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  1. #1

    What exactly is a "linux distribution"

    I am a linux desktop user but would like solid definitions.

    what exactly is a distribution.

    what are the components that make up a distribution

    what is the difference between say....debian and mandriva?

    is it simply a collection of components...kernel...applications...desktop environments...package management?

  2. #2
    Just Joined! ~tux~'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    I don't want to be a lazy ass, but just do a Google!

  3. #3
    there's tons of info about this topic. Use google .... or wikipedia

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Linux Guru budman7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Knee deep in Grand Rapids, Michigan
    3,901 has lots of "linux distributions".
    If you want to learn more about linux take a linux journey
    Use CODE tags when posting output of commands. Thank you.

  6. #5
    I asked your 3rd/4th question a while back and it was answered in this post

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2004
    arch linux
    Welcome to the forums, tedge!

    What exactly is a "linux distribution"
    When you attach all your sub-questions with this one, it's almost like asking "what's the meaning of life?"

    It's a rather broad subject and the only way to get that much information is to start doing some serious research by going to all the links provided above, and to other Linux resources. To really understand it thoroughly, you'll probably need to try a few different distros, too.

    Good luck with your inquiry into the world of Linux.

  8. #7

    Ok, thanks tomasso

    your answer at least held some information. I understand Google, I know how to use it and I have extensively. I have also used distrowatch extensively and have tried at least 20 different distros, usually variations on a standard. I started with Mandrake (mandriva) and went through all the usual players andf live cd's like kanotix, knoppix, xandros, fedora core 3 and 4, and am now using a combination of mandriva or ubuntu latest releases, all on my HP laptop so I have experienced many different distros. I would really like to try gentoo but the learning curve there is very steep and my local LUG seems to believe that the only interest in linux is from a developer. If you don't understand coding in C++, python, pearl, java, php or some other various language and are not interested in server admin, they don't have the time to help. Sure you can go to an install fest and the guys will help you get a distro up and running on whatever machine you brink, but from then on, you are on your own. I understand I asked a broad scoped question, I needed the broader answers to start getting to some understanding.

  9. #8


    The wiki page also helped. Let's see if this analogy works.

    Layers of Linux

    lowest layer - kernel

    next layer - operating system...GNU?

    package manager....would this be a layer or an application as I have seen apt package managers for slackware and yum for mandriva....a bit confused here

    then we have the desktop manager

    and finally applications....

    am I somewhere on the right track?

  10. #9
    Linux Guru fingal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Birmingham - UK
    Mostly about terminology:
    It's an old subject, but specifically 'Linux' refers to the kernel. GNU refers to the applications which come with the distro. Purists will tell you that you should always refer to the whole operating system as GNU/Linux, but I personally find doing that a little bit tedious. To refer to it as GNU/Linux is to acknowledge the existence and contribution of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation which is of course a good thing!

    As far as I know a package manager is just an application, or a suite of related applications. While we tend to think of an operating system as a single unit, the layers above the kernel are largely just a collection of well integrated software packages. I think of them as individual 'tools'.

    Something to be aware of is that a desktop manager is not the same as a desktop environment. Managers are for eg. Sawfish, blackbox, Metacity. Environments are KDE, Gnome, XFCE. They (managers) sit underneath the desktop environment. X is located somewhere in this, but I don't know the exact hierarchy.

    EDIT: I do now! Kernel -> X -> Window Manager -> Desktop Environment

    Apart from my observations I think you have most of it right. I'm not particularly an expert on this, but I hope that helped slightly.
    I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

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