way Gnome 3 and Unity approach ease of use, keen users of quicklaunchers like GnomeDo and Quicksilver should have (I have) found these very intuitive.

So what's the next logical step? Telling your computer what to do. If linux continues to be strong on mobile devices it seems logical to me that look become less important and listening does. Why tap at all? Historically voice control has been rubbish, Linux has been a hotbed for innovation for years, so let Apple, Google and MS muck around with touch and lets get on with innovating the next step.

looking into my crystal ball . . .

I foresee more kernel bloat as microsoft becomes the top contributor of cod;, thousands of more new linux distros; and millions of fragmented projects with unresolved bugs. Path naming will also radically change when Apple purchases a patent on the forward slash and starts suing . . .

. . . Pulse audio will probably still crash as well.

same as today...

Linux users will be kicking back and running sh*t while the Tech press babbles on about the rumored iNuron_5 interface from Apple...

I believe they will still be

I believe they will still be waiting for the year of the desktop. :P

A terminal

All society goes through stages of development, boom and decay. Linux will descend into hedonism and lacklustre motivation as time progresses, shown in it's return to the command line for a user interface. America will fail too.

invisible and very obvious

I think Linux will disappear behind the scenes especially as cloud computing becomes ubiquitous. Every interface from the mobile/tablets/desktops/Kinects will be customized for each user. For that matter, even Windows, MAC OS will not have a uniform interface anymore. Only application developers would ever come to know the real face of Linux.

On the other hand, the 2020 generation of students studying computer engineering will break their teeth on tiny computers running Linux and regard the venerable OS with awe.

We won't be using computers...

Computers will be using us. Skynet/Matrix anyone? Bet that's Linux powered...!

If the trend goes on...

... Linux will be powering the internet, almost every smartphone, low powered device, high-end business solution and many, many more things, but sysadmins will still be laughing at us if we ask for Linux support to use the email system at the workplace, and we will still have to beg for new hardware to work properly...

Depends for who

For my mum and dad it'll probably become even more transparent and the path to launching the application they want will be even shorter and there will be fewer applications to choose from, with *everything* streamlined and automated to the point of being a black box that just works. And let's face it, even more things will be done in a browser and the operating system will become even less important to them. And maybe, just maybe, the OSs will become an almost cost free commodity and completely irrelevant, relegated to being a platform for a browser to run on and Microsoft Windows will live only on games consoles. All praise our Google overlords.

For me it'll be the same as 10 years ago, except I'll be able to fit more terminals in X because 30" screens will be even cheaper.

Linux Desktop

The Desktop of the future will become easier to use if you do what the
developers thought you would, and more of a pain if you deviate from
the norm. To my mind the best linux desktop ever was KDE2. For myself
if I am still alive I will if at all possible still be using Fluxbox
and Rox. Also big corporations are taking over. MySql is owned by
Adobe; qt is owned by Nokia and is sort of an orphan now; Google
has a lot of control over much else and wants you to do everything on
the web so they can push advertising at you; so there is the
possiblity that the linux desktop may disappear or become unuseable.


This is the first impossible to answer question you have asked :(
Probably running on a chip implanted into my head powered by blood sugar.

We interrupt this fantasy for a reality break...

It will look however I want it to look.

This is LINUX.

That is the entire point of it.

Linux will be ubiquitous...

I believe the Linux will be ubiquitous, whether the man or woman in the street knows it or not, except, however, in the UK public sector.

From mobile computing/media/telephony devices, through TV set-top boxes, in-vehicle (not just car but train, bus, aeroplane etc.) control, navigation, information and entertainment systems to computing for big science projects and any super computer worth its salt, Linux will be there if it isn't already.

I fear that where Linux will continue to be absent is in the UK public sector. We've seen governments of the last decade throw copious sums of money on public sector IT projects and outside contractors have supplied IT systems that have been delivered late, over-run on budget and are not always substantially fit for purpose.

Linux has a superior security track-record compared to proprietary OSes and the open file formats used in Linux systems are essential for archiving data that is a matter of public record. The openness of the formats and programmes also prevents problems with vendor lock-in, termination of vendor support and the vendor going out of business. Did we get these advantages with those projects?

For Governments in PRC

In 10 years, Linux might be popular in governments, especially in China, where governments developed some distros, and it will also be popular in schools, which is coming true.


No offence Sidock in this post but there is nothing wrong with old hardware and I find it offensive to make comments about such.

Not everybody can afford the latest and greatest and the beauty of Linux is that it runs well on the latest and old stuff and you have choice over what distro to use to suit that machine.

The comment was stupid.

I agree with spegal66

If it weren't for linux support on older hardware I wouldn't be at this point in my linux history. In fact, I'd probably still be using Windows.

Why? I am using the first PC I ever had that was using up to date hardware. Prior to that, every PC I owned used old Pentium processors, had PCI (but not PCI-E) and had DDR1 RAM. I got into Linux to avoid Vista. If it hadn't supported older hardware, I'd have stuck with windows.

Since I could only afford my new PC by using Linux, I wouldn't have bought it because I wouldn't have got it on the offchance I could run Linux because I am unable to afford that kind of money for a box that may or may not work. I know now that it has no issues, but if I had no linux experience at that point it's not a leap I'd have made.

Unity / Gnome3 type of thing with voice recognition

Personally I think Linux will probably be the leader in the market. Similar really to how Microsoft took dominance in the network market.

Tablet PC's, Unity and Gnome 3 are leading the way here. Unity is brilliant, both in conception and design with forethought to the future. Gnome misses the point but not by much.

To the nay sayers I say: watch and see. This is only the beginning of the changes. The real challenge for open source software is voice recognition. We are terribly weak in this area.

I can easily imagine a voice operated interface in Linux, with the backing of a sparse Unity style interface. KDE and Gnome 2 style interfaces are dead. OpenBox, Unity and Gnome are where the immediate future is.

Sparsity and efficiency should be the catch words of the 21st Century Linux.


Linux in the future? It's a

Linux in the future?

It's a great OS and it will be a great OS in 10, 15, etc years!

are u freaking kidding me?

@Leo McArdle that was hillarious and mean ...Hurd heck no it took 20 years for gnu to develop a technology which is now 10 years behind!

bloated desktop

KDE and Gnome will be even more bloated and M$ like than they are today. The kernel (the important bit) will continue to be superb. The command line will still be king.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Username:   Password: