Great Linux Innovations Of 2008
Last year we had looked at The Greatest Linux Innovations Of 2007, and as this year ends, we have compiled a similar list of what we believe were some of the greatest Linux innovations or achievements of 2008. Among the innovations named this year were KDE 4, NetworkManager 0.7, new hardware companies standing behind open-source support, and the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix.
Below is our 2008 list with the highlights being listed in no particular order.
Just as the near year came about, KDE 4.0 was released. This major overhaul to the K Desktop Environment included porting the applications to the Qt 4.x tool-kit, introducing a new device integration framework, bringing forth the Plasma desktop and interface tools, and the Phonon multimedia API. This Linux desktop environment update was so huge that Google had even hosted a release event party.
KDE 4.0 was a bit rough around the edges, but KDE 4.1 was released in July that brought forth many refinements. The KDE community is currently preparing for the release of KDE 4.2 in January with even more features. Trolltech had also released the Qt tool-kit used by the K Desktop Environment under the GPLv3 license this year, was acquired by Nokia, and then renamed to Qt Software.
When the WINE project began as a compatibility layer to run Windows programs atop Linux, the Windows 3.1 operating system was dominating the market. It took fifteen years for this free software project to come out with a version 1.0 release, but it reached this milestone in June. WINE now is able to run many Windows programs out there, and even many OpenGL / DirectX video games, but the development community has been continuing in a steadfast manner working to prepare the WINE 1.2 stable release for next year. WINE is now even being used by Google for their Picasa Linux port as well as other uses.
Some of the progress that's been made this year following the 1.0 release has been support for Google Chrome, substantial JS support, X11 desktop work areas, the start of Direct3D 10.0 support, improved memory management, and many other features.
64-bit Flash & Java Plug-Ins:
This is not exactly an innovation and should have been around a while ago, but it's important nevertheless. A month ago Adobe had released 64-bit Flash For Linux, which allow those running a x86_64 user-land to easily use the Flash plug-in without needing to run a 32-bit web browser, use NSPluginWrapper, or rely upon an alternative player like Gnash. Partially what makes 64-bit Flash for Linux significant is that it was released before any 64-bit Flash for Microsoft Windows.
Just a few weeks after 64-bit Flash arrived, Sun Microsystems released a 64-bit Java Plug-In for Linux. This x86_64 plug-in for Linux was released at the same time as their first Windows x64 build, but before making it available for their own Solaris or OpenSolaris operating systems.
With native 64-bit plug-ins, it makes the Linux x86_64 experience easier for many users.