Distro over­load

Linux Format - - MAILSERVER -

Take a look at Distrowatch and you’ll un­der­stand why Linux is a no-go zone for new com­puter users. How many dis­tros are there now? Around 300 and count­ing. And ev­ery dis­tri­bu­tion has its own web­site. This is sim­ply ridicu­lous.

The sea­soned Linux user will tell a new­comer there’s a ver­sion for ev­ery imag­in­able need. There are dis­tros for gen­eral re­quire­ments, for servers, math­e­mat­ics, art and cre­ativ­ity, foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tions, en­cryp­tion, ul­tra-mod­ern and an­cient com­put­ers, em­bed­ded ap­pli­ca­tions, sci­ence and so on.

Why are there so many repli­ca­tions of Linux? Who needs them? It’s tempt­ing to sug­gest that lots of them are the prod­ucts of ego trips. Pro­gram­mers take one of the foun­da­tion dis­tros and tweak it into a ‘new’ edi­tion, which dif­fers only minutely from dozens or scores of oth­ers. Who would lament their loss? Mau­rice George, Or ms kirk Jonni says: There are, in­deed, a lot of dis­tros – and, yes, a user

not fa­mil­iar with the Linux land­scape will be un­der­stand­ably daunted by their abun­dance. How­ever, as is pos­si­bly not said enough in our mag, there are prob­a­bly fewer than a dozen ma­jor dis­tros worth con­sid­er­ing as a be­gin­ner.

Peo­ple and com­pa­nies make new dis­tri­bu­tions for any num­ber of rea­sons, and the na­ture of open source (it’s a bazaar and not a cathe­dral) means that no one has any author­ity to tell peo­ple how to use their free time or to tell com­pa­nies what and what not to de­velop – they should be free to do that with­out crit­i­cism.

It would cer­tainly be sim­pler if there were one desk­top dis­tro, like there is one ver­sion of Win­dows now and one desk­top ver­sion of Mac OS, but it would sti­fle in­no­va­tion and va­ri­ety, and ul­ti­mately be more bor­ing. It’s all about choice, and if you want a mono­cul­ture or a walled gar­den, then the pro­pri­etary OSes are a bet­ter fit.

Even Ubuntu lists nine of­fi­cial dif­fer­ent re­leases of just Ubuntu.

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