The magic of the disappearing Linux distros

Today in Open Source: Do too many Linux distros disappear? Plus: Proper Linux advocacy, and photos of the new Ubuntu phones

Vanishing Linux distributions

LinuxInsider takes a look at the birth and death life cycle of Linux distros.

It's long been the case that the world of Linux distributions offers at least one compelling choice for virtually every taste and purpose, but -- much like those dissatisfied with the weather in New England -- users who don't see a distro they like need only wait a few minutes.

We've lost a few distros since 2013 began, but we've also gained some interesting fresh blood. "You win a few, you lose a few," as the old saying goes; fortunately, the overall pool of choices remains as rich and diverse as ever.

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The Vanishing Linux Distributions

I think the turnover in Linux distributions is really part of the magic of Linux. Oh sure, we lose a few here and there but then we also gain new ones that better serve the needs of Linux users. Plus we also have strong distributions that stay around forever such as Ubuntu, Suse, Linux Mint and many others.

I can understand though how this might confuse some folks who are new to Linux and who aren't used to having such a huge range of choices for their computers. If all you've ever used is Windows or OS X then it might seem strange to see Linux distributions rising and falling regularly. Compared to the number of Linux distros, there aren't all that many versions of Windows or OS X.

But this is part of the difference between Linux and other operating systems. Creative destruction is most definitely one of the advantages of Linux. Anybody can roll a distribution, and others can leverage that work or borrow ideas from it. The original distribution may die off, but the useful elements of it can be incorporated into other distributions that live on for a long time.

I know that some Linux detractors have argued that this is a bad thing in terms of winning the desktop away from Windows. But I disagree since I don't think "beating Windows" really matters in the long run. What does matter is providing a real range of choices for users, and Linux does that very well as the new distro blood washes out the old over time.

The real meaning of Linux advocacy

The Linux Rain has an editorial about Linux advocacy.

I have no desire whatsoever to declare any Linux distro to be perfect and devoid of issues. But I don’t see the need for a true Linux Advocate to spotlight the potential failings of one distro because he/she personally favours another (or even because he/she has grown to dislike a particular distro for whatever reason). There are more than enough Linux haters out there to spotlight their dislikes in Linux distros. Why make it easier for them. point isn’t whether or not its wise to highlight the failings of one distro compared to another. My point is simply this: Linux Advocacy in its simplest and clearest definition is not MyLinux versus YourLinux. It is simply Advocating the use of Linux.

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Linux Advocacy
Image credit: The Linux Rain
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