Continuing my series on "immutable linux desktops" (scroll to the end for links), today I'd like to address some more misconceptions and see if I can help drive the discussion forward. So yes, guy who died on that hill thinking that we can't set the hostname on Silverblue, this one's for you! If you're interested in this sort of stuff I have collected a list of awesome resources. Go read that stuff, it's awesome (hence the name!), people are building cool stuff.
Overrotating on the word immutable
Colin Walters uses the term anti-hysteresis because immutable isn't a real accurate term. Of course your home directory is writeable, and I it's clear from the discourse that people think that you can't customize or do any of the things that you can do on a normal distro on these kinds of systems. Of course you can, it's just done differently, that doesn't mean you can't do it.
"I can't customize my desktop or get the window manager I want"
Ok, one thing to remember is that the shift to this model requires a repave, not just on your desktop, but in how distributions create release artifacts. Everyone is short on people power as it is, you're not going to wake up tomorrow and cover every use case. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try! Kinoite didn't just appear out of nowhere, someone went and made it, that doesn't mean that there's a conspiracy against customization.
If you can't get the window manager you want remember, it's just because no one's made it yet.
"I want the freedom to break my computer"
Believe me, you will find plenty of ways to break your computer. We can just really remove a lot of boneheaded reasons for breaking it. If you're going to break your computer go big, you want to impress your friends with the destruction you've created, not trip up over package upgrades of all things. I've yet to hear a reasonable argument for whatever people mean by "freedom".
I think what happens is people see IMMUTABLE and then they immediately think that they can't do the things they want. The issue is that the customization is done way earlier in the process and we still don't have the documentation and tooling in place to make that clear to people.
All I know is for literally everywhere else Linux is being used no one is making the argument for a less reliable system in the name of freedom.
"This is for newbs not experts"
Behold. Here's a cool hipster desktop from Martin Pitt. Customization to a tee for experts is a great feature of things like ostree. Contrary to what you have read, composability is at the heart of these systems. You declare what you want a thing to be, and then machinery spits out what you want at the end for you to splat on the disk. Sodalite is a good example of someone composing a custom "distro" to get the exact they thing that they want.
So yep, you can customize to your heart's content ... it's just a different set of tools, and some people don't want to learn new tools, but they saw the word IMMUTABLE and automatically made conclusions. What the world needs is people trying this stuff and helping document how make the tooling and documentation around this stuff better.
"Containers have no place on the Linux desktop"
This transition actually happened so long ago in the rest of Linux that I almost find it comical that people call all this stuff a trend or something to chase. The applications on your computer need to ask you for permission to access your stuff. That's it, that's what this is all about. Yes it sucks that in many cases you have to do whack in a dumb CLI command. But like, we need to put stuff in boxes so things don't do bad things, whether it's intentional or accidental.
Giving every application you install unlimited access to everything on your disk by default just isn't going to work any more! I'll paraphrase something Mark Russell told me while we were chatting about this:
Remember, your old distro doesn't go away! But if you're going to keep hating on containers then you can go right to nix and skip ahead, then you'll have the final laugh! Mwahaha.
"But I have an edge case!"
If you're like Richard Hughes and your desk looks like someone dumped a truck of motherboards onto it and you're doing low level stuff then you're probably not the intended audience!
You're already doing a specialized thing, and like I've been saying, your old distro doesn't go away ... there will remain use cases where they will be valuable! But for the rest of us, we can start to push the transition now.
Someone ask him what his other machines run, what do we think he's going to say?
"This stuff is just not ready!"
Yes, we have work to do! Find a thing that is busted for you and go try to help out! We can't get there from here without doing the open source stuff, even if it's just helping someone avoid a papercut.
Don't worry, chances are your friends will already be exposed to the new model on their phone or their Steam Deck. If we move fast enough they can try Linux and not have to deal with the transition at all! We don't have to put the next generation through
If you have questions feel free to ping me at @castrojo and I'll try my best to answer, let's keep the discussion going!