In this post I lay out 5 Linux predictions for 2020, though I’ll admit in advance that I’m not much of a psychic! 😉

The past twelve months have kept the open source and Linux communities busy — a number of my Linux predictions for 2019 even came to pass — but next year looks set to be even better.

So, having recapped the best Linux distros of 2019 let us turn our thoughts to what the upcoming year may bring.

Read on to discover my Linux predictions for 2020, all served with a pinch of sodium-based seasoning on the side! Happy reading!

Linux Predictions for 2020

Prediction 1: An Explosion in Linux Devices

Okay, so it’s not exactly a crazy guess to suggest that we’ll see a raft of new Linux hardware go on sale next year.

The $149 PinePhone answers calls for an affordable, Linux phone powered by open source software

Refreshed and updated laptops running Linux from the likes of Dell, Slimbook, Tuxedo, and Entroware are more than likely on the way.

But might we finally be able to buy a Linux laptop that isn’t based on the Intel/Nvidia combo? I run Ubuntu on AMD hardware at present and the experience is pretty great!

The start of the year will belong to Pine64 and the upcoming PinePhone. This $149 handset answer calls for an affordable Linux phone running open source software with mainline Linux kernel support.

And the can-do, community-focused company isn’t stopping there, Also set to go on sale in 2020 is the $79 PineTab Linux tablet and the $25 PineTime smartwatch, which isn’t Linux-based but does run open source software.

But you know? I wouldn’t be massively surprised if Pine64 were to release even more hardware next year, be it new or improved products— maybe a small PineBook Pro update with more RAM and storage? Mmm, yes please!

Prediction 2: Focal Becomes the Focus

Readers of this site voted Ubuntu 19.10 the best Ubuntu release of the decade — setting a high bar for the follow up release in the process!

Ubuntu 20.04 LTS will be released in April 2020 and based on what we know so far looks set to be one of the biggest Ubuntu releases in a while, especially for those who upgrade from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

While the previous LTS is usable it’s not the best showcase for Ubuntu or tech that it runs on. The performance improvements made to GNOME Shell alone in the past two year are substantial.

Tens of millions of Ubuntu users ride the LTS version, which makes LTS updates pretty big news.

My prediction? Ubuntu 20.04 LTS will do more than blow people’s socks off: it’ll knit them a new pair to wear too!

Prediction 3: WSL Will Get Even Bigger

Ubuntu-WSL-screenshot by Balint Reczey

Microsoft’s Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) — which was once known as Bash on Ubuntu on Windows — was big news this year thanks, in part, to the huge improvements delivered by WSL2 (which, weirdly, saw Microsoft ship a Linux kernel as part of Windows 10).

WSL2 was a major update; expect to see the developer community push the boundaries of what’s possible with WSL

Canonical is banking on Ubuntu for WSL being even more popular next year. Not only is the company a sponsor of the first WSL conference at Microsoft’s Redmond HQ, but it is actively hiring more developers to work on it!

And this time last year few of us would’ve though Linux would as integral to Microsoft’s developer strategy as it now is, much less lure the company in to making an open source terminal app to make using Linux on Windows easier — and yet it did!

Expect to see more unexpected leaps in WSL in 2020 as the developer community push the boundaries of what the tech can do.

Prediction 4: A Wild GNOME OS Appears

login screen gnome redesign

Alright, this prediction is a little crazy, but in my head it makes sense.

See, I get the impression that the GNOME design team’s vision of how they’d like the GNOME Shell desktop to be used is out of sync with how the GNOME Shell desktop is used, particularly by downstream distros.

Some of “concerns” around the impact of third-party GTK theming, alternative stylesheets, differing icons, etc make me wonder if, in a simplistic world at least, a sanctified, as-intended GNOME OS would help.

Think KDE Neon, but for the full vertical GNOME software stack.

Now I don’t expect that such a distro will appear easily, or without the frantic gnashing of teeth. But the success of KDE Neon proves that there is an appetite for a best-in-class showcase, implemented in the ‘desired’ manner.

So don’t rule this one out!

Prediction 5: Lightweight Heavyweights

Improved performance on low-end devices is going to be the key trend across most major Linux distros next year — or so the soldered RAM in my laptop is hoping, anyway!

Further performance tweaks to GNOME Shell are planned, while KDE Plasma now offers a viable experience on lower-end devices

GNOME 3.34 brought a palpable set of performance improvements with it. And that work, helped by contributions from Ubuntu devs, is set to continue in the upcoming GNOME 3.36 and GNOME 3.38 releases, both due next year.

Elsewhere, the KDE Plasma desktop has proven itself to be a viable OS on low-power ARM laptops, like the PineBook Pro.

And now that the Raspberry Pi 4 now capable of driving a “desktop” style experience too there’s plenty of opportunities for distros to make gains in this particular space.

Add to that the early stages of desktop support in Alpine Linux and growing interest in lighter Linux distributions like Peppermint OS, Zorin OS Lite, and elementary OS, and my predictions of low-performance power-ups sound less like a possibility and more like an inevitability!

Bonus: My Wildly Optimistic Wants

The predictions above are what I think will happen in 2020, but below are a couple of thing what I want to happen…

battery notification on ubuntu
I see this too often

Better Linux battery life

Now, I can’t tell if i’m hard to please or I own Linux devices with terrible battery capacity, but boy am I fed up of having to recharge my devices as often as I do!

Battery life in Linux distros like Ubuntu has improved over what it was (which was abjectly terrible, to be honest) but no where near enough. I have to reply on the Slimbook Battery optimiser and some TLP tweaks to squeeze some semblance of ‘decent duration’ out of my portable.

I’m not asking for miracles, but battery life that’s at least competitive with Windows would be appreciated!

More Native Linux apps

More like this, please!

Unlike many I don’t have allergy to Electron or progressive web apps — but I still prefer native Qt and GTK apps where possible.

Some truly fantastic native Linux apps are available right now, including Lollypop, Foliate (pictured), and Flameshot.

But, gosh dammit, I want more!

The elementary OS team has nailed developer outreach through detailed documentation, online guides, reliable APIs, and integrated app building tools — I just hope that the wider Linux community will start following their lead and entice more devs to make ace targeting less niche distros too.

A better App Store for Ubuntu

My least favourite app

I rarely use the Ubuntu Software to install, remove, or otherwise manage my software because it’s terrible.

There, I said.

The command line may not be “user friendly” but at least it works. I’ve given up on asking Ubuntu Software to try and haul its decelerated mass into action.

It’s not just that it’s just slow to load anything, but it often throws errors when it tries to, usually without me doing anything! Add to that a sub-par browsing and search experience, poor app discovery, and a confusing muddle of app formats and versions and… Ugh.

It’s 2020; this shouldn’t be a problem. Linux Mint’s home-grown software app is super responsive and easy to navigate, even with Flatpak integration enabled — so it can be done!

Do you have open-source predictions for 2020? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

best of 2019 Linux predictions