Skip to comments.Linux Has Too Few Distributions and Desktop Environments
Posted on 05/08/2014 4:16:21 AM PDT by ShadowAce
The Linux platform is actually the base for a multitude of operating systems, but a part of the community feels that there are too many distributions. The truth is that there are probably too few of them.
One of the points of contention that usually arise in the Linux community is the fact that there seem to be too many Linux distributions and too many desktop environments. If we were to compare Linux with any other platform that would be true, but such a comparison would be incorrect.
Linux is the only platform that allows this kind of freedom, so making a comparison with other operating systems is actually incorrect because they do not incorporate the same kind of philosophy and openness.
My point is that even if Linux seems to be the home of many operating systems and desktop environments, the reality is that, in fact, there aren't actually enough. The reason why I pick OSes and desktop environments is because they are the most visible, but the same is true for any other component.
Whenever a developer releases a new piece of technology, either their own or forked from other projects, there is always someone who figuratively stands up and blames the developer for putting forward yet another identical project with no future.
Forking is a tangential problem that also seems to trouble some members of the Linux community, which they think is a waste of time. I'll also address this so-called issue.
What people don't really understand is that Linux needs as many Linux distributions and desktop environments as possible, much more than it has now. This is not about competition, but the other way around, it's about completion.
Let's take for example the desktop environments. There is no perfect example and most desktop environments are different from one another in various respects, and all have their strengths and their flaws. The interesting thing is that when someone stumbles upon something new that hasn't been done before, other projects will tend to adopt it.
If someone makes something good, all the other developers will want to have it. This is one of the most important ways in which a project is capable of influencing another project without actually sharing code. This can only be efficient if there are many people out there doing similar, but parallel work.
If developers were to gather around a few major projects, like some members of the Linux community would suggest, these kinds of innovations would be much less frequent. The same is true for Linux distributions and any other kind of applications.
Making something new is always commendable, but most of the work on Linux is done by forking existing projects, taking the source code, and making your own stuff, which, most of the time, is just slightly different from the original.
Forking is good and it's the core of open source. Anyone can do what they want with the source code and this is one of the driving forces in Linux. You don't like the pace of a developer with a certain project or you can't get your patch in upstream, fork the software and do it your way. The fact that nothing is stopping developers from doing what they please should be considered a strength, not a weakness.
So, whenever you see a new project, either an OS or something else, be glad it's there. You can never know beforehand if those developers won't stumble upon some great feature that might end up in all other operating systems in one years time.
I have to disagree. There are so many flavors of Linux, someone could spend months trying all of the most popular Distros before deciding on which to use. Based upon my personal experience, whenever I’ve used the GUI, there are so desktop many environments to choose from, it’s almost annoying.
Complexity and number of choices is whats killing linux in the consumer market. The average user doesnt care, they just want their software to work.
That is what this article is saying. It is widening the net of innovation to more and more people--not just those deemed acceptable to contribute code to the few popular distros.
Unless you're a Linux die-hard, the only real mainstream, popular flavors are Ubuntu, Mint, and MAYBE Fedora for desktops. Red Hat and SuSE make up a majority of servers, I've found. I personally run and love Ubuntu Server for my home environment.
This article writer is daft. There are more flavors of Linux than Baskin Robbins, and there are at least a half dozen actual GUI environments (i.e. KDE, Gnome, Unity, MATE, Xfce, Cinnamon, LXDE) and plenty of other custom environments.
Without wasting my life reading this entire article, I'm going to guess this writer doesn't grok Linux.
Their way of strutting their stuff by "pimping their
Mac OS is the BMW of OS's. Reasonably competent, but consists of far more hype that any other OS.
Windows is for those who just need a ride to/from work or for work, those whose entire life & identity is not wrapped up in their OS or latest iGadget.
What about those of us whose work is Linux? I support several hundred Linux servers. Thus, Linux as my desktop would seem logical.
Can't I make an ordinary, narrow-minded, bigoted post without someone injecting LOGIC into this discussion?
Have a great (Linux) (work)day!
D’oh! I keep forgetting that the purpose of anonymous posts on Internet forums is to be bigoted and narrow-minded.
i agree, another ubuntu hoem user. about to migrate to ubuntu server for my storage.
i recently installed ubuntu for my htpc. took all of 10 minutes, picked xbmc 5 minutes,made the mistake of following google for netflix...rather then searching the software app they have...which had netflix. added a network hp printer about 2 minutes. added vpn about 20 minutes (didnt have a clue what i was doing).
my only issue is now and again you bump into a thing where you just wish you didnt hear the word terminal window. i think thats what the Mac has done, take the pain away so to speak. is ubuntu getting there i think it is. is it better than windows...definitely. i had bought 8gb for windows 8 but didnt want to pay 150 euro for an OS..so tried ubuntu...i think i am using 1.5 to 2 gb max for everything on the htpc.
might try unraid for the server...but no ways am i paying when there is a whole load of point solutions to solve your pain.
