Linux is Falling down the Unix Hole

March 18, 2004
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I’ve been watching the Linux news wires lately to see whether I should be putting any time into Mono and it looks to me like Linux is falling victim to the Unix disease of splintering into too many distributions that may or may not be compatible.  Here’s what I am reading:

  • Redhatis now charging for their regular consumer Linux Distro (they’ve been charging for the ‘enterprise’ edition for a while now), and have a more OpenSource friendly ‘Fedora’ distro that will be free.
  • Novell is planning on a several versions of its Linux Distro (Novell acquired SuSE some time back), most of which will be in paid versions only, and with different kernel versions (2.6 on the desktop and 2.4 for the server).
  • Mandrake used to be the easiest desktop version, but has lately become harder and harder to install.
  • Though Oracle will run on Linux, they really only approve to be run on one flavor of Linux; RedHat’s Advanced Server.
  • China’s government (with some cooperation from other Far East countries) are looking for their own OpenSource OS, perhaps another variant of Linux.

None of these stories are very damning on their own, but I am seeing a trend towards many conflicting distributions for specific needs.  Imagine an enterprise where you would need four or five different distro’s to support.  Windows three tier OS (Home/Professional/Server) seems to be easier to manage (one company, one support contract, etc.)

I do not want to see Linux marginalized.  Linux is putting pressure on Microsoft to clean up its own house and competition forces increased innovation.  Now if Sun would just stop trying to stop Java from being submitted to the standards bodies we could get somewhere…