Today's Linux schisms are a blessing in disguise

The Linux community is fracturing along a number of fault lines -- and that's a good thing

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Ubuntu seems to be the most bullheaded of the bunch, dispensing with concerns from veteran Linux users with a wave of a hand or a half-hearted explanation, as Canonical continues its quest to divorce Ubuntu from the rest of the known Linux world. It may succeed in doing so, but at the expense of longtime, knowledgeable users.

This may be a calculated risk -- it's more beneficial to Canonical to attract newbies than to listen to the (righteous) concerns of power users who see what Ubuntu is becoming and continue to point out where the Emperor's undies are peeking through. That's the nature of the beast and perfectly consistent with the Linux philosophy. If those power users don't like what they see, they're more than welcome to move on to another distro more in line with their needs and desires.

This provides no guarantee to Ubuntu that this gamble and power play won't ultimately cost the farm, however. Many newbie Linux users are introduced to Linux through more knowledgeable friends, and the more knowledgeable that friend, the less likely they are to be running Ubuntu now versus even a year ago.

On the server side, the landscape is vastly different. Debian and Red Hat/CentOS are the go-to server distros right now, and though they differ in day-to-day administration, they tend to more closely follow the historical Unix tenets, favoring stability and maturity over bling and rash changes. They also benefit from not having to be at all concerned with or any GUI tools, building their stability and reliability on solidly constructed kernel versions that are meticulously maintained, alongside extremely mature service frameworks.

However, Red Hat/CentOS appear to be heading in the Systemd direction, based on Systemd's inclusion in Fedora, while Debian's reluctance to make that change has been well documented. In fact, many articles could be written about Systemd's questionable impact on Linux in general and the hot debates it has inspired from all sides across many distros. Even with these back-end changes, Linux server administrators seem to be consolidating on only a few distros for their servers. In fact, perusing through various Linux VPS providers shows that while CentOS and Debian are almost always present in the OS options, Ubuntu is less prevalent than it used to be.

A schism within the Linux community is a laughable concept -- as a whole, the Linux community could be characterized as in a constant state of schism, with many of those involved expressing strongly held beliefs very publicly and without temperance. Linus Torvalds, the personality tying the whole thing together, is very much an example of this.

Although the Linux community may appear to be on the verge of explosion every now and again, the end result is usually a net positive for Linux and for the community. Those who disagree vehemently will generally head off in a different direction, and over time the best parts of those tandem efforts come back together in some way to form a more solid whole.

Let Ubuntu careen down Canonical's chosen path. Let Wayland and Mir battle it out, with poor old watching from the sidelines. Let all manner of tumult occur in the bleeding edge. No matter what the eventual outcome, my wager is that it will be for the best.

This story, "Today's Linux schisms are a blessing in disguise," was originally published at Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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