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Thread: So many distros!!!

  1. #1
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    So many distros!!!

    I was just wanting your take on something. I'm a newbie, but I started thinking about GNOME, KDE, etc. Why don't they just make their own distros?

    Aren't most distros just taking linux, gnu, a desktop environment, and some applications, with some tweaks here and there, and calling it their own? Or is it way more complicated than that?

    It seems to me that if the DE people were the only ones who made their own distro, it would have a few benefits. One being that there would be less distros, so more people would be on each one. That would mean more people on the forums to discuss issues, and more people to manage packages. It seems that if more people focused on just a few distros... it could push linux ahead of the game even faster.

    Am I off my rocker?

  2. #2
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    Hardy Heron (Ubuntu Development)

    Re: So many distros!!!

    I've just expressed a similar viewpoint on another post - someone that wants to escape the exorbitant price of windows and looks at linux will be put off by the number of choices in distros - then there's window managers and file managers etc...
    Should be a distro labeled "linux intro distro"

  3. #3
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    Re: So many distros!!!

    I'm presuming that the Gnome & KDE & XFCE development teams have enough on their agenda without also worying about the kernel, hardware, ie. I think thay are a specialised group focusing on desktop improvements, if they diversify then Gnome/KDE/XFCE development slows down.
    derby7
    ? who is Tom Bombadil ?

  4. #4
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    Hardy Heron (Ubuntu Development)

    Re: So many distros!!!

    http://distrowatch.com/
    have a count - think of when you first tried linux and try and make a choice?
    Popularity wins I suppose.

  5. #5
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    Re: So many distros!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by banewman View Post
    I've just expressed a similar viewpoint on another post - someone that wants to escape the exorbitant price of windows and looks at linux will be put off by the number of choices in distros - then there's window managers and file managers etc...
    Should be a distro labeled "linux intro distro"
    But each distro is someone's "perfect OS"... so how can you say that they shouldn't have their perfect OS? And if it is someones perfect OS, why not put it out there so others can benefit as well?

    You could reframe the question in a couple ways. First, you could avoid the phrase "linux" all together and let Ubuntu, openSuse, etc. ride on their own merit. This might eliminate some confusion as if a customer wants "Ubuntu" there aren't many choices (K/X/Ubuntu). Then you could say to someone who didn't care for Ubuntu, "hey, there's this other OS Mandriva that you might like better". I think this would get better reception because you don't get the "I already tried linux" response. After all, Mandriva and Ubuntu can be pretty different.

    The second way would be to create a database of distro's to aid users (especially new users) in choosing. But wait, you might say, don't we already have that? Yes and no. Distrowatch isn't a great tool for comparisson, as it is mostly links and has a lot of technical information (the package version charts for example). The only info of real value to newbies would be the short little paragraph about the distro. Then there is wikipedia, but that is not the place to really go into depth. Finally there is Distropedia. This is closest to what I had in mind, but I think that each page should really have direct input from the creators of the distro. Let them say in their own words what the goals of the project are. I feel like many times people pick up a distro and expect something very different from the projects goals... for example, many people try fedora mistakenly thinking that it is a "distro for the masses" like Ubuntu, when in fact it is targeted at intermediate users who want more control and newer packages, but not the bother of going with Sid or Gentoo or Arch. On fedoraforums.org we actually try to convince many new users to come to Ubuntu or another "easier" distro so they do not get discouraged. And it's not that fedora is bad, I love fedora... its just that often its goals aren't well understood. By havng a site where users can match the goals of a distro right from the horses mouth to their needs/wants, and also compare various relevant pieces of information side by side, I think we could cut down on a lot of the confusion about 'what distro should I use".

    And really, the biggest message to get out there about this whole thing is that there is no wrong answer. And that they are free, so why not try them all!

    EDIT: As for gnome/kde/xfce making their own distros:
    1) they are too busy making killer DE's to worry about the rest of a distro... let the DE people do their thing, the kernel people do their thing, etc. and then let the people who make distro's package it up, make it look nice, and make it play nice together.

    2) IIRC, gnome does put out a live CD to demo its releases. KDE has "unofficial" live CDs to demo the KDE4 development releases (these are probably spearheaded by KDE developers who also develop for the various distro's that put together these liveCDs). I don't recall Xfce having one.
    Last edited by igknighted; December 6th, 2007 at 03:00 PM.
    Desktop: AMD Athlon64 X2 3600+, Nvidia 8600GT, 3GB RAM, 80GB hd, Windows 7 Beta
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  6. #6
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    Re: So many distros!!!

