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Torvalds Rejects One-Size-Fits-All Linux

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-does-he-know? dept.

Linux Business 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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Before you start screaming about this. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711103)

Did you ever think that he might be right?

Re:Before you start screaming about this. (4, Insightful)

hahiss (696716) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711139)

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

Re:Before you start screaming about this. (5, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711395)

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

Re:Before you start screaming about this. (2, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Before you start screaming about this. (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Before you start screaming about this. (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711885)

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.

However, competition is good. If one of the distros clearly sucks, that's a waste, but otherwise, it becomes a bit like GNOME/KDE.

Re:Before you start screaming about this. (2, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Before you start screaming about this. (4, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711681)

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.

Re:Before you start screaming about this. (0, Flamebait)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711767)

I would think the better solution would be asking the community to concentrate its efforts in some fields for the greater good of everyone, because if the projects are not noticeably different there is very little to be gained from having them compete.

Re:Before you start screaming about this. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711875)

Are the minor distros really relevant to fragmentation? Do newbs, after agonizing over Feather and Puppy, run back to the warm world of windows(XP or vista, home basic, home premium, MCE, Business, Ultimate, 32/64bit)?

While I agree that the minor distro scene is full of irrelevant duplicates with minor distinctions, the minor distro scene is only really of interest to linux geeks. Already, Corporate can go with Redhat and get the de-facto "Linux Professional Edition" and Home can get Ubuntu.

Re:Before you start screaming about this. (3, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711709)

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.

Re:Before you start screaming about this. (2, Interesting)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711849)

I don't quite agree, I do believe there are just too many distros out there to make the uneducated feel comfortable delving into Linux. If i were a new Linux wannabe user, I want to go look up which is best if there are more then one.

If there are more then 100, then I feel so uneducated I leave it alone. This hurts linux in the end.
I would rather that many of the smaller distors that vary by a few added softwares merge into 1.

So lets say you got 100, and of those 100 you have 50 closely similar buddies, you dropped the choices down by half. Yes yellowdog, is almost as good as turbo but does not come with the extra packaging for lets say wine or etc. So you just add a configuration issue at the beginning of the install (which could actually read Yellowdog install or Turbo install) give them a different menu based on more or less.

Everyone and their grandmother seems to be using linux to build their own OS, then when they become evolved enough to be listed as just another distro, you see there are so few changes, between them, that you take the stronger supported one, and add config parameters, to allow for the differences.

I am sure, if someone extremely linux savvy were to review all of them to find which could be plugged together, we would have maybe 20 or 30 REAL distros.

purst toast (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711107)

One size fits all buttplug.

Re:purst toast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711231)

That's not possible because you're a tight ass.

Re:purst toast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711457)

I know the economy is tight and some people are losing their jobs. Saving an extra buck here and there is more important than ever. But trying to save a couple bucks on a used butt plug is probably a bad idea.

No its just that : (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711115)

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.

Re:No its just that : (2, Interesting)

crivens (112213) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711165)

You mean a one size fits all distro for each niche/market? Like one desktop, one server, one netbook, one phone, one embedded.....? They could all come from one distro, but that'll never happen unfortunately.

Embrace extend extinguish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711251)

BY having multiple distributors we have CHOICE
by having CHOICE it makes it 100 time sharder should any actual attack on linux happen as in the CASE of SCO
you had ONLY SuSe aka novel drop the ball with Microsoft.
NOW think that you have one big distro and then it gets pressure form big business.

AND i'll add this is what happens when corporations infiltrate the open source movement
they want to proprietorize it like anything else and control it.

Re:No its just that : (0, Redundant)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711263)

There's no such thing as 'one size fits all.'

I just put Ubuntu on a ~7 year old laptop. Gnome is too much for the thing, much less Compiz. I ripped out most of the default stuff and replaced it with my custom Fluxbox configuration, Emacs, and Epiphany in place of the increasingly bloated Firefox.

Not to mention the modern ultracheap, ultralight ARM machines we will be seeing soon. One size fits all assumes infinite computing resources. Efficiency is a big deal.

