Auteur Sujet: The growing divide  (Lu 2588 fois)

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djohnston

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The growing divide
« le: 25 mars 2013 à 20:53:22 »
From the Opinions (by Jesse Smith) section of the 500th issue of Distro Watch Weekly:

People often regard Linux (or GNU/Linux, if you prefer) as an operating system. When asked "What operating system do you run?" many of us, myself included, are likely to reply, "Linux". I believe this concept of Linux as a single operating system to be a generalization at best and, at worst, inaccurate. The label GNU/Linux really refers to a family of operating systems, each with their own distinct quirks, rules, package management utilities and installers. Sometimes these differences are good as they allow for friendly competition and variety, allowing each user to find an operating system which fits their ideal. At other times these differences make extra work for developers, reduce the spread of software products and force users to give up some features in order to enjoy others.

I believe most of the problems this variety causes come not from upstream software projects, but rather from ambitious distributions. Distributions often develop in-house utilities for their users and keep those utilities in-house, which makes them harder to adapt to other distributions. While any distribution can package a distro-agnostic project such as LibreOffice or Firefox (indeed distributions can work closely with these neutral upstream projects), software projects which are kept "downstream", maintained by the developers of a single distribution, ultimately cause fragmentation and result in users losing out on important features. Let's take a look at some examples.

The YaST configuration tool has been included in the openSUSE distribution for years, yet efforts to port this configuration manager to other distributions have typically failed. Likewise porting Mandriva's Control Centre has met with similar road blocks. Various projects first introduced by Ubuntu have generally failed to spread. The Unity desktop environment and One client software have given developers working with other distributions many headaches.

These little incompatibilities between Linux distributions have existed for years and aren't anything new. Most of us have learned to live with them, accepting that running one distribution and enjoying its perks means giving up on other attractive features. What concerns me now is that these incompatibilities not only appear to both be growing in number, but might be introduced deliberately. Looking at the systemd project, as an example, we're seeing the new init system being attached to other projects, including udev and possibly the GNOME desktop. Many Linux and BSD developers have expressed concern that this will limit GNOME and udev functionality to Linux distributions which swap out their existing init system for systemd. In fact it is an issue Gentoo's development team has taken quite seriously, resulting in a fork of udev. The move has also effectively blocked GNOME Shell from making an appearance in the BSD community.

These examples certainly show the existence of incompatibilities, but they don't demonstrate deliberate fragmentation of the open source community, and I did suggest fragmentation might be caused on purpose, so let's look at another example. Canonical recently announced they had decided the new Wayland compositor might not be the solution they had originally hoped it would be and so Canonical introduced a new product, Mir. Now Wayland had not been widely adapted up to that point. Some initial work had been done to make Qt and GTK+ applications work with Wayland, but this functionality wasn't included by default. Both toolkits had added Wayland support as a possible add-on option developers could turn on and test. In short, Wayland was receiving a lukewarm welcome from the community as a whole.

At least it was until Canonical announced the launch of Mir, a potential competitor to Wayland. A week after the announcement went public, this post was made to the GNOME mailing list stating: "The recent Mir announcement makes it a bit more urgent that we put our weight behind Wayland and help it reach its full potential." The post suggests GNOME should support Wayland before the end of 2013 and it's probably not a coincidence this is the same time-line proposed by Canonical for getting Unity working with Mir. I personally think it is also interesting to note the proposed push to get GNOME working with Wayland comes from Matthias Clasen, a Fedora contributor with an @redhat.com e-mail address. I suspect in the final quarter of 2013 we will see an interesting and problematic fork in the road where GNOME runs on top of Wayland on Fedora, Unity runs on top of Mir on Ubuntu and other distributions not based on either of these projects will be running their desktop environments on top of standard X.

Why might this be problematic? Well, aside from the likelihood of new bugs being introduced with the arrival of fresh software there is also the question of video drivers. Linux distributions already suffer from poor video driver support and dividing that limited support three ways isn't going to help. While it should be relatively easy to make existing open source drivers work across X, Wayland and Mir, closed source drivers (those needed for 3-D support and gaming) do not yet work with Wayland or Mir. It's already hard enough to get companies like AMD and NVIDIA to support Linux when they are asked to support the X graphic stack, are these companies going to volunteer to support three different display systems in the small desktop Linux market? Might they only support one or two of the display options and, if so, which ones?

