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Linux Business Operating Systems Software

Torvalds Rejects One-Size-Fits-All Linux 791

Barence writes "Linus Torvalds has rejected the argument that Linux developers should pool their resources behind a single distribution. 'I think multiple distributions aren't just a good thing, I think it's something absolutely required. We have hundreds of distros, and a lot of them are really for niche markets. And you need that — simply because different markets simply have different requirements, and no single distro will take care of them all.' The calls from the Linux community have been growing due to Linux's failure to show significant market share growth."
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Torvalds Rejects One-Size-Fits-All Linux

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:21PM (#26711103)
    Did you ever think that he might be right?
  • No its just that : (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:22PM (#26711115) Homepage Journal

    We need a main, reliable, one size fits all DESKTOP distro. that's what we need.

    and yes, all other distros should continue, for really many of them are for niche markets.

    linux basically equals webserver as of now. whereas many IIS servers house 1-2 company sites (and many of them are in-house boxes), linux distros host hundreds each.

    but on desktop we dont have a strong name presence so that when you name it, everyone will know. we need that.

  • by hahiss ( 696716 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:23PM (#26711139) Homepage

    I was going to start screaming that he is right, so yes.

  • What the hell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kcbanner ( 929309 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:25PM (#26711189) Homepage Journal
    The reason I love linux is because I have the choice. Minimal distro, server oriented distro, etc. Trying to make one big distro is absolutely the wrong thinking, it would be impossible to decide on anything first of all, and its been proved this concept doesn't work already, by a company called Microsoft.
  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by east coast ( 590680 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:29PM (#26711267)
    Trying to make one big distro is absolutely the wrong thinking, it would be impossible to decide on anything first of all, and its been proved this concept doesn't work already, by a company called Microsoft.

    Yeah, I'd never trust the company that has ~88% market share. It's absolute proof that they know nothing.
  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:29PM (#26711279) Homepage Journal

    Because nobody needs customized, niche desktop distros like Ubuntu Studio [ubuntustudio.org], amiright?

  • by Vthornheart ( 745224 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:31PM (#26711311)
    Perhaps instead of worrying about the specific distro being worked on (and distro-specific apps), developers could unite to improve the libraries, services, and interfaces that are used universally. Gnome and KDE, for example, are the "face" of Linux to the average user. And let's face it... KDE is modern but broken in many ways, and Gnome is stable but behind the times in many ways. The specific distro being improved is less of a concern if the focus is on bringing stability, visual appeal, and new user interface innovations to the frontend of Linux itself: the GUI interfaces that the average user works with on the system. Working on that aspect would make every distro benefit.
  • by Davemania ( 580154 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:33PM (#26711389) Journal
    Although its good that certain distribution cater for different markets, the problem is the over saturation of one area with too many choices.
  • by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:34PM (#26711395)

    Not only that, but it's a free world, who gives them the right to tell ME what to work on?

  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:34PM (#26711399)

    Well they've proven they know marketing and how to form anticompetitive agreements with end user computer sales companies. Beyond that Microsoft has rarely shown that they know anything else.

  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:35PM (#26711431) Journal

    No, for us, and for the Windows OS. It's done MS just fine though.

  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kent_eh ( 543303 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:35PM (#26711445)

    Yeah, having >90% market share on desktops has been a disaster for them.

    It has been a disaster for their customers, and for the people who have to keep it "just working" (which does include quite a large number of Microsoft employees).

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:36PM (#26711451)

    Kind of.

    We do need different distros for different needs, the problem is there's also a lot of distros filling the same needs and some do a pretty poor job of it such that the resources would be better spent on a competing distro. We don't want to lose all competition altogether but there are certainly some distros out there that are wasting time duplicating effort and bringing nothing to the table to show for it.

  • by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) <sirlewk@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:37PM (#26711475)
    Clearly you are not very familar with the linux (or OSS) community. Ever notice the wide range of opinions concerning things like design, inclusion policies, licensing, etc? Have you thought what would happen if you tried to make all those people share a distro? There are plenty of flamewars already, do that and the community would tear itself appart. New distros don't pop up for the hell of it, they pop up because people want something that fits *their specific needs*. Their needs are often unique. People need to get off this whole idea that linux is about "sticking it to the man" and that it needs to change in order to get better marketshares, just for the sake of marketshares. Linux is meant to be useful for people who want it, if it's not for you, then who cares? We're not out to become rich billionaires by toppling microsoft and apple, we're just making a nice operating system for ourselves. This is something the majority of the world can't seem to understand.
  • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:38PM (#26711483)
    I don't think anyone's screaming just yet, and perhaps he's right that we don't need or want ONE distro. But how about a little less fragmentation? Having hundreds of distros, not all of which work with each other, is probably not helping mainstream adoption. I mean, what's the niche that Puppy serves that Feather doesn't, and vice versa?
  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WoLpH ( 699064 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:38PM (#26711491)

    Indeed, one size simply doesn't fit all.

    Personally I prefer to work with KDE (3.5 mind you) but I know enough people that really like Gnome. Does this mean that either of these should stop to exist? No... most of us chose for Linux because you get the choice, not because you want everything to be chosen for you. If you prefer that, go for a Mac or something.

    I think it's a great thing that there's diversity in Linux distributions, although I have to agree that there are some obsolete distros around. A lot of them do earn the right to exist.

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:38PM (#26711495) Homepage Journal

    You could say we really only need one Desktop distro. But... People work on what they like. You can not force them to work on what they don't want too.

