Are the Linux versus Windows flame wars finally coming to an end?

In today's open source roundup: The Linux versus Windows wars may be coming to an end. Plus: Linux Mint Debian Edition will switch to Debian Stable, and the virtues of open source textbooks

Arguments over desktop operating systems have always been, particularly between Windows and Linux advocates. Both sides have battled back and forth for many years, with each side convinced that their operating system has more to offer than the other. But Softpedia thinks that this long-running online rivalry may finally be coming to an end.

According to Softpedia:

Up until a few years ago, the battle between the two platforms was fierce, usually followed by various jokes and puns, but that has stopped for the most part. There could be a number of reasons for it, but the main one is that Windows is actually losing and Linux is gaining ground.

The thing is that a lot of people don't actually delete their Windows OS and install a Linux one. They are running both systems at the same time and they know what the strengths of each platform are. The communities have started to blend and less users are willing to make fun of an OS that they actually use at home.

More at Softpedia

Frankly, I'd be quite happy if there were no more Windows versus Linux flame wars online. But if they are tapering off then I don't think it's because Linux is winning and Windows is losing. I think it might be because many of the flame warriors have moved onto mobile and are deep into the Android versus iOS wars instead of Linux versus Windows.

This is no surprise to anyone in the technology industry since it was clear years ago that the importance of desktop computing has been significantly reduced by mobile devices in the hearts of many users. Yes, people still use their desktop computers but many spend far more time on their phones and tablets these days, and that has resulted in a subsequent explosion of mobile platform battles across the Internet.

The interesting wrinkle to the switch to the mobile wars is that Microsoft isn't much of a player in the mobile space. After ruling the desktop for so many years, it's rather ironic that most people don't seem to find Microsoft's mobile products worth much of an argument. Thus the focus of the mobile wars is almost exclusively Android versus iOS.

Perhaps all of this is just a reflection of human nature. People will always find something to argue about but even the most vicious rivalries fade away over time as users shift to different technologies. The Linux versus Windows wars had their day in the sun, and maybe now we can finally say goodbye to them.

Linux Mint Debian Edition will switch to Debian Stable

The Linux Mint blog reports that Linux Mint Debian Edition will be switching to Debian Stable in upcoming releases.

According to Linux Mint Blog:

After a long reflection and many discussions the decision was made to switch Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) from its current snapshot cycle to a Debian Stable package base. The transition from Update Pack 8 to Debian Jessie should be smooth and similar to a traditional UP upgrade, in sync with the upstream Jessie freeze planned for November this year.

More at Linux Mint Blog
Linux Mint Debian Edition will switch to Debian Stable
Image credit: Desktop Linux Reviews

In a message in the announcement discussion thread, one of the Linux Mint developers added these additional details that you might find interesting:

"Hi Mike, there won’t be any UP9 or UP10, these were snapshots, update packs. We’ll move from UP8 to Jessie, after that the base will be the same as in Debian.

In terms of release management we’ll have to make sure things continue to work for both bases for a while and people can make the jump when it suits them, so at some stage we’ll have UP8 as you know it now and a set of repositories ready for you to jump to (probably very similar to how it works in Mint, with a Jessie set on and a Debian Jessie base).

On top of Jessie, we’ll be doing something similar to what we’re doing with Trusty… i.e. you’ll get security updates and bug fixes from upstream on an ongoing basis with the same filter/policy as in mintupdate and we’ll backport popular apps, DEs and Mint tools. Based on the popularity of LMDE we’ll need to decide a few additional details when it comes to release strategy (namely multi-tracking and the ability to opt-in between point releases)."

In another message he went on to discuss the purpose of Linux Mint Debian Edition:

The purpose of LMDE, originally, is to experiment implementing Mint without Ubuntu, on top of a different base. This, strategically, is still important now that we know it works, in case Ubuntu vanishes or is no longer suitable. After that there’s a demand also, from users, to run Debian and not Ubuntu underneath Mint.

We’re not diversifying with LMDE in an attempt to corner different audiences and a larger share of the desktop market. We made it public, it got popular, so we committed to maintain it. With that in mind, the goal of LMDE isn’t to be different than Mint, quite the opposite.. it has to meet the same expectations and quality but on top of Debian.

On the Mint side, we assessed that stability was way more important than bleeding edge and we managed to not only stabilize the product but also free resources to develop new features and backport software packages by freezing the base. This is something that makes even more sense in LMDE, because not only does it suffer from getting lower resources than Mint in the first place, but it’s also slightly behind in the quality of the base.

I think this is a good move by the Linux Mint developers though not all LMDE users might agree. While the announcement thread has plenty of comments, you can also see some additional feedback on the reaction thread on Reddit.

The virtues of open source textbooks

I came across an interesting infographic that illustrates the need for open source textbooks for students.

According to Open Education Europa on Google+:

Open source textbooks can be the answer to increasing tuition costs.

More at Open Education Europa on Google+
Open source textbooks

You can view the full size infographic on the Edudemic site.

I found this infographic to be quite interesting because I remember the high cost of textbooks back when I was in college. It can really be a tough thing for income-constrained students to find the money to pay for textbooks. I never dreamed that someday there might be something like open textbooks to help fill the need without costing students an arm and a leg.

Wikipedia has an article that provides a good overview of open textbooks. Also, see the Open Textbook Library, College Open Textbooks, and Open Educational Resources for sources of open source textbooks.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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