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Why Fragmentation Should EMPOWER Linux

I was in a recent argument about Windows, Linux, whether Microsoft is getting into Linux to kill Linux off as competition. After the debate started to slow down as I wrote seven paragraphs per message on Telegram, I realized my point further than I thought. Why Linux is empowered by fragmentation, while also how to fight it as a foe. Linux fragmentation makes Linux what it is supposed to be. Open.

How Linux is Open & Free

Linux is open and free in many ways. Free, as in free beer. Free, as in freedom. Open as in open to interpretation. Open as in open to outsiders. Open as many ideas, implementations, needs, emotions, looks, and more. Free as in freedom to share for free. Freedom as in freedom to sell.

I always hated Linux is "Free" philosophy, not because it is a bad one, but because those who often say it are authoritarian in how Linux is free. Ironic considering that they consider it freedom.

Linux isn't the only place I get angry with the authoritarian freedom arguments. I am very political, Libertarian, and yet I will never get a chance to agree with other Libertarians as they are usually in the belief of authoritarian freedom. Authoritarian freedom is "freedom as I say it is." Well, Linux is no stranger to this. I mean many people who argue these same points always say "Closed-source is the devil", or "You shouldn't use anything but x license for software." It may seem rare, but Linux has these people if you go into the world of something like Gentoo or Arch. I have seen Arch users claim "Manjaro isn't Arch, it has no right to exist." Even projects like Ubuntu are called "the devil" by internet weirdos who don't understand that Linux isn't one app, one kernel.

Fun fact, some distributions modify their kernel. This being to fit the needs of their OS. Many people pick and choose tools from people, even developing their own. People call companies who promote or use closed-source software to be "evil", even if those companies promote open-source.

Linux isn't free as in always open-source software. Linux is free as in it is your own.

Fragmentation, why is it good?

If you live in the Linux world, you would know that there are near/over 500 options to choose from, and maybe 20 if you limit your choices by popularity.

To both outsiders and insiders, this is a bad thing, but there is no fixing it. It also has many delightful pros. The billion or so options give users the freedom to just say "I don't need to mess with this" if they don't want to. Many even fork their original distribution to work from the original, because they don't agree with the original OS. The whole thing that spawned Devuan is because Debian changed things.

Why is this great? Because you don't have to fiddle with one option. You can do it from source, you can fork another OS, and you can even distribute your own edition. Even if Linux is bought, then either turned closed-source or killed off, the older editions will still be open-source, someone will own it and fork it.

No matter what happens or who breaks what, someone will fork and continue it. Ubuntu Unity brings back the best Ubuntu desktop, MATE forks Gnome2 because no one liked Gnome3 at first, Linux Mint makes open-source easy, while Pop!_OS makes an OS the public will love. The goals and reasoning behind every single Linux distribution can't be broken. Saying that "we need to unify Linux" is a pipe dream that will NEVER be realized.

While people groan and moan at me saying that, open-source promotes it. Open-source is the freedom to remake, and even if you don't use it, others will. A project that angers users will be forked and made to be better, in 100 ways by hundreds of people.

Ubuntu Cinnamon is supposed to be Ubuntu with a new coat of paint. Linux Mint is supposed to be easy for PURE open-source lovers. Open-source compliments closed-source, because what is closed will be remade better by passionate users

How to Ignore the Issues of Fragmentation?

Yes, fragmentation hurts Linux in many ways still, but this isn't to say we should unify. It doesn't mean to say we should stop building new projects. Rather, work together while fighting. If you love Linux Mint, get more people to use it. Same with Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Gentoo, and others. Make a distribution? Advertize it, say why it is better than the rest, give people reason to use it.

Yes, smaller projects might die out leaving some stranded, but that is not too common nor for many much of an issue. The issue is that getting new people to use. Give new users Ubuntu, not choice. Have them learn and ease into Linux. If they want to, they can trickle down or make their own distribution. Yes, Ubuntu is bigger than everyone else already but if we need to, we can get users into Linux who can use other distributions by easing them into their baby-steps with Ubuntu, then they can use whatever they want if they want to adventure and test.

Linux empowers itself by being fragmented and can help by pushing one as the one new users should use. Ubuntu will grow, and trickle-down users. If it doesn't, others can advertise themselves and others. If they get too big, people will try to replace them. Linux needs to be fragmented to please everyone but unify behind something like Ubuntu to get new users away from Microsoft.

Makes sense?


While my writing here is probably a little weird at times, I really hope it gives the message that Linux fragments to be better for everyone but should push the easiest and most user-friendly distribution as the one new-comers should use. It makes people happy, while bringing people into Linux.

Top comments (4)

terkwood profile image
Felix Terkhorn

Thanks for contributing this! It makes me think of how concentrated web browsers have become, with Chromium and Firefox gathering up so much (almost all) market share.

Not everything we make needs to take off and become a gigantic organism which attracts hundreds of millions of users.

I believe the patchwork Linux universe is healthy place where new things can crop up in unexpected ways. 🌌

And maybe it's time I re-read Cathedral & Bazaar. 🤓

thisdotmedia_staff profile image
This Dot Media

Great insight Kai!

v6 profile image
🦄N B🛡 • Edited

I feel so empowered now.

There's a reason a kind of fragmentation is good that I think this post is missing, but I don't have the time or words to express it correctly right now.

And I think it's important enough that I'll either send you the content of a suggested update or write my own.

kailyons profile image

I might have an idea of what you mean, but I can't put it into words either