Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

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Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Yes. Hundreds of Distros, each with multiple DE's, and some flooded app categories is too overwhelming for the general public.
54
40%
No. The insane amount of choice Linux offers is not limiting its popularity.
82
60%
 
Total votes: 136

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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by mintnoob »

MALsPa wrote:Yeah, and who decides which distros get eliminated?
It would have to be voluntary of course.
Everyone doesn't want to use the same distro that I use, or the same DE or WM that I use, or the same apps that I use. Other people want choice, too.
Please don't make it sound like I only want one choice.
Nobody's wants a situation where we're stuck with a distro that's out there (like Debian or Ubuntu), and someone can't create a new distro that works better for a lot of people (like Mint). Do we?
You make it sound like there is only a handful of distros out there. There's like over FIVE HUNDRED!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by MALsPa »

mintnoob wrote:Please don't make it sound like I only want one choice.
Sorry, I'm not trying to make anything sound like anything.

To me, saying that we have too many distros or DEs/WMs, or too many applications that do similar things, is like saying that the world has too many different kinds of flowers. I'm sure that some folks will think that it sounds silly to say that, but that's how I look at it.

But also, a large part of my point of view on this subject comes from the fact that I'm not concerned at all about Linux popularity. It isn't really important to me that Linux becomes more and more popular; only that it's popular enough to be out there and available for people to use. If Linux doesn't work with every piece of hardware that's manufactured, that's okay with me, because I'll still probably be able to find hardware that will work with Linux without too much trouble.

But I understand that not everyone feels that way. This is simply one of those topics that not everyone is going to agree on, I guess! 8)

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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by vincent »

mintnoob wrote:
vrkalak wrote:First of all, GNU/Linux and Open Source is "all about choice"
Maybe I should have titled it "Is too much choice stifling Linux' potential popularity?"
Secondly ... Of the Top 500 Super-computers in the World ... how Many run Linux and how many use Windows?
So what? That's just a fractions of total computer users.

Why didn't you post this fact?
Estimated Desktop Usage Share

Windows - 92.00%
Linux - 1.02%

January 2010
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison ... rket_share
Total computer users does NOT equal total desktop computer (PC) users. Obviously Microsoft Windows rules in that domain...but here's some food for thought.
Wikipedia wrote:In September 2008 Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that 60% of web-servers run Linux versus 40% that run Windows Server.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux#Mark ... and_uptake)

I think you still don't understand what FOSS means...look, we can debate forever on whether or not choice and freedom of choice is good for recent Linux converts or not, but the fact remains, FOSS by nature is open and its developers like making their own decisions and creating their own spinoffs and forks. The right to take open-source source code and modify it to your own liking, and to distribute said code, is a right that is guaranteed by all major open-source licenses, including the GNU General Public License, and if you wanted to stem the number of choices provided within the Linux ecosystem, you would have to change many fundamental concepts about open-source software...something that the majority of FOSS developers will NOT tolerate. And, distros wouldn't eliminate themselves 'voluntarily'. :P
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by Biker »

mintnoob wrote: Let's say that was the case, would you go back to Windows? I'd be fine with Ubuntu or derivatives. I'm using one now. ;)
I meant get rid of Ubuntu and all derivatives. My primary distro is a Slack derivative.

The machine I use can boot into 5 different distros AND Windows 7.

If people are confused with all the different choices out there, they'd be best to stick with Windows to begin with.
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by kneekoo »

vrkalak wrote:First of all, GNU/Linux and Open Source is "all about choice"
Linux is the dominant Operating System in China and Japan. Huge technical and huge-er population centers.
Japan makes most of the computers in the free world.

Windows is the main/dominant Operating System in the Unites States, because that's where Bill Gates and MicroSoft are.
Otherwise. I don't believe they would have the PC market there either.
1. Most of the computers we currently use are actually manufactured in Taiwan and China.
2. Judging by the market share it should be obvious that Windows is not only dominant in the US but all over the world as well.

