2018: Top 10 biggest news stories from Linux and open source world nixCraft

The year 2018 turn out to be big newsmaker for Linux and open source world. The most important acquisition in the open source world, Deepfakes, important security flows in CPUs, and the Facebook scandal all happened in 2018. Vivek Gite picks top 10 most significant and biggest news stories from Linux and open source world that rock IT world.

Top 10 biggest news stories from Linux and open source world in 2018

Biggest news stories from Linux and open source world in 2018
Below are the most talked or shared stories from my social media account and site.

1. IBM buys Red Hat

IBM acquired number one open source enterprise Linux distribution and software maker Red Hat Inc. in a $33.4 billion deal. Red Hat started in 1993 with a strong focus on Linux and open source software. IBM and Red Hat combine to create leading hybrid and multi-cloud service provider.

2. Meltdown and Spectre bugs

Meltdown and Spectre exploit critical vulnerabilities in modern CPUs. It was a severe security problem in the Intel, AMD, ARM and other processors. The Spectre breaks the isolation between different applications. The Meltdown attack allows a program to access the memory, and thus also the secrets, of other programs and the operating system. The big cloud vendor such as Google and AWS patched bugs before anyone else. Most Linux distros and IT vendors did release patches on time too.

Further, Intel and AMD released microcode updates. However, *BSD family of operating systems vendors ignored by Intel. FreeBSD was made aware of the problems in late December 2017. OpenBSD claimed that they received no non-public information. Patching these security bugs affected the performance of the computers too.

  1. How to check Linux for Spectre and Meltdown vulnerability
  2. How to patch Meltdown CPU Vulnerability CVE-2017-5754 on Linux
  3. Howto patch Spectre Vulnerability CVE-2017-5753/CVE-2017-5715 on Linux

3. A Kubernetes security flaw

Kubernetes is an open source and most popular platform for managing containerized services. It provides management, automation, scaling, and other services. Critical vulnerability found in Kubernetes. It allowed attackers to take over any vulnerable node using a specially crafted request:

With a specially crafted request, users that are authorized to establish a connection through the Kubernetes API server to a backend server can then send arbitrary requests over the same connection directly to that backend, authenticated with the Kubernetes API server’s TLS credentials used to establish the backend connection.

A post-mortem report (PDF) provided a fantastic summary of problems and how to avoid them in the future.

4. Microsoft makes its 60000 patents open source to help Linux

To capitalize better on open source, Linux and cloud computing market, Microsoft announced that they joined the Open Invention Network (“OIN”). The OIN is a community dedicated to protecting Linux and other open source software from patent risk:

We know Microsoft’s decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some; it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open source community over the issue of patents. For others who have followed our evolution, we hope this announcement will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open source programs.

Now, as we join OIN, we believe Microsoft will be able to do more than ever to help protect Linux and other important open source workloads from patent assertions. We bring a valuable and deep portfolio of over 60,000 issued patents to OIN. We also hope that our decision to join will attract many other companies to OIN, making the license network even stronger for the benefit of the open source community.

5. Linux adopts a new CoC (Code of Conduct)

In September 2018, Linus Torvalds issued an apology regarding his public behavior and announced that he would be taking some time off from the Linux kernel. Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds has told the BBC that he is seeking professional help to become more empathetic towards fellow developers, but admits he may have to “fake it until I make it.”


Following his public apology for his behavior over the years, the Linux community adopted a new “Code of Conduct (CoC).” The new CoC provides harassment-free experience for everyone who participates in Linux kernel development. However, both Linus’s apology and CoC met with strong reaction over social media/mailing lists/forums especially conspiracy theories. A revised version of CoC was finally released.

6. EQT buys SUSE

Suse is very popular in Europe and significant commercial Linux distributors. It plays a vital role in Linux, open-source infrastructure and management space. Micro Focus announced that Suse is changing owners yet again and the deal valued Suse at $2.535 billion:

SUSE today announced plans to partner with growth investor EQT to continue momentum, strategy execution and product expansion as an independent business. The completion of EQT’s acquisition of SUSE from Micro Focus is subject to Micro Focus shareholder and customary regulatory approvals and is expected to occur in early 2019. Having enjoyed seven years of continuous expansion, SUSE is set to be acquired from Micro Focus by EQT, which is a development-focused investor with extensive experience in the software industry. Under Micro Focus ownership and with their investment and support, SUSE has developed as a business, cementing its position as a leading provider of enterprise-grade, open source software-defined infrastructure and application delivery solutions.

7. Microsoft buys GitHub

GitHub is a web-based hosting service for version control using Git. It quickly becomes favorite amount developers, especially open source hackers due to various collaboration features. On June 4, 2018, Microsoft announced it had reached an agreement to acquire GitHub for US$7.5 billion and the purchase closed on October 26, 2018.

Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced it has reached an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform where more than 28 million developers learn, share and collaborate to create the future. Together, the two companies will empower developers to achieve more at every stage of the development lifecycle, accelerate enterprise use of GitHub, and bring Microsoft’s developer tools and services to new audiences.

“Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world’s most pressing challenges.”

I wasn’t happy as it gives too much power to a single vendor:

8. Proton beta released to run Windows games on Linux

Linux desktop failed for many reasons including lack of high-quality games. Most AAA titled games are released on Windows only. Most developers release games on Windows operating system. To bring Windows games on Linux Valve announced a new variation of Wine, named Proton. Proton is fully open-source software, and it integrates directly with Linux version of Steam software:

Proton is a tool for use with the Steam client which allows games which are exclusive to Windows to run on the Linux operating system. It uses Wine to facilitate this.

9. Microsoft release it’s own Linux distro for cloud

In the past, Microsoft has strategically excluded any support for Linux and called cancer at once. To stay relevant in the cloud computing era and IT world, Microsoft accepted Linux and started to embrace open source software:

  1. Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables natively on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019. Microsoft is working closely with Canonical who develops the Ubuntu operating system and was hired to provide support to run Ubuntu natively on Windows 10.
  2. Azure Sphere is a first Linux-based operating system created by Microsoft for the Internet of Things applications.

10. MIPS goes open source

MIPS is an acronym for Microprocessor without Interlocked Pipelined Stages. MIPS based CPUs are used in embedded systems such as home gateways, WiFi , and routers. Now, MIPS goes open source:

Without question, 2018 was the year RISC-V genuinely began to build momentum among chip architects hungry for open-source instruction sets. That was then. Wave Computing (Campbell, Calif.) announced Monday (Dec. 17) that it is putting MIPS on open source, with MIPS Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) and MIPS’ latest core R6 available in the first quarter of 2019. Art Swift, hired by Wave this month as president of its MIPS licensing business, described the move as critical to accelerate the adoption of MIPS in an ecosystem. Going open source is “a big plan” that Wave CEO Derek Meyer, a MIPS veteran, has been quietly fostering since Wave acquired MIPS Technologies in June, explained Swift.

What was your favorite news related to Linux and open source this year? Share it in the comments!

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

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