What makes a distro?

Linuxembourg

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I installed Debian XFCE on my friends old Dell laptop at the weekend. I realised pretty quickly why it is considered difficult to use for beginners, and to some extent why it is considered so good. Fortunately my brief experience was enough that it wasn't that difficult. I had to add non-free sources and install the firmware for the wifi, but I am familiar now with what I am being asked to do. I only really used it for an hour or two after setting up. It used <300MB RAM without anything running which is lovely.

I was surprised that everything (from a user tweaking pov) seemed the same. Especially as I was using XFCE rather than LXQT that I am used to. If I had a day or so, I could easily make it exactly the same as my Lubuntu (afaict at least).

The whole thing leaves me wondering (even more) about the purpose of all the distros and what actually constitutes a distro. At what point does something become a separate distro and not just a themed version of Debian with different applications installed?
 


captain-sensible

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you could have just downloaded the iso which contained the none free wifi .this one:
debian-live-10.9.0-amd64-xfce+nonfree.iso

You could then use live to install


This is a reasonable list of Distros : https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/arch_compared_to_other_distributions At least they have the decency to mention Slackware.

I'm a bit of a "prefer to go to the source man" with distros that are based on other distros lets take zenwalk - it needs slackware to keep going; if slackware goes down i guess so does Zenwalk. So if you or I are a statistics man there is a probability that the derivative might cease for its own reasons, but that if the one its based on goes down, the deravative most likely will so why not just learn to use the source OS


At what point does something become a separate distro and not just a themed version of Debian with different applications installed?
When a branch is formed and they start to go their separate ways. For instance there are flatpacks snapshots cannot remember if Mint uses then and Debian doesn't . but one poster on here mentioned Mint main lead is not going to use snapshot i think it was .

SEarch for this online and read A to Z The Debian Administrators Handbook by By Raphaël Hertzog Roland Mas (z-lib.org).pdf There is a "HINT HINT " of where i got it from in the title
 

KGIII

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There's no defined amount of change that has to take place to be called a distro, but a derived distro typically changes something significant under the hood. An independent distro is one that builds itself from the kernel.
 

Linuxembourg

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There's no defined amount of change that has to take place to be called a distro, but a derived distro typically changes something significant under the hood. An independent distro is one that builds itself from the kernel.
Thank you. I suppose I am mistaken in my feeling then. What is significantly different between Ubuntu and Debian under the hood? Not debating you, just trying to understand your definition of under the hood.
 

Linuxembourg

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you could have just downloaded the iso which contained the none free wifi .this one:
debian-live-10.9.0-amd64-xfce+nonfree.iso

You could then use live to install
Thank you for that. It would've been much easier at the WE, and will be when I almost definitely move my laptop to Debian. Thank you for the book as well.

I'm a bit of a "prefer to go to the source man" with distros that are based on other distros lets take zenwalk - it needs slackware to keep going; if slackware goes down i guess so does Zenwalk. So if you or I are a statistics man there is a probability that the derivative might cease for its own reasons, but that if the one its based on goes down, the deravative most likely will so why not just learn to use the source OS
Yeah I suppose it depends on what you do with the OS, but I tend to agree with this. Installing Lubuntu and then heavily customising the look, removing snaps, etc, has been a very good learning experience. But I doubt I'd do it again. I do appreciate the need for the user-friendly distros as I wouldn't be typing this if Lubuntu hadn't booted up live with the external Wifi dongle working.

I think for those of us who know (or can learn) it's a bit of no-brainer really. @KGIII Why don't you use the source rather than Lubuntu?
 

KGIII

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Thank you. I suppose I am mistaken in my feeling then. What is significantly different between Ubuntu and Debian under the hood? Not debating you, just trying to understand your definition of under the hood.
Tons of things, from updates/upgrade schedules, to snaps, to ESM, to live patching the kernel, different kernels, different packages, treatment of 'non-free' packages, to PPAs, etc... Someone has probably enumerated many of them.

@KGIII Why don't you use the source rather than Lubuntu?
Way too much effort, and too few support options. I have done LFS and BLFS, but the goal was learning and not actually using the resulting OS.
 

Linuxembourg

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Way too much effort, and too few support options. I have done LFS and BLFS, but the goal was learning and not actually using the resulting OS.
I suppose you must have a lot of use requirements or hardware. For me, it was relatively easy to set up. Arguably easier, although I've not set it up on the same laptop yet for a true test.

