Slashdot: News for Nerds


Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

cancel ×


Hrm... (4, Insightful)

NaCh0 (6124) | about 7 years ago | (#19911269)

Must be a really slow news day to bring back this ancient argument.

Re:Hrm... (4, Funny)

der'morat'aman (1076365) | about 7 years ago | (#19911281)

That, or they're resurrecting it as a service for those of us who didn't see it the first time...

Re:Hrm... (3, Insightful)

cp.tar (871488) | about 7 years ago | (#19911845)

Surely you mean, those of us who failed to see it the first two hundred times. Or so.

Re:Hrm... (4, Insightful)

FyRE666 (263011) | about 7 years ago | (#19911311)

It's not really a choice of 300 anyway for business; there are only two main distros: SuSE and Redhat. Sure, I've used others on production systems, but those two are focused on business users, and have the support systems in place that the overwhelming majority of the other distros don't. Personally I use Ubuntu and Gentoo at home, but wouldn't choose these for the company servers.

BTW, where the hell is the option to respond to the original article?! I can only respond to an existing article now...

Re:Hrm... (4, Insightful)

froggero1 (848930) | about 7 years ago | (#19911339)

one of the good things about linux is that there's many five (give or take) spots that the marjority of the casual home based linux guy is going to choose. that said, there's these other 350+ distros competing for a peice of that action. competition = good... cathedral... bazaar... we've done this argument before.

just because the top guy changes every once in a while, doesn't mean anything in respect to the quality of the guy sitting on top, they've still got to beat out the other plethora of distros.

ps: the reply button is in the floaty box to the left now.

Re:Hrm... (1)

FyRE666 (263011) | about 7 years ago | (#19911363)

ps: the reply button is in the floaty box to the left now.

Ah, thanks! What a strange idea - putting the most important option for this site over in a side box, in tiny text, as the third item in a small list. Maybe Slashdot's trying to reduce the load on its servers ;-)

Re:Hrm... (1)

froggero1 (848930) | about 7 years ago | (#19911379)

used to only be the two options there... they've added that "update" button/feature fairly recently IFAIK.

Re:Hrm... (1)

c_g_hills (110430) | about 7 years ago | (#19911575)

.. and now, Oracle Unbreakable Linux, which is essentially Red Hat re-badged.

Re:Hrm... (1)

djdavetrouble (442175) | about 7 years ago | (#19911741)

and now, Oracle Unbreakable Linux, which is essentially Red Hat re-badged.

which isnt anything more than an electric can opener with an electronical brain hitched to the back of it.

BUT Does it run Windows Apps? Games? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911489)

If not it will always be some other product (distro) for some other operating system (sic) for some other type of computer (sic)

That is why it "Linux" has shown up at 0% in practically all web stats that have any meaning - no one other than geeks (0% of the population, rounded up!) has any clue as to what it is good for (absolutely nuthin! (sia) absolutely nuthin!)

Who has ever heard of a MAD RUSH to get the latest and greatest Linux "distro" - wasn't there a new kernel release a month ago -- did anyone give a rats arse --- nope!

Feeding the troll... again... (5, Informative)

cp.tar (871488) | about 7 years ago | (#19911919)

Who has ever heard of a MAD RUSH to get the latest and greatest Linux "distro" - wasn't there a new kernel release a month ago -- did anyone give a rats arse --- nope!

Us Linux users are not mindless cattle to stampede the shops and get the latest and greatest distro there.

Instead, we are gentlemen of leisure; our systems are updated via network as soon as the new packages hit the server - we have no need to wait for them to be burnt onto CDs, packaged in pretty boxes, delivered to stores and sold at premium price, while we risk our lives in the stampede.

Then again, when you wait for a new version of your OS for five years or more, it is understandable that you want to upgrade immediately; you have tested your patience long enough. We, on the other hand, live upgrading what we choose, when we choose; our patience is never tried, never tested, never gone.

Oh, yes. I nearly forgot. If we really really want the CDs with Linux on them and can't afford to download the ISO, we simply order a bunch from Canonical and have them delivered to our doorstep. And we chuckle when they arrive, for we imagine you standing in line or stampeding the stores to get the bestest and latest, while we sip our drinks and surf the net while our systems upgrade.

Keep your mad rushes. We don't need them, we don't want them.

Re:Hrm... (4, Insightful)

SamSim (630795) | about 7 years ago | (#19911581)

Just because an argument's ancient doesn't mean it's not still valid. Plus, after all, the number of distributions has been rising for a long time. Maybe the argument carries more weight now than it used to.

Re:Hrm... (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 7 years ago | (#19911681)

Just because an argument's ancient doesn't mean it's not still valid. Plus, after all, the number of distributions has been rising for a long time. Maybe the argument carries more weight now than it used to.
You're assuming it ever had validity. It was an argument brought up years ago. Yet Linux use has increased since then and continues to grow. If this is really an issue, it must not be a very compelling one.

Re:Hrm... (5, Insightful)

Asmodai (13932) | about 7 years ago | (#19911797)

It has validity, the argument that more is better does not necessarily hold true. If you look at the uptake numbers you will see large clusters around projects like: Red Hat, Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, Slackware, Gentoo, Red Flag and SuSE (and perhaps 1 or 2 others I forget now). The rest of the distributions leads a marginal existence unless they satisfy a very local need (Red Flag or one of those Indic-supporting ones).

So what else do those distributions serve except egocentrical purposes, especially since the majority consists from taking a large well-known distribution and only tweaking it slightly and, tada, Monkey Nutsack Linux is born.

Seriously, for most consumers, assuming Linux is still going after Windows and the desktop, more choice is not necessarily better, especially not when it numbers in the hundreds.

