I was on Telegram talking with Alan Pope and other people in the Ubuntu Podcast Chatter Telegram when we started the argument of "Stop Making Distributions". As some of you might know I am a huge fan of Linux and BSD. I work on my own distributions. However, I hear one thing FAR too often when debating Linux distributions.
"We already have enough Linux distributions, we don't need more!", which is just ignorant and idiotic. About as idiotic as the other person who kept saying "We don't need more apps". So I will be making the comparison on those, then we will prove why it is wrong, what's REALLY the issue in Linux, and how to fix it.
Well neither. Make as you wish. I am extraordinarily surprised that the argument happened, and the two sides make basically the same remarks, actually, the same arguments any of these debates have. Let's list them.
- We already have too many of them
- Who wants/needs that specific setup?
- Developers walk away when people might depend on it
- Too many options hurt people and makes adoption harder
- No one will ever use half of them, so why make more?
All of these arguments are used by the two sides in any "Too many apps/distros" discussion when in reality they all are stupid and ignorant. Let's take it one at a time.
"We already have too many of them" - What do you mean too many? They are not the same product. They are all different solutions to different problems.
"Who wants/needs that specific setup?" - Who wants/needs Ubuntu? Or how about Fedora? Linux Mint? Pop!_OS? Manjaro? Arch? Gentoo? Windows 10? Always at least someone. I mean heck even openmamba has a user base, ever heard of that?
"Developers walk away when people might depend on it" - Yes, that happens. To apps, Linux distros, Firmware maintainers, Carmakers, Hardware makers, Online applications, Healthcare workers, CEOs, Chefs, Charity workers... I mean all this affects people. Yes, Developers leave, but many other people do. Whether they are important with a team or by themselves, sometimes people quit. So why should a normal happenstance be used as evidence against making more distributions or applications?
"Too many options hurt people and makes adoption harder" - This pure fallacy angers me every time I am forced to deal with it. We have billions of smartphones, trillions of PC parts, over a billion websites (NOT INCLUDING THE DARK/DEEP webs). Here are a couple of industries that will kill this argument by being mentioned: YouTube Videos, Television, Cars, Office Supplies, Computers, Video Games, Mobile apps, Mobile games, Mobile Hardware, Professional Printing, Printing Hardware, Printing Ink, Household Appliances, Televisions, Social Media, Advertising Platforms. What do all of these have in common? There are at least several billion of their kind. Yet we still see TV's being popular, Computers, Social Media, and Mobile anything still being well respected. No no, Linux has a much bigger issue. After one more point, it will be clear.
"No one will ever use half of them, so why make more?" - More of WHAT? More of my thing?
Let's be honest here. Linux fails on the desktop for one reason, and it isn't because too many choices or anything like that people argue in the Linux-Sphere. Not that there's not enough software, that not everyone understands Linux, not even because Microsoft is an inescapable monopoly. No, the issue with Linux... is the misunderstanding of how the world actually works. Let me explain.
Linux fails because there are too many distributions, Linux fails because we redefined "distributions" to fit Linux. Ubuntu is Ubuntu, not Ubuntu Linux. Yes, it uses Linux because that's what it uses, but if it switched to a FreeBSD base in 20.10, it is still 100% pure Ubuntu. Linux fails because we hold the definition of "distribution" the wrong way. Don't get me wrong, distributions are important. Calling them distributions is a good thing, but the way we define it is NOT.
Simple. Redefine and rethink the word "distribution". Don't hold it up as "just another x", but as "a re-imagination of x".
The Linux community needs to stop thinking that Distributions are just more things to count because they aren't. Linux is a tool people use to make products. A Linux distribution is an improvement or implementation of that. You might say "but that's what a Linux distro is", and you're right unless you take in the community. Overall the idea in the community is that a distribution is "another Linux implementation", but not as in "improvement" but rather an unnecessary thing we don't need because the community thinks that Linux is one singular product. That's wrong.
Linux is a tool. It's only just a tool. Like GNU compilers and utilities are tools. Linux is a hammer, a saw. Linux is not "Ultrahammur 123rd Edition Premium Steel 1983". We need to stop, as a community, thinking Linux is a product. It's not. The operating systems we build using Linux are the product. Linux is a tool that makes it easier.
Stop thinking the tool is part of the product, no one cares if the tool is used. People only care if the product is good.