Which distros would you save?


One of the comments that is quite often made on Reddit and in other Linux forums is that there are a lot of distributions that are just re-spins of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE etc.

Diversity is great and it is good that people put the effort in to creating a distribution.

Some people say though that it would be better if some of the smaller distro creators concentrated on contributing to their upstream project.

You can argue for both camps in this debate. If there isn’t a distro doing what you do and it is worthwhile then there is merit to your work. On the flip side if more people worked on the upstream projects they may be even better than they already are.

So the point of this post is to run a little poll and it is just for fun.

Imagine that tomorrow the world decided there can only be a limited number of distributions. Which distributions would you save?

The Poll

Please place a checkbox in all the distributions you would save. Sorry if your distribution isn’t listed already. I had to stop somewhere.


  1. Who would vote against a particular distro, using another? And why should he or she do so? So you get a nice picture about how many users distros have but nothing more.
    Furthermore not all are just forks. Some have a specific purpose but for only a few people.

  2. Presumably, people start these spins because the upstream distribution is not interested in the changes they want to make.

    Given that,it's pretty unlikely that the upstream distro is going to welcome the same changes in the form of a so-called contribution.

    • The idea of spins, to me, is great. I mean, that's how Linux Mint got started, and what a distro that is! Fedora, for instance, doesn't really care about making life easy for the home desktop user. Enter Korora. It blends some things from Ubuntu and uses the KDE and Gnome desktops to make a nice Fedora experience.

      Personally, there are a lot of useless, to my tastes, distros out there, but there are lots of gems, too. I love the spins as they fix needed problems the main distro might not have incentive to fix. I say the more distros the merrier.

    • I partly agree with you. But you also have to have a reality check in that every one of these distros has a dependency. For example Linux Mint depends on Ubuntu which in turn depends on Debian. Destroy Ubuntu and Debian and you destroy the very thing which keeps Linux Mint so vibrant and well developed. Same thing can be said about other distro lineages and that's not even mentioning all the wonderful things ported across distro lines. The kernels for example at least until recent were all developed under Redhat/Fedora, Debian standardized the LibC adaptations. And I can go on. The beautiful part of Linux like other forms of Freedom is the richness of the culture and the diversity of the ideas. πŸ™‚

  3. One needs a vast knowledge of the Linux world to answer correctly this question. I have no idea about 80% of the distro listed above. Should I *not* save them? May be they have full of merits and actually I would be happy with one of these?

  4. I voted for all the ones I know and have used, because they helped me along the way to what I know now, I'm glad there are so many distros around, many are for specific needs, to "scratch a developers itch" as they say.

  5. Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, etc. would benefit greatly from adopting a centralized low-bar-of-entry user submitted repository in much the same vein as ArchLinux's Arch User Repository (AUR). Of course integration into apt-get, yum and portage respectively would be vital.

    As a small, specialized distro maintainer (JustBrowsing), the AUR (along with Github and SourceForge) have allowed me to upstream my contributions quickly and easily without the typical bureaucracy found in other distributions. This allows me to both benefit from ArchLinux by not forking it (I can update packages without major breakage) AND allow upstream ArchLinux users to install the packages I've created.

    Packages are live immediately and can be updated without asking an elite member permission or waiting in the build bot queue (Maemo). PPAs (Ubuntu), and overlays (Gentoo) require users to venture outside their package manager to discover and require package maintainers to attempt to work out conflicts and dependencies among varied external repos.

    • It's easy to submit ebuilds to gentoo via the bug tracker, or have them included on one of the many official/semi-official overlays such as sunrise. It's fully integrated into portage (:

  6. I voted against Ubuntu. It's actually not necessary in 2013. Most important is of course Debian. I voted for Mint too as a choice using Debian sources and making in that way user-friendly distribution. Then i voted for Fedora though it's not easiest for users.

  7. I suspect that Red Hat and Fedora are splitting the vote in that camp because they are so closely related to each other.

    I'd be tempted to vote for the more core distributions, but there are too many of them still:
    Fedora (or Red Hat perhaps)

    And of course, unique distributions like

    There might be a few others you could argue for being core distributions. Of course, I don't see Sorcerer, 'the original source based distribution,' or its derivatives there, and I'm sure there's something else unique that I'm missing.

    I'm just glad we don't have to make any such decisions.

  8. The first one to save CinnArch…
    I've switched to it since it announced becoming a Gnome-Shell environment and it is easier to install than Arch but has all Arch goodness (like to have all latest apps and not have to re-install to update the core system (rolling-distro))

    I also saved:
    Debian (used it for stability for long time + sooooo many packages..)
    Ubuntu (for commercial visibility of Linux)
    Fedora (i like their Gnome desktop / contribution)
    Mageia (great RPM distro)

  9. Fedora doesn't have a mission to make things hard for the home user… neither is it any more difficult to use than any other distribution. I've tried them all and have stuck with Redhat/Fedora for 10 years. Fedora has a large and responsive user community and is dedicated to preserving the principles of Freedom and it stays on the cutting edge.

