How many future releases?

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pythagorean
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How many future releases?

Post by pythagorean » Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:18 pm

Over the last three years I started out on a windows XP PC and then upgraded to VISTA and because of that tried Ubuntu and then got Windows 7 and now I am a tri-boot user of Fedora/Mint/Windows 7. Each operating system has strengths and weaknesses. The development/release cycle has just produced Fedora 14 and Mint 10, both of which I have been using since they were in Beta stages. I have upgraded through Mint 8, 9 and 10 and Fedora 12, 13, and 14.

All of these changes have seem to me to reflect the intense competition in the operating system marketplace to hype a product and capture new users, which is understandable since the time and money it takes to produce an operating system is enormous and people ought to be compensated for their work... and if next year all of the Linux magazines were to be enamored with the next tweaking of this or that menu in Ubuntu to the extent that they all just wrote article after article about how wonderful it is to be able tick this or that box in gnome now blah blah blah then of course everyone else in the Linux world has to go out there and make their distro seem like an innovative cutting edge stable easy to install miracle of programming too. And so we keep getting the NEXT RELEASE and again THE EVEN BETTER NEXT RELEASE. The changes from release to release seem to me to be very minor and not really worth the trouble most of the time. There is probably a mathematical theorem here that would relate the amount of marketing hype inversely to the size of real change in the operating system being hyped, so that the more money and time spent marketing an operating system is a reflection of the lack of real innovation in the system itself (and a corollary might be that if the operating system in question truly was innovative and worthwhile it would garner users without any need for hype).

I am writing all of this because I have started to wonder how long this iterative process wil continue? Is it an infinte series? Will I be installing Fedora 29 in several years just because all of the old repos have been retired? Will I be upgrading to Mint 22 in a few years because Ubuntu is trying to keep up with Fedora (and vice versa)?

What we need, in my opinion, is an innovation in the world of operating systems that frees us all from the tryanny of marketing new distros. I am not saying that we need a future proof operating system but rather that the game HYPING THE NEXT RELEASE is so transparently just a marketing treadmill that adds no value whatsoever to the actual computer. The ads that pit Mac vs Windows are essentially the model for marketing all operating systems in the Linux world too.

How long will Windows 7 last? 10 years? How long has Windows XP lasted? How long will Mint or Fedora last? Why are Linux operating systems built with such a short life span? I think the answer is: mostly everyone has to hype the new versions to compete with all the other operating systems. True freedom would be to free us all from this model of development, which ultimately derives from the automotive industry and they way that the giant car companies simply restyle the same cars year after year with very little real innovation in the underlying technology of automobiles. Its a cheap business model: change the background theme and update the branding and then release the operating system as NEW!

I know that Mint has started the LMDE version, which is a roling distro, and I like that concept.

End of rant.

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Re: How many future releases?

Post by DrHu » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:13 pm

[quote"pythagorean"]I am writing all of this because I have started to wonder how long this iterative process wil continue? Is it an infinte series? Will I be installing Fedora 29 in several years just because all of the old repos have been retired? Will I be upgrading to Mint 22 in a few years because Ubuntu is trying to keep up with Fedora (and vice versa)?

What we need, in my opinion, is an innovation in the world of operating systems that frees us all from the tryanny of marketing new distros. I am not saying that we need a future proof operating system but rather that the game HYPING THE NEXT RELEASE is so transparently just a marketing treadmill that adds no value whatsoever to the actual computer. The ads that pit Mac vs Windows are essentially the model for marketing all operating systems in the Linux world too.[/quote]
..I have started to wonder how long this iterative process will continue?
Who really knows; perhaps the computer human interface will be ubiquitous, and no longer need an interface, such as a keyboard or mouse
--maybe we will get the hybrid mix of voice command, telepathy (Star trek enterprise, HAL in 2001), where a control panel is more efficient and a voice command works in the domain that is appropriate for that method and telepathy or machine implants or connections to the human brain (the next cyborgs') will be more appropriate, when Robots evolve and we have integrated with them more c0mpletely
  • The first step of always having an Ipod or other device (smart phone) permanently attached to ypur ears is already in place.
...treadmill that adds no value whatsoever to the actual computer
Perhaps it does add some value, it is up to the user to decide whether that is true for them or not
--and yes, it is patently obvious that it is marketing hype in the main (let's say 95+%); but this happens across all product lines, even kid's toys

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Re: How many future releases?

Post by TBABill » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:19 pm

I think perhaps you miss the point of all the updated distros. They aren't competing with each other because they are not directly paid for additional subscribers. They do want to show their distro as stable and capable, but not to make another distro look bad. It's not an us against them thing. Each distro has its own philosophy for what product it intends to provide to its user base and on what cycle it intends to meet that philosophy.