Re:Hrm... (4, Interesting)

spike1 (675478) | about 7 years ago | (#19911889)

They fill a need in function.
How many distributions are there once you've discounted the ones that are EXTREMELY FOCUSSED?
Lose the rescue distros. The distros designed to run from a single floppy, the distros designed to have a single function such as firewall-on-a-floppy types.

Once you've edited the list down to lose all those you get down to a reasonable number.

The 300 distros is too much argument is as brain dead now as it was 5 years ago.
A spouting of wintrolls. "Linux has too much choice, how can people know which distro to use when there're so many, blah blah blah". But when more than half of the ones out there are of the type described above, and a third or more of the rest are live cd variations, the actual "desktop linux" and "server linux" focussed distros probably only add up to about 50.

And only 6 of those will be picked by "newbies" anyway.

Re:Hrm... (4, Insightful)

giorgiofr (887762) | about 7 years ago | (#19911891)

"Most consumers" do not care about Linux; those that do, only care because their geek friend is trying to make them switch. Said geek will choose a suitable distro and install it for them. And, for the intended market, any major distro is just as good.
The fragmentation of Linux distros has nothing to do with it being slowly accepted as a mainstream OS; lack of specialized apps, shaky hardware support and the usual suspects are to blame for that. As well as the fact that for most people Windows and pirated Office Just Work(tm) (which they kinda do, come to think of it) so why change?

Re:Hrm... (2, Interesting)

hdparm (575302) | about 7 years ago | (#19911921)

You have a pretty shallow look at the issue.

Clued-in people won't even bother looking at obscure distros for any business deployments. Clueless ones will have lots of trouble even finding them.

Another side of the whole argument - how many of 295 mentioned distributions (I excluded RH/fedora, debian/ubuntu, SuSE, Mandrake and Gentoo) are all-purpose systems? We need to exclude embedded ones and strictly specialised distros (like, say IPCop firewall), etc.

Having choice is always good thing. Using 'too much choice' with negative connotation has been translated long time ago. It's called FUD.

Re:Hrm... (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | about 7 years ago | (#19911915)

Just because an argument's ancient doesn't mean it's not still valid. Plus, after all, the number of distributions has been rising for a long time. Maybe the argument carries more weight now than it used to.
In theory, an old argument that was false can become true (or vice versa) if the facts change - of course. But actually the argument is less true today.

Sure, there are over 300 'distros' registered on DistroWatch. But the combination of essentially only two distros focusing in a major (and successful) way on enterprise users - Red Hat and SUSE - and, on the other hand, Ubuntu becoming the major enthusiast distro by far, leads to a world in which we have basically 3 main distros: Red Hat, SUSE, Ubuntu. If you include derivatives of them, then you really have the vast majority of users using one of three choices: Add Fedora and CentOS to Red Hat, and all the Ubuntu-based derivatives to Ubuntu (although, some of the latter are quite divergent - Linspire, for example - so this isn't clear cut. But most - like Linux Mint, for example - are close enough to Ubuntu to count as 'the same' for our purposes).

There are some great distros with small userbases, and there is also BSD (and other non-*NIX OSes). But, in Linux, you basically have 3 major players these days, which represents the market consolidating compared to the past. Is that a good thing? I think the range of 3-6 makes sense (to foster healthy competition), so actually 3 might be a tad low. But still very reasonable.

Re:Hrm... (0)

Dimes (10216) | about 7 years ago | (#19911593)

WTF? How it this anything? thats like saying "Roses are red, the sky is blue, how are we going to save our kids?". It doesn't mean anything rational! As if our president decided tomorrow that 2+2=9! Like fucking hell and the tooth fairy exists.


Re:Hrm... (2, Insightful)

b1ufox (987621) | about 7 years ago | (#19911603)

The problem which author perhaps missed can summed up as -
  - lack of coherency of packages/package management and tools among distros.
  - lack of a common template or rules or standards over which distros can be made.

But at the same time it does happen doesn't it? e.g for car there are a thousand varities out there. Anyway To protect this LSB(linux standards base) is formed.

BTW linux kernel is still same and shared by all.Only versions used are different.

So its just the userspace tools and programs which vary. And thats not bad as different people have different taste.

Re:Hrm... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 7 years ago | (#19911759)

Funny you should bring up package management...
Linux may have lots of different package managers, but within the same distro the package management remains the same.
Contrast that to commercial unixes, where many third party proprietary apps have their own nonstandard installers...
Or windows, where virtually all apps have their own nonstandard binary installers.
Or OSX where some apps drag+drop, some use apple's installer and some use their own installers.
If you consider each distro as an OS in it's own right, then most linux based systems have it a lot better. Certainly the big distros have pretty consistent package management.

Re:Hrm... (1)

b1ufox (987621) | about 7 years ago | (#19911857)

That sounds funny to you?

May be you have a jovial nature, good for you but not good when it comes to usage.
different package management techniques, different places where you will find standard files/binaries, different way you compile your software(e.g kernel src), different way you write some of the scripts.

I personally used rpm based RedHat, Fedora, for long.
Then came to Ubuntu. Certain things were not in the places they were in Fedora. Figured it out eventually. Then switched to Gentoo and again a shocker, different places where you have edit some random scripts to make it work smoothly.

Had there been a uniformity it would have been almost a zero effort process to switch among them. Since now i have used i have no problems with any of them.

This is exactly what makes Linux distro switching messy , sometimes despite i am Linux developer.

e.g I tried installing runit on Ubuntu but the installation failed, because now they don't use init, they use upstart and which means i do not have an /etc/inittab. How is that? Easy for me to fix ,not so easy for an end user who switched to Linux.

Re:Hrm... (1)

Gerzel (240421) | about 7 years ago | (#19911795)

I've always wondered about this. How do you count linux distros? I mean there are distros that are old and unmaintained, which I suppose you'd have to take off of the count. There are distros that are so small or targeted to a specific app, such as ones made for a specific bit of hardware.

