Some time ago I wrote about excessive forking, how it dilutes out human efforts and leads to duplication of results. Embarrassing as it is, I have to admit that my judgment was clouded and procured far too hastily. In my musings I have neglected the positive aspects of forking and producing re-spins of popular distributions. This was brought to my attention by a recent article on DistroWatch.com, as part of the Distro Watch Weekly series.
One of the key features of Linux-verse and the open-source community in general is freedom. Programmers, developers and the like are not limited by ‘egoistic’ corporate agreements and copyright claims. Naturally, too much freedom may lead to waste of resources, but this is greatly overshadowed by the real consequence – evolution.
In the animal kingdom various species developed different mechanisms of adaptation, connected tightly with the size of their progeny. On the one hand, we have us, humans. The offspring we ‘generate’ is small in number, but we try to compensate for that with the care the children are given. As a result, children learn from the experience of their ancestors and from their own. That is how we handle evolution. On the other hand, we have insects. They are fragile and much more susceptible to environmental hazards than us. Hence, the progeny has to be sizable enough to warrant survival of a species.
What I personally find very interesting is that the Linux-verse is a combination of both of those models. We, humans, produce distributions based on past experience, but those distributions are like insects. Many have to be produced and many have to ‘die in vain’ for only a handful to ‘adopt’ and become truly successful. This is sometimes a curse, but mostly our salvation.
Let us then enjoy the diversity of the Linux-verse and allow things to sort themselves out naturally. Through natural selection.