I believe Linux's strength lies exactly in this large diversity because thousands of developers cannot be expected to share a common ground unless they are working in a company where someone or some department dictates the direction - as it happens with Microsoft. The fact that people are free to (re)use a vast quantity of source code is also a certainty that some of these people will make the most out of it and others will be able to integrate it freely in their own projects sooner or later. Just like MALsPa mentioned before, implying that Linux hurts because of too much choice would be the same as saying too much choice of flowers in the world actually sucks. What if there would only be 10 types of flowers? How creative could we get with flower arrangements? What if we would only have 10 types of food? In a world of billions, hundreds of distros are nothing but a sand grain.

If there's anything we could do to make Linux more popular is create top level user manuals, so people can easily learn how to use this operating system without getting too technical. If there should be a common base in Linux, that should be the high-quality in standards of writing user manuals.

Linux needs MORE choice because in the hands of talented developers such as the Mint team, people can gather applications and ideas from all other distributions and build one to serve even very demanding users. Let's just say the Mint manual is not good enough. Then let's talk about what would make it better and help the Mint team do it. The more the Mint team can choose from our ideas, the better will be the manual. The less complex and confusing the manual will be, the more users will find Mint easier to understand.

So generally speaking, what Linux would easily be more popular if there would be down-to-earth easy documentation. Diversity is essential for Linux to get better.
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by markcynt »

I voted no for reasons already stated concerning freedom and development.

Besides the only distros the vast majority of potential Windows converts are paying any attention to are the top 10 or 15 distros, if that.

And Mint is fast becoming an easy choice for new users, with PCLinuxOS right on their heels.
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by pingvinche »

Linux wouldn't be Linux without so many distros. Simply as that.

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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by randomizer »

mintnoob wrote:Why didn't you post this fact?
Perhaps because it isn't a fact. Facts are based on reliable, objective and verifiable evidence. This figure is not. It's based on browser user agent strings. Accurately estimating OS market share is a fool's errand.

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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by markfiend »

mintnoob wrote:
Fred wrote:
Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?
Typical mainstream Windows users with no desire to learn or contribute are a liability to the Linux community, not an asset. They bring nothing of value to the table.
How do you know that?
I'm not Fred and I'm not claiming to read his mind but...

Well, he said it really.

No-one really gives a hoot about market share, because Linux isn't about making money. What Linux is about is the free flow of ideas. It's a different mind-set from Windows to Linux.

Your average Windows user doesn't tend to hang around on Windows forums offering newbies help. Your average Windows user won't upload a Bash script, or config file, or whatever it is. What's the need when Microsoft paid tech-support do it all for you? Whereas in Linux, all we've got is each other. It's a community and everyone relies on each other.

(Reminds me: I worked out a way to pipe a twitter feed into conky, must post that somewhere soon!)
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by kneekoo »

mintnoob wrote:
MALsPa wrote:Nobody's wants a situation where we're stuck with a distro that's out there (like Debian or Ubuntu), and someone can't create a new distro that works better for a lot of people (like Mint). Do we?
You make it sound like there is only a handful of distros out there. There's like over FIVE HUNDRED!!!!!!!!!!!
:mrgreen: And you make it sound like regular people know there are hundreds or distros. Most Windows users don't even know that Windows is an operating system and, in consequence, what is an operating system and that there are more than one operating system on this planet. This also means they have no idea there's a "thing" named Linux.

The number of people confused about why there are so many distros is not so large in my opinion and it still doesn't matter if they become confused at some point, because there are by far more people who can help them find their way. It's how the Linux communities work. But as a side note, keep in mind that every Windows user creates a personal environment. It's just that they cannot legally share it with others because if it would be legal you would see quite a lot of Windows variants out there. Even so, there are a few Windows ISOs (pirated, of course) that include various Windows modifications and customized setups with pre-installed software. Is this different compared to Linux? Only the legal part. Otherwise it's about the same thing. There are many types of users and operating system usages and there will always be people willing to spend some time wrapping everything together and sharing it with others. It's just that with Linux you can do this legally.
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by GhoS »

What is the problem with the number of choices? When you go shopping are you upset there are 20 different vacuum cleaners or 100 different kinds of cereal? No because in general people love choice. They don't want to be force fed what they should be using (Apple), nor do they want everything just given to them (Windows) saying there are choices but you want to use our choices.
Linux gives you the freedom to try out many of the distros without even installing them (try doing that with Windows) so you can make an informed decision whether one distro is best for you or not. Even if you choose a distro and you want to try a different desktop environment you can. With Windows you have to use a 3rd party app, and with Apple virtually no chance at changing anything, you are pretty stuck with how it comes.
I think as more and more people become comfortable with their computers they will be more willing to explore and get out of the closed systems like Windows/Apple and into a system that allows extreme flexibility and choice. I can have my PC my way and free, how does it get any better than that?
Heck even if Linux wasn't free I wouldn't mind paying something for it.

