The H Year: 2012's Wins, Fails and Mehs
by Dj Walker-Morgan and Fabian Scherschel
Welcome to The H's look back at 2012. We've broken down the events of the year by what The H thinks was full of win, who was getting on the failboat and what made us just say "Meh". From the corporate giants and how they handled open source and the community to the battle to be the best browser, and from the best new open source software to the worst mis-steps in the community.
Canonical and Red Hat
Win – Ubuntu 12.04 LTS – It’s been a mixed year for Canonical, but lets start with what they got right; Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is a good long term support release and it should serve the Ubuntu community well. Canonical’s moves to backport particular features to it is also good and should mean there’s less need to jump onto later, non-LTS releases to say get it installed on say a Windows 8 Secure Boot enabled PC, thats’s good thing because...
Meh – Ubuntu 12.10 – The first non-LTS release after 12.04 was a bit of a non-event, save for a particular feature, and the experience here at The H with our installations is that it is generally wobblier than previous non-LTS versions. Canonical are trying new things with 12.10 but it’s very much a stepping stone to 13.04. But anything good in 12.10 was obscured by one feature...
Fail – Shopping Lens focuses on issues – In the later weeks of 12.10’s development, a new feature for Unity which expanded what had been, by default, a desktop file search and launch feature into a “send your search off to Amazon, via Canonical's servers, in case you are actually looking for a plush termite and not wanting to start your terminal” feature. No one, apart from Canonical people, has been happy with this implementation which drew criticism from the FSF and the EFF. Canonical have put an off switch onto the feature now, but the legacy of the “shopping lens surprise” will, we suspect, stick with them for a while.
Win – The Billion Dollar brain of Red Hat – This year saw Red Hat break the billion dollar revenue mark with the company showing a maturity of strategy which has served it well, growing from just being a maker of an Enterprise Linux distribution to today’s operating system, middleware, virtualisation, cloud and management experts, and all, at least currently, with a strong focus on being open source.
Meh – Fedora 18 slips into next year – Delays in Fedora releases are not a new thing, but the delays in Fedora 18 have been notable mainly because they’ve already disrupted the Fedora 19 schedule. Still, the development process seems to be back on track and many of the right questions are being asked within the Fedora developer community.
Linux all around
Win – The Linux community’s rebooting Secure Boot – Microsoft’s requirement that OEMs start using UEFI’s Secure Boot function had caused much concern within the Linux community, but when that had died down, developers at Red Hat, SUSE, Canonical and the Linux Foundation worked on a range of solutions for Linux distributions, large and small, to use if they wanted to boot on a machine with Secure Boot enabled and a user not capable of disabling it. Good ideas and information was exchanged, code was written and answers were found; that's how things should work.
Win – Torvalds Millenium Prize – Linus Torvalds shared the prestigious Millennium Technology Prize with Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. The Finnish Technology Academy awards the prize every other year to reward inventors and discoverers of life-enhancing technological innovations. Torvalds, who got honoured for his work on Linux, shared the prize money of €1.2 million with Dr. Yamanaka who discovered that mature cells can be converted back into IPS stem cells, a great boon for biologists and medical researchers around the world.