Talk:Linux distribution/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Linux vs GNU/Linux

2004-05-31 23:45, Hi David Gerard

You seem to have removed all the clarifications of the previously vague text. Encyclopedia's should be impartial and correct. You have put back all the confused use of "Linux", and removed spelling/grammar corrections. Really the Linux distributions entry should be clear about what it is and impartial to any of your leanings. The version you have reverted to is an umbrella description which could be read as matching more than it in fact does. The text should reflect correct and actual use of the term, including any that others may consider incorrect; it just should not blot out either/or as it does mostly at present.

Ok, and for the other minor revisions you removed:

eg -> e.g. ("eg" is just incorrectly spelt, e.g. is the abbreviation of latin "exampli gratia" and should be written "e.g." see OED for reference please.)

predetermined -> pre-determined

preconfigure -> pre-configure (requires hyphen as conjoined words)

PCs -> IBM compatible PCs (PCs is an abbreviation of "Personal Computers", this case only refers to IBM compatible PCs. Not Apple PCs for example. So presently )

"..targeted for China." -> ".. targeted at the Chinese market." (grammar is simply wrong)

In the Xandros section: commercial -> proprietary (Are you unaware that GNU/Linux is typically commercial so the "commercial" point is irrelevant, the relevant point is that it is PROPRIETARY commercial software. There is no point emphasising a pointless piece of information.)

cooperation -> co-operation (requires hyphen as conjoined words)

If you hold some position of seniority here please consider putting my clarifications back in. At least consider the grammatical and spelling revisions if you are intent on the "Linux" use being unsuitable as present.

Glad to see you did not revert my Proprietary software revision.

My comments in this post are intended to be polite, please do not consider my explanations patronising.

Cheers, now3d

I don't hold a position of editorial seniority; there isn't any such thing. However, the Linux to GNU/Linux stuff is clearly partisanism and POV-pushing. Please reread Talk:Linux and Talk:GNU/Linux naming controversy. And NPOV. In English, "Linux" is far and away the most common name for what you (and I) would prefer to be called "GNU/Linux"; pretending it isn't would not (to my mind) be appropriate.
Typos: "eg" you're right on, the others I think are arguable either way. I'll have a look through - David Gerard 13:00, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I've had a go. The facts seem more or less in order (I could dispute a few bits), but the whole article is really badly written and needs serious rewriting by someone who's a good writer in English. I'll make an attempt later, but anyone else who wants a go is of course welcome ...
In the distro list, I've attempted to avoid Linux vs GNU/Linux by sticking to the word "distribution", and only included one or the other when it's part of the name or when GNU is actually optional (does Linux from Scratch still tell you how to use BusyBox and uClibc, for instance?).
Further work on this article is desperately needed, and I mean a lot more than tweaks of hyphenation - David Gerard 16:48, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Thank you for applying those gramatical revisions. I just added co-operation. Regards, User:Now3d

Jimbo Wales on GNU/Linux as the correct naming convention.

"I would like to offer my opinion. The project to excise all references to GNU/Linux is deeply POV and wrong. It should be reverted completely and totally as quickly as possible. Virtually all references to Linux should be references to GNU/Linux. I am certainly unaware of any community consensus which would support the draconian and absurd campaign that has been conducted against the correct naming convention".--Jimbo Wales (talk) 01:29, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Lightedbulb (talk) 13:07, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Why is this article move protected so that it can't be given the correct name? Lurker (said · done) 13:39, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Old discussions

Alternate Definition for Distribution

When talking on the #gentoo channel on freenode, I found out that many gentoo ops concider small package collections (or even ebuild collections) and repositories linux distributions in their own right (e.g. they say breakmygentoo is a linux distribution). That doesnt sound right to me. What are your thoughts? --[User:Hackeron|Hackeron] 14:33, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)

"An alternate meaning of 'distribution', used by some Gentoo ops on IRC, is any repository, small package collection, or even ebuild collection." Doesn't look like the best of reference sources to me, no ... I've never heard this usage either. Is it documented somewhere more solid? - David Gerard 14:50, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)
It is to some extent, the op has posted a reply on a thread I started:
"The topic or post you requested does not exist". - David Gerard 20:57, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Sorry, link pasted wrong:
Reading that, it looks like his idiosyncratic usage, rather than even being jargon within Gentoo - David Gerard 21:49, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Of course, this is an idiosyncratic usage, although by definition "distribution" could include all of these things and many others. However, they are still not Linux distributions, which is a distribution of a complete system rather than a distribution of software that runs on Linux - Centrx 21:33, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

