Even if this time really is 100% wasted, it's not your wasted time, so it's none of your business anyway. Open source devs don't owe your their time, and you're not entitled to tell them what to work on.
But the time isn't wasted, in any case. If existing solutions met people's needs the alternatives wouldn't have been created. A huge project like a desktop manager or a Linux distribution doesn't get spun up on a whim because somebody doesn't like a desktop background, and it's telling that that's the only difference the author notices.
I don't want 8 or 10 distros. I only want one. I don't even care which one it is. I haven't contributed to that OS in 10 years because so much of my time ended up being wasted.
Or, if you take the position that "Developers don't owe you anything", then that's fair on its own, but it means that it's not an OS that I can depend on for anything. It's true there's no literal debt to be repaid but project maintainers are supposed to be good stewards. They can be replaced, but it's a slow and rare process. I can count on my fingers how many successful open source forks I've seen. Most projects will die before they'll change maintainers.
> If existing solutions met people's needs the alternatives wouldn't have been created.
That doesn't follow at all. There are plenty of reasons for starting an alternative software project which have nothing to do with meeting any user need. "Ego" is a common one -- it serves only one person's interest.
They seem to be complimentary ideas. I might refuse to fix your bug or add the feature you want, but you're free to take my code and do it yourself. It's no more a waste of your time than it would be of the other dev's.
I also don't see what you're saying about fixing the same bug 10 times. That's not how it works. Each distro is responsible for itself. If you submit a fix to zsh, for example, it's up to each distro to go upstream and get that fix themselves. Same goes for bugs fixed by distro maintainers - it's awesome if they submit the fix to the upstream, but they're not obligated.
> Or, if you take the position that "Developers don't owe you anything", then that's fair on its own, but it means that it's not an OS that I can depend on for anything.
And maybe you shouldn't. "Buyer beware" should apply double when you're getting something for free.
Paid Linux distros exist for a reason. If you're depending on it for something important it's worth paying for Ubuntu or RHEL.
> That doesn't follow at all. There are plenty of reasons for starting an alternative software project which have nothing to do with meeting any user need. "Ego" is a common one -- it serves only one person's interest.
Exactly, there are plenty of reasons. Just because you think they're bad reasons doesn't mean they are, or that anybody has to listen to you.
This argument has merit. However, it also true that sometimes we developers are overly biased towards creating a new project in order to solve some set of problems, when it may be more effective and productive to get our hands dirty in an existing project.
Obviously, this isn't always the case, and there are other important factors. Perhaps the individuals involved have other goals besides simply addressing the issues in most practical way. But the mere existence of a project certainly doesn't demonstrate that its creation was the most effective method of solving the problem at hand.
Why are these flavourOfTheWeek.js frameworks being created? Is it really that someone's needs aren't being met or is it developer hubris, and the desire to be able to put Founder on one's CV?
I suspect much of the same attitude exists among those starting niche linux distros.
You're right that the time isn't wasted though. The fallacy here is that, if someone weren't working on <brand new totally superfluous Linux Distro X>, they would be contributing to Slackware or Knoppix. That definitely isn't what I've seen in the open-source world... People work on what interests them, and that usually means a new take on an old idea. The people who are logging into the Debian bug tracker every day looking for ways to improve Debian are a totally unrelated kind of programmer.
Note that I do understand we're all so different in context, understanding, drive, needs .. so bazaar will occur whether or not I like it.
I still believe we should have a tiny bit more integrative groups. Just a tad. No need to force people and resist their energy, but a bit of constructive interference.
There's nothing stopping you from running a vanilla Ubuntu install.
What other people choose to do is still none of your business, though.
So they're not allowed to opine on it? What if that's what they chose to do?
"I'm deadly serious: we humans have never been able to replicate something more complicated than what we ourselves are, yet natural selection did it without even thinking. Don't underestimate the power of survival of the fittest. And don't ever make the mistake that you can design something better than what you get from ruthless massively parallel trial-and-error with a feedback cycle. That's giving your intelligence much too much credit."
