Home > Bodhi Linux, CrunchBang, Fedora, KDE, Linus Torvalds, linux, Linux > Does it matter what Linus uses?

Does it matter what Linus uses?

August 11, 2011

Yes, I know LinuxCon is next, and that’s in mid-August, but I think they’ve got the publicity thing covered, especially with the 20-year thing and with Linus being there and all. But if you’re going to the next show, make it the Ohio LinuxFest in September. Bradley Kuhn and Cathy Malmrose are keynoting, so you’ll not want to miss that (especially Cathy — Go ZaReason!)

First things first: I’m certainly not calling out Marcel Gagne for getting it wrong in a recent blog post — the “it” in question is that Linus Torvalds uses Linux Mint. On the contrary — to his credit Marcel corrected himself and, hey, it could have happened to anyone.

Also, we’re not going to go to the GNOME thing right now, at least not right way, despite the fact there has been a parade of “me toos” following Linus’ unhappiness with GNOME’s new desktop offering.

But it occurred to me today after reading Marcel’s mea culpa that, in the grand scheme of FOSS things, it really doesn’t matter what Linus uses. Before you all collectively brand me a heretic, allow me to explain.

Linus has been quoted in the past as being a Fedora user, because it worked on the PowerPC hardware he was using. That’s great — he joins thousands of others using Fedora. He may not be one now, and if that’s the case he’d join thousands of others not using Fedora. There’s also an instance in the past — the distant past, as opposed to a week or two ago — where he switched desktop environments.

All that’s OK.

It means Linus is like us.

Think about it. Which of us has not switched distros or desktop environments? Which of us has not expressed extreme displeasure over a program or desktop environment and made that dissatisfaction public on mailing lists and/or forums? We certainly allow ourselves the luxury of making these switches — on a whim or more — so shouldn’t we grant that same right to the man who brought us where we are today?

The question isn’t so much “What distro does Linus use?” as much as possibly “How many distros does Linus use?” Think about it and put yourself in Linus’ shoes. You have your favorites, and so does he. If you have a chance, and the hardware, to use more than one distro, wouldn’t you? I bet Linus would.

Or not, if you — or Linus — are really enamored and happy with one and truly want to stick with it.

I am primarily a Fedora guy — that has been mentioned in this blog often in the past. But while Fedora KDE runs on my constant companion, also known as “the football” and the laptop that never leaves my side, I also have machines running Debian, Kororaa and CrunchBang (we’re going to need a moment of silence for a recently departed Fujitsu laptop once running Bodhi Linux, which went to its final rest through no fault of the distro).

Why four different distros? Simple: It’s because I like those distros and I have the hardware that will run them.

And that’s as it should be.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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  1. August 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Well said, Larry. Trying out new things and hating even newer ones is basically part of being a Linux User.

    It’s all about choice, even the choice to switch around ’till you find something that sticks.

    • August 12, 2011 at 8:17 am

      Very true, Juan. It’s all about choice, whether you’re the guy who was just introduced to Linux today or the guy who invented it.

  2. KenP
    August 11, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Quite true. I run Kubuntu, OpenSUSE and PCLinuxOS simply because I can — and because I can’t quite make up my mind which one offers a better KDE desktop 🙂

    • August 12, 2011 at 8:22 am

      Interesting line-up, Ken: As you know, each of those come from a different distro root (Kubuntu=Debian, OpenSUSE=Slackware, PCLinuxOS=Red Hat), and I’d be curious if you find which one offers the better KDE experience.

  3. August 11, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    It matters *a lot* what hardware the kernel devels use, as we know that they will pick machines with working device drivers, or else make those device drivers work. As someone who has struggled a great deal with broken drivers in the past, I can tell you that I may hop desktops and distros, but my next laptop will for sure be Lenovo!

    • August 12, 2011 at 7:56 am

      Good point, Alison. Hardware — yes, that matters for the reasons you outline. Distros/Desktop Environments — not so much. Incidentally my next laptop will probably be a ZaReason to support hardware makers who build for Linux, however I’m still a ThinkPad guy to the core (and wish I could afford a Lenovo 🙂 ).

  4. istok
    August 12, 2011 at 4:09 am

    i think the only linux linus is truly happy with is android.
    of course it matters what he runs, if for no other reason then because he’s a linux rock star. and not a pathetic, self-appointed one – he’s the real deal.
    also, isn’t it true he ran fedora after red hat gave him millions in shares? he was just being nice, now he wants something extremely easy – mint, why not.
    as for lenovos someone mentioned, earlier this year i bought a thinkpad which now has only debian and a tiling WM on it and the only problem but a significant one i’ve had, with newer and older kernels and bioses alike, are unresponsive backlight keys. i solved it with workarounds but the moral of the story is there is no perfect hardware for anything, linux included.
    btw, fedora kde must be the most bloated kde distro around, it literally wouldn’t run on my 4-yr-old FSC notebook (1.8 ghz processor, 1gb ram), where debian kde, chakra, and even kubuntu performed normally.

