It has come to be expected. Linux and open source news in 2006 was a potpourri of topics that included Windows-Linux
interoperability, wild acquisitions and corporate spending sprees and stories of enterprise-level companies buying into open source and Linux en masse.
Even better than that, many of yesterday's Linux and open source stories listed below still have the legs to become tomorrow's big news all over again.
Perhaps the biggest stories of the year happened (conveniently?) near the very end in a rapid-fire progression.
In early October, Oracle dropped a support-shaped bomb on Red Hat when it offered a 50% reduction in support costs for its own brand of Linux. Oracle's Unbreakable Linux is a clone of RHEL, but at half the price. Unbreakable Linux remained an unproven alternative to Red Hat at year-end, and analysts who spoke with SearchOpenSource.com told users to remain wary until next year. However, given a low enough price point, even the most loyal Red Hat customers said they could be convinced to switch teams.
Before the hype from the Oracle deal had cooled, Microsoft dropped a bombshell of its own the following week with a surprise partnership with Novell Inc.
Microsoft, fondly referred to by some in the Linux community as the "Evil Empire," was now touting itself as the number one fan of Windows-Linux interoperability. The partnership shocked some, but Microsoft's previous efforts with open source earlier in the year, including the Port 25 Web site maintained by Bill Hilf, showed that Redmond was beginning to come around on Linux as a legitimate force in the enterprise. Don't tell that to Red Hat though. In a SearchOpenSource.com exclusive, Red Hat general counsel Mark Webbink pulled no punches and predicted in one year Novell would be history as a result of the partnership.
Red Hat wasn't kicked around for the entire year. Before the Oracle/Microsoft tandem, Red Hat purchased open source middleware vendor JBoss Inc. for a cool $350 million. JBoss founder Marc Fleury remained on board -- albeit it several million dollars richer -- and Red Hat got to work promoting the fact that it could offer an open source, Linux-based applications stack to customers.
Legal licensing troubles were few and far between in 2006. The infamous SCO case was a quiet front, save for early in the year when SearchOpenSource.com resident legal beagle and Massachusetts patent attorney Thomas Carey said the SCO case was all but over.
Finally, struggling to find an identity was the Linux desktop. It's a topic many in the Linux community love to talk about, but whose time continually appears to be just over the next hillside. That said, 2007 could be a token year for the Linux desktop, thanks in part -- ironically enough -- to Microsoft. So said IDC in a list of predictions for next year anyway. Number nine on that list was that Microsoft's anti-piracy effort with Windows Vista would motivate users to opt for Linux instead of jumping through hoops to prove their license is legit.