New millennium predictions are easier than ever

Well, its predictions time again, and boy is it easy this year.

Well, its predictions time again, and boy is it easy this year.

My first prediction is that we will see the 2.4 Version of the Linux kernel arrive early in 2001 and Version 2.4.1 by the middle of the year. Version 2.4.1 will include support for the Reiserfs journaling file system, as well as a list of other nice enhancements. Unfortunately, 2.4.1 will not include the capability of creating a core dump of all running threads when a multithreaded application crashes, nor will it include the capability of assigning each thread its own process identification.

I predict that people will submit patches for these features, but Linus Torvalds will not approve them, so the next kernel will not implement these features.

I predict that this is the year Sun Microsystems will licence Java under the GPL (General Public License) as part of a multiple licensing scheme. The open-source community will continue to shun Java on the grounds that it's not true open source, primarily because they resent the fact that Sun wants to approve changes to the official Java before they are implemented.

This will be the year Linux-based appliances begin to gain more notoriety, although you won't see a flood of them quite yet. In future years we'll see Linux-based microwave ovens that read the bar code on your frozen dinner and program themselves for optimum cooking. Eventually frozen dinners will include disposable smart chips that communicate directly with the oven. And thanks to Linux, these appliances will be cheaper than if they were based on proprietary software. Of course, the Free Software Foundation leader Richard Stallman will call all the consumer magazines and insist the editors refer to these ovens as GNU microwaves because they depend on GNU software to be useful.

As predicted by Al Gore, President George W Bush will cut taxes in such a way that most of the benefits go to "the rich." Unfortunately, the recession left behind from the Clinton administration will have collapsed the technology stocks so much that by April 15 "the rich" will consist of about 37 people.

Intel will ramp up promotion of its brand-new Pentium IIII this year. You'll note that the version is marked with the improper roman numeral IIII instead of the correct IV. That's because it's cheaper to add another line to the existing stock of Pentium IIIs than it is to erase two lines and substitute a V. (Thanks to cartoonist Illiad for his comic strip, User Friendly, for the inspiration on this one.)

Advanced Micro Devices will continue to stomp all over Intel until late in the year when the real Pentium 4 arrives. Then AMD will probably stomp on Intel some more, but at least Intel will have some realistic competition and a more credible product road map.

Windows 2000 will continue to lose market share to Linux this year. Microsoft is already trying to offset this reduction in planned revenue by being more aggressive about making people pay for any unlicenced copies of software, even if the customer has simply lost the original licences. I also predict that as part of its cost-cutting measures, Microsoft will adopt Linux as its standard server and desktop platform -- a move that will create a substantial decrease in expenses due to reduced maintenance costs.

Nevertheless, I predict you'll still see a continued reduction in profits at Microsoft, driving the stock price even lower than the huge dip it took last year (from about $US120 per share to $US41 per share at the time of this writing). Because Microsoft will no longer be able to offer instant wealth via stock options to its employees anymore, Microsoft will use other means to attract the best and brightest. To start with, Microsoft will start paying them what they're worth.

As for the grunts, however, I predict Microsoft will lower their salaries or ask for more productivity. (I knew it! You've been sleeping again!) In return, Microsoft will promise not to storm their homes looking for unlicenced copies of Windows.

Finally, I predict that the Opera 4.0 web browser for Linux will be finished sometime in 2001. Maybe.

Nicholas Petreley is the founding editor of LinuxWorld. Reach him at

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