    We have Ubuntu which has a big lead on the desktop so we have some some of those benefits. The problem with Linux is the lack of commercial software and support.
    You can not call the manufacture for help or geek squad. You can not go and buy software you want. There are a lot of free packages and many of them are great. The problem is the average person doesn't know what is good and what isn't. Even when the software is really good the documentation often isn't. Out side of GIMP and OO.org you will have a very hard time finding books for FOSS applications.

    I know that Click and run failed but I still think a application and media store is EXACTLY what Linux needs. A super easy built in solution just like what you see on the Wii, XBox 360, and iPod/iPhone.

  • by Facetious ( 710885 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:38PM (#26711501) Journal
    I grow weary of people citing a single, dubious source and saying, "See! See! Linux has failed on the desktop." The problem is that the methodology for gaging adoption is almost always in the form of web trackers, and people have really bad assumptions about user and system behavior. For example:
    • The sample of websites used is non-scientific because they are paying for the tracking service.
    • The assumption is made that people using Linux are interested in the same things as everyone else.
    • There is a massive difference in reporting numbers based on the source of the data. Some claim Linux users are less than 1% of total traffic. Others claim more than 3%. (Similary, Mac is as low as 3% and as high as 9%.)
    • Linux users use browsers with pop-up blockers. A good many Windows users still don't use pop-up blockers, and every pop-up counts as a hit for a Windows user.

    I could go on, but you get the idea. Don't believe everything you read.

  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZeroPly ( 881915 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:39PM (#26711537)

    Yes, but the reason you can't get support for printer XYZ is exactly due to that choice. No company wants to offer "Linux support" for their peripheral and have someone call in who is using whackadoodle-encrypto-tiny-footprint-Linux version 7 alpha.

    Get one main distro which is THE official desktop distribution. Everything else is experimental. Then you can go to Epson and ask them to support that when they bring out their new multifunction printer. If you're not using the official distro then it's on you to figure out why the ink level monitor won't work on your system.

    Linus is a techie. He is as qualified to plot business strategy as Jack Welch is qualified to change the breaker box in my basement.

  • by LittleLebowskiUrbanA ( 619114 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:39PM (#26711563) Homepage Journal

    because we're not making money at this and seriously, who cares? Linux is a choice, not a goddamned marketing campaign.

  • Re:What the hell (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kcbanner ( 929309 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:41PM (#26711589) Homepage Journal
    If manufacturers provided some sort of specs for their hardware linux kernel developers would jump on the opportunity to make a driver.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:41PM (#26711595)

    some distros out there that are wasting time

    Yeah, but so what? If wasted time were a bad thing, we'd have to kill all the gamers and couch potatoes. Not everyone's hobby needs to be productive... in fact they rarely are productive.

  • Re:What the hell (Score:4, Insightful)

    by falcon5768 ( 629591 ) <Falcon5768.comcast@net> on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:43PM (#26711643) Journal
    except that same amount of large corps use Microsoft on the desktop level. Which is what we are talking about here. And WHY Linux needs a one size fit all.
  • by LunarCrisis ( 966179 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:44PM (#26711649)

    Larger market share means more chance of official support from hardware manufacturers and game developers. That's pretty compelling from my point of view.

  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:45PM (#26711681) Journal

    And just how to you propose to regulate, police and enforce the production of Linux distributions? Perhaps each should pay a fee to use the name "Linux?"

    Linux distributions are like god: there as many different ones as there are people that believe in it.

    Trying to artificially limit the production of Linux distributions would be complete against the whole Open Source and Free Software philosophies, and against freedom and human nature in general. It's an absurd idea, and Linus is right on this issue.

  • by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <greg@gksnetworks.com> on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:47PM (#26711709) Homepage

    He is.

    I certainly don't need the 4GB+ of crap in some mainstream distros just to set up an iptables firewall and IPSec gateway. Better, I like using the automation tools of one distribution over another's for automating deployment to some 200+ systems I currently administer.

    Linux wins *because* you can tailor it easily to your needs, and choose the best distribution for what you are trying to accomplish.

    I do agree that the base should be better standardized (where files are for network config, etc). It's getting better, but everyone still does it a little different.

  • by LittleLebowskiUrbanA ( 619114 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:47PM (#26711715) Homepage Journal

    Then jump right on the marketing campaign. I could care less about the games but you go have fun with that.

  • Re:sweet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Falstius ( 963333 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:47PM (#26711723)

    Don't we already have that?

    Linux Home Basic - Ubuntu
    Linux Home Premium - Fedora
    Linux Business - RHEL/CentOS
    Linux Starter Edition - Xandros
    Linux Ultimate - Slackware

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:53PM (#26711861)

    practices. When a company or government finds Gnu/Linux fits the bill better than Windows, Microsoft comes in and essentially pays them to stick with Windows. Governments like Egypt where the OLPC people had a MOU from them but then Microsoft goes over, they talk, Egypt accepts something like $50 million in stuff from Microsoft and when OLPC shows up all they get is "Does it run Windows".

    And let's talk about how HP, Dell, Lenova, etc can not advertise their Gnu/Linux products. Leaked MS memo's already showed Microsoft's hand in this too. They basically said, "you can not lead with Linux" and that meant advertise and the threat is most likely to be those millions of dollars in Marketing Program kickbacks for putting those little MS stickers on everything and saying crap like "Runs best with Windows", etc.

    _That_ has been what has limited marketshare growth to a large degree. IMO. Remember, we are a world full of followers so if too many start going to Gnu/Linux, the horde will follow. That's why Microsoft spends hundreds of millions to stop the switch.


