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LinuxPlanet: .comment: How Distributions Can Succeed (and help Linux take over the world)

May 16, 2001, 13:23 (29 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dennis E. Powell)

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Do we buy Linux distributions because of what the distributors have done to Linux, or do we buy them to get a fairly standard Linux with particular installation tools and documentation? Dennis E. Powell argues for the latter, and explains why he believes that the less distributions do to Linux itself, the better it will be for users, for Linux, and for the distributions themselves.

When you buy a distribution, what are you really seeking?

Well, CDs containing a kernel and everything else that makes a Linux system, because you don't want to download it all yourself and unless you are one of a relatively few, even if you did download it all you wouldn't know quite what to do with it. So there is the convenience of that which you can get online for free, more or less, all in one place. You're getting docs of quality varying from helpful to useless. You're getting some vestigial degree of support, though not much over what you can get online anyway.

And you're getting installation and configuration tools.

What would change if there were an absolutely iron-clad Linux Standard Base? Nothing. Distributions would still ship a CD full of Linux, because what you're paying for is the convenience of not having to download it all. They would ship documentation, and some of it would still be useful and some of it would still be awful. They would ship their own little configurators (some of which are good and some of which are linuxconf).

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