Linux Distro Wars: Is it time to shut up and make nice?
Today in Open Source: Time for the distro wars to end? Plus: Ubuntu's Edge, and Android 4.3
The Distro Wars: Celebrate Choice in Linux!
Perry Helion has an interesting article about the ongoing squabbles over which distro is better. Is it time for us to simply shut up about all of it?
It's disappointing that supposedly highly evolved apes use their time and energy to pick at each other over fairly subjective matters of opinion and taste, but it does tend to help keep us from stressing about more important things like the huge inequalities in this world, the lack of obvious meaning to our existence and the fact that each of us and everyone we know is going to die sooner or later.
I have to agree with Perry that the distro wars are largely pointless now. In fact, I'd make the argument that they are the complete opposite of what Linux is all about anyway. The single best thing about Linux for me is that it offers a huge range of choices for all users.
If you want a huge, maximalist distro like Ultimate Edition, you can use it. If you prefer a tiny, minimalist distro like CrunchBang then you can use that instead. And you can choose from lots of other distros that fall in between these two extremes.
The bottom line is that there simply isn't one distro that fits everybody's needs or desires. It would be impossible to create such a distro since the Linux user base is so diverse. No matter how talented the developers, some people would not want to use what they managed to create.
So instead of fighting pointless distro wars, we ought to be celebrating the range of choices that we have in Linux. Unlike Windows or OS X, Linux users can make their computers into anything they want, at any time and for any reason.
Can the Ubuntu Edge Change the World? I Doubt It
Yesterday, I barked a little bit about the Ubuntu Edge phone. But my buddy Steven Vaughan-Nichols had a much more positive take on it. He thinks it could replace traditional desktop PCs.
Will people buy into this bet? I think they will.
I don't know if single-unit, everything-in-one, fit into your pocket PCs/smartphones will become the form factor for the near future. I do know that it won't be the traditional PC or laptop. Their day is done. The future belongs to cloud-based devices, tablets, smartphones, and, quite possibly, devices that look and work a lot like Canonical's Ubuntu Edge.
Oh boy, I wish I could share Steven's enthusiasm. But I just can't, who needs or wants a phone to double as a PC? I can't imagine using such a device.
Here's why I don't think it will work:
1. Not everybody is going to want to use Ubuntu as their desktop OS. It's a fine distro, but it's not for everybody.
2. Who wants a phone that dual boots Android and Ubuntu? Dual booting has never been particularly popular, and it's something that has always befuddled a lot of the mass market crowd, who don't really understand the concept of an operating system anyway.
3. The idea that you'd use Ubuntu as your desktop OS by plugging it into a monitor implies that there's always a monitor and keyboard waiting for you wherever you go. How often is that likely to happen in real life?
4. Today's laptops and netbooks are quite powerful computers in their own right, and they've gotten lighter and easier to carry as the years have gone by. It's no longer necessary to carry a heavy laptop around, nor do you have to settle for a second rate computer.
Am I wrong on this? Is Steven right? Let me know in the comments. I'm quite curious to know if there are folks out there who really would use a phone as a PC.
Android 4.3 Announced
Google has released details about Android 4.3, and it's looking pretty good.
Welcome to Android 4.3, a sweeter version of Jelly Bean!
Android 4.3 includes performance optimizations and great new features for users and developers. This document provides a glimpse of what's new for developers.
I think Android developers and users will be very pleased by this release. There are way too many features for me to get into here, but do check out the article link above for lots of details.