Linux This Month: LibreOffice, CentOS news and our 2021 Linux predictions

Alex Alex 22 January
Linux This Month: LibreOffice, CentOS news and our 2021 Linux predictions

Today we'll be discussing some of the things that have happened this past month in the world of Linux. We'll start off with some CentOS news, Linux kernel 5.10 is finally out, LibreOffice 7.1 is now in public beta, Xfce 4.16 has been released. And we'll also share with you some of our 2021 Linux predictions.

The Future of CentOS

On December 8th, 2020, Chris Wright, the Red Hat CTO and Rich Bowen, the CentOS Project Community Manager announced that moving forward, there will be no CentOS Linux and only CentOS Stream. Also CentOS 8 support will end this year 2021 and CentOS 7 support is set to end in 2024. Stream was originally announced in September 2019 and serves as a quote, "a rolling preview of what's next in RHEL", unquote. CentOS, however originally served as a rebuilt free version of RHEL. So you can imagine that the community reaction is overwhelmingly negative. That includes the reaction of the CentOS Co-founder Greg Kurtzer, who has announced the launch of a new project, Rocky Linux. CloudLinux has also announced a CentOS clone named Lenix, whether Rocky Linux and Lenix turn into what CentOS used to be, is yet to be determined. But we all know when there's a strong community, possibilities are endless.

Linux Kernel 5.10 LTS released

Linux 5.10 is both the latest mainline kernel update and the latest long-term support release it's set to be maintained until 2026. The update includes a bunch of features and changes both big and small, including performance improvements to BTRFS operations, EXT4 gets a major write performance boost, hardware monitoring for AMD Zen3 processors, and support for Nintendo Switch JoyCons and Pro controllers.

LibreOffice 7.1 Office Suite Enters Beta

After six months of development, the document foundation has announced that LibreOffice 7.1 office suite is now available for public beta testing with the final release expected in early February 2021. This new version brings a ton of improvements and a few new features, including a new outline folding mode and new table formulas for Writer. Calc is getting better spell-checking performance, better searching in Autofilter, a new feature called Additions Dialog. Draw will now let you add visible signatures to existing PDF files. Impress will allow you to change animations for multiple objects at the same time. And math now offers full support for HTML colors. These are just some of the changes to make LibreOffice more stable and reliable.

Xfce 4.16 released

The Xfce 4.16 desktop environment has been officially released. This new stable version makes a number of visual changes, usability enhancements, and bug fixes, including an update to its icons and overall visual identity. Numerous improvements to the X11 windows manager, a new plugin for the Xfce4 panel to serve as both the status notifier and the system tray items support for fractional scaling, file manager improvements, fixes across the desktop and a number of other changes.

Linux 2021 prediction

With the new year upon us, I've consulted the Oracle. And I don't mean the one that does databases and here's what they told me will be some of those great things that will happen to us this year. First, I think this was the year that Microsoft's chokehold on the end-user computing world starts to slip even more with the recent acquisition of red hat by IBM and the Intel, HPE Clear Linux or ClearOS projects, momentum gains a lot of the same functionality that was previously restricted to windows is increasingly available via Linux and through the cloud.

The costs and security of deployment are huge issues and the inherent security advantages ability to customize every aspect of, and the new and innovative pricing models will cause savvy IS and IT managers to turn increasingly towards Linux for large client deployments, datacenter uses and even providing Windows, user and application end points via the cloud. Second, Microsoft will not take this laying down. And so we'll see Azure Spear gaining more functionality, attracting more vendors to make their products compatible and even Azure Sphere Guardian devices. That can be the interface between previously unconnected devices already in place and the Azure Security Services. There comes Skynet.

The Internet of Things will take off even more rapidly, not with silly things like internet connected, toasters and Apache enabled refrigerators, but with managed monitored, patched, updated, and secure real-world devices all without having to replace those before their end of the life. And third, the world of Linux distributions won't slow down any with Linux Mint, continuing its massive popularity, Ubuntu attempting a resurgence that may not happen. And Arch Linux users continuing to aggressively mention their distribution of choice without being asked.

Fedora will continue on in his current role. Open SUSE will slowly gain market share as more folks are looking for alternatives to the Red Hat behemoth that's being slowly absorbed into IBM land and us all bidding a cheerful farewell to the awesomeness that used to be CentOS. Moment of silence.

I think this'll be the year of ARM with Apple leading the way and porting over to ARM we'll see some real development horsepower applied to the platform. And even though it's a very closed ecosystem, I think there'll be some ripple effect, and you will see more ARM-based influence this year in the broader community. I mean, Ubuntu's last release had a version for Raspberry Pi, right?

Also, I think you're going to see a new Distro picking up major speed and adoption this year. I think that Rocky Linux is going to be the new hotness. This is due to changes in the CentOS project and the end of life of regular CentOS and the new Stream that replaced it. Rocky is a fork that means to take the place of CentOS for stable enterprise grade server workloads, so keep an eye on this one.

I think this might be the year that Linux gaming really takes off with all the new code base heading to arm led by Apple. I think there's going to be a drift away from DirectX, and we'll see Vulkan really up its game. The folks at Steam are making huge strides in getting major titles up on Linux and I think this year there'll be some deals made and that Linux on the desktop will get some major love. That's it for my predictions.

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