The first black hole photo and the future of the Linux desktop

At the heart of the Milky Way, there’s a supermassive black hole that sucks up anything that ventures too close to it, even light. We knew it, but we never saw it. Until these days.

On Wednesday 10th April, the first photograph of a black hole appeared. A black hole, probably the most mysterious celestial body and the most stimulating to study for physicists and astronomers. The shot is the result of the collective effort of Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an international research project that aims to study the environment around black holes.

For three years, Katie Bouman led the team that worked on creating the algorithm that would give us the image we admire today, that of an object that is about 55 million light years from Earth and had never been immortalized before.

Another problematic black hole. Linux on desktop

Linux distributions offer an excellent user experience, also on desktop systems. In the last 10 years, the development teams have made great strides. However, according to Linus Torvalds, desktop distributions are still imperfect and probably in the future users will be moving towards systems like Chrome OS or Android.

Linus Torvalds points out at the dozens of formats and standards used within distributions. On other operating systems like MacOS or Windows, for example, there is only one package format for installing and managing installed software.

On Linux, instead, dozens of different formats and installers coexist, generating a lot of confusion and increasing the workload for software developers. To publish an application on multiple distributions, it is necessary to take into account the libraries available in the repositories and the installers supported by the package manager.

For Torvalds, projects such as Flatpak or Snap represent enormous progress for distributions, as they greatly simplify the work of developers and allow easier software management for the end user. But they also bring new issues and they aren’t completely stable at this time.

However, the rivalry between Red Hat and Canonical would be bringing distributions to a new form of fragmentation, exactly as it happened several years ago with the .rpm and .deb formats.

In recent years, Linux systems have made much progress, the adoption of systemd has made it possible to considerably standardize the behavior of many distributions, or PulseAudio, which allows a simple and immediate way to manage the audio channels, finally Wayland which aims to do the same for 3D rendering.

In the end, Linus Torvalds is sinking, already Chrome OS and Android offer much more user-friendly solutions than the common Linux desktop distributions and it is plausible that in the next few years the users with few needs choose these two alternatives against the traditional Linux desktop environments.

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