Re:No its just that : (0, Troll)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711695)

Yeah, no shit. You're telling me I need to run Ubuntu or RedHat or something even if I want something else? What if I have a web and e-mail machine and want to run something flashy, but kind of lightweight? I'd use gOS. For a work machine, I might consider SUSE or Redhat (suse is even supported by our IT staff). My heart however, lies in screwing around so what if I want to run Debian, Slackware or Gentoo on my home machine? What if I'm chinese and want a chinese distro? Run Red Flag.

No way, you one distro., one desktop, one window manager, one office suite people go take a long walk off a short pier. I like my diversity and I like using the proper tool for the job. You can have my $FAVORITE_DISTRO when you pry it from my cold, dead hard drive. Give me $FAVORITE_DISTRO or give me death!

Re:No its just that : (1)

surgen (1145449) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711753)

I'm not advocating for just one-size-fits-all distro, but with a good package management system, a one-size-fits-most-desktops distro is a very real possibility. Who cares what the distros defaults are when linux is so malleable? If your computer can't handle gnome then the installer could pick up on that, it can (after prompting the user) install fluxbox or something. The nice thing about linux is that while one size doesn't fit all, a single distribution is a jumping point into many different possibilities.

Re:No its just that : (1)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711313)

I was about to post the same thing, but for different reasons. I can't just go from my computer to my moms or dads without having to stop and think about whare things are located because we all use different distros. It's ok for me, I'm a nerd, and like tinkering with things, but for a non nerd that must be very difficult.

Re:No its just that : (4, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711331)

Debian / Ubuntu could easily be this 'one size fits all' distro with apt-get. I use the 50MB bare bones install of Debian for all my servers and build from there.

You want a desktop?
apt-get install gnome*

You want a desktop on a 500 mHz computer?
apt-get install xfce

You want a webserver?
apt-get install apache php5 perl

You want a media encoding server?
apt-get install ffmpeg mencoder

You want it cutting edge?
apt-get -t unstable

You want it rock solid?
apt-get -t stable

Re:One size fits all (2, Funny)

jimwelch (309748) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711369)

THE obvious choice has changed over the years. THE right decision is wrong several years later. So who gets to make the call?

  • Big Brother Government? - They do some much perfectly.
  • A Standard Organization? - They handled office file format standard so well.
  • Stock Market? - They can no longer afford anything.
  • The United Nations? - Which language version?
  • An Internet Poll? - so scientific
  • Free Market Choice? currently in use.
  • Cowboy Neal?

Re:One size fits all (2, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711783)

Did you know that Stallman sounds like the Swedish Stålman, literally man of steel (or figuratively Superman). The nomme de guerre Stalin means (more or less) man of steel in Russian.

Clearly Stallman has the right name and the requisite facial hair and he can write GPL4,5 and 6 to enforce collectivisation [wikipedia.org] of Stallix and the crushing of Kulaks [wikipedia.org] like Torvalds.

Re:No its just that : (1)

cliffwoolley (506733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711379)

Agreed. A central desktop distro to rally around would be useful (perhaps unlikely, but useful).

Even more useful, though, in my opinion, would be a consistent package management system across distros. That way, we could choose a distro for a specialized-use case (e.g., servers, embedded systems, etc.) based on what packages it focuses its attention on and what its performance priorities are rather than based on which package management system it uses. Plus, bouncing back and forth between numerous different distributions -- one for each niche -- wouldn't be such a headache. (Now... which command was it that I use to update that package on this distro again? Argh.)

A really hope you are kidding. (5, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:No its just that : (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711479)

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

The problem is one size doesn't fit all; Windows is dominant despite that because MS was in the right place at the right time to become so ubiquitous that instead of fitting people's needs, peopel would fit their needs to MS's products because they were the only option, and it has a lot of leverage from that that its been milking ever since.

Re:No its just that : (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711541)

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

I presume you're spending a significant amount of your free time contributing to this goal, yes? (Sorry, this is apparently my week to be the asshole that asks people how much effort they're putting into things they think other people should be doing)

It would be hard enough to come up with a mutually-agreeable spec for The One True Desktop Distribution (T1TDD). Will it default to KDE or to Gnome? You'd probably need about 1000 years and an army of ninjas to settle that one. Then you could worry about whether emacs, vi, or something else will be the default text editor. That won't take long to work out, right? Then you can get down to the real bikeshedding about the icons and default themes.

