Dreaming of an open source CES 2012

Linux and other free software may have played a big role but next year could be even better

It's been an interesting week watching all the many products coming out of this year's CES, with all their shiny new features and innovative appeal.

It's hard not to be impressed by the sheer inventiveness of this industry, and all the ways it finds to satisfy human needs.

Exciting as this year's debuts have been, however, I can't help but think ahead with fresh hopes for next year -- hopes for a bigger presence for open source software, specifically, beyond just today's ubiquitous Android.

To be sure, we did see plenty of Android innovations in the smartphone and tablet realms, in particular -- more, in fact, than I've been able to keep track of. But Android is only partly open, of course, and -- as it was recently noted -- most Android tablet devices fail miserably at complying with the GNU Public License.

Glad as I am for its success, it's only partially open, and there are many other compelling alternatives that deserve attention too.

What would I like to see at next year's CES? Here are just a few of my dreams:

1. Ubuntu, Front and Center

Canonical's Ubuntu Linux distribution did make an appearance at CES on a series of ARM-powered laptops debuted by Chinese firm Nufront, but as far as I can tell, that's been pretty much the extent of its presence there

Given its rapidly growing popularity, however, there is no reason it shouldn't take center stage. It's free, it's excellent, and it's innovating many new features of its own.

I'd like to see Ubuntu featured prominently both as a stand-alone operating system on laptops, notebooks and tablets, and I'd also like to see it offered routinely as a dual-boot option.

Certain software monoliths would fight this tooth and nail, of course, but the open source operating system is now more than ready for the consumer masses. Why else, after all, would the masses rush to put it onto every new device, including Google's Cr-48 and the Nook Color?

Ubuntu is ready, and hardware manufacturers need to recognize that fact in the wares they demonstrate at CES next year.

2. Linux-Friendly Technologies

Broadcom on Monday will announce that it has joined the Linux Foundation, citing the growing numbers of customers that use the open source operating system.

"There is no question: Linux has become a major platform for communications devices and technologies," said Michael Hurlston, senior vice president and general manager for Broadcom's WLAN line of business. "Our decision to open source the drivers for Broadcom's 802.11 chipsets is in response to our growing base of customers using Linux and is the first of what we expect to be many open development success stories."

With this move, hardware makers everywhere should be seeing the writing on the wall: Linux users are now too numerous to ignore. Even if the technologies themselves are not based on Linux, it's time for all hardware, software and services to be made Linux-friendly through the necessary drivers and other support.

Netflix, I hope you're listening!

3. Small, Cheap Devices

Tablets were clearly all the rage this year, but prices are still pretty high. With open source software and low-power ARM, there's no reason they can't be more affordable and accessible to all.

In fact, I expect to see ARM used in an increasingly wide variety of devices, mobile and otherwise. We have enough pricey "i-gadgets;" now we need more small, cheap options for the rest of the world.

4. Alternative Energies

Next year, I'd like to see solar and other alternative energy options incorporated into more consumer devices so that we can all be less dependent on the grid. Mobile computing is now such a big part of life around the globe that such features need to be standard.

5. Open Source Enterprises

Open-source software is often free, but it can also provide a nice business for companies willing to provide paid support. Just look at Red Hat.

I'd like to see more businesses emerge around key pieces of open source software and display their wares at CES, providing consumers with more options than just the usual "Thing 7." LibreOffice, in fact, could soon be a great basis for such innovation.

It was an impressive CES this year, but I expect openness to be a bigger factor next year. Here's hoping at least some of these dreams come true.

Check out our complete coverage of CES 2011.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags open sourceLinuxAndroidoperating systemscanonicalGreen technologyCanonconsumer electronicsCESConsumer Electronics Show (CES)non-WindowsCES 2011

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?