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.
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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.