Then, once you've come up with the list of things "everybody" agrees should be in the T1TDD, you have to convince all those people that contribute to the many disparate distros to drop what they're doing (which is most likely being done to scratch some particular itch that nobody else cares about) and work on T1TDD.

Maybe it would be nice to have a single unified push on one desktop distribution, and maybe it would make Linux a household name, but that in itself isn't enough to make it happen IMHO.

Re:No its just that : (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711691)

I reckon a strong broadly supported Desktop distro could help make Linux even more mainstream; thus benefiting the niche to as more resources and energy get channelled into various Linux apps and the core itself.

Re:No its just that : (0)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711703)

What about light Desktops? Like say Zenwalk, Xbuntu, and Puppy?
Just where would you set the minimum spec? We already kind of have a desktop standard with Ubuntu. Over all I think they are doing a good job with it as well.

Re:No its just that : (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711725)

I think the problem is not the distributions but how pronounce they advertise the Linux Name. The problem is each distribution needs to stand on its own merits not the Linux kernel. There are a bunch of kernel gurus who say the Windows NT Kernel is just as good if not better then the Linux kernel (but different), but the implementation of the OS beyond the kernel creates most of windows problems (Crappy 3rd party drivers, Poorly installed default security, etc...)
By Putting so much with the Linux name not the distribution in the long run can get a lot of people to use a bad distribution (It is Linux it has to secure and stable) or a lot of people to avoid using a distribution. I didn't like Red Hat Linux, so no more Linux is allowed.
In theory you could use the Linux Kernel to Run Windows, or OS X and they will all have about the same problems. Or in theory you could use the Windows kernel to run a Posix compliment Unix Like distribution that looks and feels just like Ubuntu and still has all its problems.

Re:No its just that : (1)

scientus (1357317) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711883)

no we shouldnt. having only one desktop distro would put to much power in the company that controls it. The only single desktop distro i could see is debian, otherwise we need cooperation between differnt groups, and attempts to make things interopperable, but having a single system will only stifle progress.

I think what needs to happen is that distros need to work better with the software creators, no more Ubuntu making endless changes to applications without asking the softwares creators/maintainers for an opinion. Also it is possible for differnt groups to create special blends and use auto-builders that can blend what it means to be a distrobution.

Definitely having a one command to install from binary and a similar single command to install an identical binary but from source, without any mucking around is a clear win here.

The tools used to distrobute the os, and those who actually maintain it are differnt. Also standards and horizontal interoperability (kde gnome--freedesktop--python and ruby accross systems, etc) is at least as big as the vertical integration done by the distos, and makes their jobs much simpler.

If anything we will end up with so many good tools like good build scripts, version control, FHS, and horizontal agreements that distros are no longer neccicary and we can all get our software directly from the developers of that software, maybe just with some community consensous on what versions work together or what configurations are most approiate. Its all about empowering users, and multiple distros does not mean incompadibility. Linus is right about this.

Both! (0)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711157)

Uniting behind one "Big Tent" Linux doesn't mean you can't have other little linux distributions.

If anything Ubuntu is becoming that tent. Especially if Kubuntu were to be packaged on the same disk.

One linux for the masses and techies who don't want to to be bothered to compile all their packages and a bazillion baby linuxes for every niche application.

Most distributions are extremely similar. Nixing a few clones would probably be beneficial.

Re:Both! (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711383)

Agreed. And from what I remember, the size of the Ubuntu distro was set at one CD. So if they make the move to a DVD (I mean, c'mon, it's 2009 people), they could fit Kubuntu, Net Book Remix, and whatever else you'd want on one disk. Add an Android distro (Abuntu?) to the family and presto! Linux for everyone!

Re:Both! (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711755)

Of course clones could be a great way for others to see what works and what doesn't, what feature is worth noting and etc. Of course if your product does the same as a few other products and in no way better or worse; just less used; you could consider jumping aboard a bigger distro. One could assume that certain things regarding making and maintaining a workable distro is made easier with resources and capacity.

What the hell (4, Insightful)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711189)

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 (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:What the hell (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711303)

I wouldn't, and neither would a huge amount of large corporations that are using linux for their servers.

Re:What the hell (3, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711643)

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.