There are also distros that have different flavors of themselves such as Ubuntu Xubuntu, EdUbuntu, Kubuntu, does that count as one or four distros(or more as I think there are even more *ubuntu distros). For that matter I can call Ubuntu a Debian distro.

For this count you really need to look at what linux means as a whole and what it means to specific markets. Also you have to look out how an influx of people and development for one distro spreads out to the rest of the linux world.

For Linux I think the big thing really is how new software is handled and installed. This often determines what software is generally available for the "joe average" user that might be migrating from desktop windows.

One major selling point I could see is software like Debian/Ubuntu's apt and synaptic software which provide a simple interface for installing thousands of different programs quickly and easily as well as managing what is installed and what isn't. I like many other users I've talked to will often go with a version or two back of a program just to have it connected to apt so it is automatically updated etc.

How many... (5, Insightful)

gunny01 (1022579) | about 7 years ago | (#19911277)

are actually in use though? Ubuntu, Fedora, SUSE, Redhat, Gentoo, Slackware, Debian? There are many distros, but most are specialized forks. Most people would use one of the listed ones.

Re:How many... (2, Insightful)

cbhacking (979169) | about 7 years ago | (#19911421)

You forgot Mandriva (which is a great distro for people who want lots of shiny eye candy and the ability to use Red Hat packages - at least, I think it's still compatible with them - and it's relatively newcomer-friendly) and Knoppix (which almost nobody would install, but most Linux types and more then a few Windows users will have a copy of it somewhere). Mepis deserves mention as well, I'd say... its package selection could be better, but it's a great distro in terms of hardware support, pioneered the install-from-LiveCD approach Ubuntu uses, and uses KDE, which in its default layout is more comfortable to Windows users than GNOME (of course, there is always Kubuntu as well).

I have never used RHEL, is it really that different from Fedora?

One - they are binary compatible. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911527)

When there were many UNIXes, the problem was that software written on one would not work on the other. Linux has maintained almost complete binary compatibility for applications for ages (I guess a.out binaries could now be considered "not compatible"). All that is needed is to install a compatibility library. This means that essentially all of those different distributions are equivalent to one single UNIX version.

People really don't remember their history any more. There wasn't even really source level compatibility from UNIX to UNIX. There were two completely different operating systems (BSD and SystemV) both used as the basis for the different incompatible UNIXes. If you used, for example the "ps" command, the arguments would be different from one to the other. This meant that even shell scripts weren't portable. Claiming that the different Linux distributions are like different UNIXes is crazy when you compare the differences between SunOS4 and SunOS5 (also known as Solaris) which are bigger than the differences between RedHat 6 and Gentoo 2007. Damn youngsters.

Re:How many... (1)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | about 7 years ago | (#19911631)

Ubuntu, Fedora, SUSE, Redhat, Gentoo, Slackware, Debian?

This makes seven, not much more than the six "distros" of Windows Vista...

Re:How many... (1)

Datasage (214357) | about 7 years ago | (#19911693)

Well 4, But when you go from one version to another, there are no real differences, other than some of the included features. Linux distros vary much more. The way you do things on Ubuntu and Debian are not quite the same as Red Hat. Sometimes software doesn't always run correctly on each distro.

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

itsdapead (734413) | about 7 years ago | (#19911831)

Ubuntu, Fedora, SUSE, Redhat, Gentoo, Slackware, Debian?
  • RedHat and SUSE are specialised distros for customers who need entrerprise-grade (i.e. expensive) support.
  • Gentoo is a specialised distro for people who need/want everything compiled with the optimal settings for their specific hardware.
  • Debian is a specialised distro for (a) people who want a minimal/stable base installation without sacrificing gazillions of ready-made packages; (b) GPL purists; (c) people using minority architectures.
  • Haven't tried Slackware since 1996 - since its still around it obviously meets the needs of some user group
  • Ubuntu focusses on ease of use while trying to preserve FOSS ideology
  • Linspire etc. focus on windows "switchers" and take a more pragmatic approach to FOSS ideology than Ubuntu.
  • Fedora is the "free" bleeding edge sandbox for RedHat
  • Mandriva seems to focus on a slick desktop experience

Yeah, all this choice and flexibility is a terrible thing - especially since under the hood they're all using very similar concepts, applications, file formats, so even if you choose the wrong one to start with, switching is boringly trivial. Bring back one-size-fits-all...

300, 1000, it doesn't matter that much. (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | about 7 years ago | (#19911287)

The thing is, a distro for Linux is shaping more and more to be a complete product out of the box. It has dev tools, office tools, web tools, games, whatever you want. While it would be nice to have a setup program that worked across all Linuxes that developers wrote too, it might be constraining too.

It makes sense, though, in a way, because if all the software is actually free, why not upgrade all of it at once and be done with it? I've downloaded a ton of stuff for Windows over the last year, but I've not really done anything with my Linux but -use it- over the same. Except, I blew away my X windows and I have no idea how to get it back... Time for a new distro.

It's really simple.

Re:300, 1000, it doesn't matter that much. (4, Insightful)

jhoger (519683) | about 7 years ago | (#19911463)

The striking thing about all of the distros I've seen is that barring incidental things like packaging systems, KDE or Gnome, etc. they are largely the same. The biggest change I've seen of late is an huge increase in quality of the free-as-in-freedom distros.

But why would you want to invest a large %age of your time making something that well, is already done reasonably well by somebody else.

What would be nice is if the smaller distros start to take a role of really experimenting and breaking the rules.

OLPC is an example of what I'm talking about. They work from requirements, think outside the box and have come up with something truly amazing, something new.

So those slaving away on their boutique distro that looks like the rest, please, find something better to do, like really innovating. That's the only way to make your distro a break-out success anyway.

