Oh no! Not another distro!

Whenever I hear some one telling that he is planning to create a Linux distro, I just laugh and walk off. Making a distro is the simplest thing you can do if you want to show something in GNU/Linux. And that is what people tend to do too. Whenever I hear about a FOSS event happening, not the big ones, they try to release their own distro. I wonder whether they themselves used these distros at first place.

Releasing or creating a Linux distribution and releasing them during local events have become a very common habbit. But, really this trend should die. Although I have been thinking to write about this for some time, an article in LFY this month really motivated me to drop my two cents in my blog about this.

The main reason for personally taking a stance against any idea to create another distro is that already we have more distros offering a wide range of options or alternatives and there are more things to be added to them, improved in them. The existing distros need continued support, contribution, feed back and consistent user base. There is a word that we already have almost 2000 official Linux distributions. And, already this is causing a lot of confusion, especially for those venturing into Linux for the first time. When some body asks me what distro to use, although I always answer Ubuntu, I somehow feel am not doing justice. Its because no distro is perfectly suitable for all people.

It depends upon what expectation and requirements you have, that you need to select a distro. So, the best bet is pick up top 3 distros which people prefer to be good, try them out and settle with one which works for you. This is what I did in my life, started with Knoppix, then madrake, then Red Hat 9, then Fedora core 3 and 4, finally landed with Ubuntu – Hoary, Breezy, Dapper and now Edgy. Until I found Ubuntu, there was a search for better distro. I do not argue Ubuntu to be the best distro, but its fact that its good; good for making things just work.

Whenever I see or hear an upgradation and newer release of one distro or another, I can find an effort made to make it better as per customer requirements and preferences. And, still there are 1000 things left to be done, 1000 things more to be improved and excelled.

So, people if you are thinking of creating and releasing a distribution of yours please try to answer the following question yourselves.

  • What is the real necessity to make a new distro ?
  • If contribution is the idea, then can’t you contribute to any existing distro which is your favorite ?
  • If you want to create something new, aren’t there any other idea of an application or plug-in that can really make a difference ?
  • If you want to release something for an event, then can you just create a custom app or customize an existing distro to fit the needs of a specific target user ?
  • Can’t you create something for the shop nearby or a NGO, so that they are really benefited ?
  • Ok, still you want to create a distro – who is the target ? what is your distro’s specialty that makes it useful for the intended target user ? What is the extra stuff you are providing for them to use it in the place of other more supported, more tested and proven, more famous distros ?
  • If you release a custom distro, how long will you able to support it?
  • Are there enough softwares available in the form of packages, if the user wants to install it later ? how easy it is for the user to install something either from the package or source ?
  • Will you able to offer personal support, either for free or for a charge ? Is it practically sustainable ?

Make a true introspection on all these questions and decide whether you still want to make a distro ? Really you can make it, but does your efforts and talents just good enough for making another foo-bar distribution. Make a proper use of your talents, put in your efforts for better things, more important things. Rather than trying to make something better the first time, try to make existing things still better.


3 thoughts on “Oh no! Not another distro!

  1. hi! this is subhodip biswas,saw your post on planet.dgplug.org.
    this post is really really worth looking because of a general question arises at the mind of a starter like me ” which distro to begin with”.even i was palnning of a new live cd but now plan changed.thanx for bringing this article to light.

  2. I agree with you completely. I my whole GNU/Linux life which started about 7 years ago, I have used RH 7.2, 8, 9, FC 1 and Ubuntu all versions (Warty – Feisty), Knoppix 3.x. I never used Yopper (although I installed it), I never even saw SuSE, Debian, Slackware or Gentoo.
    I am not saying I made best choice but I am happy with my choice. And as you can see I am not even aware 95% of the distros.

    Frankly I think that most of the time the reason behind a new distro is that people creating it can not work under someone else’s leadership. How many distros actually do something new or are worth a mention. Most of them are just customizations as per the likings of one person or a group of people. And how many of these customizations form basis of some new features or how many are worth forwarding upstream and actually forwarded.

    I would really like to see some fast mergers happening between all the small distros and the few noted ones that are known to even those who have never used GNU/Linux ex. Ubuntu. This will sure concentrate developer efforts on making GNU/Linux better than to just create confusing choices for new users.

  3. Thank god people in here are realistic! Last new distro succes was Ubuntu and they had quite much ressources to use. And one job still needed to be done better : user friendliness

    Anyways my plan is to learn perfectly my distro before i think of improving it (and improving Debian will be a hard job, according to what i have seen so far)

    This is just geek stuff. I apologize for beginners trying to understand something out of the very unimportant distro issue

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