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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From an intermediate ex-linux user...
by shmzr on Wed 4th Feb 2009 21:24 UTC
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Four years ago, I gave up windows for linux, and used some version 95% of the time for 3 years, except when forced to use osx or windows at work. Partially because all I had to install on my desktop was windows 2000, I also liked the open philosophy of collective effort in linux, also the reputation of linux being more stable and secure. I started with Knoppix, then Mepis, then Debian, then Ubuntu (hated Gnome, Kubuntu was too buggy), then PCLinuxOS (for a while), then bounced between Mandriva and OpenSuse. All this was a great learning experience, but quite a headache. I would have been happy to stick with the first I installed and learn it. As you can see however, and as I've read, many intermediate new linux users distro-hop, because they all have issues and shortcomings. Strangely, they also duplicate alot of effort, doing things only slightly differently, and not always better. Package selection varied alot also. I would read of a new program I wanted to try, and then find there wasn't a binary for what I was using, so I tried learning to build, huge waste of time that often didn't work. This shouldn't be necessary. Some cross platform software I found had a linux version, but it lacked a gui or was an older version. I was always suprised that many free windows programs started in linux, but now have a easier to use, more stable, recent, and feature-ful version now in windows. From my experience, thre is far more free stable easy to use software for windows than for linux. Linux has great guts cobled together, but lack of unified systems, usually poor gui interface, the exception for me was kde and konq, both far better desktop for me than windows. The control center of suse and mandriva were also both superior to that in windows, in ease of use. So after giving linux what I think was a good try, I gave back into windows xp, as it came preinstalled on my laptop, and freed up more of my time to just do things, work and play, without endlessly tweaking and searching to get the programs I wanted and a stable environment.
I would like to see linux succeed, but am not a programmer, and can't steer it directly. What is the goal of linux? To offer a free alternative to windows and osx? If so, it will not grow. It will continue to be a niche for hardcore computer users, servers, and devices. Ubuntu grew due a rich benefactor, and great marketing, cool logo, free cds. Desktop linux overall, still won't grow much at all until there is a better reason than free, as most people get windows with their computer. More secure, sure, but you can buy osx computer for that, or learn to secure windows. Linux is being created by evolution by natural selection, with a little mutation, with takes 1000s of years, we need some genetic engineering. My suggestion is for the major desktop and enterprise linux companies to unite their effort, not necessarily merge, at least not yet. (No one would force all the 1000's of smaller community distros to do this, they are fine in their niches.) Get rid of redundancies, agree on more standards to allow one binary program installation basis, a system config and hardware setup management structure, and a stable base for software developers and hardware makers to aim at. If this happened, the amount of free software would blossom. For the "year of the linux desktop" to actually happen, which to me means consistent growth and adoption of new users and existing windows users, it must offer them something they are missing with windows, something they would actually take interest and the time to learn, and even pay for, same for manufacturers feeling good pre-loading it. By eliminating redundancies and establishing a stable base, getting to the point windows and osx already are at, linux could focus on making a complete os that is a uniquely useful alternative.

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