Doesn't matter

Story: Cookie Cutter Distros Don't Cut ItTotal Replies: 3
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Apr 02, 2013
3:50 AM EDT
Does having more 'me too' cookie cutter Distros help the ecosystem or might they dilute the strength of those that precede them causing confusion and less innovation?

Confusion only seems to arise in consumers when they see more than one choice on a computer. People who are generally interested in getting the most out of their computing equipment, don't seem to be fazed by the occurrence of a few "My-First-Distro" projects. Distro's with just a new wallpaper and a few differences in the default pacakages, are generally ignored.

Dilution isn't a problem. People rolling their own "Me too!" distro, weren't interested in working on their upstream distro in the first place, otherwise they wouldn't have created a derivative. This idea that if only everybody worked on just a few distro's, GNU/Linux would take the world by storm is a false one. Distro's integrate upstream software. When they create, it generally is infrastructure (like package management) to support the inner workings of the distro. (Notable exeptions are the new desktop environments started by distro's; Unity, Cinnamon, Consort).

The general public has rejected GNU/Linux (as in the traditional distro) wholesale, most probably because there isn't one choice that comes preinstalled on every computer on the retail shelves. Linux can be succesful in the consumer market, but it seems it needs to be a web appliance, like Google's Chromebooks with ChromeOS. Or it needs to be fairly limited in functionality, like Android, where the userland is kept simple. For them it wouldn't matter if Distrowatch had only one distro or a million. They don't follow the GNU/Linux landscape.

Even if Canonical succeeds in their goal of capturing the Joe Sixpack market with their Linux based system, it will probably mean they had to alter their system in such ways that the current crop of GNU/Linux users wouldn't recognize it as a Linux system and they probably wouldn't want to touch it with a 10 foot barge pole. Not that that is a problem. If Canonical can keep their promise of distributing Ubuntu as a fully FOSS system (including Canonical's CLA-ed packages), it is a net win if Joe Sixpack switches to a FOSS system.

This divide between computer knowledgable people and everybody else will remain in place. Computer geeks will use one of their beloved, but fairly obscure systems and everybody else will flock to the mainstream system (FOSS or not) with the most preinstalls and the most users in the userbase. In the grand scheme of things, all the distro hubbub is only of interest to GNU/Linux users.

Apr 02, 2013
9:33 PM EDT
How can consumers "reject" a product they never see?

When Linux was available "off the shelf", displayed side by side with equivalent Windows hardware, in the same stores where consumers bought other computers, Linux sometimes even sold better than the Windows version (remember the EeePC 901?).

Please, let's stop perpetuating the myth that consumers "rejected" Linux. Microsoft and Intel (and consequently major OEMs) rejected (each for their own reasons) Linux. But consumers had little say in the matter.

Apr 10, 2013
2:41 PM EDT
What BernardSwiss said here is absolutely spot on. Given a level playing field Linux does just fine.

Apr 11, 2013
7:50 AM EDT
True, I could have phrased it better as "The general public hasn't picked up Linux."

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