jueves, 3 de octubre de 2013

The Question of the Moment: Too Many Distros?

Currently, I'm swamped with work.  Whenever I manage to finish several items of my "to-do" list, I am rewarded with twice as many new ones.

Still, when I need to take a break, I've been able to play Braid (nice game!)   For shorter sanity-keeping breaks, Connectagram, Pynagram, and Circus Linux fit the bill.

Also, to expand my horizons, I've learned to create presentations with Inkscape and I've read some Linux-related articles.

Apparently, several sites have been asking their visitors their opinion on the number of Linux distros.  Results have been somewhat varied, although it seems that most people believe that the number of penguins in the wild goes from confusing to overwhelming.

This raises the always present question (again):

Is GNU/Linux fragmented?

Some say "just look at the name!"  Some call the penguin "Linux" and others point out that it should be called "GNU/Linux."  Eric, the Nocturnal Slacker, has also proposed the name Gnix

From the name, we jump to distro numbers.  Currently, DistroWatch lists:

  • Number of all distributions in the database: 763
  • Number of active distributions in the database: 301
  • Number of dormant distributions: 52
  • Number of discontinued distributions: 410
That's a lot of distros, surely!

But we still need to add the number of distributions on this site's waiting list: 312

Does that mean that there are too many distros for newbies?

Does that mean potential Linux users will get confused?

Does that mean duplication of effort and waste of time?

Is it better to have just 10 big distros?

Now...which ones would those be?  The first 10 from DistroWatch?

Currently, I have 8 distros spread among my different computers.  Interestingly, none of them is part of the top 10 of DW.  In fact, one of them is not even listed there!

Do they work?  You bet they do!  One day I use one, or several.  Another day I use another (or others)... My brain hasn't exploded because of that.

I think that Linux, or GNU/Linux, or Gnix, is an ecosystem.  A chaotic one if you wish.  That's why many people feel baffled by the number of penguins around and think it is better to limit them to an easily manageable number.

But that desire actually comes from the inner human need to control their ecosystem.  We want to rule over our world; we want to feel we are in control (even when we aren't.)  In spite of all our efforts to dominate our ecosystem, nature has always proved us wrong.

We'd better accept it:  Linux is free and open.  Freedom and openness also mean that anyone with enough knowledge can do whatever he or she sees fit with the tools that this person has.  As long as Linux is free, there will be new distros appearing and old distros fading away into oblivion.

We want a number of distros that is easy to handle?  Then, let's make Linux closed source, hand it to a small number of companies, and give our freedom up.

That's the way to go!  Who wants freedom anyway?

6 comentarios:

  1. I think that the too-many distros argument is an interesting fallacy. So far, nobody cares about the diversity of mobile phones and vendors that there are out there. I hear no one say "there are too many car models; they should be reduced to ten not to confuse buyers", either...

    Concerning your work, キリキリまで、がんばって、
    ウルトラマンガイア! :-P

    1. Yes, that's right. When it comes to any product, the more the merrier. However, if it is about operating systems, variety is viewed negatively. Talk about double standards!

  2. Dude there is no such thing as too many distros... hehe Surely a single user won't have use for them all... but why not have more options to choose from?

    The freedom that open source provides is this, differentiation. It was and will remain inevitable, that whoever has enough knowledge and desire to make a distro by and even for himself, then share it and maintain it, will be able to do so.

    Eventually it may get as simple as making your own OS with lesser knowledge... and then Linux distros will become like blogs. Anyone may have one for themselves... haha but I don't think that might happen...

    1. I drool at the possibility of obtaining enough knowledge to make a distro by myself. However, I doubt that will ever happen.

  3. Look, if we had this mentality a few years ago, Ubuntu would never have happened. Linux Mint would never have happened. PCLinuxOS would never have happened. Mageia would never have happened. The whole mentality that Linux needs to consolidate and standardize just leads to less innovation.

    1. I agree with you. The very fact that people are free to turn GNU/Linux into whatever they prefer is a call to innovation.