Re:What the hell (2, Insightful)

tbannist (230135) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711575)

Welcome to reality, geek.

Re:What the hell (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711619)

specially because microsoft is so good at unifying distributions: vista, available in home basic, premium, business, ultimate, plus N variants and others.

2008 server, available in:Windows Server 2008 Datacenter Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Windows Server 2008 Standard Windows Web Server 2008 Windows HPC Server 2008 Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V

and do not forget the various small business and essential business!

Re:What the hell (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711289)

Yes, Microsoft is the perfect example as to how to fail at capturing market share.

Re:What the hell (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711553)

We are talking about if this approach to building an OS works well or not. Would you say Windows runs better than Linux, supports more hardware, is more versatile?

Re:What the hell (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711299)

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

Re:What the hell (2, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 5 years ago | (#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).

Re:What the hell (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711759)

I'm sure some drama queen will come along to correct me, but I doubt any of Microsoft's customers had Windows forced on them.

The fact is that Windows works quite well for most people, all things considered, and the OS that is cannibalizing its market share is doing so through brand loyalty built by an MP3 player/ cell phone despite the fact that it has been 'better' than Windows for a long while.

Re:What the hell (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711597)

Why should I give a shit about market shares? Linux isn't about "winning", it's about making a good operating system. If you want to improve it so it's better, then fine. If you want to change it just so it can attract idiots, then whatever, that's your perogative. Just don't expect me to change what I'm doing.

Re:What the hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711337)

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.

No, not really. MS has many different distros, they're called Vista Ultimate, Vista Business, Vista Home Basic, Vista Home something, XP Home, XP Pro, Windows Server 2008 Advanced Data Center, Windows Server somethingsomething.

How do you feel about this? Confusing to me at least.

Re:What the hell (2, Insightful)

WoLpH (699064) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:What the hell (3, Insightful)

ZeroPly (881915) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:What the hell (3, Insightful)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711589)

If manufacturers provided some sort of specs for their hardware linux kernel developers would jump on the opportunity to make a driver.

Re:What the hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711593)

Really? I love Linux but lets be honest. The reason Microsoft remains strong is because no matter what system is running it it looks, feels, and behaves the same way. You can claim the means by which it has gained it's market share is by forcing OEMs to include it but that is not by any means the whole story there (even if it started that way). because it has market share developers for applications and drivers code for it first and then port to mac and if they have the resources they port it to one or two flavors of Linux.

If we have one version of Linux for a desktop then it becomes easier to develop for. This will lead to a larger adoption for that market and lead to further adoption in others.

Re:What the hell (1)

AceCoolie (1304495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711881)

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.

Yeah, because MS is an example of a company that totally failed. They must not know anything.

The problem with Linux is the barrier to entry is too high. Newbies don't have a clue what distro they need. Ubuntu has gone a long way to fix that but a unified distro would be a good thing. Just don't do it at the expense of everything else.

sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711239)

Sweet! This opens the door for Linux Home Basic, Linux Home Premium, Linux Business, Linux Starter Edition, and Linux Ultimate!

Re:sweet (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711535)

Why not? Except the different variations would cost the same ($0) and could be tailored to different markets without locking that person into that niche. So, if Granny wants to email and web surf, give her Linux Desktop Basic - locked down, minimal extra services (Really, does she need and FTP client?), easy to fix. So now she gets into it, and decides to start using some office apps for writing letters and keeping her budget. She downloads the upgrade for $0, and when it's done it looks mostly the same but now has a few more options open.

Market segmentation is not good or bad; it's restricting movement between segments that is so crappy.

Re:sweet (3, Insightful)

Falstius (963333) | more than 5 years ago | (#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

Oh no!! (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711255)

Yet another distro. Anybody have a link where we can download this One-Size-Fits-All Linux?

Re:Oh no!! (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711349)


Not quite "one size fits all" but it is pretty close.

Re:Oh no!! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711517)

If by one-size-fits-one then yes.

Gentoo fans really are a..."special" type of user and most users won't want to even touch gentoo. I'm including those who know what they're doing in that as well.

Re:Oh no!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711387)

Try Noob-Untu for starters.

