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The H Year: 2009's Wins, Fails and Mehs

Linux and other open source

Win - A year of mostly good Linux releases - Distributions evolved well in 2009 with the release of Ubuntu 9.10, Fedora 12, openSUSE 11.2 and Debian 5.0 Lenny, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You may have your particular favourite, but no one can say that the major distributions haven't kept up with the latest developments. Of course, there is a price to pay for that...

Fail - Ubuntu 9.04 - But for every good step forward, there's a mis-step. Most notable distribution mis-step in 2009 was Ubuntu 9.04 which arrived with some severe issues with Intel based graphics. A combination of a transition to a new way of handling graphics hardware and Ubuntu's fixed schedule led to some new users of Ubuntu having a far from satisfactory experience. Workarounds and, six months later, Ubuntu 9.10, fixed the problem but damage to the reputation for solid releases has been done.

Win - VLC 1.0, Seamonkey 2.0 and KDE 4.3 - The very popular open source, and cross platform, VLC media player finally reached version 1.0 status. KDE 4.3, the desktop environment, was released and met with general approval, with the KDE developers delivering a stable version of the software which could finally entice KDE 3.5 users to upgrade. The Mozilla developers also delivered SeaMonkey 2.0, the all-in-one browser, email, newsgroup, IRC and HTML editing application, which is in many ways the spiritual successor of the original Netscape Communicator but with a Firefox heart.

Win - QT goes LGPL - At the start of the year, Nokia announced Qt 4.5, the GUI framework, would become LGPL licensed software. Since then Nokia has adopted a much more open approach to the community. The year ended with a new 4.6 release of Qt adding support for animation and multitouch interfaces making it more amenable to implementing the next generation of user interfaces.

Meh - The Mono Debate - The debate over whether Mono - the GPL licensed implementation of the C# language and CLR runtime - should be accepted as free software and included in Linux distributions has run on over the year. Microsoft's patent promise did little to dampen the discussion, but the Mono developers continue working away to make their platform better. One alternative to Mono is Java, but that is embroiled in another tussle...

Meh - Oracle, Sun, MySQL and the EC - In April, Oracle announced its intention to buy the somewhat financially unwell Sun Microsystems, owner of OpenOffice, MySQL and Java. After passing the US regulators, the acquisition came under scrutiny of the European Commission regulators, which led to an in-depth investigation in September. At issue was Oracle's proposed ownership of MySQL and the case has yet to be resolved, but it has had ramifications as uncertainty has plagued Sun's numerous open source projects.

Epic Fail - SCO - The company's long battle against Linux has almost come to an end, with the company in Chapter 11 under the control of a trustee who has fired Darl McBride, CEO and apparent architect of SCO's litigation strategy against Linux and Linux users. The fat lady has been singing for a while for SCO but it's taking a long time for her to finish the aria and leave the stage.

And that wraps up some of the more notable highlights and lowlights of 2009. Happy New Year from The H!

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