Another Day, Another Distro: Antergos Linux Is Born

They say springtime is a season of rebirth and renewal, and we’ve had ample illustration of that truth here in the Linux blogosphere this year.

Not only have we seen the birth of Cloverleaf — initially FuSE — from the ashes of Fuduntu, but now Cinnarch has gone through a similar transformation, albeit less dramatic.

No real death was involved this time, Linux Girl is pleased to report. Rather, the Arch-based distro decided to give the Cinnamon desktop at its foundation the proverbial boot, calling it “too much a burden to maintain/update going forward.”

Their choice instead? None other than GNOME, with the result that Cinnarch has now renamed itself “Antergos,” a Galician word “to link the past with the present,” as the team put it.

Heads still spinning from the Fuduntu-to-Cloverleaf transformation, Linux bloggers have been struggling to process this latest news — greatly assisted, as per usual, by the freely flowing tequila down at the blogosphere’s Punchy Penguin Saloon.

‘They Risk Losing Momentum’

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“It really seems that distros are dropping like flies around here, but this one isn’t really going away,” mused Linux Rants blogger Mike Stone, for example.

“I can’t speak to the contention that Cinnamon was too much of a burden to maintain/update, but I would say that’s up to the people doing the development,” Stone added.

“What an organization chooses to name their distro is their business,” agreed blogger Robert Pogson. Still, “changing the name had better reflect a new ethos or they risk losing some of their brand’s momentum.”

‘They Could Have Used Debian’

Of course, “in the case of Cinnarch, the group has chosen to change their default desktop environment to GNOME and to offer alternatives of Xfce, KDE, Cinnamon and Razor-qt,” Pogson pointed out.

“I don’t see a compelling reason to rename the OS because of a change like that to the installer,” he added. “It’s still based on Arch GNU/Linux… They could have called the new release Cinnarch II or New Cinnarch or Cinnarch with Choice… or they could have used Debian GNU/Linux, as I do.”

In fact, “Debian has more than enough choice for everyone doing anything,” Pogson opined.

“At least this ‘new’ one has various DEs to let the users choose and not be chained to a group of developers,” Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C. chimed in. “These days I advocate for new users only distros with more than five years and no ‘commercial’ changes in view.”

‘Resistant to Change’

Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien wasn’t surprised by the move, he told Linux Girl.

“When KDE 4.0 came out, a lot of people got pissed and found ways to perpetuate the 3.5 version,” he explained. “Flash forward to 2013, and only a handful of folks even care about that; KDE 4 is doing just fine.”

The GNOME Project “has done some good stuff in GNOME 3,” O’Brien asserted. “Comparatively few people are working on the GNOME 2 forks.”

Looking ahead, “I think eventually we’ll see only a handful of folks sticking to the old,” he predicted. “FOSS people are notoriously resistant to change, but when they have exhausted the alternatives they get with it.”

‘The More the Merrier’

As a fan of both Arch and GNOME, Google+ blogger Brett Legree was particularly interested in the news.

“I love the name that was chosen, Antergos, as it has a special meaning to the team and definitely stands out,” Legree told Linux Girl. “I did not know what it meant, and I had to go find out immediately.”

Meanwhile, “I have already been testing via virtualization, and so far, I really like it since it gives me just what I want (a rolling release GNOME distro) and very little cruft,” he concluded. “With Linux, the more the merrier.”

‘Of Little Significance’

Robin Lim, a lawyer and blogger on Mobile Raptor, wasn’t sure how to react to the news.

“A distribution I never heard of has changed its default desktop, stopped supporting Cinnamon (though it is still included) and changed its name,” he explained. “To me, it really is of little significance. No offense meant to the development team — I am sure it is a fine distribution — it is just that it is floating in a sea of fine distributions.”

A lot has changed in the past 10 years, Lim pointed out.

“Ten years ago I had Red Hat, OpenOffice and Gimp, and with those I could day goodbye to Windows — at least until I moved onto a laptop,” he explained. “Now I could have Antergos, LibreOffice and Gimp.

“Still, I only use Linux desktop distributions on devices that spend their life on a wall socket,” Lim added. “Ten years, and power management is not as good as on Windows or Mac OS X.”

In any case, “the playing field has evolved,” he concluded. “Basically, you can mix and match a Linux-based distribution all you want.”

‘Who Cares?’

Last but not least, Slashdot blogger hairyfeet had trouble getting excited.

“Who cares?” hairyfeet asked. “People make fun of Android for being fragmented, but geez, how many fricking Linux distros are we up to now? 300? 400? I am willing to bet my last dollar you could fit every single user of this distro in your average auditorium with a ton of seats left over.

“C’mon guys, there really is no need for this,” he added. “All you are doing is re-inventing the wheel, and what is worse, you are hurting the ecosystem by spreading what little resources Linux has waaay too thin.”

‘The Same Old Problems’

Instead of “wasting countless man hours re-inventing the wheel,” the community could have “invested that time in places where Linux could really use the help, like drivers, bug fixing, documentation, regression testing, quality assurance,” hairyfeet suggested. “It’s not like there aren’t plenty of jobs that need doing.”

Instead, distros like Antergos remind hairyfeet of “the way guys would make ‘Doom mods’ that were just slapping a new texture on the models and calling that a new game,” he said.

“All you are really doing is slapping a new coat of paint on the same old problems instead of doing something new and innovative,” hairyfeet concluded. “If at the end of the day all you can say to describe it is ‘it’s (insert Linux base) with (insert DE),’ then frankly the thing doesn’t even need to exist, it really doesn’t.”

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.

1 Comment

  • I thought about and realized there is a much better analogy than modding, where at least somebody had to make some new textures but this isn’t even that its…Taco Bell.

    That is really ALL these infinite distros are, its taking the same tired old beef, cheese, and lettuce and slapping a different name on it, that is ALL it is.

    I mean watch how predictable these things are…let me pull out my crystal ball…hmm… is it Chromium and/or Firefox, with Libre Office, and Gimp? There is nothing new or innovative here, its the same tired old "Its (insert Linux base) with (insert one of the same top 5 DEs) and for software (insert same tired old junk everybody else is got)".

    Instead of this constant reinventing the wheel, why not make something truly new or fresh? And if all you can come up with is the same tired old rehash why not use your time and energy to make one of the top 3 distros better instead? stop reinventing the wheel, its never gonna do anjything except take what little resources the Linux community has and spread them so thin as to be worthless.

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