Talk:Comparison of Linux distributions/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Information from Comparison of operating systems

This is an article to compare Linux distributions. It was created due to the prevention of (potentially) bloating the comparison of operating systems with Linux distributions - the day where we had to create this article, is better now then sooner. Squash 03:34, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

(Security) features comparison

What distributions use SELinux out of the box? What use the filesystem ACLs out of the box? What have dropped (by default) the patented multimedia stuff like mp3 support and similars from the software selection? Perhaps a divider to "build it yourself" vs "complete system with sane default settings"? (Good example: Debian vs Ubuntu). A good one for target audience.. Things like this could benefit people, even when categorized roughly.

Raw Number of Users comparison

Any chance of adding a column for "Approx # of Users" or something and then sorting from highest to lowest? I'm new to linux and don't have a ton of time to play around with a million different "sects" of the same religion. which one is everyone using? that seems like the bottom line to me.

There's no chance of getting any accuracy on a stat like that :) Greenman 17:59, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Greenman, there isn't an accurate way to tell but, to answer your question I'd say that Ubuntu has the largest user base.Mike92591 21:37, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

The DistroWatch stats are the standard source for this, but (A) are considered to be "just a good guess", and (B) change about as rapidly as the pop music charts -- todays's #5 might be the most popular in a few months, while today's #1 might be considered a primitive piece of junk. You probably want to consider most other factors a lot more highly than the rankings here. -- Writtenonsand 22:45, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Target audience

The "target audience" section of the first table is getting bloated with lots of useless labels. Personally, I think that server, workstation, and enthusiast are all that are needed. Is there any objection to my cutting back the excess? --Yath 08:22, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I second that motion -- Brother Dysk 16:00, Feb 7, 2005 (UTC)
Server/workstation doesn't really make sense in reply to "target audience". Maybe rename "target audience" to "computer type" OWTTE? Talrias 19:08, Feb 7, 2005 (UTC)
Primary users or something.
It does make sense - workstation users, desktop users, systems administrators/server operators - it's just simpler to put desktop/workstation/server. Common practice, really Brother Dysk 16:01, Feb 8, 2005 (UTC)
To whoever added 'developers' as a target audience group - developers work on whatever platform they're developing for. This is a useless category.
I think we need to distinguish between personal desktops and enthusiasts. The new Novell Linux Desktop and Lindows are targeted for Linux newbies, whereas say, Debian is intended for hardcore Linux users.
Any attempt to do this will multiply this discussion page's size by an order of magnitude. If you need an example, Debian isn't only intended for hardcore Linux users.--Chealer 12:12, 2005 Apr 2 (UTC)

It would be nice to distinguish server between 'enterprise' class servers and ma and pa ISP small scale class servers. Many of these distros (gentoo for example) would be fine if I was running a small web company or an ISP, but it'd be the wrong solution for a large company.

That would only make more flames, imho. -- jkt, gentoo

Features table

The features table is really poorly informative IMO. I suggest removing Default GUI styling (who cares), Default window manager (just an extension from default DE) and Graphics software and capabilites. About the last one, there is a 1 after but I don't see what it refers to. The only things that vary are SVGALib and Berlin/Fresco, and there are no links to what these are. The Default Filesystem Browser is also a simple extrapolation of the default DE and trivial to change otherwise, so what's the point.

That leaves a table with one column and an inappropriate title. Where to move it, General?--Chealer 12:47, 2005 Apr 2 (UTC)

File managers may be different to the default for the DE - e.g. XFM is the Xandros default, not Konqueror. Shall we replace graphical capabilities, window manager and GUI styling with default office programs, whether there's a GUI install procedure or not, and what customer support is available, maybe? - --Baryonic Being 13:11, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC)
But if there's no X Windows by default, it won't make sense to have a default office suite column, for example. Also, it's almost bound to be an extrapolation of the default DE, or OOo. Brother Dysk 01:36, Apr 3, 2005 (UTC)
True, but distros are almost bound to come with X - at least, there's more of a chance of X than there is of an office suite.
Debian uses by default Gnome even if X isn't installed by default (when the "desktop environment" is installed). And it could be mentionned anyway. I also think that all distros that will end up here will offer X.--Chealer 06:59, 2005 Apr 4 (UTC)
The default file manager may indeed be something not directly associated with the default DE, but Xandros is one among few. And how important is it? I also don't see what's the interest of mentionning the default office program, if you can use another one :? For the customer support, I have no idea what you would write there.--Chealer 06:59, 2005 Apr 4 (UTC)
How about a column for xorg/xfree? Philip Nilsson 01:17, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The "Linux Kernel" column was added to Technical so that new users could assess whether they are installing a "stable" or a "state-of-the-art" kernel. One example of particular interest is the support of large disk drives (> 137 GB) in Linux 2.6. Most distros allow updating the kernel when required, so today it was changed to "Default Linux Kernel". 25 Apr 2005

as already implemented on distrowatch users want to know these criteria:

  • liveCD ?
  • boots of flash memory / USB-stick ?
  • security minded ? hacker-hardened ?
  • special interest e.g. bio-science, design/construction/CAE, current on WLAN asf.
  • proper maintenance or discontinued

Criteria for distributions...ugh

OK, now that Aurox and PLD Linux Distribution have been added, it's clear that we need some criteria for inclusion. I have distrowatch in mind...any other ideas?

