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Five open source technologies for 2012

By Joab Jackson
December 28, 2011 06:05 AM ET

Stig is still a bit of a mystery, as it hasn't been actually released yet. But observers are predicting it could fit a niche in the social networks and other applications that keep a wide range of data. The needs of social networking services are inherently different from other types of jobs, and would benefit from a database attuned to its needs, Lucas explained. "You can't be a relevant service in this space without being able to scale to a planetary size," he said.

Stig is currently operating on one server at Tagged, though the company expects to expand its use to the point where it will be the sole database for the company. Originally, the developers were planning to source code by December, but moved back the release to sometime in 2012.

"What I did see looked very interesting," said Dan McCreary, a semantic solutions architect for the Kelly-McCreary & Associates consulting firm. He praised the database's functional language architecture, which should ease the deployment of the database across multiple servers.

 

Linux Mint

Despite years of advocacy on the part of open source adherents, Linux has never had a strong presence on the desktop. But usually there is always one user-friendly Linux distribution to use, as an alternative to Microsoft Windows. In recent years, Canonical's Ubuntu has fulfilled this role, though the increasingly popular Linux Mint may trump Ubuntu by being even easier to use.

Software engineer Clement Lefebvre first crafted Linux Mint after a gig of reviewing other Linux distributions for various online forums. From this work, Lefebvre developed ideas about what features should be in the ideal distribution. Just as Canonical appropriated the Debian Linux distribution for its own massively popular Ubuntu, Lefebvre used Ubuntu as the base for Linux Mint. Today, the Linux Mint project is funded by donations, advertising revenue from its Web site, and income derived from user searches, the last through a controversial partnership with DuckDuckGo.

Linux Mint is designed specifically for people who just want a desktop OS, and who don't wish to learn more about how Linux works (i.e. non-Linux hobbyists). This approach makes installing and running the software easy and maintenance pretty much a nonissue. Even more than Ubuntu, Mint emphasizes easy usability, at the expense of not using new features until they have proven themselves trustworthy.

For instance, Mint eschews the somewhat controversial Unity desktop interface, which Canonical adopted to more easily port Ubuntu to mobile platforms. Instead, Mint sticks with the more widely known, and more mature, Gnome interface.

Such rigorous adherence to usability may be helping Linux Mint, much to the detriment of Ubuntu, in fact. The Linux Mint project claims its OS is now the fourth most widely used desktop OS in the world, after Windows, Apple Mac and Ubuntu. Over the past year, Mint has even usurped Ubuntu as the distribution that generates the most page views on the DistroWatch Linux news site, a metric generally thought to reflect the popularity of Linux distributions. No doubt 2012 will see only more growth for the OS.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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