Did we really need yet another Linux distribution?

Efforts being spent on building ever-increasing numbers of Linux variants are wasted and would be better used in building up the core distributions.

I saw over on Linux Planet that Sidux, another Debian derivative, has been born. It never ceases to amaze me at how needless some of the open-source community's development efforts are. Did we really need yet another Linux distribution?

What is Sidux's claim to fame, besides an unfortunate name?

...Sidux is a great choice for Debian fans who want Debian Sid in a nice polished package, and who want it as plain vanilla as possible, rather than heavily-modified as so many Debian derivatives (such as Ubuntu) like to do.

So there you have it. What? You're still here? You haven't rushed out to download it?

Of course you haven't. There's no need.

Yes, I could be eating my words if Sidux becomes the next OpenSUSE, Fedora, or Ubuntu, but let's face it, it almost certainly will not. There are hundreds (thousands?) of Linux distributions, yet only one handful that get serious traction (SUSE, Red Hat/Fedora, Ubuntu, etc.). The rest are there to serve someone as a scratch to a very narrow itch.

Fine. I'm not suggesting it's somehow wrong. I just don't see why anyone bothers. It's one of the core promises of open source that anyone, anywhere can tweak the software to fit their needs. In the case of Linux, apparently many people feel the need to tweak.

My question is, why? Why not just use those efforts to build up the core Linux distributions, instead? Why not give more time to Ubuntu, in this case, rather than building Sidux? Does it really break significant new ground?

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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