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How the Linux Community Ranks Distributions - page 5

Deeds and Words Can Judge

  • February 19, 2008
  • By Bruce Byfield

Nothing in this division suggests technical or philosophical superiority--just popularity and influence. Rather than an exact taxonomy, these rankings should be thought of as an attempt to summarize the reactions to various distributions. So far as possible, I have tried to observe why each distribution is regarded in the way that it is rather than voice my own views, although undoubtedly my own bias has crept into some of the descriptions.

Nor have I tried to categorize every distribution known to me. For one thing, I haven't tried every known distribution, and would have no wish to devote the rest of my life to doing so.

For another, aside from the specializations that clearly fall into the third tier, beyond the three categories I have mentioned, rankings become harder to describe. For every distribution like Ubuntu that quickly establishes its position at the head of the pack, dozens more exist, whose popularity is more like that of a penny mining stock, changing dramatically from year to year.

Many, such as Zenwalk or Dreamlinux are too recent for their position to be clear for another year or two, while others never seem to have been intended as anything more than a two- or three-person project.

And the ranks within each tier? That is something I have no intention of getting into. Although how each distribution is regarded broadly speaking is relatively easy to observe, beyond that, personal experience and enthusiasm create too much static for consistently clear signals.

All the same, placing distributions into general categories can be useful if you're browsing distros, especially if you are new. Noting that a distro is popular or influential is worthwhile, but knowing the reasons for its popularity or how it has influenced is better still. If nothing else, this knowledge can save you time by allowing you to target what interests you.

This article originally appeared on Datamation, an OnlineJupiterWeb site.

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