It's kind of like US presidential candidates. The field starts out pretty wide but you know early on most of them don't have a chance. The fringe candidates should at least make themselves useful, speak the truth and stir things up.

-- John.

Variety is good (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | about 7 years ago | (#19911289)

I think that they help make each other better - different ideas can be explored and good ones are eventually incorporated in all.

Mainstream vs Niche (4, Insightful)

mrjb (547783) | about 7 years ago | (#19911293)

You don't need to know all 300 distros to make a good choice. It is pretty clear which distros are mainstream and which ones are not. If you are looking for a general-purpose replacement for general-purpose Windows, you can go with Ubuntu, Suse, Redhat, Debian or Mandriva. Almost only if you're "hardcore", you will dive into special-purpose distros such as business card/feather linux, freesco, etc. That is from a user perspective. From developers perspective there is such a thing as LSB.

Re:Mainstream vs Niche (2, Interesting)

MikeFM (12491) | about 7 years ago | (#19911417)

I think for business use you'd be talking RedHat, Novell, IBM, or possibly Debian. Myself, I only use RedHat/Fedora or Debian for anything serious. Anything else is just some damn upstart or old and crochtity. ;)

The big two. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#19911577)

IBM? I don't recall that distribution.

For big business, it's down to either RedHat or SuSE because they graciously allow you pay huge amounts of money for support, training and so on. Debian is fine but the lack of "The Debian Company" means it's more limited to non critical roles or small businesses/non profit organisations. Ubuntu is more for home users.


Re:The big two. (1)

ben there... (946946) | about 7 years ago | (#19911937)

Debian is fine but the lack of "The Debian Company" means it's more limited to non critical roles or small businesses/non profit organisations.

Yeah, like web servers [] .

yeah (4, Insightful)

scapermoya (769847) | about 7 years ago | (#19911303)

I have always kinda thought that this was at least one of the reasons why linux adoption is low among the 'mild computer user' crowd. It isn't easy to explain to them either, since there isn't a corollary in the "windows world" where nearly all of those users reside (with good reason).

maybe with this recent gathering of support behind ubuntu there is the potential for more of a standard-bearer in the linux world, at least in the eyes of those who only use windows/osx.

Lol... (4, Insightful)

msimm (580077) | about 7 years ago | (#19911513)

Most people don't know a thing about the throng of Linux based distros. It's more an insider joke. You're mild computer user knows one or two at best. If they know more they've been digging around and no longer fit the category.

The truth is that the diversity is great. I don't want to see 1000's of distros pushed mainstream per-se, but there is often a reason for the variety. It suits someone anyway.

What I would like to see is more collaboration. Why is Redhat/Fedora building the cludgy system-config* and Suse sticking with YAST while Mandrake (who seems to be losing favor but has committed all their development to the GPL) created DrakeConfig, which actually almost worked.

Re:Lol... (1)

scapermoya (769847) | about 7 years ago | (#19911787)

I agree with you, but imagine someone who has only heard about "Linux". so this person googles "download linux [] ", and what do they get?
some pages talking about "distributions", which is jargon-y when it comes to software. also, some homepages for ubuntu, redhat, suse, mandravia, etc. and that's just the first page.
granted, an intelligent/motivated person would dig a little deeper and eventually figure it out. but as much as the linux community is SURE that the OS they tout is better than what's basically default, they don't make it easy for someone to break in. i know there isn't one consciousness in the community, but i think the diversity is a double-edged sword. for those of us in the know, it's great, but noobs balk.
why do we even want more people using linux anyway, aside from some high-and-mighty "it could be so much better!!!" mentality? it's not like the support that matters (developers) is going to give out, and it all seems very healthy lately.

Slashdot Feeds the Troll (5, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 7 years ago | (#19911321)

Slashdot is feeding a troll who just wants links from Slashdot back to his blog. There is essentially no content in his post except to comment that there are hundreds of Linux distributions. He doesn't make any reasonable case that this actually does harm. It's also not news. There have been that many Linux distributions for a long time. But tonight's troll, who wants to draw traffic to his Information Week blog, got on the Slashdot front page tonight because he knows that baiting us is the way to do it.

Forking of software development projects has interesting consequences,sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes neither. Having more than onedistribution... I'm not sure that "forking" is even the right word toapply to that.


Re:Slashdot Feeds the Troll (1)

jkrise (535370) | about 7 years ago | (#19911507)

Bruce, I'd like to have your views on the topic of numerous Linux distros. I actually believe that "United we Fall, Divided we Stand" is true when it comes to surviving cash-rich monopolies. The only thing that needs to be common could be the kernel, the license.. and a few thought leaders, sharing similar philosophies. That way the focus could come back to "What the software can do" rather than "Which company or brand is good".

What do you think?

Re:Slashdot Feeds the Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911751)

What's the matter ol' Brucey boy, space bar got all crumbs under it?

Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911331)

I don't normally tag, but I tagged this baby 'slownewsday'.

.... really funny old BBSpot article :-) (3, Funny)

JMZorko (150414) | about 7 years ago | (#19911341)

Re:.... really funny old BBSpot article :-) (3, Funny)

Bob54321 (911744) | about 7 years ago | (#19911411)

From BBSpot article:

Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer said, "Microsoft will have to play catch up with the number of versions that Linux has, but we think we can do it. With the break up of Microsoft imminent that will instantly double the number of Windows versions available."
It seems Microsoft did listen to this. The number of versions of Vista is almost at the 359 mark...

OMG it has to be STOPPED! (5, Funny)

jsse (254124) | about 7 years ago | (#19911357)

Otherwise, no. of Linux distros would soon exceed no. of Linux users!

Do something!

Re:OMG it has to be STOPPED! (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | about 7 years ago | (#19911783)

I wish I could mod this up to 6.

