Is desktop Linux too fragmented to succeed?

This question is especially relevant after yesterday’s fiasco. I ran into an article whose name is exactly Is desktop Linux too fragmented to succeed?

The article argues that the fragmentation is what keeping Linux Desktop from beating Mac OS and even Windows. It is because the effort to create Linux desktop is scattered across multiple distribution, it cannot become a serious player in desktop solutions.

Toward its end, the article gives optimistic prospects. There are some efforts to bring Linux desktop community to common ground, unanswered though.

This is so wrong

The truth is that are some points in the article that made my eyebrows go up. You see, having single desktop Linux distribution is impossible. This is against the nature of Linux and how its being distributed.

To get it moving you have to talk big distributors into this. But for big distributors, their desktop solution is one way or another their selling point. RedHat compete with Novell through Fedora and OpenSuSE. Moreover, they don’t want common ground. They want to compete.

Small distributions want their piece of the big cake too. Asking them to provide the same desktop solution would be as asking them to close their business – if they wanted to be a part of joined effort to make the world better place and Linux better desktop OS, people behind the distro could simply join someone else’s project.

Actually, this entire idea seems to be taken from socialism. We take something from everyone and create something that everyone would use. Sounds great, but this creates so called moral hazards. This strips away the will of competition. And competition is the driving force behind many of the technological marvels that we see today in general and in Linux in particular.

The only way to improve Linux’s position in desktop market is

to invest money into development of better Linux desktop.

Actually the author of the article was addressing the same issue, but from different angle. Linux desktop needs money. It needs more graphical designers, more QA engineers and more software engineers.

It straggles to become a serious desktop operating system because no one did usability testing. Because no one hired best UI designers, as Apple did. Because no one had hired enough QA engineers to make sure that all the software indeed works.

One way to overcome this problem is indeed by combining the effort. The problem is that Fedora isn’t there to beat Windows in desktop OS market. Fedora is a beta version of RedHat’s server systems. Same can be said about OpenSuSE, Ubuntu and most of the Linux distros.

Obviously money can be spent on nothing useful. Hundred engineers will not do in one month what ten engineers do in ten month. However, financing creates opportunity. And opportunity is exactly what Linux desktop needs.

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