Choice is good

I have been hearing many in the Linux community saying that we need to stop so much effort in maintaining multiple packages that do essentially the same thing. So why do we have multiple desktop environments, gnome, KDE, XFCE, Enlightenment, etc we should standardise on a single set of core packages.
But this misses a fundamental strength that Open Source software has over all other environments, Choice is good.
There is a reason there are 400 odd distributions, and dozens of email and web clients, that this cornucopia of different solutions allows the community to try different ideas and develop them to the point that the best of these are far better than any one person or group or company could come up with.
For example the different desktop interfaces allow experimentation in ways that no other system would permit. Compare this with the development of the windows desktop, and their Aero interface then look at developments such as compiz and Gnome Shell. Aero is by comparison a limed set of the functionality of the window manager. They can only be as ground breaking and original as the massive user base allows. But in open source, developers can break the mould and experiment way beyond where the user base is ready to accept and distal this down to a innovations that actually make sense and work.
There are negatives to this in that it can be hard for newbies to understand that there are several package managers, desktop environments and ways of doing the same thing in Linux.
But this diversity is a necessary part of the developmental process.
There is also a big win in terms of security in this diversity, in that we avoid the monoculture that has allowed the malware developers to develop and exploit the windows install base partly because it is so much easier to write one bit of code to attack a system if you know where everything is. If you have to allow for 10 or more variants of how to attack a system in the same malware that raises the barr considerably in attacking that system. Given that Linux is inherently more secure than Windows (flame war statement)  the faster fix response to issues, and the comparative lower install base means that an open source desktop is a much more secure solution.

One Response to Choice is good

  1. Mike Gagg says:

    just what I was thinking…

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