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Thread: What is "Bloat" anyway?

  1. #1
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    What is "Bloat" anyway?

    I wrote a li'l blog entry on Linux.com about what I think is the over-use and misuse of the word "bloat" with regard to Linux distros (Ubuntu is a frequent target).

    Here's an excerpt:

    A former Windows user, I thought I knew what bloat was until I started using Linux (Ubuntu was my first Linux distro). Bloat, to me, was software that is not really for the user, but for the operating system. In Windows it was stuff like anti-virus and anti-spyware stuff, disk defragmentation tools, registry cleaners, and the like. In Linux there's no need for any of that "bloatware."

    Now I'm a Linux user, yay! So imagine my confusion now when I hear Linux distros described as "bloated!" The only thing I can come up with to justify applying the term to Linux is all the "libraries" used by some applications and desktop environments.
    ...
    fellow Linux users, let's please stop throwing that word around and scaring away newbies who have no idea what we mean (even we Linuxers can't agree on what it means). We don't want them to imagine that there's little difference between Linux and any other OS, except that ours is free and therefore probably not as good as those "professional" OSes. Linux is amazingly customizable! It's only as "bloated" as you need it to be. So if you think a distro is bloated, fix it! But don't tell the whole computing world that "it's bloated" and risk having newbies miss out on some really awesome stuff!
    So wha'd'y'think?

    -Robin

  2. #2
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    Re: What is "Bloat" anyway?

    When referring to the Linux kernel I believe people mean it could be coded a lot tidier than it is. Its a huge collaboration its bound to be a bit messy.

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    Re: What is "Bloat" anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by Naiki Muliaina;9784076 (emphasis mine)
    When referring to the Linux kernel I believe people mean it could be coded a lot tidier than it is. Its a huge collaboration its bound to be a bit messy.
    That makes sense! That the kernel is "bloated" because it's a stew with lots of "chefs" contributing to the recipe.

    My question has more to do with "what makes a distro "bloated."

    Thanks for that though, it does explain a few other things I've been curious about.

    -Robin

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    Re: What is "Bloat" anyway?

    I agree that the word "bloat" should not be misused. My understanding of bloated in regards to MS Windows was an operating system that got bigger and need more and more memory and processing power to just run as standard every time a new version was improved. It seemed that every improvement in hardware was lost because the operating system needed the latest hardware just to install and then it ran sluggishly.

    regards.

  5. #5
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    Re: What is "Bloat" anyway?

    Well when talking about specific distros that will always be very subjective. You will always get the Debian purists and Arch streamliners that consider any unnecessary package as bloat. The Ubuntu, Fedora, and bless them Sabayon users that are happy with everything they get installed and don't call it bloat.

    Changing the opinion of such a varied group of people (Linux users) would be a huge undertaking. I agree that the definition varies too much. But wouldn't want to be the person to try and unite Linux users into a single thought of what is bloat and what isn't bloat

  6. #6
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    Re: What is "Bloat" anyway?

    bloat to me is anything actively running on a system needlessly, that I don't want.

    I could care less of an untidy kernel or a big program taking up HD space.

    Also Word compared to Abiword. I don't need 10 billion features I will never use.

  7. #7
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    Re: What is "Bloat" anyway?

    As I understand Bloat it is from the windows family and refers to all the stuff that Dell, IBM, HP, Compaq, etc. would install onto the machines which were either demos or limited function programs for the user to try and if liked to go and purchase.

    That is just my view, everyone has their own of course.

  8. #8
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    Re: What is "Bloat" anyway?

    The true meaning of bloat is inefficient code that uses more memory and/or bandwidth than it should need to use.

    But a lot of people wrongly seem to think bloat means unwanted software that is installed. Some people think that anything is bloat if it is more than a terminal with network connection so they can browse the web in text. That's not really what bloat is. What some people consider "bloat", others consider features.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmore9 View Post
    As I understand Bloat it is from the windows family and refers to all the stuff that Dell, IBM, HP, Compaq, etc. would install onto the machines which were either demos or limited function programs for the user to try and if liked to go and purchase.

    That is just my view, everyone has their own of course.
    That's not bloat; that's crapware.
    Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. - Dr. Seuss

  9. #9
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    Re: What is "Bloat" anyway?

    I get the impression some people see a collection of applications they don't use as 'bloat'. This is in marked contrast to the Windows approach, which is to give hardly any useful applications but lots of advertising-type crapware.
    When I upgraded from Ubuntu 9.10 to 10.04 I was surprised that the Gimp is no longer included as standard. I consider this one of the most useful applications associated with GNU/Linux. But I can just about understand the argument that it's a bit sophisticated or complex for 'casual' users'.

  10. #10
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    Arrow Re: What is "Bloat" anyway?

    To me 'bloat' implies that a program is fat for its purpose.

    Let's say you have program A that does thing X. 'A' has a binary size of 500k. Now there's another program, B, that also does thing X. Program B is faster and has a binary size of just 3k.

    I would say program A is terribly bloated.

    If a program has more features then the increased size and resource usage is justifiable, under normal circumstances. However I run into a lot of programs that either win or lose on both grounds. Some have more features and are still smaller and/or faster than another program in same category.
    Eternally confused.

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