Increasingly we are seeing the Linux community divided into camps, not just the classic RPM vs DEB and GNOME vs KDE camps of the past. The chasms are growing wider, dividing the community into separate groups using different init processes, display systems and access controls. It is my concern as both a developer and a user that we are seeing a division of the Linux community into multiple separate communities. We appear to have the Fedora/Red Hat camp on one side, the Ubuntu/Canonical camp on the other and we have many other distributions stuck in the middle, faced with an uncomfortable choice. Should they join one camp or the other, or perhaps try to stick with existing technology which will slowly lose support as the big players move away? This concerns me as it appears that Linux distributions are not only becoming less compatible with each other, they may be forming new operating system families. Might we see GNU/Linux go from being one family of similar operating systems to being divided into three or more separate entities? I certainly hope not, but right now it looks like the two community members with the most money both want to take their balls and go home.


konaexpress

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Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #1 le: 26 mars 2013 à 01:09:53 »
We have been talking about this in the Gambas community a bit. Gambas runs BEST on Ubuntu and will run on some other distros but the hobbyist programmer does not want to get stuck on an OS/Desktop that he does not like. A bunch of us are a bit nervous to say the least. :o

Hors ligne melodie

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Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #2 le: 26 mars 2013 à 01:33:41 »
Don't, if the GNU/Linux community splits too much, we'll run under GNU/Hurd, and if necessary under FreeBSD, or other Free distros... :p

Good leaders being scarce, following yourself is allowed.

konaexpress

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Re : Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #3 le: 26 mars 2013 à 03:35:01 »
Don't, if the GNU/Linux community splits too much, we'll run under GNU/Hurd, and if necessary under FreeBSD, or other Free distros... :p

Yikes!........what?

I have never been able to get free bsd to load in VBox. Would like too play with it sometime. How is it different then Linux?

Maybe we should not Highjack this thread..................NOT! ;D
« Modifié: 26 mars 2013 à 03:39:21 par konaexpress »

djohnston

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Re : Re : Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #4 le: 26 mars 2013 à 04:49:53 »
Don't, if the GNU/Linux community splits too much, we'll run under GNU/Hurd ...
The HURD? Yeah, there's a solid kernel. 20 years in the making.

Maybe we should not Highjack this thread..................NOT! ;D
It's in the bistro section. Chosen for a reason.  ;)

What concerns me the most in all of this is:

Citer
Looking at the systemd project, as an example, we're seeing the new init system being attached to other projects, including udev and possibly the GNOME desktop.
I've read this elsewhere that the Gnome devs intend to include systemd as a dependency of udev. Absolutely brilliant. Stop and think about all the gtk core libraries and other functions that are in nearly every Linux distro. And the Gnome devs seem to be on a path to "fork it up" for everyone else. Here's just one more example of the Gnome devs living in their own little world. It's from an interview with Jon McCann:

Citer
The future of GNOME is pretty clear. The world's premier and, in fact, only truly free software operating system.
Got that? Not only is Gnome an "operating system", but it is the only one that is truly free. You just can't make this stuff up. In rebuttal, Aaron Siego of KDE says:

Citer
Ignoring that it doesn't actually hold up to scrutiny (there have been many "truly free software operating systems"), this brought to mind a spectacular feature of freedom: it abhors singularity. Indeed, monopoly positions are exceedingly rare in free systems.


konaexpress

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Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #5 le: 26 mars 2013 à 04:59:53 »
I think we have a while yet but this could all go sooooooooo baaaaaaaad. :-\

Hors ligne Taco.22

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Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #6 le: 26 mars 2013 à 06:14:08 »
Citer
Ignoring that it doesn't actually hold up to scrutiny (there have been many "truly free software operating systems"), this brought to mind a spectacular feature of freedom: it abhors singularity. Indeed, monopoly positions are exceedingly rare in free systems.

Except for Standard Oil, McDonalds, Microsoft, Walmart, Google, Christianity, Monsanto, Amazon, IBM, News Limited, Tesco, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Perdue - they're just the ones off the top of my head but the list goes on.  Some didn't last or were overtaken, some were broken up by legislation, some operated in a duopoly, and others are still going.  If it can happen in the "real" world it can sure as heck happen in the Linux world - as it currently is.  "Freedom" also means the "freedom to dominate" - at least that seems to be the interpretation "free systems" like the one we apparently live under have adopted.  Maybe it's just all part of the genetic imperative.   
What can go wrong !!!

djohnston

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Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #7 le: 26 mars 2013 à 07:24:45 »
Well, Aaron does go on to say in the next paragraph,

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Usually the only way to ensure a monopoly exists in a free society is to mandate it via government (or its equivalent) regulation. Very rarely do monopolies form on their own in free societies, and usually when they do form it is due to an abuse of the system and unless systemic corruption is maintained to support that situation (in which case, is it a free society?) then society tends to attack the monopoly resulting in either a curbing of its power or even a forced breakup. This creates a new period of opportunity and competition and the singularity is removed.