  10. The whole idea of "better" is entirely subjective. Better for desktops? Better for servers? Better for commercial software support? Better because I said so and I've been using Linux longer than some of you have been alive? Every distro out there was created to "better" meet the needs of someone.

    My personal needs are met by Redhat, CentOS and Fedora, and if Ubuntu, Mint, and Debian fell off the face of the planet, it wouldn't bother me in the least, but does that mean anything? Not at all. It's just my subjective opinion and is subject to change at any time for any reason or no reason at all.

  11. I had to include CentOS in my votes. It seems like at least half of the web is running on CentOS. Yeah, I know it's just a recompile of RHEL, but that doesn't make it any less important.

    I think Mint is catering to their users better than Ubuntu and it could probably survive just fine with a straight Debian base.

  12. I always go back to Debian, after starting with Slackware and Redhat about 15 or 16 years ago, so that's my first choise. Ubuntu and Mint are in for their usability for new users. Fedora and Redhat are great alternatives also. Slackware and Gentoo offer something for people with a lot of time or high principals πŸ™‚
    If I must limit to just 5: Debian, Ubuntu, RedHat, Slackware, Gentoo…

  13. Tough question, but yes, I agree with the other Anonymous poster about saving the core distros, since most others are derivative.

    Actually, it's more about saving the ecosystems around each repository:

    i.e. rpm, deb, tgz, ebuild, pacman, etc.

    Of course, if there was a way to virtualize Linus' brain (and the other core developers), that would be good too…

  14. First would easily go to knoppix. I doubt I could do maintenance without it and I've even used it as a desktop for a while.

    Next would be debian followed by ubuntu. I've grown soft under apt-get, and prefer ubuntu for my ideological crimes against "free software".

    Following that would probably be fedora and scientific linux. For my own use, I would swap in mint. Red Hat products have always hated me (I was last able to install one in '97, apparently due to insisting on a standard fdisk program to partition my harddrives). Scientific seems a good free desktop for those leaving the world of apt-debian.

  15. RedHat : I believe we need one with its feet in the corp business
    Slackware : who would kill grand dad ?
    Debian : one of the base, we need the base otherwise we are giant with feet of clay
    Puppy : I choose one of the small distro, to keep a minimalist one
    Gentoo : my precious ! the one that really gives me choices even if it is a difficult one

  16. I chose to pick a source Distro (gentoo for geeks), a debian based distro (Debian itself!), rpm (Fedora is just awesome and would be perfect if more people focused on it), slackware is an historical icon and then openSUSE which I feel has the potential to compete for Enterprise Class Desktop and Server amongst the commercial offerings (yes the Novell deal helps).

  17. The only way I've ever successfully used Debian is via CrunchBang Waldorf (or Ubuntu). The only way I've ever successfully used Slackware is via SalixOS. Spins like these help lower the bar for adoption. In fact, I'd say the more spins a distro has launched, the more important it is to keep it. But I wouldn't kill any of them. Each exists to meet a use-case, which is often reasonable on its face. If the distro doesn't gather enough support to keep going, that's when it's time for it to die. There's no need to go around killing them. Except maybe for Rebecca Black OS, or maybe some of the others on the waiting list, like OccupyOS, which is supposed to provide a secure communications environment for activists, but the latest (beta) release dates from November 2011.

    I have a couple distros I suggest for easy entry for new desktop users: Mint KDE LTS for those who intend to install themselves (or have UEFI and want to keep Secure boot), and PCLinuxOS for those who will let me walk them through the install (Ubiquity's disk partitioning and assignment interface is much better than DrakInstall's). But that's only for easy entry. People who have made some use of Linux can readily form their own opinions and choose their own distros.

  18. I'm guessing that if you displayed the choices randomized differently for each voter the results would differ.
    As is, I'll bet that the choices listed near the top are favored.

  19. I would rather have as many distros as possible than a limited amount. Some people complain about one and enjoy another, I love 'em ALL! Even the ones I don't use have something to contribute! I use Fedora religiously, with the Gnome 3.x desktop environment, and it works for me like a charm, but I also love Debian's rock solid performance in the file storage / server area. Then you have the "Mighty Media Giant" Ubuntu, which plays all kinds of movies, flash, avi's etc. Linux Mint to me is a "dressed up" version of Ubuntu, and the list goes on and on!….Let's just say that some people would save ALL the distros if they could! LoL! Just my two cents!

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