I have been slack in updating this page in the past couple of days, for a couple of reasons. Mostly because real life commitments pounced on me on Friday, but also because I have been lately thinking about something a tiny bit distressing.
It started when I heard about elementary OS, the sort of new-kid-on-the-block Ubuntu knockoff. Dutifully, I gave it a try.
Nice startup screen. Has a clean look about it. Keeps to “lighter” software, although it might as well tuck in to things like Firefox and OpenOffice, so long as it’s going to ride at around 185Mb for a live environment.
Nothing distressing there, really. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to ask myself: What’s so different about this that sets it apart from, say, Xubuntu, or Lubuntu, or Peppermint OS, or even something I put together myself?
Not that there’s anything wrong with elementary OS itself, although I find the home page uncomfortably lacking in fundamental information — what the goal is, what machines it’s intended for, what sets it apart from other distros.
And I’m not sure why I would want to “order” it, unless that means I get a pressed CD for my efforts.
What is bothering me here — and one of the reasons I haven’t distro-hopped much lately — is that unless the core elements are changed, there’s not much that’s different between any two distros.
The same software, the same arrangement, the same “claims” in most cases (lighter! faster! revives old hardware!), and short of using one package manager or another, not much tangibly distinct.
Honestly, you or I could probably put together a pixel-perfect rendition of elementary OS, or any other distro, using any other distro, in about an hour.
That’s the distressing part, and I’ll thank you in advance for suggesting distro X in reply, and I hope in advance that it really did astonish you and convert you to The Happy Land of Linus.
And my point here is not that there should be less distros, only that there isn’t much difference between Fedora or Ubuntu or Fuduntu, until you scrape through all the frills and doodads and get down to the core software that manages it.
I suppose, in a brief way, that’s a good thing though. Despite all those frills and doodads, everyone is more or less on the same page.
We all get to the same place, we just get there is slightly different ways. No harm in that.