  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:55PM (#26711919)
    I don't really see why "market share" is that important. Linux works for me, and is a whole lot more suited to what I want to do and how I want to do it than Windows or OSX is. I can buy hardware that will run Linux just fine; I can get tech support if I want it; there are plenty of development projects turning out high-quality software. In a nutshell, it works for me. Isn't that what matters?
  • by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:56PM (#26711929)

    Not only that, but it's a free world, who gives them the right to tell ME what to work on?

    No one. But just remember that won't remain the case, if you build that up into a (free or not) product that many people start to rely on. Do that, and you'll have a responsibility to your customers, free or not.

  • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @12:56PM (#26711931) Homepage

    Maybe not. At least, not exactly.

    Suppose someone creates a very minimalist linux distro which includes a very good package management system. Suppose this package management system includes nearly all popular linux software packages.

    Now suppose it were rather easy for anyone to install any number of those packages, bundle them together into one meta-package keyword, and call that a distro.

    Then Linux would be as simple as installing the minimalist distro, then doing "apt-get install smartphone-system" for a distro customized for smartphones, or "media-system" for a distro customized for mediacenter PCs, etc.

    I think this would be a superior option to having many completely independent distributions, and it would allow for faster innovation and easier support.

  • I think we need multiple distros. (In fact, I once wrote an article to that effect.) However, I also think that we need more focus inside those distros. Rather than being good at being a desktop or being good at being a server, Linux distros tend to try and be all things to all people. Which makes them a jack of all trades, master of none.

    What's needed are fundamental operating system components that support the desktop and/or support the server and/or support the supercomputer and/or support the embedded device, etc. It should all be a matter of how the OS is built.

    Unfortunately, we seem to end up with all the disadvantages of choice in distros and none of the advantages. Why do GNOME and KDE both have their own hardware config tools that conflict with the underlying tools? Shouldn't there be OS-level services available that these desktop environments plug into?

    Why is sound such a mess? That was a solved problem 15 years ago!

    Why do X-Servers have the graphics drivers rather than the kernel or HAL? The X-Server should only be a consumer of graphics services!

    So on and so forth. Make the individual distros more cohesive and things will get a lot better. Stop focusing on retreading the same ground that GNOME and KDE have tread a billion times before, and start working on a few standard, low-level APIs that can be compiled in to the OS to give the GUI Windows or Mac level control over the underlying system. THEN things will get better.

    Oh, and stop with the packaging for crying out loud! A desktop system is antithetical to a centralized software repository. Desktop systems should have a standard method of software distribution that accepts any software from anywhere, commercial or OSS. Take Indie Gaming or Shareware developers as an example. Why should they submit their software to 30 different package repositories rather than providing a single, simple download on their website? (Worst case, two or three to support competing standards.)

    And no, I'm not talking about installers. Unix systems and installers don't usually get along. (I remember back when the shortcut spec was changing every other week. And yet distros were deploying a different standard in each minor revision. GAHHH!!!) Rather, I'd prefer to see App Bundle distributions similar to OS X. Such a concept is simple to download, install, and run without the fuss of messing with shortcuts, restarting your desktop, installing packages, or the gazillion other minor barriers Linux desktop systems have put in the way over the years.

    (I did create a Proof of Concept [sourceforge.net] on Solaris a while back, but lacked time to follow up on it. This problem is solvable if distro makers are willing to dedicate the resources.)

    I will give Ubuntu some credit here. Shuttleworth has been trying very hard to push the community in the right direction. But in order to "arrive" we need to actually embrace the ideals of OSS rather than hanging on to this idea that packaging repositories == Linux == OSS freedom.

  • Re:Oh no!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:01PM (#26712053) Journal

    If other distros were inclined to, it would be possible to turn Gentoo into a superset of all the other distributions.

    Each distribution would have its own profile and binary package mirror

    Chances of this happening however...

  • by Dripdry ( 1062282 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:03PM (#26712115) Journal

    If Linux wants more market share it needs a face, it needs something people can point to and say "Linux".
    That's the way this sort of thing works.

    From someone who is no longer in the tech community but is a big geek and has geek friends, we have the wrong aim, people.
    We need good communication, not analytics. Yes the OS should be improved, but in order for lots of people to adopt it we need to communicate a fairly unified, confident idea.

    If Ubuntu is that face, great! Let's work on that.
    If KDE is that face, great! Let's work on that.
    If Gnome is that face... you get the idea.

    People love consistency. We geeks want to analyze and pick apart everything, change it and tweak. Your average person DOES NOT CARE! They want something that works. Until we get that through our oversized brain/ego/whatever then Linux is not likely to take off in a really big way.

    Will this sacrifice a few things? Sure it will. However, since it is Open Source those little niche OS's can still exist! That is the problem with the big players now. We can still tweak things to make them better.

    Geeks like to be RIGHT and not make mistakes. I think it has something to do with smarts, or not being hugged enough as kids, or something. Their confidence/power comes from analyzing and making the "right" decision, which is why science is an analytic's passion. We can be "Right". People do not always want that. They want something that makes them feel good, simple and easy that they don't have to think about. If that thing is windows or Mac for them then so be it!

    The bright spot: What if we did this and got more market share, huh? We'd be in the spot where software SHOULD be. The geeks run things behind the scenes, tweaking and improving, altering and modifying for their user base, while the average person (99% of peopl out there) can use an innovative, slick interface that runs on cheap hardware. When they want to use their special application it works! When they need software or processes tailored to what they are doing, it will be easier. Businesses will run better since there will be less down time on the user side (i think), fewer upgrade$ to the newest Mac/Windows Neon Bloat Fantastic, and fewer headaches with techies trying to make programs/systems work together.

