Are there too many Linux distros? Michael Dominick, in Episode 23 of Coder Radio clearly says that there are too many distros. This is not a fresh dilema, and I’ve written about it in the past. It is a basic point: in any community where proficiency is valued and lumber is free, you will never find two carpenters who build the same chair. The thousands of Linux distributions we find today are an evolutionary explosion submitting solutions to the needs of the few in the long, long tail of possible requirements. And there will never be a tangible method to restrict this growth.
Commercial vendors have always had trouble with what they viewed as a slithering mass of mostly academic and hobbyist level distributions. Clearly, Redhat, SuSE and Debian/Canonical have been the most stable presence in this realm. Software availability is more ubiquitous, more consumer focused, and more competitive than ever. The Linux Standard Board has always been a watered down standard that never lead the distros, but merely tailed them. And now when OS vendors tend to proffer “blessed” software development paths, the LSB has yet to address this, or even think ahead to application development life-cycle standards. This is a failure in stewardship of Redhat, Novell, and Canonical in general.
Long has it been clear that each large Linux vendor has their own software architecural style. Seeing how much effort software developers put into competing with iOS and Android requirements, developing desktop software for Linux is only going to be more neglected if these vendors don’t provide a unified approach to for desktop application development. Just having a pretty desktop is insufficient. Just having an app-store is insufficient.
Providing a reference-distribution application development life-cycle and a stable reference desktop application API is crucial for Linux to be competitive in the network-enabled software market. This is a vision that Sun took a stab at, Trolltech, RealBasic and Bryan Lunduke have all taken their own stabs at, but seems roundly ignored by the large distribution providers. I think that Bryan Lunduke’s Illumination Software Creator was an earnest answer, as well has been Qt, and Java to this problem (at various points in time). Michael Dominick articulates these issues very clearly on Coder Radio.
What kind of compromises are necessary for this to happen? Will distros need to focus less on architectural evolution and more on community economic development? Would the most indignant and proud developers have to get a) offfended b) dismissed and c) ignored in favor of the vanilla approach?
And is this an unjust route? Michael Dominick and Chris Fisher were discussing Alan Cox’s upset over the Nvidia kernel code sumissions, and it reveals a core tenant of the Free Software and Open Source origins of Linux: progress made in spite of the licensing of the progress is fundamentally damaging to the rights and mores of the project and its license. The wholly opposite side, but on the same axis or licensing and rights is the realm of DRM. If Nvidia’s patches are unacceptable and have to only live on as tainted modules or binary blobs, is progress actually lost? Which is the greater loss, if by accepting proprietary property into a code-base you open the door to other corporate exceptions to a community effort? I can see both sides and clearly there must be some compromise possible.
Linux, Free Software and Open Source have deep academic roots as well. The merits of the “more correct language” and the “more refined approach” have always held sway within many of the developer communities that provided many of the packages present in all Linux distros. What happens to this varied set of rarefied projects, hardly even a community by many standards, if Canonical and RedHat unexpectedly decide that desktop applications need to standardize on Qt…and that any other languages may not be available thru app-stores on both their distros? Many would likewise call this unjust as well. Would it actually be progress? Would it also be unjust? Would focusing on enrolling developers by restricting choice raise Linux adoption?
I think that there will always be a libre-Linux ecosystem on the internet. The benefits of providing a competitive similar commerce-oriented (if not commercial, and certainly not proprietary) desktop/mobile software platform on Linux might never be known if it is never attempted, however. Isn’t it possible that the LSB could define a fully featured language, development- and deployment-life-cycle that can enrol or even entice developers and shops presently producing titles for iOS, Windows and Android?
I like the phrase “starter crank.” I loved planes as a boy, but now I’m bitter about the symbolism. Is this an attempt to poke at jingoism? I love the tone of the shiny metal, truly.
HIgher res available.
This Grist article discusses strengths of developing local energy economies.
Who wants to join us at Columbia School?
11am – Ten city bike rides from 10 schools in Bellingham, to converge downtown at City Hall and Library. Meet in front of: Happy Valley, Sunnyland, Kulshan, Shuksan, Fairhaven, Columbia, Larrabee, Silver Beach, WCC (meet in front of Laidlaw Building), WWU (meet in Red Square)
*Join your nearest listed school location, dressed up with decorated bikes,
helmets required, parents must accompany kids
12-2pm – CLIMATE RALLY and INFO FAIR
– Bike Skills Course for Kids with everybody BIKE from 12-1pm
– Guest Speakers beginning at 1:15, including Mayor Dan Pike
– 350.org group photo just before 2pm.
2 pm – Advanced Ride to Cherry Point, with a send off from everyone else.
**Looking for volunteers AT event (setup, take down, bike skills course, resource collection), Please contact Jill at 360-201-3093 if interested (text ok) or email email@example.com.
***Thank you to the following sponsors: Sierra Club, Climate Solutions, Surfrider Foundation, RE Sources, Transition Whatcom, Cascade Community Wind, Forest Ethics, Adventures NW Magazine, SSC, Fairhaven Bike, Earls Bike Shop, Mount Bakery, Community Food Coop, The Bagelry, Jacks Bicycle Shop, Fanatik Bike Co, Kulshan Cycles and Hammerhead Coffee
keep updated at facebook.com/350bellingham and ‘like’ or moving-planet.org!
…pssst…pass this on and invite/add your Bellingham friends to this event!
Jeff Jarvis has a great point. We have a right to be mad.
Don’t be the one jailed for crossing where there is no crosswalk, either.
Coal Economics. Also, if a normal person wants less pollution and a quieter neighborhood…they are now considered religious fanatics by the coal industry.