And, I believe if we've "done our homework", we can agree that all of the organizations you've mentioned have achieved their monopolies through bribery and government-backed force . (Yes, even Christianity and Standard Oil.) In a bigger sense, what Aaron was getting at is that if there is only one choice, it's not really a "free" choice. To have free choice, you need more than one.

Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC

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I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

At the time of his death, Smedley Butler was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. As an aside, (way off the subject), he helped put down a plot to take over the United States by a group of bankers which included J.P. Morgan and Prescott Bush. Prescott Bush later became a U.S. Senator, then a banker again, and father to George Herbert Walker Bush (Sr.) and grandfather to George W. Bush (Jr.).

Hors ligne Taco.22

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Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #8 le: 26 mars 2013 à 09:38:11 »
I think we need to work out what Aaron means by "free society", because he is quite liberal with the term and I have never actually seen one. 

Citer
Very rarely do monopolies form on their own in free societies, and usually when they do form it is due to an abuse of the system and unless systemic corruption is maintained to support that situation (in which case, is it a free society?)

I think that sums up the dilemma - what is a free society?  It is too simplistic to assume that monopolies only occur due to "corruption" and "abuse".  Neither McDonalds nor Microsoft relied on government support for their success - it was business decisions, astute marketing and use of the legal system to protect their position that brought them success - oh, and one other thing.  Neither would have been as successful as they were without the support of the average consumer.  In most of these cases consumers are the ones that create the monster, and most of them love it!  How many rusted on fans of Microsoft, Monsanto, McDonalds and so on have we all met?  Did anyone force them?  Were they held at the point of a gun?  Was it against their will?

Of course not.  People make decisions about what works for them, and if companies or organizations gain great power out of that - well so be it.  Nothing different in the Linux world.  Ubuntu wouldn't be guilty of any of that, now would they!  Gnome developers only have all our best interests at heart, right!  KDE is the righteous path!

Google is your friend!  Facebook is your buddy!

What more can I say?

       
« Modifié: 26 mars 2013 à 13:33:11 par Taco.22 »
What can go wrong !!!

djohnston

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Re : Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #9 le: 26 mars 2013 à 20:01:18 »
What more can I say?

I don't know. But, I would not say that KDE is the righteous path. I would say that freedom of choice is the righteous path. And that given only one choice, there is no real freedom of choice.

EDIT: I'm surprised you cite McDonalds as a monopoly. Are they the only fast food burger chain in Australia? I don't know. But, in the U.S., they have a lot of competition.
« Modifié: 26 mars 2013 à 20:33:28 par djohnston »

Hors ligne melodie

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Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #10 le: 27 mars 2013 à 01:05:16 »
About divides, when they will have hit each other on the head strong enough, others will probably come out above the mess and start something new. The real Free Software World has proved having good coders who don't want to be lead by the end of the nose, so far.

Let's them see coming and let's see what comes next, and continue our usual GNU Linux Village activities.

Good leaders being scarce, following yourself is allowed.

Hors ligne Taco.22

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Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #11 le: 27 mars 2013 à 07:46:09 »
Citer
EDIT: I'm surprised you cite McDonalds as a monopoly. Are they the only fast food burger chain in Australia? I don't know. But, in the U.S., they have a lot of competition.

Outside of the USA McDonalds tries to establish itself as a monopoly.  It has more competition in Australia now than when it arrived back in the early eighties, but it still plays the monopoly games with its suppliers.  In other countries it has more of the market.

Here in Australia two supermarket chains dominate the retail scene with 85% of the market.  They are also taking over the alcohol and fuel markets.  In some ways the duopolies are even worse than a monopoly because they actually present a united front.  They fight between themselves but are quick to back each other against an external enemy.  A bit like siblings!!

The problem is that if you allow natural market forces to run then that is what you wind up with.  To regulate society though requires the concept of "what is the right thing", and then how to enforce it.  At what point does the line get crossed from a "free" society to a controlled one?  When does "freedom" need to be constrained, and by who's authority?  It is a question that has vexed philosophers right through human history.
What can go wrong !!!

konaexpress

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Re : The growing divide
« Réponse #12 le: 27 mars 2013 à 15:45:25 »
Yea, I can see your point on this...........life sucks. :-X