Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arch is the new Ubuntu

This discussion on Reddit (yes-yes, it's my vice), reminded me of my earlier blog post that I wrote back in January of 2007. Reproducing it here, since my LJ blog is now defunct:

Ubuntu is the new Gentoo

2007-01-29 13:40:00

Have you noticed that there have been a lot fewer Gentoo fanboys around since, say, mid-last year? I am fairly positive that's because they have all moved on to the "new hot" distribution -- namely, Ubuntu. I guess compiling everything with "-O 99 --funroll-loops" is out, and "brown gradients" is in, I don't honestly know.

Now, the situation is slightly different in the sense that as opposed to Gentoo, which was entirely grassroots, Ubuntu has enough money coming from the "bdfl" to pay the developers and keep the PR machine well-oiled. When the fanboys move on to some other distro that is newer and shinier, I don't think the drop in popularity would be quite as drastic, but I do believe it will still be very pronounced. When the "newness factor" dies down, I expect that most developers not actually paid by Ubuntu will move back to Debian [...], and Ubuntu will take its earned slot in the distro line-up -- hopefully the company makes enough money by then to break even. Free OS market is a very tough place to compete with the likes of Red Hat and SUSE Novell Microsoft (okay, now I'm just being mean :)).

In case some people think this post is anti-Ubuntu -- it is not. [...] I simply suspect that current popularity of Ubuntu is mostly due to the "crowd" factor, and not due to its (many) merits. If anything, this is an attempt at predicting that in another year's time we'll see another project emerge (um...) that will attract many of the current Ubuntu "rabid fans" the way Gentoo and Mandrake have done in the past.
Judging from a few comments in the Reddit thread, it seems that Arch Linux is shaping up to become the new "distro for the cool." We probably won't see as much of an exodus from Ubuntu as we saw from Gentoo -- precisely because Ubuntu has a large bank account propping it up, as opposed to poor 'ole Gentoo -- but there will probably be a very pronounced dip. It seems to me (again, from that Reddit discussion) that some of the true fans of Ubuntu will be quite happy if this event takes place and takes some of the "ubuntards" out of their pool.

Fedora, on the other hand, will probably never be a "cool" distro to use -- mostly because Red Hat is seen by many "fanboys" as a big evil corp that's too mainstream to ever consider. There's probably a good reason to be happy with that state of things. :)


Dave Hayes said...

I can't speak for everyone, but I remember a few years ago when I decided to switch to Linux, the first thing I did was try the only distro I had experience with: Mandrake. It only took a couple days for me to end up in RPM hell and start looking elsewhere. The next thing I tried was Fedora, the install CD of which would not boot on my machine. Then I decided to give Gentoo a shot and after 2 days of compiling and winding up with a broken X, I gave up. I finally settled on Debian and quickly fell in love with apt/aptitude/synaptic and their vast repositories.

I made the switch to Ubuntu some time in 2005 when I noticed all the newer packages I wanted were being built for Ubuntu. And I've been there ever since, though I have checked out other distros from time to time (mainly Feodra, Suse and Foresight as well as the odd BSD or Solaris variant), but always came back to Ubuntu.

I've heard a lot about Arch but I don't have any plans to try it. I've been an Ubuntu user for 4 years... it's comfortable and easy and relatively problem free (for me at least) and easy to maintain.

Personally... I consider Fedora to be a very cool distro, and actually much less mainstream than Ubuntu. They tend to get new upstream goodies out quicker than Ubuntu and the artwork is always top notch. And like you mentioned, it's nice to have a community with no Ubuntards.

I've just found that there are too many nice little things that Ubuntu do extra to which I've become accustomed (their bash completion works in many places that other distros do not, for example). That and, insofar as my experience goes, finding, installing, maintaining, updating and upgrading software in Ubuntu is a much nicer experience than any other distro. I would guess that ease of administration and the plethora of online howtos rather than any slick marketing (which, from what I can tell... from a marketing standpoint Fedora and Suse are much more attractive than Ubuntu) that causes users to gravitate toward Ubuntu.

Anonymous said...

You know, a few days ago... I spotted this guy with an XO-1. So I started talking to the guy, a little star struck on my part, I am mocking mention that "And people say that Ubuntu is the best Linux!" when taking about Fedora's work with the XO-1 to date.
He look at me and started going on about how Ubuntu should be commended for putting Linux in the mainstream eye.

After parting ways with the guy, I would have to agree. That Ubuntu has done with Linux is commendable to say the least, having brought up the OS's visibility. Building as system that (for the most part) is easy to use.

Still, I find myself a little uneasy at how Ubuntu fan's tend to get really, really vocal.There are times that I liken Ubuntu fans to fanatic Apple fans, and while most of them ain't completely blind to Ubuntu's faults... there is a select few that are, so "in love with there new found freedom", that nothing Ub does is wrong and should be the yard stick that other distros measure too.
I am also bothered with the way that Canonial seems to handle outside criticisms against things that are happening in the distro. I think that Ubuntu should be held accountable for it's errors that it's made in the wider community, but with all the noise around the distro in concerns with fans and it's own PR machine... I am not sure if that will happen, at lease in the near future.

Maybe I am spoiled, having lived in Fedora for all my Linux life at the moment but at the end of the day, it could take having users move with there feet to have Canonical react to many of the criticisms against it. Even then, what it's done with people will be felt for a while...

Now if only there where more Fedora walls by fans of the distro. Har har.

Anonymous said...

No, Arch is not the new cool distro, Foresight is :-P

joshuadf said...

You are not going to believe this but I have definite proof that Obama Linux is the hottest distro:


BJ said...

Q: How do I make hard disk partitions auto-mountable?

Debian way:

Arch Way:

Ubuntu Way: Just mount

Unknown said...

@BJ: Exactly. Ubuntu is just too mainstream and easy to be cool any more. :)

(My post is not an argument for any particular distribution. I'm just crowd-spotting, really.)