No...up to 11.

Re:OMG it has to be STOPPED! (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 7 years ago | (#19911791)

Otherwise, no. of Linux distros would soon exceed no. of Linux users!

Do something!
Calm down..... there is no reason to get worried until the number of Linux forks exceeds the number of malware products available for Windows.

Not so much nowadays (3, Informative)

Wiseman1024 (993899) | about 7 years ago | (#19911359)

This was and maybe still is a valid point (although diversity isn't that troublesome for businesses), but now Debian-based distributions and especially *Ubuntu got extremely popular, and are in the way to become the defacto standard for Linux, whereas other distributions will remain domain-specific. For example, if you have a business and want tech service and all that, you may want to try SuSE or Red Hat. And if you are a ricer, you may want to try Gentoo :p .

Fortunately, natural selection and evolution of distros made one very popular, which means more packages and less compiling for the general public. This is what Linux needs. The fact there are many other distros for more specific or purist purposes is alright - it doesn't affect Linux' adoption because if you're concerned about popularity you get *Ubuntu.

Re:Not so much nowadays (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | about 7 years ago | (#19911455)

The fact there are many other distros for more specific or purist purposes is alright - it doesn't affect Linux' adoption because if you're concerned about popularity you get *Ubuntu.
I find your post incredibly ironic because this is the first use of "*Ubuntu" I've seen. When making the argument that Ubuntu is now the mainstream, de facto Linux and is the cure for the confusion that choice evokes in newcomers, it seems counterproductive to liken Ubuntu to the confused multitudes of Unix and Unix clones (colloquially known as *nix).

'Tain't no fork, but a distro (4, Informative)

Gopal.V (532678) | about 7 years ago | (#19911367)

A distro is not a fork. It is not a fork if the patches flow upstream.

I know there are exceptions to this rule (iceweasel, icedove) but in general, all distros contribute back to the same pool.

The only issue here is consumer choice, not wasted developer power (unlike real forks). And the Novell fiasco shows the problems
with having a single "one true way" distro - even if it is a community project (in which case its death comes from group
think and dragging its feet on decisions).

A distro, 'taint a fork ...

Re:'Tain't no fork, but a distro (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | about 7 years ago | (#19911549)

A distro is not a fork. It is not a fork if the patches flow upstream.
I know there are exceptions to this rule (iceweasel, icedove) but in general, all distros contribute back to the same pool.
Pool? Patches? An installer isn't a patch for Linux, the GNU tools, or anything. It's a brand new deal. Likewise for a bootable CD from which to run the installer. Likewise for a package management system. These tools, which define a distribution, are not patches, and there is no stream for them to flow up. They are the spring (to continue the stream metaphor). apt, rpm, and whatever cannot "flow upstream", because they are already at the top.

Re:'Tain't no fork, but a distro (1)

benuski (995395) | about 7 years ago | (#19911743)

And even with Iceweasel and Icedove, those patches still go back upstream to Mozilla. As of the beginning of June, at least, Iceweasel used only a subset of the patches that Ubuntu puts on its Firefox, and those go back upstream...

Waah..... (1)

bdjacobson (1094909) | about 7 years ago | (#19911373)

FUD and whining. To be honest, I thought we didn't want the Windows users unless they were going to meet us on our terms. They can stick with their $$$Windows until they're ready to learn the ~$. Not to mention, Ubuntu isn't good enough for them?

As usual, having lots of distros is good. There's still several key majority leaders (Red Hat, Ubuntu, etc) that are what any starter is going to be directed to. This is a non issue and has been dealt with many times before, in fact every time the "Year of Linux?" question comes up.

Actually, I've never been one to criticize moderation/story submission selection, but this dead horse has been beaten and beaten over and over to a pulp. Why did samzenpus post this?

300 Linux distributions too many? (5, Funny)

thesymbolicfrog (907527) | about 7 years ago | (#19911381)

Surely not.

After all...


I wholeheartedly concur!! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911391)

Also, there are to many brands (not to speak of models!) of cars. My prediction is that cars will TOTALY fail within a year or two and the horse+carridge will make a glorious return!

invalid argument (1)

timmarhy (659436) | about 7 years ago | (#19911395)

what if there's 300 linux distro's? i can compile just about anything on all of them. More choice, is NEVER a bad thing.

Re:invalid argument (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | about 7 years ago | (#19911601)

More choice, is NEVER a bad thing.

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less []


Re:invalid argument (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 years ago | (#19911711)

Yes, but the GP can choose to ignore that. /sarcastic_paradox

Its the wrong argument - again... (2, Interesting)

janrinok (846318) | about 7 years ago | (#19911397)

How many different models/marques of cars (automobiles) are there? The good ones survive and get developed and the less popular ones disappear. I haven't noticed anyone crying out that everybody is getting confused regarding which model to buy. They look at what they want from a car, narrow down the field to a reasonable number of choices and then make their decision. But there will always be a place for a vehicle that has a specific role or function - farm tractor, fork-lift truck, armoured vehicle etc. It is the same with distros.

Good point. Also with Windows (4, Interesting)

Flying pig (925874) | about 7 years ago | (#19911493)

most Linux distros are just the equivalent of the different versions of Windows you get on OEM machines. End user versions like many from Dell include loads of crapware and bloatware - sorry, antivirus programs-, or bundled MS Works. Corporates often come with added management controls and built in Office. Small business machines from Acer come with hidden partition restores and management consoles. Many notebooks some with such specialised Windows versions that the only way to fix a broken system is a complete restore because of all the custom drivers. In reality, the range of Windows distribution versions is probably many times greater than the range of Linux distros.

