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View Full Version : [all variants] Why are there different Linux distributions



ikarus2k
January 26th, 2009, 01:11 PM
Please excuse my ignorance, but I can't seem to get my head around this.

Ignoring different Desktop environments, pure-open-source vs os + some proprietary code, why are there so many flavours of linux?

Isn't it counterproductive? Wouldn't it be easier and/or better to have one basis to work on?!

techstop
January 26th, 2009, 01:15 PM
Why are there different models of cars? Why doesn't everyone live in the same kind of house? Why doesn't everyone eat the same sandwiches?

What works for you doesn't necessarily work for me. One distro (eg ClarkConnect) might be perfect to use as a firewall/gateway/mail server.

Another might be great as a web server (CentOS). Another might be great to run from a USB drive (Puppy). And so on and so on...

One size does *not* fit all, and thank (insert deity) for that.

RyanVanDiemen
January 26th, 2009, 02:08 PM
if windows would somehow strangely become OSS, trust me in less than a year, you would have plenty of different distributions...
people like to change and improve things. let`s say you know a lot about cars and so does your friend. you will both get ford mustang each as a present for your 18th birthday. you would both try to improve it "your way". you would improve the engine, but your friend would improve handling of the car. after each of you improve what you know best, you can get together and take anything you like from your friend`s car and use it on your own car. in linux world you can actually take this improved mustang and start your own car business... that`s linux

ikarus2k
January 26th, 2009, 02:18 PM
Thanks guys,*point taken.

I was actually strictly referring to desktop linux.

This question popped up in my head when I saw there were .deb packages to download for an application (I think deluge, but not sure), but none for Ubuntu (with no package in the repos and those debs not compatible).

To take the mustang example:
* I improve horsepower
* My friend improves fuel-economy
? why can't we put our heads together and improve both?

Joeb454
January 26th, 2009, 02:20 PM
.debs should work under Ubuntu too. If there's no specific OS specified but just a .deb file, then you should be fine.

Some sites may link to a .deb file saying "Debian based distributions". Those would be fine too, as Ubuntu is derived from Debian

RyanVanDiemen
January 26th, 2009, 02:40 PM
Thanks guys,*point taken.
* I improve horsepower
* My friend improves fuel-economy
? why can't we put our heads together and improve both?

Well, you can still put your heads together, but there might be other two-three friends on another side of the planet, who can do the same thing differently and it`s up to the users which "version" they use, which better suits their needs. and major mustang distributors can choose which one they distribute and users/drivers can anytime switch between these two versions with just a click...or actually can even have both installed on their car and switch during driving... (wow, that would be a car...)

SeanHodges
January 26th, 2009, 02:51 PM
To take the mustang example:
* I improve horsepower
* My friend improves fuel-economy
? why can't we put our heads together and improve both?

Good point, and it is always encouraged that you work collaboratively on improvements. The problem is if, for example, your new horsepower adjustments require a modified catalyser, which your friend is not too keen on because it negatively impacts his precious fuel-economy. Of course, eventually you both may work out an all-in-one solution that both "cars" can use, but
by then you're already arguing about which side the steering wheel should be on.

Think of GNU/Linux as a big pile of ideas and attempts at solving problems, and each distribution as a neatly packaged up collection of the best ideas for what the maintainers consider important.

ikarus2k
January 26th, 2009, 02:51 PM
ok, so:
- there are so many distributions because there are so many people working and improving Linux, in different&unique ways.
- everybody can choose the variant that suits them best.

But, aside from more technically minded people, how can you differentiate which is best for you?! Everybody just wants something that doesn't get in their way, with as little input on their part. (one of the reasons I choose Ubuntu).

