Manjaro (and linux) future direction?

I just finished reading this article (in french) that draws a sad state of Linux following Scientific Linux and Antergos project ending.

I also saw this sadness among over articles on the web, which all base their fears on the comments of L. Torvalds about the fragmentation of the Linux desktop, and how it hurts Linux adoption.

I wanted to write in Manjaro's forum about it to share my opinion.

I think Scientific Linux closing is actually good news. SL was planned to die after the CERN switch to CentOS, and now the FermiLab did the same. This means a redirection of the effort from CERN and FermiLab to develop CentOS. Good. I can't comment for Antergos, but I hope all efforts in Antergos will be redirected to Manjaro Gnome.

Now turning to the title. Arch is great. But I can't put the effort in dealing with it day to day. So Manjaro is really excellent. It offers plenty of DE, a stable environment, easiness of use. It avoid the fragmentation of a distro in several sub-distros for fitting different DE (I look at you Ubuntu and Kubuntu and... I stop there)

So a thought : should Manjaro be, in addition to Arch, the only (main) Arch-derived distro ? i.e. all effort for an easy Arch-based distro should be re-directed to Manjaro, and not to the creation of new distros...

Similarly, we could think Ubuntu (with a better way to propose various DE) as the only Debian variant, Fedora as the RHEL one, etc.

This would avoid clustering of the community, and redirection of all efforts to specific distros...

Or do you think having more distros allow some "natural selection" process > only the most practical ones / best supported will stay at the end?

Thoughts?

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Nope.
Manjaro chose a different approach with the branches, its not pure arch, and frankly, adding repos to pacman.conf is superior to branches.

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(I meant the only Arch-based distro in addition to Arch ! Will edit the post.)

Feel free, doesn't change my comment.

It would make sense if some manjaro derivative joined forces with manjaro, but a pure arch based distro with no branches will likely never join up with manjaro, due to branches.

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more developed distributions (not just spins that change themes and wallpapers then add a few packages) is better for the future of Linux than less. Why? take Linux Mint Cinnamon, Solus Budgie and Deepin for example. Three very different concepts which are all becoming increasingly popular but would not be possible if the developers had not decided to create their own distributions and develop them to a high standard.

Having fewer all encompassing 'umbrella' distributions would not be able to deliver the same focused effort, rate of development for all desktop environments or custom utilities (in the case of Manjaro and Linux Mint). quality and stability would suffer.

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Well, I myself am still new to Manjaro, albeit that I'm not new to GNU/Linux as a whole ─ I've been running GNU/Linux exclusively for over 20 years now. So I hope my comments won't be regarded as presumptuous, but off the cuff, I already see three problems with what you're suggesting ─ there might even be more. :thinking:

  1. Forcing a narrowing-down of the amount of distributions being offered is an artificial thing, because that's not how the GNU/Linux ecosystem works. GNU/Linux exists because it entails and embodies freedom. By stating up front that only a limited number of distros should exist and that the developers should concentrate on one of the distros in that limited offer, you are depriving people of their freedom.

  2. It would never work, and the licensing of Free & Open Source Software doesn't allow for that. Quite the contrary, even: if you were to enforce something like this, then you are only going to create strife, and you will be driving people away from your distribution. The antics of Caldera Systems (alias The SCO Group) spring to mind.

  3. As much as I imagine that Manjaro would be welcoming new developers, there is always a risk, if developers from another distribution were to join the team, that they would compromise the goals, philosophy and identity of Manjaro as a distribution. Because in the end, other distributions exist because people have their own ideas about how things should be done, or what target audience they are aiming for, and so if those developers were to start working on Manjaro, then they might bring their own vision and standards with them, and those may not be compatible with Manjaro's vision. In the end, that's how forks are born, and I've witnessed the birth of quite a few of them...:
    ** PCLinuxOS forked from Mandriva when Bill Reynolds was laid off
    ** Mageia forked from Mandriva when a number of other developers were laid off
    ** Mandriva proper became OpenMandriva
    ** Devuan forked from Debian over the adoption of systemd
    ** CentOS forked from RedHat but is now back under RedHat's control
    ** ... et al, plus similar stories with the BSDs, and what used to be OpenSolaris

That has so far always been how the GNU/Linux ecosystem works. Only the strong survive. Now, I'm not saying that this is necessarily a good thing ─ especially not if the concept of "being strong" boils down to "having the financial resources" ─ but the way I see it, the GNU/Linux ecosystem is somewhat of a meritocracy.