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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by linuxviolin »

mintnoob wrote:Linux is free and arguably better than Windows, so why has it not surpassed Windows, or at least somewhat competitive with Windows in number of users?
Too many distros? Yes. Many are just almost crap. And with less choice it might be better... maybe. But more popular? Hmm... First, Linux is not better than Windows and secondly, I think Windows will stay the first OS for again a long time, for good reasons and probably by a large margin.
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by Biker »

linuxviolin wrote:First, Linux is not better than Windows and secondly, I think Windows will stay the first OS for again a long time, for good reasons and probably by a large margin.
Now you did it. The "righteous" will come crawling out of the woodwork now! :shock: :lol:
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by Aging Technogeek »

I voted "No" on general principles because I am against anything that stifles creativity.

Would Linux be more popular with less choice? I don't know. What I think is Linux would be diminished if the smaller niche and not-so-good distros had never existed.

Just as a hack writer pounding out trash for a schlock publisher may occasionally turn a truly memorable phrase, any coder working on any obscure distro may develop one small app or modification to an existing app that could be transferred to a good distro and make it great.

What I am trying to say is that the diversity of Linux allows every avenue to be explored, unlike Windows and Apple OSX that tend to be linear developments on prior code. This is how breakthroughs happen.

Many people trying different approaches to solve basic problems will generally find the optimum fix much more quickly than the same number of researchers working under a monolithic command structure.

For this and other reasons I would prefer that Linux stay a small niche in the OS market if the alternative is a reduction of diversity.
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by FedoraRefugee »

mintnoob wrote:
MALsPa wrote:Yes, absolutely. Not just a little selfish, either! But, frankly, that's exactly how I feel about it. Hope it doesn't bother anyone, but that's the way it is.
Not offended by your choice.

Reminds me of what a Libertarian society would be like. There'd be less restriction (taxes, etc) so you'd be able to keep more of your own money to be generous with, or keep all to yourself and be greedy.
Heh, I was about to tell you that you should move to Cuba, but this response actually impressed the hell out of me! Amazed me actually!

Yes dead on! THAT is what it is all about! People say Linux is "socialist" but I disagree. Linux can be used however each individual sees fit, whether you want to limit choices or give endless choice. The...choice...is yours! :D

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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by waldo »

As you can see by now, mintnoob, you have done gone and opened up the proverbial can of worms! By asking the question, you obviously think that there are too many choices, and I agree with that. But you and I are in a minority of Linux users that participate in forums like this one.

We (I think I am speaking for you here) would like to see Linux become a viable choice for the average user who now only has the option of Windows or Mac (if you like to spend more money!). Choosing Linux should not be any more of a commitment to learning than it is now with Windows or Mac. We see the benefit of Linux as a good thing that we would like to share with those that are not quite so enamored with the minutiae of computers.

At the other side, we have the view so eloquently expressed by Fred:
It probably would be with precisely the users that Linux DOESN'T need. Linux is gaining user/contributors all the time. Typical mainstream Windows users with no desire to learn or contribute are a liability to the Linux community, not an asset. They bring nothing of value to the table.
Fortunately (IMO), we have developer communities that are striving to bring Linux to the mainstream. Ubuntu is the most successful so far, but they have a ways to go. The Mint developers have done a pretty good job of addressing the deficiencies in Ubuntu, which are mostly in usability and appearance. Maybe Mint's success has pushed the recent improvements in Ubuntu.

