A single Linux distribution that unifies the best of all the others. A reader wrote us to the Linux Addicts mailing list wondering what we think of the idea. With the only neuron that I have on duty at 5 in the morning I replied that it seemed impossible. Meeting the developers, after two months someone would get angry about something and get their own. On the other hand, more and more distributions are sponsored by companies. Can you imagine Coca Cola and Pepsi bottling and distributing the same beverages?
When, after several cups of coffee, his companion entered the service, I came to another conclusion. Even if it was possible to have a single Linux distribution, in my opinion it's not a good idea.
Table of Contents
Why is a single Linux distribution a bad idea? (In my opinion)
Have any of you heard of Ray Noorda?
This Mormon of Dutch descent, never had the fame of Jobs or Zuckerberg, but his contribution to the world of technology was very important.
Among other things, he was the founder of Novell, a company whose contributions to the world of open source We already have in Linux Addicts. It was also the one who coined the term coopetence.
Inside the world of open source there are many people who think that the triumph of Linux happens to defeat Windows in market share. Beyond the fact that such a triumph would amount to remaining the monopoly of stagecoach travel or being the leader in the manufacture of rotary telephones, there is another answer. Coopetence.
The industry is evolving towards a paradigm where operating systems (at least for the home user) are irrelevant. Desktop computers are giving way to tablets, smartphones and televisions. If you need a computer with a keyboard, you have Chromebooks.
Google was always a service company. Any terminal manufacturer can trade devices with Android, what interests the company is that you use its browser, its map service and its application store. Apple just allowed its music store to be used from any browser and will soon launch its own Netflix. Microsoft is increasingly integrating Windows with Onedrive (its cloud storage service) Office 365 can be used from the browser and there are more and more plans to port its applications that cannot be used online to Linux.
What does coopetence mean?
The word coopetence it is a mixture of the word cooperation and the word competition. It basically means cooperate to create and grow a market and compete for the best part thereof.
The two big Linux problems for years were; the lack of hardware compatibility and the lack of Windows-like level applications. Years later, Microsoft would have a similar problem trying to enter the mobile business late.
With the desktop market in decline and the mobile market dominated by Google and Apple, Linux-based companies and Microsoft turned their guns on the cloud and the Internet of Things.
Microsoft saw that companies preferred Linux distributions as operating systems for their cloud operations. If it wanted to sell its Azure platform, it had to offer Linux. Red Hat and Canonical also benefit as they have access to more potential customers.
The company founded by Bill Gates also found that programmers preferred Java or Python to their proprietary programming languages, and Silverlight was never going to win a market over Adobe Flash. Thanks to this, it improved Visual Studio's compatibility with Python and Html5 and made a version for Linux. It also became a strong diffuser of these programming languages.
n what refers to the Internet of things, opensource devices like the Raspberry Pi are gaining more and more place. Hence it has its own version of Windows.
E How does this apply to Linux?
Our reader friend maintains that a single Linux distribution, created from user suggestions, would be much more competitive than today's multiple Linux distributions. I disagree.
It is true that there are too many distributions Linux. Many of them they are the result of the ego of the maintainers or poor management of human resources of the different communities. The only thing they provide is a different wallpaper.
However diversity also allows us to choose the one that suits us in a way that Windows and MacOS never will. Thanks to KDE Neon we can have the latest KDE Plasma news much earlier than Kubuntu. But, if we are looking for stability, KDE and Ubuntu, the latter will be our best option. If we want the best of Arch Linux without complications, there is Manjaro.
Flatpak packages have the best of free software. Thanks to Snap packages we have access to the best of proprietary software for Linux.
Do you like light desks? You have Mate or LXQT. The pretty ones? You're going to love Budgie Desktop. Want to customize it? KDE or Cinnamon have options for all tastes. And since there are people for everything, there is also Gnome.
Of course there must also be cooperation. At the Linux kernel level so that more and more hardware is compatible. Doing market research, to anticipate the needs of users by creating new and interesting products. And of course at the institutional level, to avoid legislation that privileges proprietary software and prevents abuse of open licenses.
But when it comes to the end product, the more options there are, the better. At the Carrefour in my neighborhood there are more brands of chocolates than frozen broccoli. And you know what? People still prefer to eat chocolate.
13 comments, leave yours
Did anyone else remember the idea of a single distribution from the lord of the rings?
Three Rings for the Elven Kings under the sky.
Seven for the Dwarf Lords in stone palaces.
Nine for the mortal men doomed to die.
One for the Dark Lord, upon the dark throne
in the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
A ring to govern them all. A Ring to find them,
a Ring to attract them all and bind them in darkness
in the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
you can have a base distro and with docker use others without problems even use visual software from containers in host and display mode.
Exactly the same as we have now.
