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LinuxPower: Are the Smaller Distributions a Force for Good or Bad?

Jul 30, 1999, 21:56 (16 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Christian Schaller)

"It seems that every week we are greeted by a new distribution popping up. Not strange maybe, since the creation and selling of a distribution is one of the proven ways to make money in the Linux marketplace. Most of these new distributions are usually based upon RedHat (although lately some Debian ones have started to show up too), and usually it seems like they add nothing more than a little tweak of their own. They are of course free to do this since both the RedHat and Debian distributions including their installers is covered by the LGPL and the GPL, but that doesn't necessary mean that it is a good thing."

"I have for some time now been very skeptical of these new distributions, feeling that they are just leaching off the hard work of others without truly contributing something back. My impression has been that the additions these new distributions bring is often of a marginal nature, some to such a degree that I have considered it only a matter of time before somebody would sink low enough to throw some x-rated desktop pictures onto a CDROM with the RedHat distribution code and try to sell it as something like 'Pink Spot Linux'."

"A part of this skepticism has also been based upon the opinion that if the community spread our money out between a lot of distributions, the result would be that instead of the money being used to hire coders to work full-time on Free Software projects, they would instead end up just paying people just to keep the different distributions up to date, and thereby slowing the development of new functionality. It is a matter of fact that the reason RedHat and SUSE are able hire people to work on projects like GNOME, XFree86, the kernel and ALSA is because they sell so many boxes of their distributions, so that after the cost of assembling these distributions is paid for, there is still money left."

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