List of distributions

Should this really be a list of all Linux distributions, which it is fast becoming as many are added to the list? Instead, this purpose is better served by categories, possibly with a link to the appropriate category in section "Related articles", only leaving here a list of the most famous Linux distributions or, better yet, no list at all. Distributions that are relevant to the discussion of the article may be linked within its text. - Centrx 21:31, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I suppose, then, that because there are no objections, I will implement this, so there will be no list in this article, and the articles of the items in the list will be properly categorized... - Centrx 01:28, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I think that the List of Linux Distributions is better left as a seperate article, as it's already a bit long. Siraf 23:16, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Popular distros

The data I have puts the most talked about distro as Knoppix right now. For the mainstream Red Hat, SuSE, Mandrake as you'd expect and also of course Debian is huge. Ask a South American and they'll tell you 'Conectiva' .. but as a distro employee I'm not changing the page myself for obvious reasons AlanCox

Gentoo more packages than debian?

At any moment in time, the number of packages in gentoo and debian will vary. The people maintaining Gentoo packages can be fairly lazy with ebuilds (to do with difference in procedure and technical design between gentoo and debian) , so that, with all other things being equal, gentoo would have more packages per Mythical_Man_Month than debian.

At any point in time, either debian or gentoo may have more packages, and debian may well have more developers.

I don't intend starting a holy war here :-) Kim Bruning 10:34, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Eh, what? What's the point? The available Debian packages can be fairly easily counted, and the number is fairly exact and doesn't fluctuate much (generally it rises slowly). Can the available Gentoo packages be counted with any degree of consistency? If not, is there at least an approximation? Perhaps just peak values and a range? --Shallot 10:56, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Let's take a look for todays' gentoo. At the moment I measured the following held true, but YMMV.

The total number of ebuilds is larger than the stated number of debian packages:

$ find /usr/portage | grep .ebuild | wc -l  

But for many packages there are multiple ebuilds, usually different versions and a new testing version, to roughly find the number of unique ebuilds we can do:

$ find /usr/portage/*-* -type d | grep -v files | wc -l

but that also still counts top level dirs in /usr/portage, so:

$ ls -d /usr/portage/*-* | wc -l

Okay, so 7107-110 is 6997 packages.

So it depends on how you count. A gentoo afficionado would probably just use the number of ebuilds as their number, at 13500, which is definitely more than the quoted 8000 packages for debian. On the other hand, the number of *unique packages* being tracked by gentoo is currently around 7000, so a bit less than debian in that case.

It'd be interesting to track gentoo and debian #packages through time. I wonder if there's any graphs for that? I'll keep my eyes peeled. :-) Kim Bruning 12:42, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Hmm, might as well do an

# emerge sync 

Okay, now ebuilds = 13697 and # unique packages is roughly 7016. Kim Bruning 12:54, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The package count for Debian can also vary, but to compare with those current Gentoo numbers, the source package count of the "unstable" distribution matters. There's also the binary package counts, which are higher, the counts for non-current distributions, which are lower, and things like contrib and non-free section which slightly increase the former. Anyway, today Debian "unstable" has 7920 source packages. --Shallot 16:32, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
You need to count contrib and non-free as Gentoo adds such ebuild to portage. I think personally that it's silly to say that a distribution is better because it has got slightly more packages. You cannot compare Gentoo and Debian as their aims are different. -- 23:03, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)
One might also note that the percent of those Debian packages that build on all architectures is at over 95.75% today. Don't know if Gentoo keeps such statistics. --Shallot 16:32, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure if gentoo keeps the latter statistics, since "build successfully" is a function of the distro-user in the case of gentoo.

