Back to the "too many Linux distros" debate

Back to the "too many Linux distros" debate

Summary: Over on Slashdot today I came across yet another "too many Linux distros" debate, this time started by Alexander Wolfe of InformationWeek. While I think that Wolfe has a point, he also misses the real problem.

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TOPICS: Linux, Open Source
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Over on Slashdot today I came across yet another "too many Linux distros" debate, this time started by Alexander Wolfe of InformationWeek.  While I think that Wolfe has a point, he also misses the real problem.

In business out of the hundreds of distros to choose from there are only two real choices - RedHat and SuSE.  In the business arena the too many distros argument is a moot point since they're pretty much invisible.  It's outside of the business arena that too much choice ultimately leads to confusion.

Now, the purpose of this post is not to start a flame war (honestly!).  It's really a follow-on to several posts that I've already made here on this topic where I've touched on the subject of too many distros but each time failed to fully explain why too many distros leads to problems.  I'll try and do a better job of explaining things here.

300+ Linux distros (actually it's a lot less than this if you exclude the highly specialized versions) can be seen as a good thing in that it leads to choice and competition.  For example, you won't complain if you had 300+ printers to choose from, in fact, that would be a good thing because you could choose the best printer from the herd to suit your needs.  The same could be said for Linux distros but for the fact that it's extremely difficult to get your head around all the choices.  Or let me phrase that a little different - I can't get my head around all the different choices.  I've latched onto Ubuntu as my Linux distro of choice but that's at the expense of other available options such as PCLinuxOS, openSuSE, Fedora, Debian, Sabayon and a whole raft of other distros.  For me, it really is a case of too many distros, not enough time to experiment with them all.  Unlike printers where I have manufacturer information to do on, I can't find an overall roadmap for Linux distros that gives me an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each distro.  I'm not suggesting Ultimate, Business, Home Premium and Home Basic versions of Linux to make life easier, but some kind of map would be handy.  Maybe there is one ... let me know if there is.

OK, too many distros isn't the thing that's holding Linux back (I'd put lack of broad driver support and no real killer apps as being much higher up the list) but it does make is difficult to get a overview of what distro is best suited to different applications.  Choice is a good thing, but only if there's an easy way to get an overview of the choices (think menu or catalog).

Thoughts?

Topics: Linux, Open Source

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  • Do you like wine?

    I dare say that any reasonable wine shop has [b]vastly[/b] more selection than you're likely to be faced with in Linux distros. Like a wine shop, though, you can petty quickly eliminate a large part of the list without much research: forget the rotgut, skip the stuff that costs more than dinner for ten at a good restaurant, you just don't like Rieslings, whatever.

    At which point you ask someone a few questions that let you pick out something that's adequate for your needs. Is there something you'd like better? Probably. However, spending all day trying to pick the perfect wine for dinner isn't a very good life strategy and neither is searching for the perfect Linux distribution.

    I also don't recommend trying every flavor in the store.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Wine and Linux don't mix

      Absolutely no comparison. Wine is used by every to dick and harry. But Linux is not. Linux is used by Microsoft haters and Linux administrators who think they are superior than most PC users. With wine you have so many complications while with wine none. Wine helps but Linux complicates.

      Wine is created by G-D. There is no miracle associated with Linux even after years of promise.

      As for brands you can see there are few left like Sun, HP, IBM compared to wine.
      mjbad2
      • Just been reading

        My take is that you've been drinking to much moonshine.

        [i]With wine you have so many complications while with wine none. Wine helps but Linux complicates.[/i]

        What are you trying to say????

        [i]Wine is created by G-D[/i]
        Last time I was at a winery, it where still the wine farmers who were creating wine. And some of them might be able to create a very good wine, G-D had nothing to do with it..

        [i]As for brands you can see there are few left like Sun, HP, IBM compared to wine. [/i]

        No comparison, the product are fundamentally different, personal taste and quality is associated with wine and the differences can be huge.
        tombalablomba
      • Excellent choice, wine and Linux

        because wine IS NOT used by every Tom Dick and Harry.

        7th Day Adventist - do not consume ANY alcohol.
        Muslims - do not consume ANY alcohol (although there are some exceptions...)
        Recovering alcoholics that stay on the wagon - do not consume any alcohol.

        And there are people that don't like wine at all and others that don't drink alcohol at all for whatever reason. SO the use of wine as a way to compare to Linux distributions, is an EXCELLENT choice. ]:)
        Linux User 147560
      • Worst troll ever NT

        NT
        odubtaig
      • I use Linux, but I'm certainly not an MS hater, far from it...

        What a ridiculous troll you are.

        [i]"Linux administrators who think they are superior than most PC users."[/i]

        What, because Linux admins like the shell over the GUI? Surely this is personal choice, nothing more. Stop being so insecure.
        Scrat
    • Do you know Gallo?

