Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Moving Sideways

by Dietrich Schmitz

Opinions are like colons; everybody has one.  And so do I.  Daily, I see changes on Distrowatch.com and ask myself: "What does it mean for the future of Linux?". (Image credit: netanimations.net)

I wonder where it will be in five years.  Given the rapid pace of technology change, it's hard to fathom if things will even resemble what they are today.

In my private LA community, we 'chew the fat' and often one person or another expresses their favor for one particular Distro over another.  That is to be expected.

But I've reached the point where I don't want to keep switching Distros.  The younger Folk love to tinker and try various flavors and that's fine.  It's a great learning experience for anyone who has the penchant to do so.  Linux affords limitless opportunity to learn--a great thing.

No, I've decided to stay put with my favorite Distro.  It makes most sense to me.  I've given up on Canonical and see their business plans as being confused and misdirected.  My endorsement for Ubuntu is gone now because their preoccupation with Unity is totally lost on me--it departs from common sense GUI principles.  Combined with the fact that they have had little mass-market penetration in the U.S. and you see a floundering commercial Distribution.

No, Canonical is moving sideways as sugardaddy Elitist Mark Shuttleworth pours more IOUs into the balance sheet of a company in the red.

Say what you will, but he has taken the company down the primrose path.  Even now, with Ubuntu's Unity, they have spun off Ubuntu Touch in the furtherance of their Mobile Smartphone project.  Exactly how Canonical will differentiate themselves in the face of overwhelming competition coming from the likes of a multiplicity of Android OEMs, Apple's iPhone, Mozilla's Firefox phone remains in doubt.  That they face strong headwinds on that front is an understatement.

Quite clearly, the Linux landscape will radically change and there will be only a few Distros left standing five years from now.  Which ones?  It seems likely only the ones with the largest organizational infrastructure   and the ability to innovate will remain.  All of the smaller Distro Teams?  Well, they are merely drafting behind the big Distros and playing a game of cookie cutter 'me too'.  When you look at the situation as I have, there are only a handful of Distros which have something in the way of good technology to set them apart.  All the rest are merely copy cats.

That's right copy cats.  They aren't doing anything illegal mind you.  That's the GPLv2 at work.  But where will your Distro be in five years?  Mine will still be around, I am quite confident of that.  The rest are inconsequential 'side effects' of a licensing scheme which promotes experimentation.

And Canonical, moving sideways, will be gone in five years.

-- Dietrich

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