In any case the numbers are getting surprisingly close! I'll remove the statement for now since debians number is larger at the moment. But I'll bet with you that I'll be putting it back soon enough. ;-) Have a nice day! Kim Bruning 17:10, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)

There's a simple way to alleviate this problem—don't mention the number of packages.—Kbolino 08:13, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Linux Meta-distribution

i hate when this happens. the article "Linux Meta-distribution" redirects itself to this one, but this article DOES NOT even mention "Linux Meta-distribution" in it. the same with "Meta-distribution". Vbs 16:48, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)

So write the article at one and make the other redirect to it ;-) What is a Linux meta-distribution, anyway? (The M probably shouldn't be capitalised unless that's a proper name) - David Gerard 17:06, 24 Jun 2004 (UTC)
i don't know! i was reading the article "Portage (software)" which mentions and links to "Linux Meta-distribution", but when i went there to know what it was, it just didn't mention "Linux Meta-distribution". later i found there are actually some redirect policies, which some people don't seem to follow, cos it's not the first time this happens. Vbs 08:19, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)
me too, what is it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:16, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
A meta-distribution refers to a publication that encompasses all the required knowledge to build a system, without actually providing the system itself. — Preceding unsigned comment added by IsmaelLuceno (talkcontribs) 12:13, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Definition of Linux distribution

A Linux distribution is a complete Linux operating system

My built-from-scratch system was also a Linux OS. Perhaps replace "is" with "provides" or "is one way to get" or something?

The Linux kernel and much of the additional software making up a typical Linux-based system is Free Software; even more of it falls under the somewhat broader definition of Open source software.

While being correct this addition does not ring well with the sentence following it:

It is distributed by its maintainers in source form.

There is free software and there is source-available software (like Solaris). One should not imply that these are the same.

That nonwithstanding, compliments to Dmerrill for incorporating LD material from LOS! --Robbe


I really think the Slackware bit on this page is a bit out dated (or rather completely wrong). True..... Slackware is not for the faint of heart. But it is really easy to install. And kicking down its package management... it works just fine.
Any comments.... Bilbo

The present entry for Slackware is pretty biased... nothing really unexpected, but still :) --Shallot 20:55, 1 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Which Slackware-related part seems biased to you?
It has console-oriented package management system. It is stability- and security-oriented. It is old and actively maintained. So...
--DIG 04:18, 2 Apr 2004 (UTC)~
It's biased because it only has some vague positive statements, and no negative facts. --Shallot 20:48, 2 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Don't you mix apples and oranges? The "positive statements" you have mentioned are the principles in the basis of Slackware development, and they are the facts of life. What it would be if you added some negative user's experience there? You understand that we can find some kind of negative user's experience for almost everything? How and where (if at all) this can advance us?
Related questions: do you know of any negative facts showing that:
  • S. has not working console-oriented package management system,
  • S. has unstable packages,
  • S. missed to respond to some relevant security advisory,
  • S. is younger than it is claimed to be, and/or
  • S. is not actively maintained?
I assure you, that all my statements are neutral (I just use Slackware on a daily basis, and I do it long enough to do not participate in the flame wars). At least, my statements are more neutral, than biased ones like "S. is difficult to install" (unless you tell -- who install it, on what architecture, for what reason etc).
--DIG 22:41, 2 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I don't see how carefree marketingspeak and/or whitewashing can advance us. Surely you must be able to see already how an entry such as Slackware's current one stands out in that list. (Some other entries are also slanted, but this example is fresh.) --Shallot 01:34, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)
> I don't see how carefree marketingspeak and/or whitewashing can advance us.
I do not see either. --DIG
So don't do that then. --Shallot
I completely agree with you on this one: so don't do that then. --DIG
If you tell that Slackware is difficult to install for "naive" user -- that is fine by me. I wouldn't argue with that. (The neutrality of such a statement is a different question.) But do not tell me that Slackware is difficult to install. Period. -- I do not believe you. --DIG
Removal of pertinent, if unfavourable information is not the right way to fix the latter sentence. --Shallot
You missed the point, I am affraid. There is no wikipedia-worth information in one (or even more than one -- it just does not matter) negative user experience. I repeat, in case if there is a misunderstanding: it is a list of well (or not so well) known GNU/Linux distributions with their brief objective characterization. It is not somebody's home page to put very personalized views on the ease of the installation process. (As weak analogy, I would propose you to try to put your point of view on the ease of studying the nuclear physics or maths or biology into the corresponding wikipedia article. It is nonsense there, it is nonsense here.) --DIG
> Surely you must be able to see already how an entry such as [...].
Slackware current is not an officially numbered distribution, it is testing version.
--DIG 06:32, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)
You read incorrectly: I was referring to the current entry of Slackware in this page. --Shallot
O-o-ops... My bad, sorry.
Besides, you did not answer my questioon (made from your assertion): "How an entry such as Slackware's current one stands out in that list?" And it would be nice of you if you could give me the names of "other entries [that] are also slanted". Thanks. --DIG 22:13, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Either you're trolling, or I just can't help you. In any case, this issue, though mildly amusing at start, has proven to be an utter waste of time... --Shallot
Neither. --DIG 23:57, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)