Back to the mustang:
My mustang has extra HP. My friends needs less gas, but if either of us don't have proper wipers ... that's a problem.
My cousin has proper wipers, but he's got a tiny trunk. My uncle ... you get the point

RyanVanDiemen
January 26th, 2009, 03:03 PM
ok, so:
Back to the mustang:
My mustang has extra HP. My friends needs less gas, but if either of us don't have proper wipers ... that's a problem.
My cousin has proper wipers, but he's got a tiny trunk. My uncle ... you get the point

well, that`s one of the main advantages of linux, you can install almost any wipers on your mustang, because all mustangs are the same size (linux) and you can even install wipers from tiny trunk (ie windows) using "tiny trunk wipers emulator" (wine)...
the thing is even with more distributions you can install most of apps on any distribution if you have source code which you have for all OSS and applications that are not OSS (skype, opera) usually give you options of your distribution...you just need to know what distribution your one comes from (Ubuntu is based on Debian)...

scotty2
January 26th, 2009, 03:04 PM
I think it is inevitable that OSS software will split regularly as different people have differing ideas as to the best way forward. It is a bit like life, with a proportion of luck and of advantageous improvements leading to survival of the fittest.

amauk
January 26th, 2009, 03:11 PM
For a bit of background on how the "distribution" model came about, see here
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=6557569#post6557569

ikarus2k
January 26th, 2009, 05:42 PM
Ok, think I got it.

Once you could tinker with your mustang to your hearts desire. Then GM came along and hid it all behind plastic. People didn't forget their old mustangs and tied building their own. At times together, at times alone, now we have all kinds of mustangs.

Thanks guys :D

sydbat
January 26th, 2009, 06:01 PM
Think of GNU/Linux as a big pile of ideas and attempts at solving problems, and each distribution as a neatly packaged up collection of the best ideas for what the maintainers consider important.Awesome quote. My new signature!

Therion
January 26th, 2009, 06:05 PM
Behold the power of choice emboldened by the freedom to create.

lswb
January 26th, 2009, 06:33 PM
Maybe we could have

"home basic"
"home premium"
"professional"
"business"
"ultimate"

And then we could have service packs too...

RyanVanDiemen
January 27th, 2009, 03:17 PM
Maybe we could have

"home basic"
"home premium"
"professional"
"business"
"ultimate"

And then we could have service packs too...

good one, lswb :p

stalkingwolf
January 27th, 2009, 05:22 PM
To take the mustang example:
* I improve horsepower
* My friend improves fuel-economy
? why can't we put our heads together and improve both?

you could. then there would be a 3rd distro if you will. Then another could change it to a right drive (#4), the next maybe a rear engine, (5#),
The next a sound system (6#) and so on.

Ben Page
January 27th, 2009, 05:31 PM
...choice, and nothing but the choice, that is what I like about Linux based distros. Linux will offer you the choice. Microsoft don't offer nothing, buy my OS and think like I am thinking, I know whats best for you... but Linux said stop to that kind of behavior. YOU choose, it can be more dificult if you don't know what you want and need, but then go Windows, Microsoft set it up for you just as they like you to be set up ;). can you run Vista on older hardware? NO, you MUST buy a new comp, even if you don't really need it (for office and emails) if you want to have drivers and help support, because windows 98 is long dead and there are no updates (and there newer will be). With linux, you are able to run DSL on 486, surf the net, write your report, receive emails, and it is up to date distro (ans so is your 486).
Only problem is, that it is hard to track (the distros) but there is always wikipedia and distrowatch!
:popcorn:

hrod beraht
January 27th, 2009, 05:35 PM
...why are there so many flavours of linux?

Distrowatch lists about 400 different ones, but few are significantly different or truly unique. That's because many are just slightly modified versions of more major distributions. In fact, nearly half of that Distrowatch list is made up of distributions that are just modified versions of Debian and Fedora (http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=independence).

Bob

Ben Page
January 27th, 2009, 05:53 PM
You are absolutely right hrod beraht, but I don't see the point of your post, they still count as a choice.
Why use a "naked" debian, witch is good for certain stuff, and install a bunch of codecs and players, when you can install a "sub"distro of Ubuntu, SuperUbuntu, or Ultimate edition, and have it all downloaded and installed at startup (install OS and watch the DVDs you like...). But on the other hand, why install SuperUbuntu, if you are only going to surf the net and do office stuff.