It's very much in the users hands. Generally, a release (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, RHEL) sticks to the version for the OS. In Ubuntu and Debian, if you have backports enabled, it will grab newer versions of the software if it has been vetted stable by the OS team. Or you can add a developer PPA and grab the newest releases as they come. In Fedora you have the option to either add a seperate repo to yum (I've got a couple of repos on Fedora to get upstream stable rather then just the OS version) OR you can allow rawhide for certain packages/groups if you want to stay bleeding edge
We've tried having standards in Linux before, and they were utterly ignored (Linux Standard Base). Basically, there is no reason for certain groups or developers (Red Hat (and to a lesser extent, Canonical) and developer-who-shall-not-be-named) to listen to everyone when they can do whatever they want and everyone else has to deal with it.
I'm not concerned over 2GB of space unless I'm running an embedded system, in which case I'm probably not installing X or XFCE. (I'd bet XFCE is where your space is being gobbled up).
I am entertaining FreeBSD and Slackware as viable options. The only thing in Slackware's favor is the games I play will run on it vs FreeBSD.
In which case I'd have to point to Chromebooks and Android devices.
I'd like to make a nice long rant next against GNOME and Red Hat, but to keep it short GNOME shot everyone in the foot with GNOME 3.
VS my example, people using computers for, I don't know...what's the word....work?
Actually, plenty of mainstream companies support Linux. You may have heard of some of them: IBM, Mathworks, Autodesk?
Well, I'm holding off on buying the new iPhone (despite being able to upgrade) in hopes that some of the bugs in iOS 8 will get ironed out soon. Otherwise, I may buy a Windows phone next.
A lack of competition is what Wayland doesn't fix.
Actually, OSS was the older sound daemon. And it still works quite well in Solaris.
Spin up 100's of Linux instances in 10-20s? Boot time is insignificant for virtual servers. Oh, and guess what Amazon's web platform runs on...?
In summary: BSD Init and SysV Init are fine.
Remember, the GNU people don't like third party drivers at all. Doesn't matter what OS.
Most of the features were not native to Windows first.
I remember using dictation on MacOS long before it worked right in Windows (I know I used it with OS 9, I think it went back further though. I don't know if my OS 8 box still boots to check).
And Spotlight wasn't new with OS X either - it is a direct decedent of Sherlock.
Apple often doesn't do things first, but they tend to do them right.
The ModernUI is optional now, and disabled by default. Metro Apps run in a window.
I've had to support quite a few environments where people wanted to print from Palm devices, PocketPCs, Android phones, Blackberry devices, etc. And they don't want to hear that a device doesn't work with their whatever (especially if it's the CEO's daughter), they just want a solution.
I've been using the nvidia driver since my Geforce 3....