Excellent analysis, I would add the tremendous subjectivity of conceptualizing "being the best." Better for what? Compare with wheels, Ferrari is the best, but would you use a coupe for sowing in the field, or would a tractor be better even if it is a little-known brand?
That is why some brands specialize, others complement each other, others compete. Returning to the "best linux", version survival will be done in the same way as with proprietary software: those that best adapt to changes will evolve in time. The support of companies will be the filter. And there will be very few versions with a large community and some more with followers without being good. You will not need a survey.
Does anyone think that selecting features they like from other distros has not been done already, and will continue to be done?
Very good your analysis, let it be known that my answer takes it forward with only three neurons flashing in raid5
A single distro might not, but fewer distributions would have benefited Linux greatly.
Although it sounds contradictory, what makes Linux unique is the wide variety of distributions that exist. Everyone uses the one they like the most or with which they feel most comfortable depending on the purpose for which they use it, that is the advantage over windows. I love debian (it's the one I have installed) and Slackware, but I don't like ubuntu or manjaro. However, I think that they should limit the dissemination of the distros that do not contribute something new, they are school projects or those that are almost a copy of other more recognized
Why are there so many makes of cars for similar models and identical segments? ...
So that it adapts to the use that the user wants to give it ..., to the driver's requirements ..., and to the need of each occasion.
GNU / Linux is exactly the same.
So that you can choose the "color" you want.
So much freedom can overwhelm you terribly, but I prefer the excess of freedom than the restriction of proprietary software ...
This is the market, folks! The more options, the better. The one that offers the best things will subsist. I celebrate the freedom to choose the one we want.
Without options there is no freedom, for that there are other operating systems.
I think that many of you are right in what you argue about the diversity of options (I am also a newbie, mine is an opinion as such). However, I believe that several aspects are not taken into account when analyzing these issues. Linux is extremely more complex to install and use than Windows, for a reason it is used in universities as a basis for learning computer science. Linux has a variety of application installers that make any normal user dizzy, Windows only uses .exe, which makes up for its shortcomings with its ease of use. Having many different desktops is exciting for those who use them, for a systems administrator I cannot imagine having to regulate the behavior of 100 different computers each of his father and mother in terms of desktops. Linux is not "unbreakeable" for a normal user, on the contrary, recovering a Windows is much easier than recovering a Linux. Like all newbie, I have installed more than one desktop and when starting I have chosen one or the other to test. Surprise when I found applications that are the same but with the name changed. That goes against any usability logic. Linux was born in a university environment and not compatible with each other - each company had its version - and Microsoft appeared in that crack: I do not sell something excellent, but I sell something unique, which does not change radically depending on who you hire, and I give you support. Music to the ears of IT managers. What the architects of Linux today must ask themselves is what type of user they are targeting: home or business. In company they sweep. At home they do not even have to start, the ecosystem of applications that Microsoft is doing with Windows 10 has no competition. Everything connected to each other, everything easy to use. The Excel aids are out of this world, I guess they will use ML patterns or maybe AI. And the secretary, the bloke, the busy salesman, the simple financier, they want that. And it's totally respectable. But it is not wise to compare the service that each OS provides by unifying the user types. To each his own.
I was in love with Linux, I had him on all my computers and on my server, I advised my family AND friends about the benefits of Linux ... until I discovered that I was wasting a lot, but a lot of time trying to configure and make a program work. I decided to buy a Mac, I am not separated from it and the server with Windows, I do not need more! Although comparing computers with chocolates and broccoli is incongruous, in my case broccoli won!
If you leave a single option to take it or leave it, we are in the same as with Windows or OSX.
Long live freedom! Long live the options! Long live free software!
For me, the problem does not lie in the distributions! Although there was a time when I thought it was the problem !! I realized that the problem is actually the complexity offered by distributions in terms of installing and developing software, although it is true that today installing a deb package is as simple as giving a couple of clicks, for the user On foot it is a complicated process more because of its ignorance than because of its complexity, even in Windows users only give consecutive clicks on the application installers without paying attention to the licenses and secondary programs that accompany the application they want to install, filling their computer with all kinds of useless crapware !! Despite this, they manage to install the application they wanted, and that is what they care about and nothing else!
So, in linux the situation is aggravated by the existence of not only debs, but also rpm, tgz, etc. and not to mention when you have to install from the sources! The lack of a standardized installer, independent of the distribution (something similar is tried with snaps and flatpacks), is an obstacle to overcome!
On the other hand, something similar happens when developing software for Linux, despite POSIX and the great work of GNU, and the extraordinary work of the communities around each distribution, developing for Linux becomes chaotic! Here the ease that microsoft has when developing is highlighted, since it is for its own system !! Among any other question that escapes me !!
Anyway, I would celebrate being able to say I made an application for Linux, regardless of the different distributions, post it on my website and that the user can install it with a couple of clicks in Debian or Slackware!