Any OS, be it Windows or Linux, is really only a system for supporting software applications that mainstream users want and need. Microsoft and Apple understand this. Many in the Linux community do not. Right now, the software that people want and need is being hindered by the focus on software that Linux fans want, mostly desktop Envoronments. Mainstream users want and need applications that handle the hard stuff like financial matters and record keeping. Mainstream users are willing to pay for application software that works. Mainstream users really don't care about having 22 "desktop environments" available, and they certainly don't give a fig about 18 music players. That is not "choice", that is utter chaos and confusion.

Commercial software developers (those folks that make software that people actually use) will not develop for a fragmented (too many installation "choices") OS that has stagnated for 10 years at about 1% of users (+ or - .5%, who cares!), and the mainstream users "choice" has been effectively eliminated.

Competition is a good thing. Several choices create effective competition. 200 or 500 "choices" create an "I choose to opt out" environment, and that is where Linux stands today. It is the #1 choice OS for opting out, by both users and developers.

"Who needs no stinkin' developers anyway. We'll just create another kool DE and show them how it's done!"

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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by FedoraRefugee »

As with most things in life, I think the answer lies in the middle of two extremes. Waldo does a great job of pinpointing at least a partial view of these extremes:
waldo wrote:As you can see by now, mintnoob, you have done gone and opened up the proverbial can of worms! By asking the question, you obviously think that there are too many choices, and I agree with that. But you and I are in a minority of Linux users that participate in forums like this one.

We (I think I am speaking for you here) would like to see Linux become a viable choice for the average user who now only has the option of Windows or Mac (if you like to spend more money!). Choosing Linux should not be any more of a commitment to learning than it is now with Windows or Mac. We see the benefit of Linux as a good thing that we would like to share with those that are not quite so enamored with the minutiae of computers.
I did not answer the poll but, like quite a few other posters in this thread, I do agree that all the choice DOES have a detrimental effect on attracting new users. It was this choice that attracted me but I agree that "most" people just see an OS as a means to an end. In that regard they should not have to learn anything or have to think about anything. It is merely an interface to run their programs or apps on.

I vehemently disagree that Linux is any harder than Windows or OS X! There is not any more of a commitment in learning Linux than there is the other two operating systems. It is an unfortunate fact of life that most people younger than 30 grew up using Windows. This has influenced the way in which most people think about computers. But just because Linux does things differently does not mean it is harder. Only that most people just do not understand it.
At the other side, we have the view so eloquently expressed by Fred:
It probably would be with precisely the users that Linux DOESN'T need. Linux is gaining user/contributors all the time. Typical mainstream Windows users with no desire to learn or contribute are a liability to the Linux community, not an asset. They bring nothing of value to the table.
Wow! Fred speaks a harsh truth. But this is what the FOSS community has traditionally been about. For the longest time now it was only those of us who were enthusiastic about Linux that learned it and participated in the community. The pain of using it deterred what I like to call the "free Windows" crowd. Only those who WANTED to develop the skills necessary would stick around long enough to make a difference. And we ALL gave back! Some were the uber-geek gurus who worked their way into the project development communities. Others, like Clem, just had a "better" vision of what Linux could be. Some, like me, who did not have the coding skills, did what we could by trying to help other users. Some of us used testing distros that were at the forefront of defining what tomorrows Linux was to be. We were the guinea pigs. Others wrote tutorials, or blogged about Linux, or became ambassadors working LUGs and Linux Fests. Many just quietly used their distros and that was cool too. It was a small community and we all did what we could, or what we wanted.

But now things are changing. Now it is becoming big business. Now we are besieged by a whole generation of "takers" who demand an idiot-proof OS for free. They are not willing to contribute in any manner except by making demanding posts in forums insisting that THEIR vision of Linux be implemented. They bring their "beat Windows and rule the world" mentality to the table without ever even understanding what FOSS is all about!

What is the answer?