I had to delete the Inter-Distro section since it is largely 'unrecommended' to use alien at all. Alien has been put simply, as 'evil'.. it is not good at all.

I inserted the Package Formats section because a Distro's emphasis for convenience has to include package management and understanding that not all distro's share packages is a misconception, so is the same that using alien on a package should mean that they are the same compiles, they are not!, it should be discouraged!

Perhaps a Misconception section should suffice? Linux Myths?

--User [[User::Jagginess|Jagginess]]

Duplicate Articles

There is a duplicate article Linux distr. On the surface, it appears that the article should be removed. However, please check to see if there is anything that can be salvaged from the other article and put into this one. Otherwise, please put that page for VFD. Thank you. --Hurricane111 16:03, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

GNU not-necessarily part of Unix-like Linux-based systems?

The article said: "A Linux distribution is a Unix-like operating system comprising the Linux kernel plus most of the GNU operating system (almost always but not necessarily)". I've removed the part that was in parenthesis since GNU is indeed part of every Unix-like, Linux-based OS. GNU is not part of everything that is Linux-based, but it is part of every Unix-like OS that is Linux-based. This seems uncontroversial to me, but maybe this is a touchy issue for some. Comments. Gronky 13:07, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

Slackware vs. Red Hat

From the article: "Slackware's philosophy is about having only stable components, and not caring much about graphical interfaces. On the other hand Red Hat is accused to rely more on graphics and user-friendliness to beginners, therefore diminishing its quality. Other distributions also have specific viewpoints which can be found on their websites."

This should be cleaned up; "is accused to" should maybe read "tends to" or such, while "diminishing its quality" should probably be more like "decreases its stability". Mind you, I haven't used Slackware or Red Hat, so I don't actually know that this is the case, which is why I didn't change it myself and am making suggestions in the talk page ;) -- Limulus 03:08, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

Suggested merge from List of Linux distributions

I'm surprised no discussion was opened by the proposer. I oppose on several grounds:

  • There is a tradition to keep "list of" type articles separate - they are not strictly encyclopaedic
  • This article would become too long if the information were included; there are guidelines for this based on commonly used bandwidths and some browsers having limited ability to cache.

I expect we'll keep this discussion open for further input and then remove the tag after a few days. - Samsara (talkcontribs) 13:19, 4 May 2006 (UTC)


Shouldn't this article be turned into one about all OS distros as opposed to just Linux-based ones (as there is not an article on that). Perhaps move to distribution (operating system) or distro or similar?

Joe Llywelyn Griffith Blakesley talk contrib 00:00, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

The idea of distributions doesn't really exist outside the Linux world. The bsd variants all differ far too much at a very low level (they aren't even close to binary compatible (linux distros are binary compatible if static linking is used or special precautions are taken during build) to consider them mere distributions. Commercial operating systems are rarely redistributed in a significantly modified form for general use (they are modified for use in embedded systems but i'm not sure that really counts as a distro either). Plugwash 22:02, 7 June 2006 (UTC)
I also don't think any such move is required or would be in any way useful. - Samsara (talkcontribs) 23:06, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Boot floppies

It does indeed seem these are no longer available for the current stable:

Samsara (talkcontribs) 23:05, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

linux-supporting-gnu software

The first line currently has a strange wording about "the Linux kernel, supporting GNU system software" - which parses as: the Linux kernel plus GNU system software that supports Linux. I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean but I am sure that it is simpler to say "the GNU system plus the Linux kernel". So I'll revert, but I wanted to explain here since an anon has reverted my previous fix ("fix" being IMHO). Gronky 09:45, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Linux on VirtualPC?