No matter what criteria we set, we're gonna upset someone. I say we just go by common sense - leave in the reasonably 'big' projects (Fedora, Mandrake, Debian, Gentoo, etc) but take out some of the tiny, largely (dare I say) inconsequential distros (PLD, Aurox). Brother Dysk 15:38, Apr 2, 2005 (UTC)

Summary Table

Ugh, is this really a good idea? Why not just slap in a link to distrowatch? Also, all of that information (bar 'most popular', which refers only to distrowatch hits) is avaliable on the pages of the distros themselves, or even within other tables (cost, and 'most expensive' for example). I don't really think we need to keep it... Brother Dysk 01:39, Apr 3, 2005 (UTC)

I thought it might be quite useful. There is already a link to DistroWatch, and I know that people would prefer to look at an easy-to-read summary than to do their own article-hopping research.
In that case, can we discuss the fields in the table? I don't think "most expensive distro" for example, is awfully useful, nor "cheapest commercial". "Most popular" is misleading - it refers only to which distrowatch page has gotten most hits. Oldest and Youngest distro may be of interest, however. But the first three really should go... Brother Dysk 13:32, Apr 3, 2005 (UTC)
OK. Do you have any ideas? I'm afraid I don't! --Baryonic Being 15:00, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Oldest and youngest distros, maybe largest packagebase (Debian), fastest growing (Gentoo or Ubuntu, not sure), largest userbase (likely Mandrake or Fedora) and other things like that? Certainly take away the "most popular" thing - it's misleading. If no-one objects to this, I'll make it happen in a day or two. Brother Dysk 10:30, Apr 4, 2005 (UTC)
OK. I don't know how you're going to find out the largest userbase and fastest growing, though. --Baryonic Being 11:18, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Netcraft releases statistics of this, amongst others, anually. Brother Dysk 02:52, Apr 5, 2005 (UTC)
Web server statistics, no? Isn't that going to completely bias the counts against desktop-based Linuxes? -- Wisq 19:07, 2005 Apr 5 (UTC)
Indeed.--Chealer 09:42, 2005 Apr 6 (UTC)

Here's the table moved :


This summary table gives statistics solely about the Linux distributions presented in the tables above. Most of the data has come from DistroWatch. The 'Most Popular' distribution is provided for reference, and is currently based on the average number of hits per day of the DistroWatch summary page for the distributions in the period April 2 2004 to April 2 2005. The DistroWatch popularity page will provide more up-to-date popularity statistics.

Prize Distribution
Oldest Distro Slackware
Youngest Distro Ubuntu
Most Expensive Distro Xandros Desktop OS
Cheapest Commercial Distro Lycoris Desktop/LX
Most Popular Distro Mandrakelinux

This gives "prizes" instead of giving relevant information. Please replace with the appropriate info : cost, age (already done) and popularity (if possible). 4 of these were given for opposite why not "least popular distro"? Wikipedia isn't a Guiness book of records...please explain how this table would be a "summary" of the article's content. About the contents, I disagree that DistroWatch is an acceptable source of info for popularity. Who really thinks Mandrake is the most popular distro? --Chealer 09:42, 2005 Apr 6 (UTC)

Taking it out was probably the best idea from the beginning, anyway. Brother Dysk 11:40, Apr 6, 2005 (UTC)
OK, I was wrong then. I overestimated its usefulness. But should we still work the oldest/youngest distros into the prose? --Baryonic Being 13:57, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The age of the distros is already detailed. The fact that Slackware is the oldest is already mentionned in Linux distributions. If there's a point in mentionning the oldest distro, why would there be one in mentionning the youngest, and vice-versa? This sounds like marketing without a point, but that's my opinion anyway.--Chealer 00:59, 2005 Apr 8 (UTC)
Keeping track of the youngest distro is a bad idea. Anyone can make a distribution, and they frequently do. LWN likes to mention some new distributions, and in March 2005 they mentioned 8 (see the archives). --Yath 03:17, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Like in operating system advocacy should there be a scope here, or in another article, for putting the main perceived pros and cons of each distro?