In that light, this strikes me like complaining that we have too many kinds of beetles. Linux distributions just work this way.
Imagine you had the job of recruiting beetles. You'll die soon, and your offspring (if you have any) probably will, too! What's the upside? Your species will be stronger for your death! That's a pretty tough sell. You're going to get the young and ambitious, and they're going to fight each other as much as they possibly can.
That's not the only way to win, or even the best. Pine trees are genetically successful, too, and they don't go out and murder each other.
I wouldn't complain that there are too many kinds of beetles, but I would complain that there are very few trees. It would be sad if beetles were the highest form of life on the planet.
Do you complain about the plants and animals with only minor differences as being redundant, a waste of evolutionary effort?
Just a generation ago there was understanding that we had let too much power accumulate into too few large, multi-national corporations.
Then we got a chance to start over with the internet and new digital companies. How quickly we repeated the same mistakes. Now we have trillion dollar tech companies and wonder if they've gotten too big, too centralized.
What cognitive dissonance to bemoan the consolidated power of just a few FAANG companies while also complaining that the diversity in open source software isn't the kind of diversity you'd like to see.
The speed and priority of bug fixes and feature development was higher with one distro. Everyone was working on the one thing. Any bug ever found could go straight to _the_ best engineer to fix it, who could replicate it _immediately_ since they were running that distro as well, and they could make it a priority to fix as it affected _all_ customers.
Now consider many Linux distros. A user says "this doesn't compile on NiftyLinux". A) The developer hasn't even heard of NiftyLinux, and doesn't have immediate access to reproduce the bug. B) It's a low priority to fix, since most of the developer's users are on Ubuntu or CentOS.
I've felt this firsthand with the performance tools I've developed for Solaris and Linux. With Solaris I could provide better support. With Linux, there's bugs that are open for months or years for odd Linux distros that I don't have time to explore.
It's like saying there should only be 10 programming languages. Vast majority of programming languages never takes off, and many are very niche. But you never know which are going to take off and when.
The biggest problem with Linux distros, IMHO, is that nobody has really created a packaged install that's simple for users to get running. Ubuntu is ahead of the pack but there are still many issues... creating a USB boot stick, using Ubuntu under Windows, accessing your network with a VPN -- those a just a few I've experienced.
Until a Linux distro gets to the level of packaged, simple installation like users enjoy with Windows and Macs, the operating system won't take off on the desktop. And that's a real shame. We need open source software more than ever.
Perhaps there's room in the market for just one more distro that can solve this!
I haven't tried with Windows 10, but Linux installation has been as easy (often easier) as Windows for decades. If you keep it simple and take the whole disk they're about on par, if you want to do anything complicated like dual boot then windows won't even let you. Both have room for improvement on the partitioning UI's. We don't need another distro to solve it because it's a simple as it can get.
But most people don't install windows, it comes with the machine.
As for TFA, I wonder if their concerned about the amount of effort wasted with so many competing phone, laptop and car models.
This doesn't matter. Most users don't install operating systems, they just use what comes with their computer.
The real issue for most people is "Why would I use this"?
Sure you need to make a usb boot stick but there are so many graphical utilities to do just that I've never had to think much about it.
In contrast installing Ubuntu just involves popping a USB stick into the same laptop and letting it run for a bit after answering some basic questions.
And don't get me started on how much productivity I've lost to Windows 10 quietly "updating" drivers and breaking my programs in the process.
Besides, who is the author to tell people to not waste creativity. It's remarkable to have this audacity. Even the notion of "wasted" creativity is just not nuanced.
The author's list got to be the list in mutual cooperation and competition with the list and others.
It's a very different and clever way of deploying Linux.
Here’s to anyone who ever scratched an itch, created something and then gave away the fruits of their labour for free.
A thousand more distributions and desktop environments!