I've never heard of such a thing, so I thought I'd ask. Just doubting that an MS product would facilitate Linux... - Samsara (talkcontribs) 08:40, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Is it a "distribution" without a package manager?

I am told that in the Gentoo community, some people refuse to call something a "distribution" if it doesn't have package management. Therefore, for example, Slackware doesn't count as one by this usage. The person who told me this said this isn't official Gentoo usage, but is common in the Gentoo community. Has anyone seen anything referenceable on this? - David Gerard 20:20, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

No. It's new and absurd to me. Gronky 20:33, 4 September 2006 (UTC)


I do not find any mention of the licensing of Linux distributions. Are all Linux distributions under GPL? If not, why? I request anyone who is knowledgeable to include this information as Linux licensing is extremely confusing to many people. Thanks.

Licensing is mixed --Ismael Luceno (talk) 12:20, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
Only Linux kernel is under GPL. The userspace programs (i.e. all the other software included into the distribution) can have any available license. This means that is perfectly possible to build proprietary distributions using Linux kernel, hovewer, the vendor can not introduce additional changes to the kernel itself. It means that if there are security flaws in the userspace programs, the user can root the device (i.e. gain direct access to the kernel facilities) and do whatever he wants, e.g. install another OS.1exec1 (talk) 16:01, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
Many other programs are also under GPL. The GPL (which is probably the most strict of the licences used) explicitly allows distribution together with separately licensed software. A distribution is such a bundle.
It really is confusing. Sometimes even individual files have separate licences (which of course must be compatible with the rest of it). Some distributions (like Debian and the Red Hat distributions) are committed to free software and so you know at least some things you can do with any official package (use, distribute with source code) without legal risk. Even there the situation changes right away when you use external packages (e.g. non-free graphics drivers).
But licensing is no less confusing for the non-free alternatives, such as Windows. The main difference is that most people take those licences as a necessary evil, mostly without reading the licence terms, while GNU/Linux proponents often have some ambitions about explaining the licensing issues.
(In GPL v. 2 you may be out of luck making any changes: it demands giving the source, but it does not demand your getting access to the code as it is used. How do you fix bugs in the firmware of your watch, even if you have the patch? GPL v. 3 demands that you are given also the information needed to get to the firmware, if the firmware is upgradeable)
--LPfi (talk) 11:33, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
GPL family of licences demands the source of the software only if you are producer. By saying producer I mean you are distributing software, i.e. you manufacture watches, flash modified GPL firmware and then sell them in thousands. On the contrary, GPL permits not sharing changes of the GPL software if you are a consumer, that is, you don't sell the software, or distribute it only to a limited group of individuals. So you can indeed modify the GPLed software privately, you can distribute it to your relatives, you can even build a repository of custom software at the company for inside usage WITHOUT having an obligation to publish sources.1exec1 (talk) 20:09, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
There is no such distinction, unless you got a written offer about the source code (GPL v.2, section 3b). If you downloaded the software or got it on a CD without the written offer, then you must distribute it with source (or give the offer yourself). Few people do this and as long as the source is available on the net nobody seems to care, but strictly speaking most binary CD:s are illegal.
Internal use is another matter. As long as you do not distribute it to other legal entities, you have no obligations. But distributing to friends is distributing.
--LPfi (talk) 07:56, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

GNU is a part, like Linux and some other stuff

The article talks about "Unix-like" systems. Unix-like, Linux-based distros all include GNU software. Further, the vast majority of "Linux distros", including ones that are too POSIX incomplete to be called "Unix-like", contain more GNU code than Linux code. I don't see a reason to remove the name of the largest contributor to the software system in question, or to push their name down to less significant parts of the article. Gronky 22:39, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

Installation: Ubuntu Free CDs?

"The most common method of installing Linux is by booting from a CD that contains the installation program and installable software. Such a CD can be burned from a downloaded ISO image, purchased alone for a low price, or can be obtained as part of a box set that may also include manuals and additional commercial software."

Can we make mention of Ubuntu's ShipIt free CD service? This seems to indicate that Linux is not really free for people who can't download the ISOs (dial-up), which is not the case. 05:47, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Merge Linux page to this article

Please discuss this in Linux talk page: Talk:Linux#Merge_this_article_with_Linux_distributions -- AdrianTM 20:05, 1 February 2007 (UTC)