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Discussion on: Explain the different popular Linux distros

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elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks • Edited

There are mostly 3 different distributions:

  • RPM. The RedHat Package Management based distributions. Most of them forked at some point in time from the RedHat distribution. Most RPM based distributions are hard forks of RedHat. This includes RHEL (Commercial supported server), Fedora (desktop), CentOS (non-commercial version of REHL), SUSE (both desktop and server), ...
  • Debian. Uses a completely different package management system (superior in my view). Distributions branches from Debian generally still follow Debian as mainline. As Debian has strict rules about keeping software stable the packages are not the latest (but do feature the latest security updates). This is something other distributions have addressed in various ways. Debian is mostly used as server. A common Debian based desktop distro (also used as server) which features newer major release of packages in Ubuntu. From Ubuntu a bunch of other distributions have popped up to have different system standards, mostly UI related.
  • Roll our own distos. These generally come with little standard packages and require you to do more yourself. Well known distributions are Gentoo and Slackware.

So it's mainly package infra which makes the difference in distributions. In most cases this does not lock you down in the kind of software you can run. But more which supporting tools are available to get software running.

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tulkdan profile image
Pedro Correa

Good comparison and examples used to show the diff, I did not get if Arch distros are based on Debian or RPM? They don't right? Pacman is based on another package management or is a totally diffenrent one?

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elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks • Edited

Arch's package management follows more the RPM style than DEBs style in package management. It is somewhat in the middle of the two. But it's not a fork of either, it's a different kind of distribution.
There have been more distributions which were not RPB/DEB/or-roll-your-own based. But I have no idea if they are still around, or how applicable they are. That's why I said "mostly".
For example, Android is a technically Linux distribution, but quite unlike all the others I have mentioned.