      Earnest and julio gallo sell wine by the GALLON. and it sells very well. in two varieties. red. white.

      is it good wine? heck no. is it a top seller? heck yes.

      why?

      cause the average joe doesn't know crap about wine, his knowledge maybe goes as far as knowing the difference between "red and white" (one is red, the other is white...). he doesn't want or need to sort through 300 varieties of wine, he MAY go as far as to pick a cabernet over a merlot, but chances are he's just deciding based on the cool label on one bottle versus the other.

      and most dont go to wine shops, they go to walmart.

      Valis
      Valis Keogh
      • RE:Do you know Gallo?

        [b]"cause the average joe doesn't know crap about wine..."[/b]

        Well, why is he buying wine and not beer? If the point is to get drunk. ;)
        ruped24
        • Vodka

          Would be a better solution then if the point is just getting drunk (at least @ work they won't smell it ...) :D
          tombalablomba
      • However

        Gallo is basically cheap wine for winos. So I suppose we can draw comparisons between that and another popular operating system, but this isn't supposed to be a flamefest. ;)

        There aren't any Linux distros yet that fall into the Gallo description, though Ubuntu could fall into it if they play their cards right. But in the meantime there is plenty out there for the connoisseur. And most of the good ones have good labels, so what they pick should be fine.
        Michael Kelly
        • ROFLMAO!!!

          Good one Michael! ]:)
          Linux User 147560
        • Mr. Kelly!

          [i]Gallo is basically cheap wine for winos.[/i]

          It's also some of the finest wine made. Period, no exceptions, proven over and over again in international competition. Pick up a copy of [i]Wine Spectator[/i] and read some of the you-really-couldn't-afford-these-even-if-you-could-find-them reviews and see what I mean.
          Yagotta B. Kidding
          • Okay...

            So I'm not a wine drinker (except for an occasional glass of the house chianti at the local Italian restaurant)... But most people I know who drink Gallo definitely fall into that category.
            Michael Kelly
        • exactly, gallo is the windows ;)

          the linux stuff falls under the... hrm... imported french stuff
          Valis Keogh
      • As a matter of fact, yes

        E&J Gallo (and their many descendents) revolutionized wine-making by applying chemistry, microbiology, and in general science to the craft. As a result, their family has been cleaning up at international competitions on fine winemaking for at least 20 years. They make some botique wines that you only find out about if you're invited to dinner with the family, and others that are produced in serial-numbered casks for people who don't ask what they cost.

        They also make the "red, white" table wines you mention, which all in all exactly make my point: find something good enough for what you intend to do and don't sweat it.

        PS: Happy memories of dinner parties when I was a college student and the table wine was Gallo Hearty Burgundy. Amazingly good for the (modest) price.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
        • What did you eat at those dinners?

          Good flavor, but to me it's one of the wines you hope for when you discover you're two hours early for dinner. Continuing to stand up for the denigrated, I think merlot is much better with food. It's possible to taste the wine and subtle flavors at the same time.

          And when you gave an example of wine people might reject earlier, you mentioned Rieslings. Along with Gewurtzes, other examples of wine far better than its repute. Wine doesn't have to be sour to be flavorful.
          Anton Philidor
          • As it happens, Anton

            [i]Good flavor, but to me it's one of the wines you hope for when you discover you're two hours early for dinner.[/i]

            Anton, that was thirty years ago. For a college-student budget it was [b]great[/b] stuff.

            [i]And when you gave an example of wine people might reject earlier, you mentioned Rieslings. Along with Gewurtzes, other examples of wine far better than its repute. Wine doesn't have to be sour to be flavorful.[/i]

            As it happens, I've always loved both Rieslings and Gewurztraminers. Right now, in fact, the "bottle of really good stuff" that we're saving for an upcoming "it's about time" event is a Gewurztraminer.

            However, [i]de gustibus non disputandum[/i] -- others may not agree, thus my comment.
            Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Varies on the time to try your wine

      Or Linux for this matter.

      You chould try a wine, take some cheese, try another wine.

      Sampling Linux takes a bit more work. Especially if you try Linux from Source and not Binaries.

      I could probably sample 1000 wines before I fully break in one distro of Linux. In the mean time, I could have already setup and deployed one AIX server in a highly intoxicated state.
      nucrash
      • And, the great thing about wine, no compatibility problems. All wine

        glasses with all kinds of wine.
        DonnieBoy
        • Ahm,,, Donnie, there are many different wine glasses...

          ... for different kinds of wine. Me, I sometimes think that if you have to identify a wine by its glass, it's not much of a wine. I wouldn't say it aloud, of course, but sometimes the wine's flavor makes the observation inevitable.
          Anton Philidor