Distributions: The Evolution of Linux
Having recently said goodbye to two really great distributions in Cinnarch (reborn as Antergos) and Fuduntu (replaced by FuSE Cloverleaf Linux), I was shocked at the number of people that still think there are too many Linux distributions out there. While I was sad to see these two great distributions go, I'm excited for what we'll see in the future both because of these distributions and because of their teams. This is exactly how the Evolution of Linux works.
What is Evolution?
Evolution is defined as the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form. Now what does this have to do with distributions and what does it have to do with Linux?
It's pretty simple really. Every time a change is made to a Linux distribution, it's evolving. These changes can be subtle or they can be grandiose. We would never see any of these changes if distributions didn't bring them to us.
Cold Hard Truth
Here's the hard part. Not everything works out. Some changes aren't for the best. Not everything improves things for the masses. What happens to those changes? Well, from an evolutionary perspective, they go extinct. Those changes don't provide benefits to future generations, so they don't get passed down and they eventually die out. Changes that do provide benefit to future generations get picked up. They get carried on and they improve future generations so that they can be changed yet again to make even more future generations better.
That's why it's better for more distributions rather than less. It allows for more possible paths to see the light of day. I'd rather see a thousand developers show us their visions for Linux than have only the big two giving us what they think is best. You know, Mark Shuttleworth may be right about everything, or maybe Andrew Wyatt's ideas are better, or maybe Ikey Doherty is right. Or maybe none of them are. Or maybe all of them are, just about different things.
Pick and Choose
Here's another great thing about Linux: Linux isn't Windows. I know most of you are giving me a great big “DUH” right now, but hear me out. Windows has, for all intents and purposes, one version. Microsoft decides what to give you and that's what you get. If Microsoft makes a mistake and you're a Windows user, you're screwed. Good luck with Windows 8. If Microsoft does a couple things right and a whole lot wrong, you're still screwed. In the Linux world, if a single distribution does one thing right, even if it's a small change to a obscure little library, that change can be picked up and carried on, even if the full distribution doesn't make it.
How many people remember a company called Eazel? They made a product for Linux, but failed to monetize that product so they ended up going out of business. Thankfully, that product was open source, and still exists today because of it. That product was Nautilus, the file manager used by many distributions to this day.
This is why Linux again is so much better than Windows, and why more distributions are better than less. Any improvement can carry on. If it's small or if it's large, it can live on well past the distribution or company that conceived it. It's sad to see Fuduntu and Cinnarch go, but they've brought us new things. Now we have FuSE Cloverleaf Linux and Antergos, which are new opportunities for the improvement of Linux as a whole. The people that created Fuduntu and Cinnarch are taking what they've learned and what they made better and bringing that to FuSE Cloverleaf Linux and Antergos, and because it's Open Source, they're bringing it to the world as well. I for one, think that's a very good thing, and I encourage as many people to do it as possible. That's how the evolution of Linux works.