A Community Being Built

Jack Wallen:“What if the whole of Linux got together and finally realized that when one succeeds, we all succeed. The world especially those in and around the Microsoft camp have said for years that Linux would never succeed. What the Linux community as a whole needs to do is band together and prove them wrong. Now is the perfect time for that.”
see A house divided: Linux factions threaten success

This is, again, another rant along the lines of “fragmentation is killing FLOSS…”. It is based on the false premise that talent, energy and resources are diluted, preventing widespread adoption. This premise is false because it ignores the huge resources of the FLOSS community. There are millions of FLOSS developers and many more users, people creating documentation, training and promotion. The world is much larger than M$ and can create its own software with as much diversity as it can. The world can support/use dozens of distros. Fragmentation is a “red herring”, a distraction from the real problem, space on retail shelves. Each and every distro I have tried is certainly worthy of retail space and yet M$ and “partners” have systematically arranged exclusion.

That’s changing of course. Android/Linux now has lots of retail space and GNU/Linux has plenty in some regions like Brazil, but it’s far from global. Fragmentation has nothing to do with that problem. Governments should enforce their laws against illegal monopolization and exclusive dealing and GNU/Linux would get a good share of retail space. Already, most consumers know that FLOSS works. They have seen it or tried it on Android/Linux devices. Retailers too know that FLOSS sells and that other OS is gathering dust on their shelves. Now is the time to celebrate the success of the FLOSS community in building a diverse society in IT, not grumbling about diversity being a problem.

Don’t believe it? Look at the numbers. The folks, often “partners” of M$, who produce web stats on OS-usage, who only a few years ago quoted */Linux as less than 1% of page-views or unique IPs now show many regions with high usage of */Linux.

For USA and Canada which have wide access to IT and for which web stats might actually be meaningful showed up to 3% share on StatCounter. Canada showed more than 4%.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Operating System Market Share

Walmart.com.br shows more GNU/Linux PCs for sale than Wintel. Their best-selling PC is a GNU/Linux desktop.

Germany, a mature market for IT, shows huge growth for GNU/Linux too.
That’s more than 3% per annum growth in share of installed base at a time when sales of PCs are down. GNU/Linux is not a house divided. It’s a house on fire, a thriving community tolerant and vigorous with diversity.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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4 Responses to A Community Being Built

  1. ch says:

    “Such competition is natural and desirable so natural selection can select the good ideas from the bad ones.”

    Unfortunately, there is no such natural selection at work with FLOSS: The survival of any idea depends solely on the number of developers who continue to work on it. So something rather silly may well attract more developers than something very useful – and something very popular with users may still die if there is no developer left who wants to work on it.

    One of the results: Linux has any number of desktops (not much selection going on), and they all suck. Last year I found a particularly bad offender: I installed the then-current Debian 6 in a virtual machine – default install, so I got Gnome 2.23 as my desktop. Since I have a very wide screen on my main machine (1920 x 1200), I like to put the taskbar at the right-hand side of the screen, so that is what I did in Gnome. I then widened the taskbar to 200 pixels. The result? It made me weep. I hope that current versions of Gnome do better, but almost 40 years after Xerox developed the GUI, almost 30 years after the Mac and almost 20 years after Win95 there simply is no excuse for this abomination ever having been released. Try out for yourselves and weep with me.

  2. Robert Campbell wrote, ” The article is not about fragmentation. It is about infighting.”

    The two go hand in hand. In Canada, for instance, East and West, urban and rural, and French and English are always fighting, politically, and it’s mostly because they are fragmented/isolated/divided regionally, historically and by goals/aspirations. While this fragmentation developed naturally, it is frequently exploited by politicians.

    A necessary consequence of a mess of distros is that creators and consumers of FLOSS are offered opportunities for conflict. Such competition is natural and desirable so natural selection can select the good ideas from the bad ones. The surviving species should be stronger and more resilient while those that struggle may well offer more freedom for others. It’s all good, IMHO. The actual fighting is a waste of energy but the outcomes can be better for all of us.

  3. Robert Campbell says:

    I think you got it wrong. The article is not about fragmentation. It is about infighting.

  4. ned says:

    I love these ‘lets all get along but you figure it out, Ive done my part’ articles.

    Yes, it would be nice for all the projects to work together but reality check time is also needed.

    How do you work with Mir if youre other groups?
    or Unity? Or any of the ‘me only’ projects that Canonical seems to favour over cooperation? Sorry Kubuntu, you might not exist because that whole Mir-Wayland thing is going to kill you off but hey, why dont you go work on something else more constructive?
    Sure, everyone is to blame you say but again, MR Wallen you offer nothing.
    Are every competing projects supposed to quit what they are working on whenever Canonical decides to do something just for them? (change name for otehr company)

    No, I think sometimes a friendly divorce is all that is needed to make things work better.

    I dont NEED Ubuntu so why should I care or even waste time thinking about it? (same applies for Gnome or any programs you ahve no use for). I dont HAVE to like someone just because they support free software.

    I love how the lazy press can recycle these articles twice a year forever. Its an honoured tradition in Linux media.

    There is no one community but rather many, many communities and they dont even answer to Linus. Stop behaving like the icons people like Nuno have much in common with someone working on CUPS or the kernel. They are all in it for different reasons and often different goals.

    And the question that is never answered with teh Wallen’s is how do you tell a dev not to scratch an itch and be The man on a small project like Openshot?
    Join one of the estasblished ones already?

    No, lets just blame the same bogeyman and hope we all sing Kumbaya because the author is lazy and bereft of idea.

    Next week, Vi vs Emac.

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