Gobolinux – an intriquing contrarian take on entrenched unix-like ideas

Gobolinux is a linux distribution with a different goal than most distributions: Try things out that should be doable on unix-like operating systems but are often complicated by tradition, ritual or most likely laziness. Gobo isn’t going to be your desktop, unless you’re a masochist, but it is an interesting commentary on some valuable principles we started with which are losing traction.

Gobolinux is a linux distribution with a different goal than most distributions: Try things out that should be doable on unix-like operating systems but are often complicated by tradition, ritual or most likely laziness. Gobo isn’t going to be your desktop, unless you’re a masochist, but it is an interesting commentary on some valuable principles we started with but which are now losing traction.

Its primary difference is that it attempts to redefine the traditional unix-like file system layout. Many criticized the author of the distribution for even thinking of trying to change this and they often cited the old principle that if you don’t follow the rules learned by unix you’ll be bound to painfully relearn them. But that principle is misapplied here. The author rightfully dares to tread on ground few have dared before.

Its second interesting difference is its attempt to free super-user privileges from the root user. This is done to some extent in existing distributions but not every packaged app obeys the rule that super-user privileges are granted to anyone with a super-user user ID and not only the user named “root.” To achieve this, Gobolinux alters each application in case it has contrary logic.

There are probably other intriguing facets of Gobolinux that I could bring up but these two points illustrate two significant areas where entrenched beliefs work against trying to improve different areas of the operating system. Openness and freedom to innovate are one of the greatest assets of open source and its a shame attempts to alter the status quo wouldn’t be met with more enthusiasm.

I say a shame because the author of Gobolinux really has come up against strong opposition to his ideas, to the point of personal attacks. See the documentation for details on the different ideas Gobolinux attempts and especially “I am not clueless,” a response to all the critics who felt the Gobolinux was a step backwards, that it was violating hard won truths and it was a pointless, fruitless attempt.

That Gobolinux might be considered a pointless, fruitless attempt is so far from a reasonable knowledge of the history of unix and unix-like operating systems that the only conclusion one can come to is that we may be losing one of the most hard won truths of them all: Survival of the fittest.

Survival of the fittest is fundamentally the most able ecosystem in which to engender the best end result. Relying on any one thing because it always has been is a sure way to go extinct. No single technology, technique or company should have a free pass for all time. That makes for unfortunate times.

Gobolinux may be one of those dead-end branches of the plant or animal kingdom but rest assured its ideas will pollinate and mate with ideas from others and something better will come of it.

So here’s to Gobolinux: May your ideas inspire generations of innovators to come.

Leave a Reply