Image © sebastien decoret,

Image © sebastien decoret,

Linux Distro Freedom

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Article from ADMIN 68/2022
Freedom of choice is what you got. Freedom from choice is what you want. – Devo

Just about every week that I read articles on tech sites, I see at least one that touts the virtues of one Linux distribution over that of another. It's a strange thing to see in a way; this same thing doesn't happen with Windows or Mac because there's only one – no other choice is available. It reminds me of that old Devo song, "Freedom of Choice," the last chorus of which is shown above [1]. I believe no truer words have ever been spoken or sung, at least for the Linux community.

As Linux users, we do have a choice, but some of us spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince everyone that there exists this one best distro. For Linux users, it's not as simple as selecting one distro and sticking with it through every possible scenario. Some distros have commercial support, which is essential for companies that use Linux as a server operating system. Some distros are 100 percent free software, and that appeals to a certain crowd. Other distros attempt to create a user-friendly environment for desktop users who want freedom, as well as freedom of choice.

Those who evangelize one distro above all others basically want to take away your freedom of choice, but choosing Linux means you've shunned a lack of choice. It's an interesting world we live in.

If I want no choice, I have two other choices. I want the freedom to say that today I'll use Fedora but tomorrow I want Ubuntu. That's the kind of fickle fan I am. Not only do I want the freedom to choose, but I also enjoy my freedom to choose according to the mood I'm in when I wake up. I create and destroy VMs as often as I change socks, which is pretty often, to be honest. If I were locked into a single distro, Linux wouldn't be as much fun. I couldn't experiment as much. I couldn't create my own custom distribution. I couldn't rile up one distro's fan base over another by poking a little fun at today's less-than-favorite distribution. Not that I would ever do that. <wink>

I might even go so far as to install Cygwin on Windows systems so that I can have the look and feel of a Linux command prompt and further enjoy my freedom. Sometimes, I even install an SSH daemon on Windows systems. Yes, you can install an SSH daemon on a Windows system, and you can SSH to and from it, work at the CMD prompt, run Windows commands, and run Linux commands. It's fun, it's useful, and it's a great exercise in freedom from vendor lock-in. After all, isn't that what Linux is all about – freedom from vendor lock-in? Well, yes, it's more than that, but freedom is a big part of it.

I don't want anyone to fence me in, lock me in, or tread on me when I'm enjoying my many Linux distro loves. My love is for Linux. Distros are somewhat of a distraction from what Linux is. When someone tells me, "Oh I only use Debian," or that "Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the only way to go," I try to see past the distro bias and instead feel proud that they're using Linux at all. What I'm saying here is that I chose Linux because it gives me the freedom to code, customize, hack, test, modify, lock down, open up, break, and even build my own distribution the way I want it. But the main thing is the freedom of choice without the noise. It's kind of like when David on Schitt's Creek [2] told Stevie that "I like the wine and not the label." It's the use of Linux that's ultimately the most important thing and not the logo, the hype, or the package system you use to install the software. We can have distro bias because we have the freedom to do so, but remember that your freedom ends where mine starts.

Ken Hess * ADMIN Senior Editor

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