In fact setting up was as easy as getting Chromium on Lubuntu, for which I followed your tutorial!!
 

KGIII

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You set up LFS/BLFS? Hmm...

And, yeah, I have a lot of hardware and like a consistent experience across all of them. In *most* instances, I even keep my ~/ in sync.

Back in my Windows days, I even went so far as to use 'roaming profiles' that let me have the same exact experience regardless of where I was in the house.
 

Linuxembourg

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You set up LFS/BLFS? Hmm...
Haha! Yes it was as easy installing chromium! No, I misread LFS as LTS and just assumed the other was some other version. I have actually read about LFS before.

I was asking about Debian with LXQT. Why do you use Lubuntu and not Debian with LXQT? I mean, you even go through the hassle of removing snaps. And I presume you could install/use Debian easily.
 

KGIII

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I was pretty dubious about your LFS/BLFS claims... It's NOT easy. No, no... It's educational, however.

As for Lubuntu, I like (most of) the defaults, I like the support, I like the stable releases, I like the community, etc... It's a great Ubuntu flavor. I'm actually still needing to finish my application to become an official Lubuntu member.

I wouldn't formally call Lubuntu its own distro. It's Ubuntu, with Lubuntu bits swapped out. It's fundamentally the same OS.
 

Linuxembourg

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I was pretty dubious about your LFS/BLFS claims... It's NOT easy. No, no... It's educational, however.

As for Lubuntu, I like (most of) the defaults, I like the support, I like the stable releases, I like the community, etc... It's a great Ubuntu flavor. I'm actually still needing to finish my application to become an official Lubuntu member.

I wouldn't formally call Lubuntu its own distro. It's Ubuntu, with Lubuntu bits swapped out. It's fundamentally the same OS.
Re LFS indeed. It'd be kinda ridiculous if I'd set up LFS bearing in mind I am the OP!

I had a feeling you might say something like that on Lubuntu, which is fair enough.

Yes, I suppose I'd agree with you. Although it is worth little. I think you could say the same about Ubuntu and Debian, albeit with more bits.

I suppose my question is maybe a bit like the 'paradox of the heap', also known as 'paradox of the bald man'.
 

KGIII

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Not many people realize that math is actually a philosophy. Math evaluates statements for truth, which is why math has philosophical notations. The highest level of math is the Philosopher of Mathematics. Well, it used to be. These days there's a lot of people saying it'd be pure math, but I'd submit that pure math often has nothing to do with reality. Logicism is the name of the game, and worthy (I think) of examination. You might enjoy it.

But, I digress...

If you'd like some lovely paradoxes to worry your head, you might want to look up a fella named Zeno. Zeno's paradoxes are wonderful nuggets to chew upon in your spare time.
 

captain-sensible

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ah thats easy i installed Lubuntu onto an old ex-workstation because it couldn't handle anything else. So i guess "niche" is relevant to distros
 

captain-sensible

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but the goal was learning and not actually using the resulting OS.
thats true O ; i have used Slackware for quite some time and building packages is to be frank quite a pain , since you also have to manually build the deps to.

But if the objective is learning so thats no problem; thats why i got into slackbuilds and in fact am still maintaining one package for Slackbuilds.org the de-facto place for software for Slackware .You might think going from Slackware to playing with Vanilla Arch is a problem its not since my objecitive has shifted from lets see how tings tick to "wouldn't it be nice if i could just get the pkg i want; auto install of deps and even better upstream when things advance its no problem updating - ah no thats Bliss
 

KGIII

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ah thats easy i installed Lubuntu onto an old ex-workstation because it couldn't handle anything else.
It's amazingly fast on modern hardware. Like the older LXDE version, LXQt just gets out of my way once it's set up.

i have used Slackware for quite some time and building packages is to be frank quite a pain , since you also have to manually build the deps to.
I did Gentoo for a little while. That was on bare metal. It was very educational.

Also, I have one box here that's LMDE and I've been remarkably happy with that. I'm not sure where I'd go if I left Lubuntu. I'd have to think long and hard. Mandriva is an excellent candidate for me.
 

KGIII

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I like the Mandriva installer better, as it's just fill in a few quick forms and then walk away. No need to futz about, just grab the Cinnamon variant and you're off to the races. I like simplicity.
 
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