There is no answer, only a general direction. Like a spooked herd of cattle Linux rushes first one way then another. There is no real leader, only a few big bulls that can "persuade" the rest of the herd to head in their direction. But the herd will always try to break one way or another. Will Linux ever become what Waldo and the OP envision? Sure, Mint is well along that path!!! Or will it retain the 1990's flavor of a geek OS that few understand? Yep! There are still distros for old dogs like Fred and me! Will it last? :D Nothing on this earth ever lasts! When I joined this forum a couple years ago I posted in a thread where I thought Mint would be in 10 years. I said I felt that Linux, as we know it, would be dead in 10 years! I took so much flak for that comment! :roll: But you know what? Here it is two years later, and we are already well along that road! Linux has changed, it changed while we were writing about it! Linux today is no longer the same beast it was even two years ago! And I do not mean that it simply evolved, but that the whole dynamic is shifting, changing. It is not all bad, but I do think Linux is giving up its pure heart and soul in the interest of commercialization.
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by waldo »

. . . and from Aging Technogeek:
I voted "No" on general principles because I am against anything that stifles creativity.
Not all creativity is created equal. Some is just throwing poop on the wall.
Just as a hack writer pounding out trash for a schlock publisher may occasionally turn a truly memorable phrase, any coder working on any obscure distro may develop one small app or modification to an existing app that could be transferred to a good distro and make it great.
So what, if nobody reads that "truly memorable phrase" or the transferred app modification in the good distro is never used, but only receives "atta boys" from other Linux geeks?

(Somehow I'm reminded of the old saw about a million monkeys, typewriters, and the Works of Shakespeare. It doesn't work.)
What I am trying to say is that the diversity of Linux allows every avenue to be explored, unlike Windows and Apple OSX that tend to be linear developments on prior code. This is how breakthroughs happen.
And no one uses the breakthrough? "Atta boy, nice work."
Many people trying different approaches to solve basic problems will generally find the optimum fix much more quickly than the same number of researchers working under a monolithic command structure.
Right. "Nice optimum fix there, fella. You do code good. Atta boy!"

What I'm trying to say here is that until Linux developers collectively decide make Linux for others (non Linux geeks) to use, they are participating in a fruitless circle of self gratification. There is a false sense of purpose in championing "FOSS" as a noble cause in itself, and the end result has been a great deal of wasted effort to no benefit of the greater good. Instead of striving to share the effort with the outside world, they are content to parade their efforts only before insiders. That is selfish. FOSS should be a structure to create something useful to share. It is not a religion.

The targets are easy: Apple's Mac is too expensive. Windows is over bloated because it tries to be everything to all people, and control their monopoly. There's is plenty of room for Linux. The people who choose to create Linux systems just have to build it for others, not themselves.

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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by Biker »

FedoraRefugee wrote:And I do not mean that it simply evolved, but that the whole dynamic is shifting, changing. It is not all bad, but I do think Linux is giving up its pure heart and soul in the interest of commercialization.
I think many distributions fall into that category (Ubuntu, Mint, etc.). And it's unfortunate for those same individuals then try another "flavor" and then complain bitterly about how "X" distro does this, why doesn't "Y".

I, too, am from the old school where I give back to the community. I create packages for the repository, and am slowly learning the development side of the house. Why do I do this? It's all in the spirit of Open Source and how Linux came to be. I don't view it as socialism, nor do I view it as something to slam the companies that charge for their software.

I have ranted for years now how Windows has created an entire generation of click happy users who have no clue as to how the OS works under the hood. And while, for the majority, this is fine, complaining about how something breaks and then refusing to learn how to fix it goes to the root of the problem. If you want to use a tool, you should learn how to use and MAINTAIN that tool. This doesn't mean you have to become a programming wizard, but it should mean that you understand basic CLI commands and how basic things operate (such as the file system, directories, etc.).

Does this make me and others "elitist"? I don't think so. By understanding what your system is doing gives you the tools to fix things yourself.

But the developers do the users and Linux in general no favors when they continue to create distributions that perpetuate the "click happy" crowd. And that, I think, will be the eventual downfall of many distributions.
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Re: Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?

Post by MALsPa »

So, "Would Linux be more popular with LESS choice?"

(Even if it were possible to have Linux with less choice...)

When it comes down to it, the answer to that question is just a matter of opinion. I don't think anyone knows, or can actually demonstrate, that having so much choice in Linux is actually hurting its popularity. It might be helping its popularity, for all I know. How can anyone tell? For most of us who use Linux, the many choices that go along with Linux weren't something that turned us away.

How many people say, "I'd use Linux, but there are too many choices! I just can't decide! So I'm going back to Windows!"

:lol:

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