The many updated distros are derived because of the hardware they must support. Just like Windows constantly has new drivers developed for new hardware, so too does Linux. But it goes deeper. There are new file systems to improve speed and efficiency, new technologies to extend battery life, input/output improvements, functionality improvements or additions, faster or more functional desktop environments, and the list can go on almost infinitely. And all of those changes are intended to move Linux forward for better server and desktop performance while (trying to) supporting older hardware as well and building in support for current/modern hardware. Plus they all want to install easier, faster, boot better/faster, etc.

Think of cars, TV's, appliances, etc....when is the last time you wanted a brand new one from the 70s or 80s instead of one from today? They constantly improve with features and capabilities so it is a bit unreasonable to think computer and software technology should just stop now. If it were 5-10 years earlier than right now you would certainly appreciate where we are now with Linux and the future looks bright.

Just my $0.02.

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Fred
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Re: How many future releases?

Post by Fred » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:19 pm

pythagorean,

You have the proprietary world and the FOSS world intermingled here. You are mixing apples and oranges so to speak.

In the FOSS world there is very little marketing. There is no money in it to begin with. How much did you pay for your copy of Linux?

In the proprietary world money changes hands on the finalization of a sale. This is how the companies that sell you things stay in business. From that point on they don't want to hear from you again until you are ready to make another purchase. In the FOSS world no money changes hands when you download Linux. The return on marketing dollars for Linux is slim and hard to define, at best. The only remunerations that take place are the voluntary contributions you may make on down the road. It might be in the form of money, code, testing, translations, documentation, or multiple other contributions of time and talent. That's why I say that trying to entice mainstream Windows users that are only looking for a better, cheaper Windows and have no intention of learning a new system and giving back to the community is a waste of time and resources. Most of them will quickly become disillusioned, return to Windows and be bad publicity for Linux.

The mantra in the FOSS world is "release early and release often." The users test the code and feed back to the developers, corrections are made, and the process starts again. It is the drive to make the system or program better that the emphasis is placed on not the saleability of the product to the mass market. After all, no product is being sold. It may be incorporated into another product that is sold but that is done by one of the users. :-)

Fred
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pythagorean
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Re: How many future releases?

Post by pythagorean » Wed Nov 17, 2010 4:59 pm

Interesting replies all and I will have to spend time re-reading them. But one point that I feel like I needs to be elaborated upon more fully is the relationship of money to the distro, since that seems to be a common theme in the remarks above.

For Red Hat and Canonical I would say their approach to giving away their distros for free is a sort of "loss-leader" strategy, like when Target or Wal Mart adertises a free tube of tooth paste with every purchase or a Fast Food Restaurant advertises FREE SOFT DRINKS with every meal or something. Both Red Hat and Canonical are using Fedora and Ubuntu as ways of building an audience for their products and services. This is not to say they are doing anything wrong but at the same time to have tens of thousands of product-testers essentially improving a product that you later sell (or wish to sell) on the server/enterprise side is not really "free" for the user or motivated by any real sense of community. I might be cynical but it is the same sort of thing as when a real estate development company offers you a free vacation if you will agree to sit through a 3 hour sales presentation about buying land in Nevada. They have to give you something free to get you to take the trip...

And this gets back to the idea of community. Red Hat and Canonical give a way Ubuntu and Fedora in the same sort of sense that a night club might let women in for FREE on Saturday nights. If you are a woman it might seem like you are really getting a good deal by getting in for free, but actually it is the fact that women are present at the night club that attracts the paying customers, viz. the men who want to meet women. In other words, what Fedora or Ubuntu or any other distro is selling is not the actual operating system itself but rather they are selling the fact that a committed community of users has developed around their distro. They don't sell the distro to us but rather they sell our collective use of the distro to other people (advertisers, for example). This is exactly the same business model that Facebook uses. Facebook itself is FREE! It's free for the user because it is worth a lot of money to have millions of teenage girls addicted to visiting your website.

I stopped using Ubuntu because I felt like what we (the community) were all doing was helping Mark Shuttleworth develop a product/brand name/service that would take billions of dollars of investment capital to launch if it was a real business and in the end after 20 years what Canonical is going to do is turn two decades worth of free linux community labor into a billion dollar business. I would rather just give Microsoft $100 up front for a Windows 7 disc and feel like I got a fair deal out of the transaction. In short: do you want to be the cute girl who got into the night club for free on saturday night or do you want to be the guy who paid a cover charge? Either way you are a tool of the night club. That seems to me to be the only real difference between open source and proprietary.

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Re: How many future releases?

Post by Fred » Wed Nov 17, 2010 5:25 pm

pythagorean,

You got part of it but didn't go quite deep enough. Red Hat and Canonical are users of Linux, just like IBM, Novell, Cisco, Net Gear, Dell, Oracle, Google, you, me, and many millions of other users. You can take Linux and do as you please with it as long as you give back your improvements to the community if you distribute it. :-)

Linux Mint is an aggregation of mostly FOSS software. It was put together by its developers, mostly Clem, to make a distribution. You would have to ask Clem and the other developers what their motivations were/are for putting forth the time and effort to accomplish this not insignificant task. You can do the same if you have the desire to do so, for whatever reason. If you want to put together a distro called "pythagorean" and sell it to the public you are so permitted, as long as you follow the Licenses of the software you use, mainly the GPL.

