Grant Foster’s babbling again …

Linus on usability

Posted in Linus, Linux by Tom Kopacz on August 2, 2008

Interesting commentary from Linux kernel founder Linus Torvalds a few weeks ago in an interview on Simple Talk. He covers areas including microkernels vs. monolithic kernels, licensing and Microsoft, but the most interesting part might be when he talks about what Linux distribution he uses. He uses Fedora 9, but he makes a valid point about why Ubuntu and Fedora have become the marketplace leaders:

But I actually don’t care too much about the distribution, as long as it makes it easy to install and keep reasonably up-to-date. I care about the kernel and a few programs, and the set of programs I really care about is actually fairly small.

And when it comes to distributions, ease of installation has actually been one of my main issues – I’m a technical person, but I have a very specific area of interest, and I don’t want to fight the rest. So the only distributions I have actively avoided are the ones that are known to be “overly technical” – like the ones that encourage you to compile your own programs etc.
Yeah, I can do it, but it kind of defeats the whole point of a distribution for me. So I like the ones that have a name of being easy to use. I’ve never used plain Debian, for example, but I like Ubuntu. And before Debian people attack me – yeah, I know, I know, it’s supposedly much simpler and easier to install these days. But it certainly didn’t use to be, so I never had any reason to go for it.

Read the interview here.

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