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Is it time to streamline Linux?

ComTech: IT Support Stirling


I love Linux.  It is cracking as a server and not bad on a desktop either but it always comes down to the same old question – which one to use?  I got talking to another tech last week about this.  We started talking about which distros were good as servers (my vote was for Debian by the way!!) and then he said “It would be much better if there weren’t so many distros to choose from”.  I hate to say it but I think he may have a point.

If you look at Distrowatch there are currently 319 linux distributions listed.  Of these over 70 are Ubuntu based (please correct me if I am wrong).  There is also currently about 29 desktop environments.  How much choice do we need?  At this point people will turn around and say that choice is good and that if you don’t find what you are looking for in one distribution then try another one.  I would agree to a point but it does feel like people are reinventing the wheel to some extent.  For example how many distros do we need based on Ubuntu?

I am asked a lot by both clients and friends which distro would I recommend? Usually Linux Mint / Ubuntu for desktop and Debian as a server but then they talk to someone else and they may get Fedora on a desktop and CentOS on a server.  You can see where I am taking this.  You ask a different person for their opinion and you will get a different distro every time.

It can also be a nightmare from a techs point of view too.  When starting out in Linux it is always best to get a grasp of the universal basics (command line etc) but at some point you will want to go distro specific.  Which one? I have stuck with the deb based distros as this is what I have the most experience with.  If I came across an rpm distro in “the wild” I would not feel as confident in fixing any issues it might have.  If you take Windows as an example a tech could learn Windows 7 and still have a good crack at Windows 8.  This is not usually the case with Linux.

Also look at the resources that are currently being wasted.  If you take all the developers that are currently dispersed across 319 distros and combined them into say 5 it would make a huge difference in the way linux is perceived.  With less distros to support hardware manufacturers would start to pay more attention (more drivers available) and so would the general public.  A streamlined Linux would become a much effective force to do battle with the likes of Microsoft and would certainly start to gain market share.

So what do you think? Would a streamlined Linux work?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

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2 thoughts on “Is it time to streamline Linux?

  1. Not really sure I want Linux to compete with M$ Windows/Server.

    I get where you are coming from, and it is ground that has been covered many times, but Linux has its place. Linux stands on its own 2 feet, and has done for a long time.

    In my early Linux days when I was still dual booting my desktop, I often wished Linux was a better desktop. On reflection, I really just missed what i knew on the MS machine and was hesitant to learn the Linux inequivalent or the Linux way.

    In the last 10 years the installers have came on leaps and bounds, making it as simple as any M$ gear to install, and Canonical have really kept on top of the usability. The real issue, that i have found, is you either know about Linux and have tried it or the though of another OS beyond Windows doesn’t exist, and even the concept is alien, getting beyond that barrier is a huge challenge for the average user.

    Personally I like Debian as a server and Ubuntu as a desktop. Often I am forced onto a RedHat based distro like CentOS/Fedora, and its familiar enough for me to get around, but strange enough that I find myself on google a lot :)

    You will struggle to find a disto that is not based on Debian or Redhat, they all have there place. I find the variety is good, if one does well because they have reworked a piece of software just for them, the other distro’s are not long in taking notice and building that in themselves.

    So as much as I might just say use Debian/Ubuntu, I am glad there is so much diversity in that space, it keeps everyone on there toes. Which is what M$ lacked for all those years.

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