Fred
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Re: How many future releases?

Post by inktitan » Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:37 pm

Free is free. If my contributions later lead to to someone making millions I'd feel pretty good even if I didn't get any recognition. I could do the same thing myself as Fred has mentioned. I would rather get into the club for free get free drinks and go home knowing I had a good time. Now I am a guy so this is an awkward analogy for me but so what if the night club got more money because I was there. It does not take away from the experience in my eyes.
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Re: How many future releases?

Post by JonM33 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:26 pm

Interesting perspectives from everyone. I can't come from the typical Linux user/developer/open-source fanatic mind set. I come from the pure USER mind set.

I might donate to the Linux community via financial aspect if possible, but donating beyond that is impossible. I'm not a developer nor do I ever have the desire to become one. I've had many friends that were developers, although they get paid big money that's just not my cup of tea.

Regarding constant changes in Linux distros...I don't think it is direct competition with Linux as much as it is with Mac and Windows. People might want to piss and moan over Microsoft but they really have driven the GUI market and hardware. Well, Apple has piggybacked off of Linux's capabilities and gone a step further with the smart phone market. Now I'm seeing the future OS GUI lacking much of the common desktop as we know it. The Ubuntu Netbook edition (Unity) is a prime example. People might shed a lot of tears at the difference from their norm but I see it as a feasible solution for the common PC user. Most people don't give a rat's ass about a desktop or file structure, blah blah blah. If they can have an app and have it pull from a repository of documents for that app then one button is all they need.

I also like the new Gnome Shell myself. It's quite a change from past interfaces. For the common Linux user it is a drastic, devastating, world changing difference. Big deal. As a Windows user I have had to change and adapt in my goal of switching to Linux. The market is changing and these new GUI interfaces - Unity and Gnome Shell - are going to help draw interest where it has been ignored in the past. Software, when it has been perfected not just from a development standpoint but an ease-of-use standpoint, has a way of slapping our planet in the face. Mozilla did it with Firefox. Google did it with Chrome. Apple did it with their iPod/iPhone GUI. Google did it again with Android. Google will try to do it again with Chrome OS - which is going to shove the reality of Linux right in front of everyone.

So, can the common Linux distro ever make a difference or will it be just a niche?

How many future releases? As many as it takes. The last thing Linux needs is a stagnant perspective.
"Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." -Steve Ballmer

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Re: How many future releases?

Post by monkeyboy » Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:55 pm

The changes from release to release seem to me to be very minor and not really worth the trouble most of the time.

This is a question of perception. If a change solves a problem you are having then the change is major if a change is irrelevant to your situation then the change may very well be minor. Also "worth the trouble " depends on who you are. If the volunteers didn't feel like the work was worthwhile they wouldn't contribute and most distros would just go away. On the other hand we at the consumer level may not value of the volunteers work as much as the folks who are carrying the load.


I am writing all of this because I have started to wonder how long this iterative process wil continue? Is it an infinte series? Will I be installing Fedora 29 in several years just because all of the old repos have been retired? Will I be upgrading to Mint 22 in a few years because Ubuntu is trying to keep up with Fedora (and vice versa)?

Probably yes for a number of reasons. Changes in hardware will necessitate changes in the OSs. Also folks use their computers differently today then they did a few years ago and are will likely find different ways to use them in years to come so OSs have to change to facilitate new uses.


I am not saying that we need a future proof operating system but rather that the game HYPING THE NEXT RELEASE is so transparently just a marketing treadmill that adds no value whatsoever to the actual computer.

Commercial products are always marketed to the consumer regardless of what the product is and the chances of that changing in the near future is slim.
As to Linux hyping itself that is often a function of bloggers and reviewers trying to generate traffic for their sites because and few Linux distros have deep enough pockets to support a marketing operation.


True freedom would be to free us all from this model of development, which ultimately derives from the automotive industry and they way that the giant car companies simply restyle the same cars year after year with very little real innovation in the underlying technology of automobiles.

"True freedom would be to free us all from this model of development" That depends on individual definition of freedom. To some freedom promotes choice and would not suppress development.
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Re: How many future releases?

Post by MALsPa » Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:15 pm

pythagorean wrote:I am writing all of this because I have started to wonder how long this iterative process wil continue? Is it an infinte series?
Yes, it is. The only permanent thing in life (and computer operating systems) is Change.

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Re: How many future releases?

Post by inktitan » Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:36 pm

MALsPa wrote:
pythagorean wrote:I am writing all of this because I have started to wonder how long this iterative process wil continue? Is it an infinte series?
Yes, it is. The only permanent thing in life (and computer operating systems) is Change.
What about Death and taxes? :lol:
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