There has been hand-wringing in some circles that the number of Linux distros is declining.
A story in Datamation notes that the number of active Linux distros has fallen from 323 in 2011 to 285 now.
While diversity and choice are virtues in the software universe, I’d reckon 285 is still far too many Linux distros even if you consider both the consumer distros and server versions of Linux.
Despite the growing popularity of Linux in recent years (thanks largely to layman-friendly distros ike Linux Mint), it’s still an insignificant player on the consumer side.
One major reason is that things sometimes don’t work as well on a Linux computer as they do on a Mac or a Windows machine.
For instance, as small a matter as adding a shortcut to applications on the desktop of the fairly new CentOS 7 system (with Gnome 3 desktop) turns out to be a struggle. Even an extremely popular Linux distro like Linux Mint with Cinnamon desktop has serious issues like frequent freezing (including in the latest version, 17.1). It should not be that way in 2014.
On the server side, Linux has made giant strides in the last decade and it’s hard to find a web server not running some flavor of Linux or Unix. Even on the server side, one hears of major security holes some in the very architecture of the operating system.
If you ask me, the ideal number of Linux distros is no more than 25.
This number would take care of consumer and server versions as well as lightweight distros that require minimal resources in memory and processor power.
Having fewer distros would mean (I hope) that developers will devote more resources and time to improving the remaining Linux versions than would be possible when developer energy is scattered across scores of distributions.