Too Many Geeks, Too Much Choice

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 11, 2012

Here we go again, around and around, what's old is new again, and all those other metaphors. TuxRadar asked if Linux and associated software are suffering from too many geeks doing their own thing? The discussion (d)evolved into another one of those "too much choice" topics and, of course, very few think Linux suffers from that.

The exact question reads:

'Scratch your own itch' is a popular mantra for open source developers. And the principal is a good one: programmers working on software they want tend to produce good code. However, the itches of most coders are very different from the itches of most ordinary users.

The end result is that we have the best selection of text editors of any OS, yet (according to Miguel de Icaza) an audio framework that breaks so frequently it's not worth setting up.

So, here at LXF towers we've been wondering, is Linux suffering from a surfeit of hackers scratching their itches? In order for Linux to become a leading desktop, do we need the geeks to step back and let non-techies (i.e. the majority of the population) take control of the OS?

One of my favorites is a quote from King Linus himself. "Everything would be easier if there was no choice." That's his way of saying freedom is messy.  Many think freedom always results in more choice and that's always a good thing.

The problem with Open Source Software and freedom is that sometimes no one chooses the difficult or seemingly boring and unappreciated aspects. However, many times someone comes along and improves the product, Magiea and LibreOffice are two prime examples. But sometimes they don't, like Symphony OS. Ultimately, consensus seems to be that the benefits of Open Source minus the problems associated with it are still preferable to the disadvantages even with the advantages of popular but proprietary software.

One commenter said, "I think the slower and more painstaking approach of creating and getting adoption for open standards is the way forward, rather than trying to come up with unified frameworks in software that may restrict developers and disappoint users." Another agreed, "No to a unified desktop."

Ray Woods reminded users, "We've just seen the itch in action. Gnome bring out Gnome 3 with their shell and a lot of people get itching. Now we have MATE, Cinnamon and a few others under active development, plus xfce and LXDE are getting much more popular." He confirms more choice is the answer not the problem when he said, "I just wonder how long it will take Gnome to realize they have lost a lot of people. Mind you, it doesn't mater, while Gnome heads for desktop obscurity, those of us in the Linux world will have plenty of alternatives!"

Finally, Nicola summed it up nicely:

Too many geeks got us KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon, MATE, e17, fvwm, twm, WindowMaker, etc.

Too many geeks got us Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, SUSE, Arch, Gentoo, Minix, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Haiku, etc.

Too many geeks got us the gopher, usenet, ftp, BBS, P2P, etc.

So no.
Too many geeks will not spoil the OS.
Too many geeks will spoil us [with choice].

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