Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 19th Sep 2010 21:18 UTC, submitted by gireesh
Mandriva, Mandrake, Lycoris It's been a troubling couple of weeks for Mandriva, but I decided not to report on it since I found it hard to unravel the events leading up to all this. Now, though, the story has come to its (logical) conclusion: now that most of Mandriva's employees have been laid off, they came together and forked Mandriva. Enter Mageia.
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So it's about developer resources. Why allow developers to choose where they put there time and effort when you can just dictate that they all work on your pet project then? We'll just decree that Red Hat and any other distribution maintainer merge into one megacorp too then? We better tell the people behind Backtrack that they can't produce a superbe security distribution anymore because it's too specialized; it's not an assimilated part of "MegaLinux; the one true path".

Do we also decide that all those engineers wasting effort for different car companies need to consolidate and give us one standard car assembly to not quite fit everyone's different needs? How do we decide which product categories are allowed to have multiple models from multiple competitors and which are not?

See Linux Distributions are all different products from different companies. Red Hat and Ubuntu have very different target purposes though they happen to be inter-operable and assembled from similar commodity parts. "Linux" is not all one single product unless you really mean just the kernel alone.

The nice thing in all this is that resources are still shared where it counts. Red Hat and Canonical both contribute code back into the kernel and various other projects. We have a healthy market full of distributions to choose from while having competitors contribute to each other's base products. In terms of development effort, your concern, the workload is already shared.

Based on the license, one can't really remove the freedom to create a new distribution eiehr

Reply Parent Score: 5

WereCatf Member since:

Do we also decide that all those engineers wasting effort for different car companies need to consolidate and give us one standard car assembly to not quite fit everyone's different needs?

A car and a software collection are two quite different things: one is an actual physical entity and thus is limited by the physical world, and the other one is a collection of software modifiable whenever and wherever to suit the needs. A car can't just be made to suit 2 passenger and then magically upsized to a truck as needed. Software can.

In the case of f.ex. a security-oriented distro aimed to be booted from a USB stick it does indeed make sense to have it as a whole separate distro. But for example something aimed at education needs is almost always a desktop distro with additional software anyway, so why can't it just be made an installable metapackage instead of a complete distro?

It would make more sense to be a little bit more selective and instead make it easy to install additional capabilities to an already existing foundation.

Just think about it.. a user downloads and installs Ubuntu, spends some time learning it, customizing the desktop to his or her tastes and what not, but then realizes the need for educational and audio creation software. What does (s)he do? A) Install task-education and task-audio-studio or B) Google around, browse tediously through all the available software and try to figure which ones do what and if they are worth installing.

Reply Parent Score: 3

jabbotts Member since:

A distribution is a product assembled from many commodity parts; kernel, boot loader, parts of the userland, parts of the GUI, applications. A car is a product assembled from many commodity parts; engine, starter, trany, chassis, interior. Both are complex products which compete against similar products assembled from nearly the same parts.

Backtrack is well suited to doing security related work. I can get many of the same parts from other distributions but backtrack has been assembled from those commodity parts with specific intentions. I can just boot Backtrack and get to work or I can take a distro with different target purposes and bend it as close as I can to what backtrack does. In reverse, I could take Backtrack and try to bend it into a more general purpose multi-user distribution but again, it's not easy because it's not the intended use. I can sqeeze six friends into a two door jetta or we can take one of the other friend's cars which comfortably seats six people. Just like cars, distributions have different design goals and limitations.

The fact that it is not a physical good is a benefit. It takes me a good long while to go test drive five prospective car purchases.

Your last point is not really relevant as it applies to pretty much every OS out there. I install Windows and discover that I also want education and audio creation software. Not finding it in the add/remove software area, I have to go searching. What education software do I go looking for? Do I use soundforge, adobe products, Windows Movie Editor? Even within a single constrictive platform family, I'm having to shop a little to choose my education and audio software along with considering what Windows distribution it will run on (winXP? Vista, Win7?). Really, user needs that suggest a general purpose distribution instead of a specific one is part of the choice and narrows down the candidate list. Heck, maybe you stick with your installed Ubuntu and keep Edubuntu and Audiobuntu liveCD beside the machine. (I actually have a Qimo VM for that "educational" need to be honest.. works great and I don't have to dirty my personal setup)

In the end, no single distribution can do it all. For all of Microsoft's efforts, no distribution of Windows can be everything to everyone. osX is slick for what it does but it doesn't do everything either. Debian is one of the most general purpose distribution but it won't include closed binaries like Mandriva does nor will it include the subtle tweaks and rebuilds that Backtrack does. A Buick and a Civic are designed for different purposes just as distributions are.

For some distributions it is about world domination. For others, it's about making a distribution bent to the maintainers whims. Who's design goal is "correct"? Which assembly of commodity parts assimilates into the other since one must abandon it's design goals to comply? code sharing can already happen where it's important underneath; developer efforts are already shared even among competing products.

And, that's really my point. In every other healthy product category, we have choices to make. Even if the choice is "thinking is hard, I'll just do what my friends do" and that's fine, abdicating choice is a choice and one that does not limit those who do want to make it. Every other healthy product category has items which differ in subtle ways due to target customer and uses. Does your toothbrush have the tung scrubber or the reachy-bendy neck on it? Electric or manual? Disposable use or long term appliance? Yet, when it comes to software, everybody looses there minds; "oh no.. there's choice.. there's too much choice.. all you software developers stop causing choice and focus your effort on my individual self entitled demands.. just stop.. stop giving me choices!"

Now, where I agree fully is within the distribution; the completed product layer of the supply chain. Canonical had to make a choice and say "if your not Ubuntu, Kubuntu or Xubuntu, your not our distro. Create whatever remixes you want but you can't claim they are works of Canonical." Too many forks claiming to be the same distro. Android is in a similar situation. Google produces it and the hardware vendors fracture the hell out of it with flavor of the week customizations and a lack of source flowing back to the core distro they all claim to be using. Different jailbreaking methods for different vendor/hardware/os versions and combination.. that's a mess. It's all "Android" so why don't I just get the same rootsh package from the repository regardless of hardware I happen to be running Android on? Different apps from the central repository that only install on specific device/software combination? Maybe I've been spoiled by Palm and Maemo where everything based on Palm or Maemo runs what claims to be Palm or Maemo third party apps. I get that the hardware folk think closed binary drivers are some kind of benefit and need to provide there own hardware specific parts; stick with a central Google Android distribution and have the vendors provide a device specific driver binary pack. When you flash the current Google distro you also have the option to include the device specific mini-firmware; one consolidated "Android" without loosing the hardware specific kernel modules.

Within the scope of a distribution, I absolutely agree that one needs to keep the product consolidated. A distro is a product from a single entity. It is the compilation of programs that is the shipping product. It is a single group of package maintainers working under a single set of project goals.

Reply Parent Score: 3