I was recently reading a discussion on the release of Windows 7.
The article went into detail when it came to the different versions that will be sold. There will be 7.
In the comment-section, I noted quite a lot of people arguing that this is too much to choose from for home users.
Well then, let’s take those people’s vision and apply it to the world of Linux.
Let’s go on a journey with someone eager to start using Linux (without a live cd).
Let’s say this is one of the wonderfull people informing themselves before they actually start doing something.
Then this user would trigger a search query on his favorite search engine for the value Linux.
Linux.org is probably the first link that will be hit, as the first result has a 42% chance of getting selected.
As our imaginary person has a simple old spare computer that can be used to testdrive linux, he/she is convinced and ready to download her own copy.
But there is the first problem: Which linux distribution?
On the linux.org page, there are currently 220 listed distro’s to choose from.
So now he/she can start reading all 220 items, but that’s just not done.
The most probable way to get around the pile of different distro’s, will be asking around witch one is the “best one” to use.
After some garbage talk that start with “You should use…” and ends with a discussion bestween some people fighting around to convince eachother that their distro is better, someone will probably point out to the ditsrowatch pages.
In the best case, our user will pick one of the 10 distro’s listed there as the major distributions.
Ok now, this was one of the most idealistic ways for a user to find his/her first linux distribution.
But this is not the end of our journey…
The user will most likely switch distro after time, as the grass is always greener on the other side 😉
In the end, after already having used different distro’s the user will most probably start filtering his choises on package management system.
Then there are the most common choices I didn’t even mention such as: Window Manager, Proprietary codecs, standard apps, …
This is quite a more complex way of choosing your distribution compared to the situation where you’re standing in a shop and having 3 options.
A problem you say?
Whether this is a linux problem or not, depends on the individual user.
This long process of learning and filtering was one of the things that got me interested in linux in the first place.
But if I think about the masses, I guess this is one big draw-back for linux if you compare it against Microsoft Windows or in particular Apple’s.
There is this Paradox of choices – Why more is less speach by Barry Schwartz that will convince you of this.
The Live CD’s from Ubuntu can solve this problem a little bit.
Just by giving people a live cd, with only one version/OS, they will be limited by the direct choices they have.
Thus rendering their mood to become more statisfied.
If someone asks you to give them a Linux distribution, it’s most likely for them to use one if you give them only 1 instead of 220 listed on a page, ready to be downloaded (even for free).
Yes the wide range of different linux versions are a drawback for Linux. And in my opinion, keeping the masses of adopting it.