Re:Oh no!! (1)

JustNilt (984644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711441)

Sure, but you'll need a couple dozen dual layer DVDs to fit it all on. Until we have cheap media that can store a crapton more data than we have now, I think we'll still see separate distros even among the same niche markets (firewall appliances, anyone?). For the Desktop market, my personal thought is that the current repository scheme wrks well but this depends on cheap, nearly limitless bandwidth being available. If the current trend to meter bandwidth continues, I fear what may happen to the average consumer's bill when they need a couple GB worth of updates just for one app.

I'm aware, of course, that I am extrapolating two trends (software bloat and bandwidth caps) to their extremes without evidence but one wonders what will happen. Fun times we'll have if nobody can afford to apply security updates, etc, to their OSs and apps, whether M$ or otherwise.

How about... (5, Funny)

Emperor Skull (680972) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711271)

Linux Starter
Linux Home Basic
Linux Home Premium
Linux Business
Linux Enterprise
Linux Ultimate

Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711503)

Linux Starter

Linux Home Basic

Linux Home Premium

Linux Business

Linux Enterprise

Linux Ultimate

I probably wouldn't want my name next to that post, sir. You are very brave.

Re:How about... (2, Interesting)

fractalVisionz (989785) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711793)

Though funny, at the same time this plagues Microsoft's end users,in the form of what does each package actually get, it is used as a great power for Linux, in the form of different niche distributions which have (mostly) defined markets.

We all know some distros for Linux starters, and we all know some for business, and some for the ultimate geek card score. Because these options are provided not as a single product, but as a variety of distributions and even sub-distributions, each product can gain their own community, and in turn, provide better uptake of Linux.

The REAL problem with a one-size-fits-all Linux... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711273)

...is that Linus is a pant-wetting girlieman who sleeps with a comfort blanket.

Focus efforts on presentation... (4, Insightful)

Vthornheart (745224) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

No kidding. (3, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711357)

I use different distros for different tasks, because the distros themselves place different weights of importance on various factors.

For years, my servers have run on Debian plus the odd BSD box here and there. Rock solid reliability with very little maintenance overhead, but you don't get the latest and greatest stuff in the repositories.

I've got a couple of servers running Ubuntu with VMware Server on top for internal VPS work. Again, very few problems aside from a couple of issues related to kernel upgrades.

My laptop runs Ubuntu Desktop edition, which works great for me. I have almost no trouble with package management, even for cutting edge stuff, and the driver support is great.

I use a couple of live CD distros for repairing Windows systems when they get out of whack. The list goes on and on. It's kinda like programming languages; use the right tool for the job. While you *could* use most modern languages for just about any task, some are better for "X job" than others.

obviosity (1)

eexaa (1252378) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711381)

Linus said exactly what was needed to say. Seems like the blogosphere (or how you call that herd of wannabe journalists) only didn't notice that there's no need to care about market share.

Linus is as usual, CORRECT (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711385)

... and not just because he is boss (structural power).

Linux is hardly a new thing, and this is hardly a new question. There _are_ seriously differing requirements, even in the desktop arena. Also, distros come and go. Linux is eternal :) [I wonder why].

Sure, one distro makes VAR and other support easier. But open is not impossible. 'make' is pretty easy and unlike MS systems, compilers are standard.

If you want one distro, just go FreeBSD.

Too many is too many (4, Insightful)

Davemania (580154) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711389)

Although its good that certain distribution cater for different markets, the problem is the over saturation of one area with too many choices.

hardware/software pair (1)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711397)

if linux is to really take of as an alternative it should follow the Apple model - introduce a hardware/software packadge. Give problems with getting drivers to work, and even installing the OS, it is unlikely that Linux would move much beyond the market share it already has (which at this point is limited to enthusiasts). A hardware solution (say a laptop/desktop that comes preinstalled with a linux distro) and is aggressively supported by the hardware manufacturer, if well designed, could make that problem less acute.

Yes, i see, linux is totally failing right now (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711421)

-netbooks w preinstalled linux
-notebooks w preinstalled linux
-phones (google and also others)
-e-book readers
-a large number of set-top boxes.
-major pc vendors (dell) selling linux preinstalled
-network hard drives and other intelligent network hardware
-a the biggest RT operating system vendor cooking some linux
-ms support for linux
-a number of up to date embedded development boards from brand manufacturers

Most of these things have seen a strong rise in the last few years. and for nearly all of them it was mandatory that a specialized distro exists. I don't see how Linux is failing because of not having a single dominant distribution. I see how linux is succeeding because of the number os special distributions.

