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

“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