The car analogy is a good one too. There are now far fewer platforms than there are models, e.g. in Europe VW has the Polo, Golf, A4, A5 and A6 platforms that are used by a wide range of models spread over several brand names (SEAT, Skoda, AUDI, VW). Ubuntu can be seen as using exactly the same approach, with Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Ubuntu as brands but based on a small number of real platform variants. You can argue that the Linux world is actually more visibly attuned to the consumer market, while Windows is more like Communism - the State of Gates decides what the factories will make, and the end users put up with what they are given.

Mod Up (1)

CamD (964822) | about 7 years ago | (#19911691)

And the car analogy does it again...what can't these thing explain. Seriously, good point.

I'll admit, I was a little confused when I first tried out Linux a couple years back, but...
a) thanks to advise from users and my own research on distrowatch, it wasn't too hard to find a disto to dip my feet in: Mandriva Move (a LiveCD)
b) Ubuntu hadn't gone big yet (at least not according to distrowatch's popular distros list). Now, if a Windows user wants to know how to start with Linux, Ubuntu is the no-brainer (Ubuntu/Kubuntu would be the only choice to make). The install disk is even a LiveCD now.

If I starting with Linux with out giving up immediatly (or at all) (how the heck did I survive compatibility and dependancy-hell?), then I don't think there is any issue at all for anyone smart enough to be using it at all--starting with near-perfect hardware compatibility, easy app installs, and without wiping their hard drive to try it... "Get off my lawn!"
"I don't care that I'm barely older than Linux itself!"

which is why (0, Troll)

Pliep (880962) | about 7 years ago | (#19911403)

This is excactly why I direct everyone to the Apple store when people come to me and ask advice when they have doubts about Windows and want something else.

Having choice is good, having too many choices leads to confusion and self-doubt.

Re:which is why (2, Interesting)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 7 years ago | (#19911545)

The problem here is that a lot of those distributions are obscure and aimed at very specific markets. The average user looking for Linux really doesn't have to search long to find a generic Linux/BSD distro that will suit their needs. I'd expect someone to do a little research anyway before they jump in to any significant software change. []

If someone doesn't want to take 30 minutes to do some research, they should just go to their local computer store, hand over a bundle of cash and let the salesman pick things off the shelf for them until the cash is gone. I don't use Linux, I prefer the BSDs, but it took me less than 5 minutes to narrow it down to 3 choices.

Re:which is why (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911611)

So should they run Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther or Tiger? Or classic 7.5, 7.6, 8, 8.1, 8.5, 8.6, 9, 9.1 or 9.2? And thats just the last 10 years.

Re:which is why (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#19911817)

They buy what Jobs tells them to buy.

you must be very confused (1)

jopet (538074) | about 7 years ago | (#19911713)

I guess you must have extreme distress buying cars, cell phones, or even computers: all those choices! Oh the clarity of an oligopoly where you can "choose" between two or three relevant options and still be confident that it does not really make a difference. No confusion, no self-doubt. Just the reassuring feeling that it does not matter what you choose anyways.

Re:you must be very confused (1)

fellip_nectar (777092) | about 7 years ago | (#19911865)

I guess you must have extreme distress buying cars, cell phones, or even computers: all those choices!

Nah... he just buys the overpriced ones which start with the letter 'i'.

Re:which is why (1)

Datamike (560224) | about 7 years ago | (#19911715)

There is nothing confusing about selecting your linux distro, nor does it make any kind of sense that you shouldn't be ready to do some research when selecting a product. Why should computer operating systems be exempt from this rule? After all, when you buy a car, shampoo, toilet paper, or any other of myriad of products you need every day, you go through a process of selection and evaluation.

Also, you don't have go through all 300+ distros to select your favorite. A handful of distros make up the main stream and provide everything a regular user could want from his distro. In fact, I'd almost argue that one is not better than the other, at least from a regular user's point of view. To them, it doesn't matter how their internals work. They simply don't care. All they want is a system that provides the functions that they want for their daily usage and all the main stream distros are capable of providing that function.

I would also point out, that competition is generally good for the end user. Anyone with a tiny bit of sense of the business world knows this. In the linux world, this actually works even better than it works in a windows- or mac hegemony, since linux free. Users are free to choose whatever distro they want. So to attract customers, linux distributions must provide better technology and services than their peers. All and all, this is good for the end user.

same old, same old (3, Insightful)

l3v1 (787564) | about 7 years ago | (#19911415)

Remember the 1980s worries about how the "forking" of Unix could hurt that operating system's chances for adoption?

Yes, I remember. All of us can see now how "forking" hurt Linux's adoption. Not. Besides, wouldn't hurt to try figuring out what the difference between forks and distros are before next time.

It's evolution (1)

skinfitz (564041) | about 7 years ago | (#19911435)

It's simply evolution taking its course - some distros will arise from the soup and start to out-reproduce the others. It's already happening with the likes of Fedora, Debian, SUSE, Red Hat, the-ones-you've-heard-of etc etc.

Re:It's evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911607)

evolution doesn't exist you heathen, it's far more likely that a big man in the sky exists and is controlling us like little toys!

This isn't necessarily a bad thing (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | about 7 years ago | (#19911469)

With Microsoft working in so many ways to "compete" with Linux, it complicates their plans when they've got so many different "companies" to "compete" with. Toss in a little GPL V3 and I'll bet the ivory tower crowd at MS are drinking Maalox and ducking chairs these days...

Only in the mind of an Open Source HATER! (3, Insightful)

OwlWhacker (758974) | about 7 years ago | (#19911503)

Too many Linux distros make for Open Source mess

Isn't that the same as suggesting too many different brands of cellular telephone make for a communications mess?

"Oh dear me, there are far too many different cell phones! How do I choose? What do I do? Oh, damn it, I'll just send letters instead."

I think not.