    Nearly All these tools that go into making a distribution are FOSS. Anyone has the freedom to create their own distribution and many people decide to do just that. If you want there to be less distros, ask the people who made them to stop. It's not going to be easy though and it would make both the authors and users mad. When you add up all of the users of obscure distros, their userbase is just as large (if not larger) than Ubuntu. Not only would you have a lot of upset people, but each distribution is based on more than just the desktop environment. Distributions are used based on tools and purpose too. A distro for lightweight computing or older computers (Damn Small Linux), a self compiled one (Gentoo), servers (CentOS) and the list goes on and on. In other words, choice is good! I can help shorten the list a bit though if you'd like...

    Standard Desktop Computing: Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE
    lightweight computing: Damn Small, Puppy, Feather
    Firewalls/Security: OpenBSD, IPCop, Smoothwall, Monowall
    Custom/Compiled: LFS (Linux From Scratch), Gentoo
    LiveCD: Ubuntu, Knoppix, Kanotix
    System Utilities: SystemRescueCD, GParted
    Servers: CentOS, Ubuntu (Server Install), FreeBSD, RHEL
    Specialized/Embeded Hardware: MythBuntu, XBox Linux, Minix

    *note: I realize the BSDs and Minix aren't Linux, but they appear on distrowatch and some people really like them. It goes to show that not only have some people not decided on a distribution, they haven't even decided on what kernel they're going to use.

  7. #7
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    Re: So many distros!!!

    if theres a problem with ubuntu, are the ubuntu dev's who fix the issues? Or do they send it to gnome devs? If every distro dev fixes their own problems, are they all sending in their patches to gnome devs? If so, why would gnome dev's be needed then?


    (replace gnome with cups, samba, kde, linux kernel, etc...)

  8. #8
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    Re: So many distros!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by boast
    if theres a problem with ubuntu, are the ubuntu dev's who fix the issues? Or do they send it to gnome devs? If every distro dev fixes their own problems, are they all sending in their patches to gnome devs? If so, why would gnome dev's be needed then?
    If the problem is occuring due to the way the software is configured in Ubuntu, it will most likely be attended by Ubuntu developers. If it's found in Ubuntu, but is inherent to the upstream version of the software, bug reports, as well as patches, will be forwarded upstream. In any case, patches are made available to everyone who'd like to take them, including other distros (see http://patches.ubuntu.com as an example).

    But you don't really need to be a formal developer of a distro or upstream project to fix a bug; anyone can submit a patch, and project leaders will be glad to take it as long as it works. Where the bug is fixed is more important than who fixes it.

  9. #9
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    Re: So many distros!!!

    "Aren't most distros just taking linux, gnu, a desktop environment, and some applications, with some tweaks here and there, and calling it their own? Or is it way more complicated than that?"

    it's not actually a lot more complicated than "that", but "that" is possibly more complex than you appreciate...

    Quick example - most Mandriva development (packaging work, translation work, development of the Mandriva tools) is done within our SVN repository. We have that SVN repository tracked on CIA:

    http://cia.vc/stats/project/Mandriva

    As you will notice, there have been 45,331 changes to Mandriva SVN in the last nearly 8 months. That's somewhere around 200 changes per day, every day.

    Yes, building a distribution is basically taking a bunch of programs and making sure they work with each other, but when "a bunch" is "several thousand", that's a LOT of work. I'm sure Ubuntu's numbers are similar to this, I wouldn't know where to go and get them though.

    To put together a 'complex' distro like Mandriva or Ubuntu you really need at least a couple of dozen highly active people. A simpler distro like Slackware, which hardly changes anything from upstream, can be managed by fewer, but even that is probably more work than you would appreciate if you've never followed distribution development.

    If you want to see how much work is really involved, try subscribing to a few Ubuntu development mailing lists, I expect you'd be surprised
    Adam Williamson | http://www.happyassassin.net
    Fedora QA Community Monkey

  10. #10
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    Re: So many distros!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by anotherdisciple View Post
    I was just wanting your take on something. I'm a newbie, but I started thinking about GNOME, KDE, etc. Why don't they just make their own distros?

    Aren't most distros just taking linux, gnu, a desktop environment, and some applications, with some tweaks here and there, and calling it their own? Or is it way more complicated than that?

    It seems to me that if the DE people were the only ones who made their own distro, it would have a few benefits. One being that there would be less distros, so more people would be on each one. That would mean more people on the forums to discuss issues, and more people to manage packages. It seems that if more people focused on just a few distros... it could push linux ahead of the game even faster.

    Am I off my rocker?
    Hi, actually if desktop environments made their own distros then there will be a huge reduction in choice and Linux is about choice to do what u want. All these different distros add something new to the desktop environments and keep Linux competitive. Also some Linux distros work better on some hardware than others for example OpenSuse's userspace hibernate method always rebooted my machine and never shut off whereas Kubuntu's works perfectly. If desktop environments each became a distro, hardware support may drop and so will competitiveness.
    Thats what I think.

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