    • August 12, 2011 at 7:54 am

      Well, according to an interview several years ago, he was running Fedora because it worked on his PowerPC (if I remember the interview correctly, he was using a G5 Mac desktop, but I could be mistaken). I had not heard whether he got Red Hat shares, but regardless I don’t think that would be an issue.

      True, there is no perfect hardware and KDE is somewhat bloated. However, it runs fine on my ThinkPad T30 with 1GB RAM. As the car advertisements say, “Your mileage may vary.” Sorry if it doesn’t work for you — and as in past blogs, I always urge people to find what works for them — so I hope you’re using what works for you and I hope you allow those who don’t use what you use the courtesy and freedom to use what works for them.

  5. August 12, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Actually, the desktop Linus uses carries a lot of weight at this time. I am assuming Linus actually tries to get some work done and if he, like many others, cannot get a good “work flow” going with Gnome 3, like the rest of us can’t, than it only confirms our opinions of Gnome 3. What distro he uses is less important. I’m sure if he wanted to use RHEL they would be glad to provide him with a customized copy gratis. I think a lot of people run multi-distros but most of us have one main, or “working” distro we use more than others. Lets not “sugar coat it” Gnome 3 sucks, and that is the end of the story!

    • August 12, 2011 at 7:47 am

      You make good points, Bill, and there’s no argument from me that GNOME 3 has acres of room for improvement — that’s been outlined several times in this blog. Also, one of the common themes here is “run what works for you,” so when people recoil in horror because “Oh my God, Linus is using $DISTRO_I_DON’T_USE instead of $DISTRO_I_USE,” to me that’s a non-issue and I’m hoping it will be a non-issue for others going forward.

  6. Billy Bob
    August 12, 2011 at 6:18 am

    While I love openSuse and find they have the best KDE integration (my opinion) I still think KDE and Gnome are being over engineered to a state of uselessness.

    A “Graphical User Interface” is supposed to benefit the user. Perhaps make the computer easier to use. Be a little intuitive. I’m here to say these User Interfaces aren’t Interfacing with this User well at all. They’re incompatible with my personal API/ABI. More like Graphical Unintuitive Insult to users.

    I’m still on openSuse, but using LXDE now. KDE 3.5 was the last time KDE was usable, so I I hope the Trinity project works out well.

    • August 12, 2011 at 8:06 am

      You may be right about the overengineering aspect, Billy Bob, and they’re not interfacing with the user as well as older versions. In that sense, Unity and GNOME 3 are a disaster; KDE 4 not so much because it hasn’t strayed as far from the course as the others (by the way, I have yet to have a problem with KDE 4, despite being somewhat bloated, so you may want to give that another try). Also, the whole Unity/GNOME 3 thing has forced me to take a closer look at using a window manager like OpenBox rather than a desktop environment.

  7. Bob McKeand
    August 12, 2011 at 6:46 am

    What? There is not “One True Way”?

    Out here where they raise beeves and tumbleweeds
    they always say the bigger the buckle the better the
    cowboy or maybe something about the size of the
    hat? Somehow I can’t see all these hugely independent
    geeks in orbit around Linus. If we are in orbit it will be
    a rather eccentric one to say the least.

    So, y’all run Linux your way and the Colonel will run Linux
    the right way.

    note to Larry, maybe you can put a sarcasm mark on the
    paragraph above?

    Keep the humor in Linux
    Peace, Bob

    • August 12, 2011 at 8:12 am

      Since “Keep the humor in Linux” is your sign-off, one would have to assume that your comment about “the right way” was sarcasm (besides, I can’t get the sarcasm tag to work on WordPress — go figure). But you and I have discussed this before: There are many paths to the summit of digital nirvana and you have to find the one that works for you.

  8. August 12, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Here’s a likely plan for my next computer:

    Debian-KDE pre-installed machines for sale
    “he also announced a new project by Mario Fux, launching later this week, that will offer easy to use computers based on Debian and KDE software, initially in three form factors – a compact desktop, netbook and notebook. Everything will be preinstalled and configured, KDE software will be to the fore and part of the sale price of each item will be donated to Debian and KDE e.V. (asimplecomputer.com)”

  9. August 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Well said! Free software is about the freedom to choose and not being told how things should work! 😀

  10. May 27, 2012 at 3:37 am

    I use Kubuntu only because compared to other people I found how amazing KDE is with it’s features… And the Ubuntu based distro because of the applications support for it…

  1. August 12, 2011 at 1:35 am
  2. August 12, 2011 at 9:37 pm
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