Re:Only in the mind of an Open Source HATER! (1)

scapermoya (769847) | about 7 years ago | (#19911823)

it's a poor analogy. the cellphone world doesn't have a behemoth that has >90% market share. also, cell providers often thrust phones from whoever their latest hardware partner is into the hands of consumers. on the OS side, OEMs install windows, period (or osx for the tiny apple population).

yeah, i know about dell's latest foray into having a linux option, but don't expect that to become a sensation. the point is that with cellphones, people change them all the time. some have some brand loyalty, but price/features (which evolve much faster than in OSes) drive the market.

due to the familiarity, the program compatibility, and many other things of which I am sure you are aware, windows simply has a (de facto) monopoly.

also, people basically NEED cellphones these days; people don't need linux.

Like evolution (1)

pubjames (468013) | about 7 years ago | (#19911519)

It's like evolution, only better.

Why? If Linux evolved like animals, then only the strongest would survive, and characteristics of the weaker distros (even good ones) would die with them. But distro evolution is even better, the good characteristics of all distros make their way into the strongest distros.

The evolution of Linux distros may look messy, but it is underpinned by natural force that, over time, comes up with wonderful results.

Re:Like evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911763)

"It's like evolution, only better.

"Why? If Linux evolved like animals, then only the strongest would survive ..."

That sounds more like a popular misunderstanding of Natural Selection or perhaps like the "Social Darwinism" popular in the 1930s.

It's not the "strongest" that survives but the organism best fitted to its environment ... which depends on what the environment is at any particular moment.

In England the peppered moth was originally more commonly light-coloured. With the industrial revolution and soot-pollution of its habitat, dark-coloured individuals became more common. Nowadays, most are light-coloured again. on []

The dark-coloured individuals aren't "stronger" than the light-coloured individuals nor _vice versa_. It's just that whatever variation best fits the current environment tends to be favoured, since birds will be more likely to catch and eat those less fitted to the environment before they have a chance to breed, so that they tend not to pass on their genes.

"Strength" has nothing to with evolution. It's a figment of the Social Darwinists' imagination.

Moreover, I'm not sure what the relevance of any of this to Linux distros is. For a start, reproduction, which is intrinsic to Natural Selection, has nothing to do with computing -- even Richard Stallman hasn't tried to mate with a computer so far as I know.

Internet Rule 1 (1)

tqft (619476) | about 7 years ago | (#19911521)

Don't feed the trolls.

Which I am about to break.

And with Bill Gates in charge - how many versions of windows are currently supported?

Please include the all the different flavours of Vista . And that is from one company.

It doesn't matter (3, Insightful)

doyoulikeworms (1094003) | about 7 years ago | (#19911529)

Because the average person that has even heard of Linux only knows of one distro: Ubuntu.

Re:It doesn't matter (1)

CamD (964822) | about 7 years ago | (#19911829)

Why is this modded 'funny'. Although probably not entirely true, anyone curious to check Linux out is going to be pointed straight to Ubuntu.


Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911559)

...Too much light makes it difficult to see. News at eleven.

this is some fascinating shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911571)


linux fanbois (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911595)

ppl get annoyed at microsoft for having a few "distros".. linux has 300+ and ppl expect nobody to complain? only a linux user would think like that..

way back nixers used to bash windows for their DLL issues.. these days dependencies and libraries on nix is a far bigger problem than DLL ever was.. funny that.. walking right into their own trap..

linux is great for being opensource.. but ppl who says it ISNT a mess are just plain retarded..but as usual ppl who are linuxfanboys would refuse to realize this regardless of how big the problem was cos in their eyes linux is "teh god" who cannot do wrong.. this is the primary reason I cant stand linux.. the fucking anal attitude of so many in the community....

but lets not kid ourselfs sucks.. someone buy me a mac..? plz..

Re:linux fanbois (1)

SnowZero (92219) | about 7 years ago | (#19911925)

ppl get annoyed at microsoft for having a few "distros".. linux has 300+ and ppl expect nobody to complain? only a linux user would think like that..
Microsoft tries to position itself as the unified, easy choice, and then goes and makes have a dozen variants of Vista. Linux distros are largely limited to different companies, with most having only two (home/free and business/supported). If RedHat came out with six variants tomorrow, I'd call them dumb too.

way back nixers used to bash windows for their DLL issues.. these days dependencies and libraries on nix is a far bigger problem than DLL ever was.. funny that.. walking right into their own trap..
Please cite some examples if you want me to believe you. Come back when you can upgrade *all* your applications and dependencies with a single unified installer/updater. Dependencies are not a problem unless I compile something myself, which incidentally is no different from Windows, except that I can download and install everything through a single interface.

linux is great for being opensource.. but ppl who says it ISNT a mess are just plain retarded..but as usual ppl who are linuxfanboys would refuse to realize this regardless of how big the problem was cos in their eyes linux is "teh god" who cannot do wrong.. this is the primary reason I cant stand linux.. the fucking anal attitude of so many in the community....
Your problem is pretty much summed up in the above paragraph. If you join a community, do so quietly, sit back and learn. Do that for a while BEFORE opening your mouth. Don't come in and tell them how they need to change and everything that is "wrong". In the real world, when you walk into someone's house for the first time, do you start by insulting them? Would you then say that they have an anal attitude for kicking you out? When you get a new job, do you tell your boss that "this isn't the way I used to do things at my old job, you must be doing it wrong", and "your business is a mess!", and then get angry that he doesn't want you to come back? Linux communities may be "tricky", but only if you treat them differently from communities/houses/jobs/clubs in the real world. Use tact and you'll do fine anywhere.