    All we have to do is learn to set aside our infighting because we want things to be scientifically "perfect) and market some form of Linux, anything, and unify behind it for the user base at large. Yes there should lots of distros for niche markets, but a general distribution would be very helpful.

  • by mrclisdue ( 1321513 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:04PM (#26712137)

    I use Linux on the Desktop. There is no sign of anything even remotely Microsoft on any of the 4 boxes in my house.

    I know Linux. I use Linux. I love Linux, etc., end of story.

    While I readily admit that anyone with even an iota of common sense and responsibility to anyone else on the internet should use Linux, I really don't care. Linux doesn't have to be more popular for me to justify its use. Other than being part of a safer internet, more use of Desktop Linux has zero effect on me.

    I'm not changing. I do believe that sooner or later, the rest-of-the-world will see the light, and join me in the bliss that is Linux - the ability to exercise virtually 100% control over my system, but I'm in no rush. It doesn't have to be tomorrow. Or in 2010. It'll happen (and I'll be here to say "I told you so" to all those former MS users....)

  • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:05PM (#26712145)
    I do agree that the base should be better standardized (where files are for network config, etc). It's getting better, but everyone still does it a little different.

    Yup. And everyone should standardise on Slackware's init scripts. (OK, I'm joking, but not much... :-))

    Almost the first thing that pissed me off about Ubuntu (apart from the coprophiliac theme) was the fact that they had arbitrarily fucked around with inittab, and I had to go looking for it. I've nothing against change where it's useful, but I do object to developers being craniorectal just for the sake of it.
  • by mixmatch ( 957776 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:05PM (#26712179) Homepage
    Is it a waste? Or is it an opportunity for budding developers to learn conflict resolution, debugging, and planning without buggering up a major distribution?
  • by eulernet ( 1132389 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:08PM (#26712249)

    No, they didn't spend millions, since copying a CD only costs a few cents.
    Of course, Microsoft counts the donated software at the full market price, but they just provide cheap copies.

    Microsoft is just counting on the fact that they are the first ones, but we'll see if this strategy will continue to work once everybody will be more fluent with computers.

  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msuarezalvarez ( 667058 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:08PM (#26712273)
    I have yet to find one of these mythical new users which "don have a clue what dstro they need" that proponents of the One True Distro keep bringing up. *All* new users I know installed the first distro they came across, and that has *always* been either Fedora or Ubuntu. This horrible state of doubt you seem to be describing simply does not occur IME.

    (More geekish new users do wander a bit more: but I have yet to find one who ends up considering any option apart from Debian, Slackware and Gentooo---but the geekish new user does not really matter in this context)

  • by marco.antonio.costa ( 937534 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:09PM (#26712283)

    He's absolutely right. The point of open source is freedom. People should be free to work on whatever distro suits your fancy. The market will decide which of them wins out the dominance in each of the 'sectors' be it a big one, like Desktop OS or really small like Studio64 and UbuntuStudio.

    Freedom works, freedom's great, try to take it from us and you'll be shot. ;-)

  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ ( 11968 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:11PM (#26712329) Homepage
    "[...]failure to show significant market share growth."

    Thing is, most of the time when I see these "market share" figures it turns out to be measured by revenue from new sold units during the most recent [quarter|year|whatever].

    Someone erasing their "Windows 2000" system and turning it into a Linux server doesn't show up at all on this measure. Someone who has to "upgrade" their Windows server repeatedly while their Linux box sits and runs without needing any additional spending on it distorts these numbers, as do the people who spend twice as much on each server due to software licensing fees.

    This is going to be even more distorted if they're specifically talking about non-server "market share", since it's so hard to find pre-installed Linux desktop systems most of the time. I have a suspicion that a lot of Linux desktop machines - even the NEW ones - came with "lowest-common-denominator" Windows OS and were subsequently wiped and replaced with a Linux of the installer's choice rather than showing up as an explicit "linux desktop" purchase somewhere.

  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:11PM (#26712331) Homepage Journal

    As it is, without better visibility and viability, it's pulling teeth to get hardware makers to either provide drivers, or provide specs good enough to make good drivers. I think that's why some people want better market share for Linux. It's not so bad with server hardware as Linux has a good profile there, but for consumer equipment, it has been a lot more difficult.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:12PM (#26712351)

    A sizable portion of the linux community are not using mainstream distros and have no desire to do so. In my experience, most of those calling for unification are Microsoftee's.

  • by DiegoBravo ( 324012 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:17PM (#26712467) Journal

    From the "package installation" point of view, almost any mayor distro solved that problem (even for Slackware you can get any unstable tgz and "install" it.)

    But other aspects are rather important:

    1) Provide developers (even of closed source coders like autocad or grand-theft-*) with a single target platform (as Vista proved, it is really difficult to support several OS flavors)
    2) Provide a standard set of GUI tools; for example, I'm used to the Ubuntu admin tools, but get totally lost when trying to use a Suse distro (ok, you can always use the command line tools bla bla bla)
    3) Do not confuse "standard" newcomers with the "not just Linux, but Ubuntu/Fedora/OpenSuse/Gentoo/whatever thing"... Remember the mess created by M$ with the Vista "editions".


  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:17PM (#26712471)

    We do need different distros for different needs, the problem is there's also a lot of distros filling the same needs and some do a pretty poor job of it such that the resources would be better spent on a competing distro.

    I suspect that most people agree with that.