Did these people think about why one branch of Dell sell computers with ubuntu and the other one with RH linux?

Market share for desktop linux is low because (0, Flamebait)

maynard (3337) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711439)

Desktop Linux sucks. Well, let's be honest, desktop Unix sucks. Gnome and KDE did not meet the goal of providing a quality alternative to commercial desktop systems. That was their intent, but the outcome has been simply dismal. I say this having used desktop UNIX and Linux exclusively since the early 1990s. I haven't run Windows at home since Win 3.1. Currently, I've given up on Linux and run MacOS X - but, frankly, that too is nearly twenty year old desktop technology.

Where I work we're currently slowly transitioning from desktop Linux to MacOS X. Linux and FreeBSD will remain in the server room and for computational clustering. Which is where the free OS's truly shine right now.

Linux's failure to show market share growth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711459)

Actually, I think there is a vast under-reporting of the linux market share growth. The number of things from major servers which happen to be Linux based to home wireless routers to the "Chuck Cheese Portrait Drawing" kiosk (which is Red Hat based) shows a silent growth in deployments that you just don't have numbers of license sales to observe.

Linux has a significant market share growth, but without numbers of purchased licenses and "piracy" the normal distribution method, it's nearly impossible to really see the iceberg under the waterline.

i disagree.... (2)

mppareto (1315927) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711463)

I agree with him...to an extent. Yes, it's true that having several distributions does help fill in some niche markets, but having 100s?? That just leads to confusion. Besides, where has linux gone (in terms of market share) in the past several years? Virtually nowhere.

One big problem that newbies (such as myself) have is that not only are there tons of widespread distros to choose from (ubuntu, fedora, suse...), but each look and feel differently wrt each other (my experience, anyways). That makes breaking into linux that much harder - How do we choose? Just like the /. gripe about windows Vista having "too many" options (7?) for a consumer to have a good sense of what to get, can you imagine 100s?

I think it's time for a different approach: have a few (3? 4?) "main" distros (in order to foster some kind of competition) for the newbie (like ubuntu), the advanced version (for /.ers) and derivatives for niche market. Anyways, just my 0.02. Opinions?

Yes and that really isn't the problem. (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711495)

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.

"Failure to show significant market growth" (5, Insightful)

Facetious (710885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711501)

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.

Also "agent" changers (2, Interesting)

phorm (591458) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711735)

Some linux users also use agent-changers, to get around those idiotic sites with hardcoded browser requirements (that work fine in Firefox /w Linux, but display an error message unless you tell them you're running something else)

Linus is absolutely right (1, Redundant)

tbannist (230135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711519)

Multiple distributions are a necessary part of the Open Source ecosystem. Competition keeps the ecosystem healthy, selective pressures keep Linux evolving. Windows is built according to the direction of the Microsoft Holy Profits.

Linux grows according to what the people developing need and want. There will always be the question of which matches more closely what the average user wants and needs, but much of the strength of Linux comes from the existence of multiple distributions.

Kapitalism is dying anyway.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711531)

...marketshare is worth nothing in the near future........lots of distros that get 'a' job done are worth much more.

We don't need the desktop (4, Insightful)

LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711563)

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

Re:We don't need the desktop (3, Insightful)

LunarCrisis (966179) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:We don't need the desktop (2, Insightful)

LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711715)

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

Re:We don't need the desktop (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711805)

He is jumping on it. On the other hand, you're standing in the way screaming 'Who cares!?' and then when someone says 'I care' you say 'then YOU do something about it'... But he already is.

What exactly is your point? He didn't ask you to do a single thing. If you don't care, there's no need to state that. Just walk away.

I don't go to racetracks and tell everyone there that I don't care about cars. Why do you come into a post about Linux distros and say you don't care about them?