Yet another case of Microsoft FUD (2, Insightful)

simong (32944) | about 7 years ago | (#19911633)

If this piece of pointless fluff is in the paper edition of Information Week, there are number of the more clue-free CTOs in this world reading it and going 'hmmm, maybe I shouldn't listen to the sysadmins and put this new application on Windows Server 2003 instead of Debian Linux'. Microsoft win another couple of licenses and the CTO gains a few more enemies. This sort of article has 'FNORD' overprinted on it in invisible ink. The answer, as always, is to be more prepared than the bosses.

Maybe I'm stating the obvious (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 7 years ago | (#19911635)

Shouldn't there be a virtual machine that runs binaries across all new distros sorta like the windows .exe file? That way you could have a closed source software vendor that sells it's products to the Linux OS.

Re:Maybe I'm stating the obvious (1)

VagaStorm (691999) | about 7 years ago | (#19911827)

Or maybe even on all distros, and UNIX, and BSD, and Windows? Like, maybe Sun could come up with something we could use for that? Strange that they haven't already thought of that :p

Not how Linux works (1)

simong (32944) | about 7 years ago | (#19911833)

Broadly speaking, most Linux distros have the same core, the Linux kernel plus the tools to build whatever you need. This is basically what Slackware is. The distros add their choice of application management and distribution, GUI and overall philosophy to Linux, which is a strength, not a weakness. This is basically what the other 394 distros are. If you assume that all have the same sets of headers and libraries available to them (they don't, but there is a common set), you will find that many binaries will compile and run on every distribution. For the rest, there's always VMWare.

Title Should Read... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911655)

The Title should read

"300 Linux Distros stand against the thousand corporate fronts of the Microsoft Army"

Before this thread is over, the internet shall know - that on this day few stood against many!

Though I have to say, Windows is not the God-King Xerxes was - but perhaps cleverer than Xerxes - for because Windows is so flawed - causing Windows to bleed, or even nearly killing windows - would do nothing!

In other news (1)

Toffins (1069136) | about 7 years ago | (#19911669)

I also remember the 1980s worries about how the "multiplication" of restaurants could hurt the chances of people eating out. That was nothing compared to the mess we've got today with tourism, where upwards of 1 million destinations vie for the attention of tourists seeking an alternative to holidaying at home.

Solution for too many distros (1)

michuk (996480) | about 7 years ago | (#19911683)

If you also are lost in the distro mess you should visit to make your choice easier :) And you're all set. If not, there's always DistroWatch

Not that many (2, Interesting)

xenocide2 (231786) | about 7 years ago | (#19911695)

There's several Linux distributions, but relatively few offer themselves as legitimate "alternatives to Windows". Certainly, I wouldn't describe Gentoo as "like Windows, but Free". Many distributions are solving fundamentally different problems than what Windows is sold for. KNOPPIX doesn't strike me as a replacement for Windows, although it is highly popular. Some are better considered OSX alternatives, as they're intended for PPC platforms.

Not that there aren't several distributions pining for Windows converts, but many are little more than venues to demonstrate some piece of software, or built to satisfy some narrow need, be it wireless router or multimedia studio. They serve their purpose adequately and there's no reason to believe that that they distract from the much smaller set of world class desktop Linux offerings. The number of distributions is a function of the flexibility of their design (ie dpkg isn't perfect for embedded systems with the cross compiling and all), and their willingness to integrate diverse communities. Personally, I'm beginning to think that Ubuntu may put an end to this discussion over the next few years. dpkg's limitations are not insurmountable, and they've done a much better job of attracting and integrating projects, unlike Debian's explicit efforts to distance itself from KNOPPIX etc. But don't mistake this for a prediction that they'll somehow put an end to hobbyist distros ("I want to do this because I can") or the motivation to fork-for-profit (Ulteo?).

Evolution (1)

z0M6 (1103593) | about 7 years ago | (#19911703)

I'm thinking evolution. Distros that have what it takes will be the preferred choice. Those who don't fall behind. And some never make it because there are better options already. Ubuntu came out of nowhere, (blablabla, debian, etc) yet it is one of the most popular Linux distros there is today.

What'd be better? (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | about 7 years ago | (#19911705)

Some choice is better than no choices at all.
A lot of choices can be less useful than fewer choices.
Too many choices could be useless.
I'd prefer something like the BSD world where there are a few mainstream distributions and some destop oriented derivatives.
The real advantage coming from fewer distributions is that there would be a low fragmentation in resource assignment, bot human and economic.
I fear that Linus never thought about such a pletora when he gave freedom to the community.

Is 300 enough? (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 7 years ago | (#19911813)

I mean, how large is the Persian army?
We might need more than 300.

300? C'mon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911837)

300 Distros?? C'mon, everybody knows that anything other than [insert distro here] is crap!

I'm confused... (1)

Lavene (1025400) | about 7 years ago | (#19911885)

I read TFA (I did! Honest!) and I don't get it. The headline suggest some sort of case will be made but it doesn't. All it says is that it is many Linux distributions. What about the open source mess? I want to know so I can avoid it! I have been using open source for years. Am I caught in a mess I haven't noticed? I mean, if some software isn't packaged for my distribution I take the source and build it my self. I can get the exact same program version working on all my three Linux boxes... is that the mess? "Holy crap! You got consistency even though you're running three different flavors of an operating system... what a mess!!"


Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911895)

All I can say is no duh!

InformationWeek is on the rampage (1)

Ambidisastrous (964023) | about 7 years ago | (#19911897)

PJ at Groklaw ranted about this grudge [] already. Presumably on account of the release of GPLv3, InformationWeek is now on a rampage of FUD and misinformation against open-source software and particularly Linux. Last week they declared Open Source / Linux "Dead" [] . The author of that one has since written a correction, so it appears everyone at InformationWeek had a few synapses fuse this month and we're still sifting through the fallout of that.

This troll didn't need to make it to the front page.

Information Week == Trolling Retards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19911899)

why does Slashdot even bother with content from those idiots?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account