Howard Tayler recently posted a car analogy to linux distributions. He says that Turn signals etc should be standardized in consumer cars. Turn signals, lights, hazard blinkers, etc are all methods of communicating to other drivers. Almost every distro of linux is standardized in that they communicate in the same way to the outside world. They all follow the RFCs for TCP and other protocols. These are your OPEN standards. How about other standards that apply to cars. Say the ability to install new features such as car stereos. Most linuxes are standardized on this as well. Almost all linuxes have POSIX compatibility. This ensures that any standard posix app will not only work on Linux, but almost every UNIX out there as well! Sure, you have to either compile them for your distro, get a package for your distro, or use a package converter, but you have to do the same thing on cars as well. I seem to recall that less than 3 car manufacturers actually put standard sized stereos in their cars. After-market stereos usually need an adapter kit (package converter) to fit the standard stereo in their non-standard dashes. The united linux people are suggesting that all distros standardize on one system, like RPM. This is like passing a law that all cars sold in the united states must have a standard radio slot in them instead of letting the market create tools to adapt the stereos to the cars.

What we really don’t want is any one corporation deciding what we should and shouldn’t do because they own the “Standard” linux. We don’t want to restrict individual freedom in places where interoperability isn’t an issue. A tyranny of the masses would be just as bad as a corporate tyranny in this regard, IMHO.

If there’s one thing that annoys me it’s arguing for a corporation dominated mono-culture (bad thing, see microsoft) under the guise of arguing for standardization (good thing.) Standardization has already happened with linux in almost every important location. It just hasn’t happened on the shelf. The free market should decide that as well, not some corporate suits or corporate suit owned politicians.