What to Expect in Open-Source Software in the Next 6-12 Months?

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What to Expect in Open-Source Software in the Next 6-12 Months?

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to gaze into the crystal command line and see what 2020 might hold.

· Open Source Zone ·
Free Resource

Interest in and the usage of open source continued to grow in 2019. Major highlights were Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub, Red Hat’s acquisition by IBM, the backlash against Kubernetes (for everything) began, increased interest in machine learning and artificial intelligence frameworks, and so much more.

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to gaze into the crystal command line and see what 2020 might hold.

You may also like: How to Run a Successful Open-Source Project

1. Enterprise Involvement and Consolidation

Whether it be to save money, appear as good ecosystem citizens, or to embrace the flexibility genuinely, it’s unlikely that the enterprise’s love for open source will relent in 2020. With major acquisitions in 2019 from IBM and Microsoft, I predict this consolidation will continue, with a handful of high profile ecosystem acquisitions from traditional “outsiders”, and smaller “Acqui-hires” of projects. It’s likely these will be in the areas of scalable architecture, monitoring, and orchestration.

2. Conference Overload to Explode

While not all conferences cover open source, the nature of open source tends to dominate their programs. It’s good to learn, share knowledge, and to be inquisitive, but in 2019, it felt like there were way too many conferences, and too many people listing their job title as “conference speaker.” It’s not just that there are too many conferences, each conference has too many tracks. I lost count of the number of people who recounted to me that “there are too many tracks, and I can’t decide which to choose,” or worse for organizers, “There’s too much to choose from, next time I’ll just watch the live streams.”

I predict 2020 will begin in much the same way, but at some point, a handful of well-known conference franchises will close their doors, and single or dual-track conferences will make a comeback.

3. Docker Drowns

Earlier in 2019, I attended KubeCon Europe; it was odd to see the project that kickstarted the recent container craze languishing in a far-flung corner. Whatever you think of their technology, it was sad to see. With 2019 seeing Docker unceremoniously selling their SaaS offering, and cutting their (only?) revenue stream, it’s hard to know how the project will sustain itself financially. I have always held a soft spot for Docker, and I hope they find a way to survive, maybe related to point 1.

4. Self-Hosted Git

Neither of the hosted Git platforms had a particularly good year public-relations-wise. GitHub suffered from it’s Microsoft acquisition, and it’s connections with the controversial ICE program. GitLab introduced a new tracking policy, and then quickly rolled back after public backlash. All this led developers to realize that perhaps they trust their valuable code to too few. In 2020, I predict a compelling user-friendly, self-hosted, truly decentralized GitHub/Lab alternative will emerge, and cause some high profile projects to switch.

Interestingly, the more we move away from centralized platforms, the harder it will be for people to find projects, and I wonder what effect that might have on open source contributions.

5. Open Source All the Things

2019 was an excellent year for applying open source to broader contexts, such as the open-source design movement, and I even came across open source policy platforms at the EU commission. I predict this trend will grow in 2020, with rises in open-source practices and tools across other verticles such as business decisions, project planning, (non-technical) writing, and more.

6. The Year of the Winux Desktop

Not wanting to dominate this post with too many Microsoft mentions, pigs have been flying, and hell has frozen over the past few years, so the company continues to dominate open-source news. I wrote about the Windows subsystem for Linux in the past, and it continues to rapidly improve, bringing the benefits of open source and proprietary operating systems together in near-perfect harmony. Well, for developers anyway. Coupled with Windows containers likely to reach parity with Linux containers, will 2020 be the year of the Linux desktop, running on Windows?

7. The Year of the Browser

OK, fair enough, the past four years or so have already been the year(s) of the browser, but 2020 could be the year that web assembly (WASM) pushes that even further. I am not a fan of doing everything in the browser, preferring old school applications, but WASM is making it possible for developers to build near-native performance applications that can run in a browser. This reduces cross-platform maintenance demands for application developers, and is likely to see even more pushed to the browser, and even more possible.

Over to You

And what do you think? Did I miss blockchain? Will 2020 be the year we find a sustainable solution to maintainer burnout? Will there be a project open-sourced that I haven’t anticipated? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Further Reading

How to Run a Successful Open-Source Project

Architecting a Modern Digital Platform With Open Source Software

DZone Guide to Open Source: Democratizing Development

containers, docker, git, github, gitlab, linux, open source, wasm, web assembly

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