Quality is its own best advocate, and the best distributions tend to survive the longest ─ at least, if there are no corporate shenanigans involved, as has already been the downfall of a few distributions in the past, and the same is true for bureaucracy and ego manifestations. That's what almost killed off Gentoo a number of years ago, and from what I've seen by monitoring their developer mailing list ─ which I'm not monitoring anymore now ─ they still haven't completely been able to outgrow either the bureaucracy or the ego manifestations. And sooner or later, it's going to come biting them in the behind again.

We all have our own preferences, which is why we all pick the distribution that we like the most, and the desktop environment we like the most, and we install the system in the manner we prefer, and we install the software packages we like the most, and so on.

Every individual is different, and the GNU/Linux ecosystem provides something for everyone of us. And for us here at the forum, that's Manjaro. But an Arch proper user might look down on Manjaro as being too user-friendly ─ read: not l33t enough for their taste ─and might prefer sticking with Arch proper. Or there may be people who like things more dumbed down and who hate reading wikis and man pages. They want a turnkey distribution, very much akin to the consumerist operating system offers from Redmond and Cupertino.

Again, quality is its own best advocate. Like I said, I've been exclusively using GNU/Linux for 20+ years now, so I've seen quite a bit of the GNU/Linux ecosystem. And in all of that time, I had never seen a distro so well put-together and so clean as Manjaro. If Manjaro can charm a 20+-year GNU/Linux veteran like me upon the first encounter, then it can charm a hell of a lot more people. :slight_smile:

And that is why I believe ─ and hope ─ that Manjaro will always continue to exist. But other distributions that want to survive will have to be just as good, or damn well near it. It is after all easier for us penguinistas to walk away from a bad distribution (or a distribution you just don't like) than it is for many people to walk away from Microsoft Windows or Apple macOS, given that it may void the warranty on their hardware.

So my personal opinion is that it's probably best to just leave things be and let them sort themselves out. The good distros will prevail and grow a larger user base, but there's still always a distro that covers one's needs, and if those distros garner success, then power to them. :wink:

In the end, it's all about freedom. :slight_smile:

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A good question, actually. I can only echo some of the replies here.

Having used Antergos in the past, I, myself, was deeply saddened by its recent demise.

I've also read more than a few gloom 'n' doom articles as concerning Linux and the impressive list of distributions around, notwithstanding the opinion in some of their texts that less is better. Of course, some proponants probably feel more directly concerned than others...? I might be wrong of course.

Less Linux disributions would mean the domination of a few to put it simply, and, the domination of a few would equal a literal "hold-up" which, in my simple profane opinion, is what is actually being acted-out, here; slowly but surely. The Big Guns are patiently chipping away at the very foundations of the castle, so to speak.

And the fact that L. Torvald's point of view, as well as that fo the Linux Foundation, was aired in certain medias in an arguemented fashion, didn't make it any less disturbing. Baffling, I say. :wink:

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Thanks for all those comments, this is quite informative.

Interestingly, most of the points raised above are from a developer/expert point of view, and, as I think, it seems that a rich ecosystem makes more sense for this community.