    Where they disagree is on which distros are doing the right thing and which are wasting their time. Its pretty obvious that they disagree on that, because if they didn't, everyone would be working on the same distros now, and there would be no issue.

    Also, its not like the developers that are scratching their own itch working on "distro x" would necessarily be as interested in working on "distro y". The Linux Community isn't a corporation with fixed resources and a central command that can redistribute them wherever it wants. If people aren't working on what they want to be working on, those resources don't go somewhere else, they just go out of the community entirely.

  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:20PM (#26712543)

    But how about a little less fragmentation?

    Fine. Everyone should stop working on your favorite distro now, and work on my favorite distro instead, okay? That'll get us "a little less fragmentation".

    Calls for "less fragmentation" are vacuous without a call to unite behind something specific; then we can debate the pros and cons of what would be gained and what would be lost. Of course, the people you really have to convince are the people working on whatever would be axed, since its an open source community and the only way to make that happen is to convince those people to stop working on what they've been working on and start working on something else.

  • by Totenglocke ( 1291680 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:21PM (#26712549)
    You don't NEED to use CLI for apt because of Synatpic -- wonderful graphical interface for managing apt. And no, I'm not a Linux expert, just someone who wanted to try something new, and now I mainly use Linux (was using Ubuntu for a long time but recently switched to an unofficial offshoot of Ubuntu, Linux Mint).
  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 ( 232451 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:24PM (#26712627) Journal

    the kernel _I_ use is not bloated. it's 20 something seconds from tapping enter on grub's menu to the login prompt (i log in text mode).

    okay, i'm a hardcore debian user, i know how to compile my own kernel, but still, ubuntu 9.04 beta boots in pretty much the same time with a kernel that includes everything plus the kitchen sink.

    the kernel is not bloated, it's just that it comes with drivers for a shitload of hardware.

    take windows' kernel. if you include on it's source tree all kinds of drivers, for all kind of hardware, how many megs the code would be ?

    it's not bloat, it's neccessity.

    strip it down by deleting all .c, .cpp, .h, etc, files from stuff you don't need and it'll get pretty slim.

  • by **loki969** ( 880141 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:31PM (#26712797)

    You just keep ignoring the way things work in the community. You can't just plug distros and people together like Lego bricks. Most of those that run distros simply do it for fun and freedom. They have a certain vision of how they want things to be done and the GPL gives them the freedom to do so. If you take that away from them they'll stop contributing because it is their spare time and just like you and me they prefer to do what they want.

    Another common misconception seems to be that Linux has to take over the world. I couldn't care less how fast the community grows because it works already! The commuity itself has nothing to sell so the marketshare is not important at all. The only thing that really matters is how many active and happy developers we have.

  • by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:34PM (#26712855) Homepage

    No, no responsibility exists at all, in any situation - I can produce either a free or a pay for product, and I can happily walk away from it at any point, taking with me my tools and code and no responsibility to support you exists at all.

    You, sir, are the reason for the screaming noises emanating from my office on a daily basis. You are correct, but you are the reason for my screaming nonetheless.

  • by Facetious ( 710885 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:37PM (#26712929) Journal
    What you are saying is that my reasoning is specious. You missed the point. I am saying that I have reason to believe that Linux usage is underreported. That all. The linked article references numbers from Net Applications that says Linux desktop usage has declined from 0.85% to 0.77%. Why should I believe that when other sources like OneStat, XiTi Monitor, W3Counter, and W3Schools place the number at 0.47%, 1.20%, 2.13%, and 3.8% respectively?

    That there is such a disparity among reported sources causes me to doubt. That's it. And there is no pink lizard in your room.
  • by von_rick ( 944421 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:37PM (#26712939) Homepage
    You are overlapping technology and economics, and they don't quite intersect (on the points you mention). Unless you have a level of uniformity, you cannot expect any kind of market significance, much less market dominance. While I agree with Torvalds that its not possible to have a one size fits all distro, you at least need to come to common ground about the hardware drivers, networking tools, filesystems, shells, etc.
  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:46PM (#26713155) Journal
    The problem with multiple distros is that you cannot support them. Let's say Intuit decides to release Quicken for Linux. They will be getting support calls from Fedora users, Ubuntu users, Debian users, Mint users, Suse, Yellow Dog, Ygdrassil (or however that's spelled) etc. Suppose further that Quicken needed a minimum of 1024x768 resolution. Where do you change that? It's not a simple matter of right clicking on the desktop, selecting properties, and moving the slider. It's not even as simple as opening /etc/X11/xorg.conf in an editor. Or let's say you needed to open a port in the firewall.

    Linux is not going to make significant progress onto the corporate desktop until software companies start publishing linux versions of their software. They will be reluctant to do that because the cost of support will be so high.
  • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:48PM (#26713197) Homepage

    "But that's mainly a problem with the way that Linux is put together not the distros. The Linux kernel last time I checked was something like 30mb. Admittedly that was years ago, but when you've got a kernel that bloated it's going to be difficult to have it also work on a smart phone."

    Actually the main problem with Linux isn't Linux at all, but rather ignorance on the part of those who don't understand Linux at all but spread incorrect information. For example, you are confusing the size of the source tarball, which includes support for pretty much any feature you could ever want on more than 20 hardware architectures, with the size of the resultant binary executable after the kernel options are configured and the source is compiled. You then go on to make absurd statements based on this lack of understanding.

    Linux is the foundation of many small memory footprint embedded systems [wikipedia.org] including, but not limited to, cell phones. The entire Motorola Razr series is Linux based, and perhaps you've heard of the G1? Saying it is difficult because the Linux kernel is bloated has to be the worst kind of bad information. It misses on every count in every way. Empirical evidence contradicts your claims at every turn ...

