Never Enough Distributions

I’ve been using Linux now for a pretty long time. I started in the mid-90s, and have been using it ever since. One of the most common criticisms I hear about Linux is that there’s just too many distributions.

It only takes a quick trip over to DistroWatch to see that there are a ton of distributions out there. The front page ranks the top 100 distributions according to their page hit ranking, which is often mistaken for distribution popularity. A quick query of the distributions with no filters brings up a list of 322 different distributions, and recently Todd Robinson, an Open Source entrepreneur and co-owner of Webpath Technologies and On-Disk.com, has said he’ll create a new distribution per day for 31 days. Some people are saying that enough is enough. We don’t need any more distributions.

I couldn’t disagree more.

There can never been “enough” distributions. Software evolves like everything else. 21 years ago, Linux was a dream in a Finnish kid’s head, but in 1993 that project mutated and Debian was born. That same year, Red Hat was founded and the following year Red Hat Linux arrived. Linux had already mutated into it’s first distributions.

Each distribution brings with it it’s author’s particular views, likes, and dislikes. Sometimes a distribution will be a minor change over the parent distribution, and sometimes it will be major. Sometimes what started out as something minor will transmute into something major.

With each distribution, Linux evolves.

New ideas are born, the strong ones survive and the weak ones fade into obscurity. Through this process, Linux gets better. Without this process, Linux would stagnate. New ideas would be limited to a select few individuals, and the creativity of the community would be stifled. Linux would become Windows: an OS with a family tree that never branches, getting uglier and more inbred with each generation. Prone to crashs, malware, and vulnerable to disease (viruses).

I truly believe that this would be the end for Linux. The Linux community needs to encourage new distributions, always be willing to try the new distro on the block. Play with new software and experience new ways of doing things. We can’t allow ourselves to become locked into our old habits. Sometimes, the new things we try won’t be as good as our old way of doing things, but that’s OK. We won’t know until we try.

Personally, I can’t wait to see what the next stage of evolution brings us.

Never Enough Distributions
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  • y2b4u3d

    Personally I don’t think I will ever gonna try any other distributions than Ubuntu I have start using Linux because of it and without it no Linux for me and I will back to windows!!

  • shadowguy14

    I’ve downloaded a lot of distros, and then I finally realized they’re all the same thing (for the most part). I do think they’re are WAY to many out there

    • Anestis

      couldn’t agree more… sometimes it seems people change 1-2 things and then name their own distro… what a waste of time and effort. So much duplicate work that could be invested elsewhere!

  • Jean-Marie

    Top 6 Linux Distros for beginners

    http://get-linux.net/beginners/

  • Anestis

    Mike I couldn’t disagree with you more. This subject is exhausted and discussed to death anyhow. Yes, software does evolve like everything else but also come on 300+ distributions? You say let the best survive and software evolves like everything else. I say every effort, every hour spent on creating a *hole in the water* (i.e. a distribution that’s very likely to be used by the one who created, maybe 10-20 more people and then the creator move on to bigger better things) is a waste, it is time taken from other more important stuff, like contributing man hours to finding bugs, evolving proven ideas and projects.