Free software trends and events

2020 in Review

© Lead Image © Cecilia Lim,

© Lead Image © Cecilia Lim,

Article from Issue 244/2021

Among other noteworthy trends in 2020, producing free and secure videoconferencing software has become a higher priority in the past year.

Looking back at 2020, it's impossible not to talk about the pandemic or the economy. However, free software businesses and communities suffered less than many organizations this year, for the simple reason that many of the precautions that others scrambled to put in place have been standard practice in free software for decades. For example, when everyone was advised to work from home, many Ubuntu employees [1] were doing so already. Aside from a surge of interest in videoconferencing, the pandemic has been largely business as usual in free software.

For that reason, a thorough summary of trends and events in free software during 2020 is impossible. As usual, too much was happening. However, here is my pick of the key events of 2020 at every level from the corporate to the home desktop.

Application Arrivals and Departures

Once not so long ago, Adobe Flash was a necessity for the web. Some sites were actually written entirely for it. For years, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) listed a free Flash replacement as a high-priority project [2] and sponsored its own alternative called Gnash. However, built-in support in web browsers, as well as changes in design fashion and W3C standards, has put an end to Flash at last. In November, Mozilla confirmed that starting with its next release in January 2021, Flash would no longer be supported in Firefox [3]. A sign of how times have changed is that this milestone is passing mostly unnoticed.


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