  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:59PM (#26713419)
    On the other hand, there are also plenty of large organizations that use Windows backends. I'm not a MS fan, but the parent's post still stands - with almost 90% market share, it's silly to claim Microsoft is "proof the concept doesn't work". You may disagree with them, but if the product wasn't meeting customer needs, it wouldn't be out there.
  • by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:13PM (#26713721) Homepage
    ./configure && make && make install works pretty well most of the time.

    If you want to try to install prepackaged binaries designed for another distribution, then yeah, better be prepared to spend some time resolving dependencies. On the other hand, I have seen similar problems when a Windows app requires a certain service pack version (or requires !service pack version, as the case may be).
  • by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:17PM (#26713835) Homepage

    Market share is the number of copies sold as pre-installs (e.g., netbooks) and retail boxes. For Linux, this number is really immaterial.

    The number of interest is the 'installed base', which is the number of copies installed on hardware. For Linux, this number is hard to get. Some of the larger distributions have started making (low-ball) estimates, but even they admit the numbers don't really reflect the number installed, for various reasons.

    Another question is whether or not to count the number of embedded Linux copies. If my TV, DVR, PMP, MP3, PDA and other devices run Linux (they do), should those count toward the installed base? Or should we be counting general purpose computers only?

  • Re:What the hell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FishWithAHammer ( 957772 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:19PM (#26713871)

    I haven't had crapware on my last two laptops--I buy from Dell's Vostro line, which is their small/medium business line, and they don't put crapware on there.

    I also think you're full of shit about drivers. On Dell's site you just punch in your service tag and it'll present you with all the appropriate drivers for your machine.

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:21PM (#26713907)

    And they'd be right... so what? A guy restoring cars in his garage isn't being very "productive" either. Neither is someone planting flowers in their garden. Complaining that everyone isn't 100% efficient all of the time is silly, IMHO. A mark of our high standard of living is our free time.

  • Re:How about... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:29PM (#26714079) Homepage
    Linux Starter --> Knoppix (no install required!)
    Linux Home Basic --> Ubuntu
    Linux Home Premium --> Fedora/Debian
    Linux Business --> Suse
    Linux Enterprise --> RHEL
    Linux Ultimate --> Gentoo, of course

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:39PM (#26714267) Journal

    You don't NEED to use CLI for apt because of Synatpic -- wonderful graphical interface for managing apt.

    You have that backwards. You don't NEED to use GUI for Synaptic because of apt. Typing a simple one line apt command is a whole lot easier and faster than waiting for a GUI to load, then searching through the GUI for the option you need.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:41PM (#26714281)

    Here's something to think about: if linux developers want to consolidate their efforts into one distribution, or one desktop environment, or one office suite, etc, etc -- then by any stretch of the imagination, they already would have done it. Nobody is stopping them from doing this. They have every right in the world to do it. But they haven't. They haven't even come close. Why? The only plausible conclusion is that they don't want to!

    What's happening here is simply that the "consolidate now" crowd has a loud voice. They've been at this for quite a while. I've been a linux user for almost 12 years now and I can't remember a time when somebody, somewhere wasn't beating the drums of consolidation. Ironically, what these people fail to realize is that decentralization is nothing less than the foundation to open source software development. Sure, there's room for top-down structured hierarchy in the process, but never will that model take over. It's not hard to imagine what would happen: thousands of developers would move on to projects that satisfy their desire to choose for themselves what to work on. In fact, I'd bet my house that $10 billion dollars couldn't succeed in consolidating linux development -- all it would do is cause a mass forking of just about every existing project.

  • by Crispy Critters ( 226798 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:45PM (#26714363)
    "I think this would be a superior option to having many completely independent distributions, and it would allow for faster innovation and easier support."

    Until it didn't. You're right that this would have a large number of superior characteristics as long as it was working.

    The trouble is that you need to pick who is going to run it, what system will be used, what packages are included, and so on. And when the decision-making process breaks, the whole thing collapses.

    Here is an example of a very simple question to start with: Will the meta-distro avoid all tech that might be patent encumbered in the US or will it exist completely without corporate support from any US company?

    If this system is so superior, why haven't groups of people started working together to make it happen already? There is nothing stopping them.

  • by LateArthurDent ( 1403947 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:51PM (#26714475)

    Uh - I may be missing the point but if you charge for a product then it seems to me you might have some sort responsibility to your clients

    Not unless there's a support contract in the purchase. You've paid for the copy of the software, you have the copy of the software, transaction is completed. No further work required on the part of the developer.

    Of course, if you build a reputation for ignoring complaints and not supporting the software you make, you might find it more and more difficult to sell your software. That's a risk the developer is free to take, though.

    Also depending on the OSS license you use you might have the responsibility of providing source code to those people whom you distribute it to.

    I guess these things wouldn't prevent you from walking away but they might make it somewhat more annoying/painful.

    If you plan it right, thinking that you might want to walk away in the future, you just include the source code with the binary distribution. This way everybody who is entitled to the code already has it and your responsibility is complete. You're not required to forever distribute the source code, you're just required to give it to anyone to whom you (not somebody else) gave the binary to, if they want it.

    Of course, if you really do it right, you just put your source code on sourceforge or somewhere like it. Anytime you walk away, the code is still there, and others can fork/restart the project anytime they want in.

  • by Burz ( 138833 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:58PM (#26714617) Homepage Journal

    Platforms do.

