Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Feb 2009 14:11 UTC
Linux With Linux traditionally coming in many, many flavours, a common call among some Linux fans - but mostly among people who actually do not use Linux - is to standardise all the various distributions, and work from a single "one-distribution-to-rule-them-all". In a recent interview, Linus Tovalds discarded the idea, stating that he thinks "it's something absolutely required!"
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Milo_Hoffman
Member since:
2005-07-06

I have been using Linux since 1993, back before it even had a TCP/IP stack built int, when I found it while looking for a free way to do C development at home. I would personally be happy if every computer in the world ran Linux.


BUT EVEN I AM SICK OF IT.


The fact there are endless distros is perfectly fine, and even welcome by me. There is something for every need out there.


BUT, the fact that every single one uses a different layout of the file system, puts configuration settings in different places, uses a different packaging system (and makes it impossible to use packages across distros), its TOTALLY FRICKING INSANE AT THIS POINT.



It almost makes me wish PC-BSD would have gotten their licensing act together sooner so it would have had a chance to be what Linux is today.

There are lots of BSD distros, but they pretty much all use the same system configuration scheme, can easily install packages from one to the other etc.



The only hope is that we are now down to pretty much only TWO MAJOR types of Linux distros. Those based on the redhat/fedora way using RPM, /etc/sysconfig etc... and those based on the DEBIAN way.


We should just pick one and give it up. Either debian needs to get a clue and go with RPM etc or Redhat needs to move to using debian style stuff.



Until this happens, Linux is going to be about 1/100th as popular as it could be given a chance.

Reply Score: 5

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

BUT, the fact that every single one uses a different layout of the file system, puts configuration settings in different places, uses a different packaging system (and makes it impossible to use packages across distros), its TOTALLY FRICKING INSANE AT THIS POINT.


False. And if you have used Linux since 1993, surely you know that.

And this is what most people get wrong when they whinge about the length of the various lists of Linux distros. The vast majority of distros fall into just a few "families", and are, by and large, variations on a theme. Furthermore, there are really only a few of all those distros that a significant number of people care about. It's not as though software providers have to target "Gelugpa Linux". If the Gelugpa maintainers want Gelugpa to be supported by ISVs they will ensure compatibility with a distro that the ISVs care about.

One thing I find very strange about these discussions is that there seem to be 2 major schools of complainers. Those who complain because all the distros are supposedly different, and those who complain that all the distros are really just the same.

On the topic of "choice is good, choice is bad", I would walk a middle path between the two. Lack of choice is bad. Total chaos is bad. Having a limited number of major families of choices, with further refinements available, to those who look, within those families are what is good. To a great extent, that is exactly what we have. Though one could reasonably quibble over the details of what numbers would be optimal.

Edited 2009-02-04 16:31 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 9

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

But the tarball is your universal package. Heck, you can toss a tarball on a BSD and have minimal issues if any getting it installed.

I think competition in the package management space is as important as it is between window managers or complete distributions. Aptitude/Apt-get/.deb is great but urpmi/.rpm is also fantastic (not to mention "rpm" done right).

If you want a single universal package standard, there is always LTS and you'll also get hardware specific builds along with the latest build versions and a truly customized software stack.

Reply Parent Score: 1

moleskine Member since:
2005-11-05

We should just pick one and give it up. Either debian needs to get a clue and go with RPM etc or Redhat needs to move to using debian style stuff.

Until this happens, Linux is going to be about 1/100th as popular as it could be given a chance.


Agreed, but I suspect that is already happening to some extent. Essentially, it's the deb system for home users and the rpm system (Red Hat or based on mostly) for enterprise. In the home sphere, Ubuntu + Mint + Debian must far, far outweigh OpenSuSE, probably the most popular rpm-based distro for home users. And if OpenSuSE catches a Novell cold, quite possible in the present economic climate, then the rift will become even clearer.

I don't see Debian "getting a clue" partly because the project isn't set up like that. It's there to provide a free and open OS regardless of the pressures pushing IT one way or the other. Distros based on Debian, like Ubuntu, can then use this huge base to push in whatever direction they wish to. But Debian doesn't and can't afford to be seen to either, imho.

Besides, Ubuntu clearly does have a clue. The catch, imho, is a chronic lack of resources (such as money): they have to do what they do on about 1/1000th of the resources of a major corporation, so it's hardly surprising there are rough edges. Chicken and egg of course: rough edges = relatively few users compared to Mac or Windows = small resources = rough edges, etc.

As for Red Hat, they are sitting pretty in the Linux world I'd say. If you want free and rough edges, you have Fedora. If you want free and no or few rough edges for the server, you have CentOS. And if you want the second but with paid support, you have Red Hat proper. Each one pushes users up the chain to the other.

Even so, a couple of weeks recently with Fedora 10 was a surprise. It has a very poor range of configuration tools compared to Ubuntu or SuSE, ihmo, and very little effort has been made to steer users by way of details in readmes, example files, helper scripts and the like. If Fedora 10 is the best distro for new or inexperienced users, I'll eat my hat.

So one of the things holding Linux back isn't just lack of resources, imho, it's a reluctance by the distros to stop trying to be all things to all men and instead be much clearer about exactly who their distro is for. It's fine for there to be thousands of different distros, for sure. But if they are all run by geeks unable or unwilling to think themselves into the head of a non-geek user - someone without the time or inclination to poke around under the bonnet, and someone who is going to dump you if you try to make them - then Linux will continue to be about 1/100th as popular as it could be.

What Linux really needs is a charismatic, natural-born popularizer. Which could just as easily be a gadget or game as a person.

Edited 2009-02-04 20:26 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 6

J.R. Member since:
2007-07-25

It doesn't help anything if enterprises use RPM and endusers use DEB. As long as the distros themselves use different versions of libraries we are still screwed, and there will be dependencyhell between distributions. That is why library-versioning is so important in a package manager.

Reply Parent Score: 2