I don't think that is a good idea. Comparison of [ ] articles should be only a table with facts. Pros and cons with NPOV etc should be on a different article not on this one. Squash 10:38, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Column Disambiguation

Some of the column headers are confusing and/or misleading, such as Preferred License and GUI Installation Procedure. The way preferred license is stated, implies packaging licenses, however it seems the distribution's license is listed for some projects (e.g. Lycoris). GUI installation procedure implies X-driven installation only, however, many distros have text (curses) based installations only. Both of these were the cause of a bit of confusion while adding Lunar Linux to the list. I would propose splitting the licensing into distro and packaging licenses, since some distros are under GPL, while some of the packages are BSD/Mozilla/etc. I'd also suggest changing GUI Installation Procedure to GUI/Curses Based Installer or something similar. Striker 11:31, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Ease of use

Here's a couple criteria that I think would be good to include:

One - for people who dual-boot with Linux and Windows - Does the distribution automatically mount Windows partitions? (NTFS as read-only and FAT (16, 32, etc.) as writable.)

Two - is it neccesary to use the CLI at all for day to day use? GUI and other easy distribution-installation processes are nice, but I think that's less of an issue than how easy the OS is to opperation onces it's been installed. Most people can have one of their geek friends help them install Linux on their computer, and wouldn't so much mind a difficult installation of the distro if it were really easy to use after that. I know that most tech-savvy users love the CLI and the direct control it gives them, and I'm pretty sure that all Linux distros have a terinal (or whatever other name they might use for it). But for most non-techie users, being forced to learn a bunch of commands for a CLI is one of the biggest things that turns them off from using Linux.

So yeah - getting back to the criteria - the question would be - can a user do everything that a typical Windows or Mac user would do (ie. installing new software, adjusting system settings, etc.) using only the GUI and not the CLI? I'm not sure how many (if any) of the distros are like that, or what the best way would be to phrase it on one of the tables, but I deffinately think that it's something that should be addressed.

--Blackcats 22:33, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

I know you weren't asking, but it seemed relevant. Re your one: every time I bring up Knoppix, it tells me it's doing read/write for NTFS (which is bloody scary, because I've read what you have to do to fix things when the NTFS module damages them; I don't think I've ever called its bluff).
Anyway, I agree, at least with your "two". I'm pretty sure that most live CD distributions detect and mount Windows partitions, and the others ask you during install if you have any other partitions to mount (RH, Slack, and Debian, at least). --Jack (Cuervo) 07:15, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

Number of Packages

What is the source of the number of packages? lists a total of 23869 Packages of Mandrake 10.2 (=Mandriva 2005). --Hhielscher 23:42, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I'm not about to count them, but you'll notice a lot of repeat entries on that page for different arch's. It's also a pretty gray area. Technically every distro can use every RPM, deb, tgz, ebuild, etc. on the internet, giving them all the same total package count which is the total number of packages available period. What we're after here is the total number of packages officially provided (without duplicate entries). ¦ Reisio 15:05, 2005 August 19 (UTC)
jack@crossbone:~$ sudo apt-get update ; apt-cache search '^' | lc
jack@crossbone:~$ cat /etc/debian_version 

--Jack (Cuervo) 13:26, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Well, if you count like this:

# urpmq --list|wc -l
# cat /etc/mandriva-release
Mandriva Linux release 2006.0 (Cooker) for i586

--Hhielscher 18:04, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

I count like this:

$ /bin/ls -1d /var/moonbase/*/*/|wc -l
$ cat /etc/lunar.release
Lunar Linux 1.4.0 (General P. Fault)

Number of packages is rather misleading for some distributions...Part of the installation procedure for Lunar-Linux is to update the module list, so the package count depends on how many modules are in our repository at the time. Also, I would think that any packages that require the user to visit a 3rd party to download a tarball, rpm, or deb would of course not be considered a package for that distro, and thus not be counted. --Striker 04:14, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Supported filesystems

I assume this means "filesystems supported by the install disk's default kernel, last I checked". Maybe a note to the effect that it's possible to compile one's own install-disk kernel? --Jack 22:40, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Adding this comment momentarily. --Johnny (Cuervo) 09:31, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
I couldn't figure out quite how to phrase it, at least not briefly. I'm assuming I'm preaching to the choir, here, but for distributions that use the official kernel source (e.g., as opposed to Debian, which feels it neccessary to rip out a bunch of stuff *grunt*xfs*grunt*otherstuff*grunt*), any filesystem that's supported by one is supported by the others. Whether or not it's supported by the kernel and modules on the install media is a different matter. --Johnny (Cuervo) 09:40, 20 March 2006 (UTC)