    And except for Android, I know of no Linux-based platforms aimed at normal users and/or app developers.

    Distros are too fluid and there are too many of them anyway. This situation makes coding-for and independently distributing PC applications very confusing.

    The only things that would rectify the situation would be to create a fully-spec'd out and vertically-integrated (up through the GUI) platform like Android, or have the community get behind something like LSB Desktop. The latter does not seem to be happening though because it it being marketed to neither users nor app developers AFAIK.

    Notice there was no mention of LSB in the article -- There's almost zero awareness of it.

    I would like to point out that Linus is against forking the kernel, and his group essentially demands a unified kernel and toolchain (with different distros having different configurations of these pieces).

    But when it comes to higher-level stuff that end-users require, they complain about one-size-fits all. Frankly, that attitude says to me that the audio and video architectures in Linux-based desktops will continue to be slipshod and wobbly (unstable performance and unstable APIs), and you can forget about widespread adoption at the consumer level until either the Torvalds mentality dissipates or an Android moves into the desktop space.

    I think Torvalds & Co. are hypocrites who prefer showing off to their coder pals, users be damned. Even worse, they're foul-mouthed trolls who regularly make personal attacks on people they dislike while insisting on civility being directed towards themselves.

    Linux will continue to act as repellent to ambitious application developers looking to make their mark or a buck. We'll have to be content for the forsee-able future with ham-fisted G-, K-, X- apps that are usually mere shadows of what they imitate.

    Alas, even excellent software like Firefox doesn't get major UI flaws (like radio buttons always disappearing) because of this situation... Mozilla doesn't even bother packaging their apps for "Linux" anymore... you gotta unzip it to /usr and make all the correct linkages and icons yourself.

    The other great FOSS app, OpenOffice.org, is fairly complex to install/upgrade even with rpm/deb packages... and proper desktop integration will be either absent or badly broken. Again, SUN/OOo would rather attempt a fit-and-finish on proper platforms like OS X and Windows than play the bitten-by-a-hundred-repository-hackers game.

  • by Totenglocke ( 1291680 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @03:26PM (#26715159)
    Only if you already know exactly what you want. There are times I go to get a specific program in Synaptic and then see something else I want to add on that's related to it. You don't get that with the cli.
  • by samkass ( 174571 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @03:36PM (#26715339) Homepage Journal

    Linux is the foundation of many small memory footprint embedded systems including, but not limited to, cell phones. The entire Motorola Razr series is Linux based, and perhaps you've heard of the G1? Saying it is difficult because the Linux kernel is bloated has to be the worst kind of bad information. It misses on every count in every way. Empirical evidence contradicts your claims at every turn ...

    Those, however, all use embedded Linux distros. They don't use a desktop distro and then pull phone-specific add-ons, which I think was the parent poster's point. MontaVista and Android were specifically built to run in embedded environments and benefit from that specialization. Which I think was Torvalds' point-- the Linux community has benefited quite a bit from MontaVista's contribution to the embedded space and to a lesser extent from Android's marketing. That might not have happened with a single distro.

  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:09PM (#26715933) Journal

    Or do you think that Slack, Cent, and RH are all the same thing? Ubuntu can use RPM's via alien. Are you telling that there is no difference between Ubuntu and Slack?

    No, I'm not saying that at all. You have completely misunderstood me. I've done a lot of compiling and packaging in my time, and you sound like you don't understand the issues involved at all.

    Tell me, how would your wonderful unified package manager cope with a C++ binary compiled with, for example, gcc-4.2.4 on a system where the C++ libraries were compiled with, say, gcc-3.4.6?

  • by drunkennewfiemidget ( 712572 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:24PM (#26716215) Homepage

    Who doesn't give a flying fuck if Linux gains marketshare or not?

    Don't get me wrong, I hate Windows, and I wouldn't impose it on my worst enemy ... ok maybe I would.

    But I hate Windows, and I love Linux and all that, but at the end of the day, you run whatever the hell you want, and I'll run whatever the hell I want, mmmkay?

  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:09PM (#26716911) Homepage Journal

    The calls from the Linux community have been growing due to Linux's failure to show rapid market share growth."

    There, fixed that for you.

    Linux already has significant market share. Look at the web and the Internet infrastructure: the vast majority of it is powered by Linux, technologies that are based on Linux, or utilize Linux in some indirect way. Linux is gaining traction left and right in the embedded market. No competent system administrator hasn't at least fired up a LiveCD to see what all the fuss is about.

    It's true that Linux isn't as strong on the desktop as many advocates would like, but that's mainly because there's not yet any big company throwing their weight behind it to leverage business deals and spend billions in marketing to the consumer. (Canonical is trying, but they're still pretty small fish at the moment.)

    As I've written repeatedly, ever since the very beginning Linux has had steady but slow growth. This isn't a good thing, nor is it a bad thing, it's just how it is. I think what we're seeing now is that more and more people are looking at Linux and open source and saying, "now, how can I make a quick buck off of this?" and realize they really can't and then spend all day lamenting about it in their blog.

  • Re:Arch Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @06:59PM (#26718481) Homepage Journal

    Ubuntu is a necessary evil. For some reason, we need a distro for the Windows masses.

    Don't forget the "have a degree in CompSci, have released successful Free Software applications, and get paid to do work and not dick around with their distro" masses. There are other reasons to use a "friendly" distro like Ubuntu than cluelessness.

  • by Eneff ( 96967 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @07:19PM (#26718711)

    I would like to point out that Linus is against forking the kernel, and his group essentially demands a unified kernel and toolchain (with different distros having different configurations of these pieces).