I do agree as, for instance, I am a big fan of the diversity in Desktop Envs (I have xfce, ie, awesome installed but mostly use i3 <3). I also like distros that propose different aims, as highlighted by @micsim35 , having different concepts is really cool. (wanna explore Void sometime soon)

However, what about the Windows/OSX lambda customer? The one that just use his system without any deep thoughts. For him, probably Linux = Ubuntu. He does not care about the different distros. The only thing that looks different to him is the DEs, but he probably don't care about package managers, systemd and other things that are developer concerns, not pure customer concerns. I think that was the point of Torvald: Linux will not attract this customer as long as it cannot provide some sense of unity, a flagship distro and DE, to which anyone in the work could relate if someone says "Linux" in a conversation...

But then, do we really want linux about 3% of market shares? I don't mind having something special that others don't understand :slight_smile:

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It is sort of an unanswerable question.

Would Linux be better off if there was only a single distribution? Everyone will disagree on the answer. We don't even all have the same definition of "better".

The reality is that as long as it is easy and possible to create a Linux distribution, people will do so. As long as they continue doing so, distributions will come and go as they have since the beginning of Linux.

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This is very true and their have been many excellent distros over the years with innovation coming mainly from students unfortunately these students drop the fine work they achieved when offered a real job.
That is understandable one has to pay the bills after all. But they leave a legacy for others.
Unfortunately the trend is changing users now are of the I want just expect others to do the work for them then just complain, things like i don't like the icons i don't like the wallpaper blaa blaa thing that in the past did not deter users from using a distro now its a big deal.

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That’s what happens when you pull users from an environment in which everything was done for them. In the recent months, Linux has been proposed by a few million-subscriber channels as a suitable replacement for windows, and as Linux gets better, it’s becoming more and more of a truth over a fantasy that Linux can be used comfortably on a production machine with minimal hitches. We need to teach old windows and MacOS users what choice is because they have forgotten... We also need to explain that Linux (like any other OS) is not free from issues, and may require troubleshooting skills if something goes wrong.

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I actually don't care at all about market share, and I am not alone with this. The drive to compete with windows ruins linux, it becomes lindows. One reason why artix exists.

You probably want to reconsider what you are asking for, more market share blabla amounts to more sell out commercialization. If you receive money other than donations, you are effectively bought up, and a sponsor usually wants to buy a say and influence in the project.

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My personal opinion is not that there are a ton of distros but the lack of support by parts of the linux world for the big ones and the ones with power behind them.
When a very vocal part immediately try to vilify say opensuse, or Fedora, or now Clear Linux or even pop! because they're not grassroot projects... that's where the danger is. To actively hurt the spreading of Linux in order to protect "the real core".

Linux needs a big easy to access (not only easy to use) distro or two to survive. Mint and Ubuntu has played that role but not strongly enough; with actual corporate backing Linux might be getting somewhere. There is a real reason why Chrome OS is bigger than "real" linux now.

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I support you on this totally

This is the very mindset that will kill linux in any other form than Chrome OS.

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you are completely wrong about this what keeps linux alive is the freedom.
not any company or any one developer.
as long as its easy to modify linux people will do it.
and the easy term is relative.
differs from person to person
i dont care about adoption of linux on wider base.those who want it will have it eventually.

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Yes, but some of us would actually like Linux to be a choice for the average computer user.
Not an obscure hobby project for anti-capitalist and anarchists.

When desktop linux is primarily known as something scrip kiddies use to commit crimes... that's not a good image to have, and besides your idea that a commercially viable distribution ruins freedom just doesn't make sense.

Between suse, redhat, Intel and others if you think companies aren't already involved you're up for serious disappointment.

Luckily companies are still willing to pay to keep linux alive, and the push for an user friendly "every day" distro is pushed anyway. Be it by System 76, Fedora or Intel.

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well i never said this i said to keep it alive it doesn't need companies or anything.
keeping it alive and commercial distro has nothing in common.

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It is already a choice for the average computer user.

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No it's not. The closest anyone has come so far is System 76 with Pop. But in this very thread is examples of the people actively fighting against making Linux mainstream. And being proud of it.