Macs at 10%??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26711607)

I've got no idea where these magazines get their figures from. There is only 1 MacOSX distribution and I can tell you that here in spain it's market share is not 10%, it's probably not even 1%. You'll see more linux boxes than Macs. Outside the US Apple has always been a niche market player (image/video), and that hasn't changed. Linux' market share is a matter of some debate, so suggesting culling distros as a solution seems a bit presumptuous. It hasn't been a problem for MS, they have XP, Win2k, win2k3, vista and now 7, as well as CE/pocketpc/mobile, amd they have 80%+ share.

Huh? (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711623)

And where have these calls be coming from, exactly? As far as I can tell, the only one asking this silly question is some dude from DistroWatch... and it's just a question during an interview with Linus, for god sake!

Something tells me "pcpro", whoever the hell they are, is simply manufacturing a story...

Significant market share (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711635)

How are they measuring it? Just counting how many boxes sell redhat and suse?

You have linux from bios, networking equipment, embedded appliances, cellphones, all the way up to massive clusters. Windows could be keeping taking over the old concept of desktop, but the world breathe linux in everything more complex than a calculator. What about counting market share including all of that to see more to the ground numbers?

Ein Volk, Ein Distro, Ein Penguin? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711713)

I wonder how much of the desire for unified linux is based on technical consideration, and how much is just the standard human tendency to believe that your group will be more effective if it is purer and more unified, most frequently seen in the politics of adverse times.

In effect, the number of distros that are relevant to the alleged confused market is already very limited and fairly similar. Is Joe user actually not using Ubuntu because the existence of Gentoo and LFS and L33tNu> confuses and terrifies him, or for some other reason?

One kernel to bind them all. (5, Funny)

CHK6 (583097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711745)

Three distros for the geeks under the sky,
Seven distros for the admins in their halls of stone,
Nine distros for coporate boards doomed to die,

One kernel for the Lord Torvalds on his throne,
In the land of the free where beers lie.
One kernel to rule them all, One kernel to find them,
One kernel to bring them all, and in the freedom bind them,
In the land of free where the beer lie.

./: when Vista does this it's a disaster (1, Troll)

klubar (591384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711747)

Wasn't there just a front page ./ article complaining about the number of SKUs for Windows Vista? The complaint was that there were 7 (or maybe 8) different skus for Vista and how confusing this was for the end-user

In Linux land there are way more than 8 different distributions and options (desktop, email program, editors, etc.) within those distributions

Clearly more options can't be a disaster for Vista yet a good thing for Linux.

With Vista, a home user merely needs to decide between Vista Home and Vista Ultimate; if they need VPN, their corporate IT will probably recommend Vista Business. If they need both Media Center and VPN, then they have to spring for Ultimate. Not that hard.

Compare that to the choices faced by Joe User(tm) with choosing an Linux distribution.

One distro to rule them all... (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711807)

Actually I disagree with Linus. However, I can see the need for multiple too.

But imagine a single "frontman", with different "packs" that can be selected during install. So there is one "public" Linux

Need a server:
          Download the Base public linux, then pick your "package" for the duty of the system

  Base server pack - stable
  Base server pack - leading edge ...

  Base desktop pack - stable ...

  Graphic artist pack ...

Setup repostiories that "are the distros"...

Pointless and .. (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711833)

.. a stupid argument. Open Source dictates that anyone who has a desire to do so can roll their own version. Even if developers decided to focus on one distro only, it still doesn't stop other people from cloning it, re-branding and launching their own. Witness Redhat, CentOS and Oracle Enterprise Linux for example.

Linux guarantees no vendor lockin. And today that applies to where you get your OS from as well as who's hardware you choose to run it on. From a customer point of view that's GREAT, as it fosters more competition and innovation from the providers.

Anyone arguing otherwise just doesn't understand business and market forces.

Man! Talk about a non-issue. (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26711837)

Go ahead - unify all the linuces under one big top! One Linux to rule them all, and all that.

Of course, the millisecond that happens, the thing'll fracture into a dozen or more different, uh, "tiers" (think: Basic, Home, Premium, Ultimate, or some junk like that). Next (but still well before 1000ms has passed), every Linux developer worth his salt will immediately create his or her own, uh, "customizations" - because ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL.

So - approximately one second after unifying all Linuces as one Linux, it'll immediately breed by fission - not into two but literally dozens of new, uh, . . . (can't call 'em distros any more. Custom Linux versions?).

slow growth has more to do with Microsoft funding (4, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.


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