Too Many Linux Distros Make For Open Source Mess

“Too Many Linux Distros Make For Open Source Mess”, says Inforworld. Well, duh. I have been saying this since Day 1. I like focus and direction on software, and GNU/Linux is anything but. If all these distros and developers had a forum to work together instead of forking or re-inventing the wheel every six months, Linux would have erased Microsoft from the map by now. While some people perceive this mess as “choice”, I am a more practical and “show me the results” kind of girl, so I am not compatible with that point of view — although it is a point of view that I respect.


l3v1 wrote on July 19th, 2007 at 2:35 AM PST:

“until there becomes one dominant distro”

No distro can achieve that status, and no Linux distro company can achieve that. Look at RedHat, look at Novell, and so on. No company and no single distro can cover everything and every angle, so you just can’t avoid having different new distros beside them. Besides, such control is not something any developer with FOSS mentality would vote for.
You want that, promote opensolaris, you have a Linux-look-alike-wannabe, with a corporate entity somewhat in the background. But thing is, without Linux and linux-based distros being how and what they are, even opensolaris wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t be here today. What I want to point to is, that if such “fragmentation” wouldn’t exist in the OS world, innovations would come much more slowly, and new features would be more in the hands of the few than in the hands of the many.

Vince wrote on July 19th, 2007 at 9:01 AM PST:

I agree with l3v1. Plus, I’d also like to point out that if you got rid of all but 3 distro’s there would be thousands of developers either doing nothing or lost in the shuffle of a huge bureaucracy. Most hackers contribute for non-monetary reasons and the minute it becomes stressful for them (or no longer fun..) to express themselves via open-source they’ll stop contributing (or fork).

Just like pigeons are an indicator of filthy cities, many linux distros are an indicator of bad organizational structures within OSS. Since nobody’s getting paid the majority of the time it’s not really surprising.

Man, one could write a thesis on this..

JaKaiser wrote on July 19th, 2007 at 11:21 AM PST:

Ok, we have too many distros, 4 or 5 package managers and infinite debian “sons”. Ok, maybe 300 is too much, but among these we have Ubuntu, Arch Linux and Fedora. I think “natural selection” is applicable on “distribution population” :) Only the best will survive.

Phil wrote on July 19th, 2007 at 11:36 AM PST:

I agree with you 100%. I don’t see Linux ever truly competing with Windows, on the consumer desktop, until there becomes one dominant distro. Anyone who has been using Linux for a substantial period of time can’t help but notice how painfully slow progress is in the desktop popularity stakes – considering that it has been a theoretical Windows replacement for some time.

neighborlee wrote on July 23rd, 2007 at 3:43 AM PST:

hi there all and eugenia ;)

I have also been saying t his for a VERY long time but few listen because most linux users are ‘hackers’ and this mentality bodes well for distro-happiness ;) ..hacking can make things happen yes, but it also discourages as you and I’ve been saying for longtime now a concise core of talented developers churning out a focused desktop instead of a fragmented one…if we had a ‘linux’ that combined the strengths of fedora, ubuntu, opensuse, freespire , arch and others ( and teh devlopers from all said distros worked under ONE umbrella ) you can imagine how far linux would be by now…..

There is also a lecture by a professor on youtube that clearly states that too much sometimes is bad when it comes to ‘choice’ and we can clearly see how he is proven right in this case…and this whole ‘release early release often’ is nonsense as we all know how bad QA has been for most distros dont we…

I have always seen linux as a giant circle with interconnnecting channels all working together like a gian h ive mind, but atm I think those channels have large holes in them and data falls through instead of flowing from one to another and making the unit strong.

Ubuntu atm may be in the best position but even ubuntu as good as it maybe has many flaws that atm wont allow it to take on M$ market share and allow OSS to flourish.

come on people we need to ‘unite’ under a common umbrella….we dont need ego, we need unification and when you think about itm,- isn’t it exciting to work like that where everyone pulls for everyone else and communication is made stronger ? ;)

so put your ego’ aside and unite; love your neighbor as yourself and unite with them to make linux live up to its potential ;)


ivan wrote on July 25th, 2007 at 10:27 AM PST:

Completely agree with Eugenia. 5 or 10 distros would still give us plenty of choice. But hundreds, is wasting of time and and does not help deal with the real challenges that lie ahead of linux.

jg wrote on July 27th, 2007 at 5:20 AM PST:

Agreed. 5 to 10 distros is more than enough “choice”. Ironically, we had more _real_ choices in PC operating systems in the mid 80s such as AmigaOS, Atari’s OS, MacOS (then not based upon a Unix derivative), and Windows. And by real choices, I mean that these operating systems were truly different, from their UI right down to the very depths of their kernels. By comparison, the multitude of Linux distros out there are the same thing. So now we’re getting down to only 2 choices — Windows and Linux. As long as all these Linux “choices” are really the same thing, we don’t need nearly as many of them as there currently are, and the effort to maintain them all is pointless and counterproductive. We need real choice like we used to have back before Windows became so dominent. And the only way to achieve that, now that Windows _has_ become so dominent, is to focus Linux development efforts more precisely and efficiently.

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