#carmageddon as a hash-tag seems so strangely appropriate for something as mundane as a freeway closure. It doesn’t deserve any more hype than what Twitter could provide, the subject really exposes society’s relationship to inconvenience — something hardly worth celebrating to begin with.
I think it’s great to see these transportation challenges. I imagine that if teleportation was an option, TSA would still have such long lines and slow policies, that it would take longer to teleport than to bike places, too.
(@Wolfpackhustle woulda dropped me in the first 0.1 mile, but I’ve been happy to ride that route. Seriously, LA has plenty of non-car commuting opportunity, just ask the locals.)
Our elected congresscritters think we don’t want safe walking and biking options.
Interesting. One wonders what the exposure rate for standing in line for those back-scatter and the luggage x-ray things are. Worth noting that the safey regulations on those things are prolly totally vain–have you ever seen how tightly cramped the security areas get?
(I saw this link via bear454)
Good article addresses how mom and kids are still using the minivan and not bikes.
http://www.grist.org/biking/2011-06-20-bicyclings-gender-gap-its-the-economy-stupid We need more cargo bikes out there!
Nice little post describes benefits his company receives from encouraging bike commuting. Love the idea of no-interest bike loan.
Coal doesn’t help the tourist and bike economy.
This is a rah-rah article about NFC, provides a nice introduction to the topic, and explores other possible applications.
My thoughts range the map: is technology like this going to impact people who lack smart phones and online payment creds in an unfair way? Will default identity setting on these devices drill into your email, facebook, or phone provider profile? And even if you have a preview of the transacted data, you still have dialog-box-fatigue (think UAC).
RFID tags are not, to my knowledge, recyclable. NFC tags…another bit of disposable trash? That’s pretty insulting, there will be a billion of these things printed in no time at all. And like used hard drives, NFC tags are going to be brimming with personal information. Take the healthcare example in the article – what do you think a bitter hospItal janitor could get for ten of those tags? A hundred?
The thin profile of these makes them effortlessly transportable.
Other security implications would probably come in the form of proxy tags: someone is going to come up with a man-in-the-middle tag, and hide it as a transparent vinyl sticker or a strip magnetic picture frame they walk up to once a day and glean the stolen data by swiping their phone over it. Or they mod an RFID tag and just walk by it with a bluetooth RFID tag reader on their pocket.
Much scrutiny needs to be applied to these NFC interactions, as RFID enabled passports has already taught us.
Are there TW people in Bellingham planning a protest ride for this date?
This was forwarded from Dan who organized the recent meeting at city hall:
Good day, here’s a little update on what’s happening around getting bike lanes on Northwest Ave., Elm St. and Dupont St. and three simple things you can do to help make it happen.
The short version of how you can help:
- Send an email to the four addresses below. Let them know you support cycling in Bellingham and want to see the Northwest/Elm/Dupont corridor improved THIS YEAR.
- Spread this email far and wide. Get as many people as possible to do item 1 at least, and hopefully item 3 as well.
- If you can make it, come to the open house that Public Works will host at Shuksan Middle School, Wednesday, March 23, 7-9pm. Tell someone from PW why you’re there.
That’s it. So simple. Please, send one short email to these four addresses. Let your desires be known to our local policy makers. We need to impress upon them that there is a large constituency of citizens who want this. They need to hear the message in big numbers.
The long version (’cause I just love to type):
Bellingham City Council has proposed installing bike lanes on Dupont St., Elm St. and Northwest Ave from downtown to I-5. This could be one of the biggest bike projects ever in Bellingham. But it is not a done deal. You can help make it happen. Mayor Pike and Public Works would prefer to put the project off until 2012 and expand the scope and cost of it significantly beyond bike lanes. Details of what else they want to include are not yet available, except that Public Works is seeking $20,000 for the design work alone. I can only speculate that additions might include bus pull-outs, cross-walks, and bulb-outs at intersections. Those would be good additions in the long run, but striping bike lanes thissummer does not preclude building these other elements next summer. And, most importantly, I think, is that there is no guarantee that following this fall’s election we will still have the relatively bike-friendly mayor and council that we do now. I hope we do, but as they say: elections have consequences. Putting this off for another year may mean it doesn’t happen at all, especially as the price grows to a politically unpalatable scale in tight times. A different mayor and council next year may say “Too big, too expensive” and cancel the whole thing. The bike lanes alone are very inexpensive and easily engineered. This much can be done this year without limiting what can be added next year.
A few other random talking points:
- The only viable cycling route from downtown to Whatcom Community College, Bellis Fair, and Cordata. Give Northside residents an alternative means to come into town finally.
- Some say the climate is changing.
- Six schools along this route and childhood obesity.
- Good for the local economy (gas money leaves the community immediately, money NOT spent on gas is more likely to stay local).
- Good for NW Ave businesses (cyclists are statistically more likely to stop at the businesses they pass than to go out of their way).
- It is in the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
- Approved by the Birchwood and Columbia Neighborhood Associations
They need to hear the message. In big numbers. Send the emails. Please. And have a great ride today. Thanks -Dan
I’ve been paying some attention to the notions of community, local economy and self reliance in the face of rising gas prices. Oil shortages and actually, any resource shortage, can also affect how we use computers. High energy prices makes computing more precious. Lack of resources to construct platic, rare earths for constructing magnetic componentry, all of these things can make the cost of computers, and our use of them, spin on a dime. This episode of The Commandline podcast takes a sharp look at post peak resource computing. I think it’s a great episode, and Thomas really pulled together some topics I had not considered related.