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Thread: Why are there different Linux distributions

  1. #1
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    Question Why are there different Linux distributions

    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?!

  2. #2
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    Re: Why are there different Linux distributions

    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.

  3. #3
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    Re: Why are there different Linux distributions

    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

  4. #4
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    Re: Why are there different Linux distributions

    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?
    Last edited by ikarus2k; January 26th, 2009 at 02:21 PM. Reason: added an example for illustration

  5. #5
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    Re: Why are there different Linux distributions

    .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

  6. #6
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    Re: Why are there different Linux distributions

    Quote Originally Posted by ikarus2k View Post
    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...)

  7. #7
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    Re: Why are there different Linux distributions

    Quote Originally Posted by ikarus2k View Post
    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.

  8. #8
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    Re: Why are there different Linux distributions

    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

  9. #9
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    Re: Why are there different Linux distributions

    Quote Originally Posted by ikarus2k View Post
    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)...

  10. #10
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    Re: Why are there different Linux distributions

    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.

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