2016 was the Best Year for Linux

2016 was unequivocally Linux’s best year yet. It’s on more devices than ever before and more secure than ever before. Were there embarrassing moments along the way? Yes, I kept reasonably close to the news and watched a few of these evolve and get patched as quickly as they were found.

I’d also like to predict that 2017 will end being Linux’s best year yet. And I’ll even go one year further than other folks making predictions and say that 2018 will top them all.

For those of you who are glass half empty folks, let’s talk about a couple of the flaws found in 2016. LUKS looked pretty bad and Dirty Cow caused a few headaches, but the latter had a patch available within hours. And because it’s worth being redundant, let’s remember there was a patch within hours. While some would argue that the potential attack time for dirty cow was nine years, the published attack time was only a matter of hours. If you want to be a glass half empty type of person go ahead and set your clock for nine years. I still think that it was Linux’s best year ever and next year will be even better.

Why can I say this? Because Linux is honest. Honesty doesn’t mean perfection. It means openness. Linux’s faults are out there and ready for the world to see. Sometimes they’re caught early and sometimes they’re caught later.

2016 did burst the bubble on the narrative that in the land of a thousand eyeballs all bugs are shallow. It’s sounds nice, and I’m sure some projects run that way, but that’s not the way things are done anymore. I hope in 2017 we can make a better argument for open source security, and we can do it by talking about our talent management.

Outside of the honesty in the open source ecosystem, the open source talent management is our second greatest asset and every project lead knows how to leverage it. Jim Collins’ book Good to Great highlights business practices that if followed drastically improve a company’s performance in the long term. One of the most core principles is hiring the right talent, even if you have to wait for that talent to emerge. Linux’s talent management is unsurpassed because the power of that talent is published.

Want to know how good someone is? Read their code. Want to know how passionate they are? Read their posts. Bryan Lunduke has a full time job for being loud and passionate and remarkably entertaining while he flirts with a bit of rudeness. I know two project leads that recruit hires specifically from their volunteer pools. I’ve heard of Redhat and others doing the same. From what I can see, the researchers finding the bugs in the code aren’t locked behind ivory towers of corporate influence, they’re emancipated. They get hired to work on what they love and what they’re good at. They find the flaws and responsibly disclose what they’ve found. Because of their paycheck, they have the ability to research the technology that often doesn’t get looked at.

Yes these flaws get press. Shouldn’t they? Isn’t press good? Doesn’t it encourage us to audit more and improve? We’re doing that. Are the other guys? I’m confident that Redmond and Cupertino have areas that don’t gather much attention. I have a hiDPI screen and sometimes run Windows 10. I can see the areas they didn’t think anyone would notice. Not everything in Windows 10 has a hiDPI icon. I noticed. That same machine is a Lenovo. For the first time since 2009, it’s not a MacBook. Why? Because when I look at the MacBook, it’s easy to see there’s a whole division at Cupertino that isn’t getting much attention.

While our efforts may be more ad-hoc, our talent management program is better in the long term. My current employer hires only on the basis of certifications and I can see how that affects our workforce. Since they started enforcing certifications, we stopped innovating and instead merely executed. While I’m not knocking certifications, organizations who rely solely on certifications for hires often miss out on the right talent to take them from good to great. While the open source community has its share of certifications, it more importantly has an open repository of talent information.

How do we combat the glass is half empty people in the blogosphere and the occasional pessimistic podcast? Talk about our talent library. Our talent library created some of the most inventive and functional desktop interfaces ever dreamed of and only for 2% of the desktop market share. Imagine how good things will get as that percentage grows! We’re talking a lot about this year about Solus, but with a larger market share how many more Soluses are we going to see ahead? Our talent library brought us a great 2016, and it’s destined to bring us an even better 2017.

Jacob Roecker on Linkedin
Jacob Roecker
Jacob Roecker is an addictive hobbyist and Linux user, father of four, veteran, college student who self published three books and dabbles with media production, management, photography, videography, and long distance running.  Jacob's love for Linux comes from its versatility as a tinkering operating system.  Jacob has often found the only elegant solutions to some of his tinkering problems have come from the community behind the penguin.  

Jacob's practical about what he uses and when.  He often composes on his MacBook Pro because if he was using his Linux desktop machine full time he'd probably never get any work done because he'd be trying out one of the many cool new projects someone just published and shared with the community.  Sometimes it's good to use an OS that doesn't have as much freedom. LinkedIn

3 thoughts on “2016 was the Best Year for Linux”

  1. The speed in which problems are fixed are practically instant. Often I’ll hear about something on social media at work and go home to find that my distro already has an update to take care of it.

  2. I don’t subscribe to the principle that Linux is impervious. But I HAVE been using it since 2003/’04 and I can say its a lot MORE secure than Windows! While the shallow bug mentality is fading ever more into the background, its not because of a proliferation of viruses cropping up for Linux and open source, but rather its a lack of programmers who should be taking the place from the old guard. As for the vulnerabilities and flaws that Linux has discovered throughout the years? I’m not particularly worried about them, they eventually have been / will be patched in as rapid a speed as is possible. I actually feel safer running Linux with no anti-virus software on it….than to be running a Windows 7/10 machine with 8 levels of anti-virus, malware, and Trojan attack protection on it. And its simply because of SELinux and the ability to go through the access and permissions yourself and set them accordingly. When you throw in the encryption of folders and files, the ability to move your /home directory and any other directory that you deem important enough to move…to whatever location you so wish, as long as it doesn’t disrupt the usage and performance of your machine

  3. Good article Joe !! It’s interesting when you talk about Fedora. In the mid 90’s I discovered Linux through working for an ISP ( back when we had dial-up services ) and first played around with Red Hat Linux, which has now pretty much been superseded with Fedora. Having used Ubuntu and now Mint for some time as my daily driver I tried Fedora and recently Korora. It was kinda like I really wanted to like Fedora, since for me that was closer to where my Linux experience all started but I kept gravitating back to Mint.

    With Fedora if you love troubleshooting issues and learning how to fix them up then it’s a good way to go ( in fact I still have a Virtual Machine of Fedora for this reason ), but with no LTS for Fedora I just find myself going back to Mint for stability ( amidst my mental frustration of not convincing myself that Fedora is the better release for me – using .rpm brought back such wonderful memories 🙂 ).

    The only reason I even use Windows 10 is because I still enjoy gaming and while Linux has made massive strides in this area, Windows still holds the monopoly for gaming. If I could play all the games I enjoy on Linux natively then I wouldn’t even bother with a Windows partition. Anyway, keep up the good work, keep making those fantastic tutorial videos … even as a somewhat intermediate Linux user ( yes, it could be gnu/linux but I am leaving that for another discussion), I find many of you videos helpful and I have learn’t a thing or too from them. so thank you 🙂

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