    [Citation Needed]

    Torvalds's copy isn't deployed by most people. Red Hat does its own fork (or patchset), as does Ubuntu. TiVo certainly keeps its own copy. Andrew Morton has gone on record saying that a competing fork would be impractical, but I haven't seen anyone "against" such a thing.

    If someone really wants to create a dependent sound system, I'm sure Mark Shuttleworth would like to hear from you if you can make the experience better.

    Frankly, for most people, they can just use Ubuntu and forget about every other distribution on the desktop.

  • by Medievalist ( 16032 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @07:57PM (#26719101)

    Why can't they use a unified packaging system between all of the distros?

    Who exactly is this "they" you are talking about?

    Humans build stuff that does what they want to accomplish for their own goals. I am not so interested in your goals, though I am altruistic enough to hope you achieve them. Red Hat feels the same way about SuSE. Debian feels that way about Gentoo.

    Linus is right, the system stops evolving optimally as soon as you start constraining it into your particular vision of what everyone else needs.

    As for linux "dying a long quiet death", who cares? It's a tool, not a pet animal. When it stops solving your problems stop using it; me and Linus both have the source code, so we will keep using it as long as we need it... regardless of what anyone else does.

  • Re:Arch Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by burning-toast ( 925667 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @08:01PM (#26719153)

    Ubuntu is a necessary good. For some reason, we need a distro for the Windows masses.

    Fixed that for you.

    I'm surprised that the reason behind having a distribution with a more consistent look and feel and a bit of "polish" to it would be quite so hard to understand for a lot of the Slashdot crowd.

    From the perspective of end-users who like to change some advanced settings, without becoming a certified sysadmin in the process; Linux as an OS is a stubborn, inconsistent, misleading, and often frustrating piece of crap by and large. Some parts of it are examples of exceptional engineering and sleek design (I can't think of one at the moment though). Other parts leave you wondering if anyone has even looked at it from the mindset of a user in the 2000's instead of the 70's when everything was timeshares and terminals.

    There is a large subset of users between the type like someone's grandmother who never touches or needs to understand a thing (only be shown how to do it one way to follow their written instructions) and a system programmer (who knows how it all connects on the inside) which want to have some control over things like printers, modems, dual-monitor displays, VPN connections, network file sharing, media playback codecs / applications, games, wireless internet, Firewalls, Digital Cameras, MP3 Players, and such but not be inundated with mundane, backwards, or otherwise archaic nonsense when trying to change only semi-complex settings. Things like which of two monitors is the primary desktop, how to set their printer to a different paper size, configure their default browser for links opened throughout the system, how to get a software firewall to auto configure based on network they attached to, setup their wireless network connection to always connect to their home network when it's in range, how to open files on another machine in their house, how to setup their scanner, etc. These are some tasks which still have a long way to go to be reasonable for the average sorta-knows-whats-going-on Joe under many circumstances because they have little "gotcha" type bugs which crop up frequently or simply poor design from the beginning. Unfortunately these little "gotcha" bugs tend to come with 40 pages of reading about every other technology even remotely related to try and understand the problem.

    Some people want to actually use their mp3 player instead of learning how shitty the sound system in their operating system is or why their sound card only runs with one program at a time (depending on Distro). Some people want to play games without learning what a binary video driver is or how it taints the kernel licensing / support. Some people want to print their business cards without learning all about CUPS. They just want to plug, click, go. There is nothing wrong with that really.

    Also, Ubuntu has something to offer the Mac users in the same vein which other distributions may not have done quite so well with in the past. As Apple is considered to have one of the more "polished" operating systems of the three I am discussing for end users.

    Most people just want consistency and functionality. Some others want security and flexibility. Everyone wants something a little different. All (K)Ubuntu attempts to do is bridge the consistency/usability and security/flexibility gap. Judging by their popularity they must be doing a decent job so far.

    - Toast

    P.S. Now while my post may read as a flame on Linux it is not. Linux is only what people make of it and it is constantly evolving and for the better in my opinion. My post is a flame on the prevailing attitude around here of everyone needing to understand the really useless crap and have a well formed reflex to having to learn a little about 40 things to make 1 simple thing happen, and that they should like it. Linux is just as complex of a beast as Macintosh and Windows just below the surface, it just doesn't hide that fact as well as some of it's competitors and tends to drown the "power user but not administrator" types with it's incessant little quirks for a great many "normal" activities which people have grown accustomed to being "easy" and relatively "thought free".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @09:29PM (#26719917)

    thinkers rare
    doers rarer
    thinker-doers rarest

    unity of single distro is practically and politically impossible

  • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @09:55PM (#26720089) Homepage

    And that's part of the problem. Linus may be right that there are good reasons for multiple distros to exist. But that doesn't mean there are good reasons for them to store the same files in different locations.

    There are, actually. As a Debian user, I'm very happy about how every package on my systems puts its stuff in the same places, regardless of what Red Hat or SuSE do. For example, Red Hat's /etc/sysconfig configuration mechanism is total crap, and I don't really care whether Red Hat users are confused by Debian's ifupdown system, because I'm not a Red Hat user. There are many examples of this kind of thing.

    The truth is that each "distro" is actually its own distinct operating system that just happens to be almost, but not entirely compatible with many other similar systems. Where it makes sense to unify things, they are being unified. Where people disagree, they are free to do their own thing. This is what freedom means.

  • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @09:58PM (#26720119) Homepage

    So, if you think it's worth doing, make it happen. You have that freedom.

    That's why I like free software. If others hate your idea, they can't stop you from pursuing it.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents