Should Linux Standardize on a Single Distro?

When I demonstrate software for Linux Journal, I tend to use Ubuntu as my operating system. The reason is simply because Ubuntu is extremely popular, but it begs the question, should the Linux community standardize on a single distribution? Let's look at some of the pros and cons:

Advantages of a Single Linux Distro

  • Linux support would be simplified, as the quesion of "what distro" wouldn't be relevant.
  • Software vendors could release a single package that would install on all Linux desktops.
  • The apt/rpm/yum/up2date/synaptic wars would end.
  • Linux certification would be easier to define.
  • Tux would be everyone's logo. :)

I'm sure I could come up with many other advantages that a "One Distro to Rule Them All" idea would provide. The problem is that the disadvantages are so profound, I think it negates any validity to the first list. Just a few:

Disadvantages to a Standard Linux Distribution

  • A select few individuals at the top would control the present and future direction of Linux.
  • There would be no internal competition in the Linux community. How sad would it be if we only had Windows and OSX to compare ourselves to?
  • We lose the ability to choose, which is a fundamental part of everything Linux stands for.
  • We become a monolithic, bloated, close minded, inbred, operating system with no hope for innovation, and no motivation to think different.

Ok, I admit, the last point is starting to get preachy. It's important to realize, however, that our diversity is where we draw our strength. It's the community that empowers us. It's the freedom to choose that allows us find the solution that best fits our needs, instead of taking whatever vendor solution is provided.

So yes, I tend to use Ubuntu. For my purpose, it makes the most sense. Thankfully, you have the right to choose whatever you like. And that's the way it should be. Thanks Linux.

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

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