Linux Faces Major Revisions for Mobile, Consumer Devices

By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-01-03 Print this article Print

title=Linux Moving Away from Old X Window Interface} 

Even though Unix- and Linux-based systems have been using the X Window interface as its base system since the mid-80s, there have been many complaints, such as it being too complicated, too slow, and too cluttered. Android and Mac OS X are the notable exception as operating systems that don't use X Windows at all. Along with Canonical, Red Hat's Fedora community has also announced plans to move to the Wayland graphics stack.

Ubuntu's next version, Natty Narwhal, with the new interface is not expected till April and Fedora expects to release Fedora 15 with the new version in May.

The LibreOffice application suite made a lot of waves since it announced its breakaway from the Oracle-controlled Open Office last fall. Since then, it's been fairly quiet, as it works on maintaining and improving the office productivity suite. Oracle has gone ahead with its plans with OpenOffice, by rebranding and launching professional versions for the desktop and the cloud.

As a fork, LibreOffice has to prove that it will be viable for the long term and not just fade away. As it signed up a lot of backers from the start, such as Google, Canonical, and Red Hat, there is some expectation that it will continue to offer a robust alternative to both Microsoft Office and Oracle's suite. However, for LibreOffice to remain relevant, the development community needs to update the package to compete with the features found in more recent versions of Microsoft Office-and not remain stuck on Office 97 compatibility.

Linux will continue becoming more mainstream as manufacturers start providing open source drivers. While there are plenty of open source drivers available for most the latest devices, the "hunt for drivers" game is still a headache. Broadcom recently came out with an open source wireless driver and AMD announced Linux drivers for the Ontario Fusion chip. With more hardware manufacturers planning for and developing open source drivers for their latest products, for both desktops and mobile devices, more and more companies start collaborating on Linux-based partnerships, such as Intel and Nokia on Meego.

The low-power ARM processors will drive more mobile devices running Linux and other Linux-based systems. Mobile devices are expected to outpace PC sales, which feeds into ARM's strengths. As Linux continues to exhibit power-friendly capabilities, like the ones Red Hat introduced into the Linux kernel with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, it's likely that ARMs and other low-power chips will become more popular for PCs and servers, as well. With the operating system being able to take on heavier loads with less horsepower, low-power servers may become more commonplace in the data center.


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