Depending on your HTPC platform, straight XBMC is an awesome OS. We use RaspBMC on our Raspberry Pi devices in our house. They pull straight from my NAS over NFS without issue. Linux is an amazing OS.
Yep. That is my assessment as well. I’ve pretty much written off the Linux world for now. I’ll use one of the BSD-based distro’s for my generic PC/workstation work, because they’re more coherent with less forking, IMO.
I’ve been reading up on the “paradox of choice” recently and there’s no segment of the computing world with more of this going on then the Linux world. The average person gets crushed under this abundance of choices, and the mentality of Americans is that they want to be seen as smart, making smart choices, and when presented with an overwhelming number of choices and decisions to make, they shut down and either a) make no choice (ie, opt-out of the decision space) or b) choose the generic choice of inertia (which in this case would be Windows) to just go along with the crowd.
Try a few...pick one and stick with it until you become used to it. I tried Ubuntu, Mandrose and even Puppy. I stuck with Mint. It’s now as easy as pie.
It really depends on what the goal is. If the goal is to have lots of exciting and innovative things going on, yes more distros. If the goal is to be a major player in the consumer market then it needs a lot fewer, like 1 or 2. Consumers don’t actually do well with lots of choices, over and over market research shows that giving people more than 3 choices confuses people. As it sits Linux is a 3rd option which is a rough place to be anyway (as RC cola), then if people start thinking about that path they’re faced with the “what distro” question, and it’s back to Windows or Mac for many of them.
There are so many flavors of Linux, someone could spend months trying all of the most popular Distros before deciding on which to use.
I am sorry but I just don't get this. That would be like saying that there are too many car makes and models and this makes it hard to try them all and pick one. How is restriction of choice ever a good thing? If there are many cars out there then there is a better, not worse, chance that you will find one which suits your tastes and requirements. If they only made one car you would almost certainly not be satisfied, though I will grant you would likely come to this conclusion very quickly and after only one test drive. I really don't see why that would be better though.
LOL...good point, i had forgotten i have one of them LOL...exactly what i have hidden in a wall in the bedroom. i put a small access panel in..rasbmc on a pi..leave it on all the time. perfect. updates itself...use a phone or pad to control it...it has never hung...ever..
rasbmc in a pi...they are amazing are they not? considering the price at around 60 dollars...stunning...i read recently they are planning a new version for next year..honestly i shall watch that with great interest.
Love it! It’s small, quiet, requires very little maintenance, and it’s expandable in so many ways.
I agree with the article and like having many choices as I re-purpose discarded computers that are hopelessly insecure and outdated. I can match a version of Linux to the capabilities of that machine and put it back on the Internet with confidence that it is far more secure than the windows version ever was. Just last night I installed the latest Xubuntu version (14.04 LTS) on a 12-year-old computer.
Beginners can bypass a lot of confusion by starting out with Mint or Ubuntu. With experience however, some of us come to appreciate the freedom and flexibility that those myriad choices offer. One does not have to be a Unix propeller-head to use Linux. For instance, I have never compiled a Linux program or bothered learning Unix commands. If I couldn’t use Linux from a point-and-click screen, I’d have to buy a Mac.
One thing that’s missing from this reasoning is the notion of critical mass. In computing, whether it be choice of programming language, whether it be something like a distro, imho you need a critical mass of users/developers to get the thing off the ground or it will fall over of its own weight. There are too many things that need to be gotten right, that if you have a boutique PL or distro it won’t have the breadth or depth to compete with those that do.
For PL’s think Python or Java. Or C for that matter. Like ‘em, dislike em, be neutral but the large installed base and active community ensures that bugs will be fixed, new features i.e. libraries developed, or as a prof once said “real people will use them to do real work”.
It’s the same with linux distros. Too much stuff to get right to think that “Fred’s Distro” will enjoy any measure of success.
The article isn’t talking about success in that way, though—it’s talking about bringing more talent to the table for innovation. Whether a project or distro ever gets off the ground is beside the point. THe more projects and distros out there, the more people (by necessity) are working on Gnu/Linux as a whole, and the more innovation will occur.