Looking for a primer on the Linux family tree

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iain_33
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Looking for a primer on the Linux family tree

Post by iain_33 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:22 am

What the title says basically.

I'm settled with Mint, it does all I want and I don't see any need to change, but that's kinda the point. It's the first and only distro I've used, and I don't know the Linux world outside of Mint. I know it's based on Ubuntu which is based on Debian... but so what? What does each one add to the one below it, and how is it different to the ones alongside it? For all I know there might be a distro that suits me even better (sorry Clem & team!) but I wouldn't know how to home in on it.

I started Googling, and the "family tree" image below sparked my interest. How did we end up with so many and who are the key players? How/why did they come about, what's the difference between them? Who/what is each one suited to, and why do people choose one over the other?

I've picked up odd (usually non-specific) bits and pieces from different sites, like some are more suited to desktops while others are for servers, some are suited to old hardware while others are for modern powerhouses, some are strictly open-source while others allow proprietary software, but I'm interested in reading an overview of the whole thing. Which is which and what's their lineage?

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Linux Mint 19.1 MATE (64 bit) on a HP G70 laptop (circa 2008)
Intel Pentium Dual Core T3400 @ 2.16GHz -- 3GB RAM -- 1TB HDD
Intel Mobile 4 Series graphics -- Intel 82801I audio
Atheros AR242x/AR542x wireless network adapter

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Pjotr
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Re: Looking for a primer on the Linux family tree

Post by Pjotr » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:51 am

iain_33 wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:22 am
For all I know there might be a distro that suits me even better (sorry Clem & team!) but I wouldn't know how to home in on it.
Take another perspective. What's desirable to have in a distro? These are important criteria:

1. How long is a particular release being supported with security updates? Long term support is important if you don't want to have to re-install, every six months or even each year.

2. How stable and reliable is it?

3. How many goodies are there in the official software repo's of the distro? The more they contain, the better.

4. How user-friendly is it?

5. How big is the team of its developers? One-man projects tend to die soon.

6. How much support can you expect when you run into trouble? How alive and well-populated are its support fora?

7. How much does it cost?

If you apply these criteria, probably more than 90 % of the distro's can be dismissed. :mrgreen:

Final thought: although there are a myriad of Linux distro's, they don't differ too much in their essentials. They all get most of their stuff from upstream: the Linux kernel, Firefox, Libre Office, Chromium, systemd, Grub, etc. They just glue all that upstream stuff together, add their own bit of sauce and hey presto: another new Linux distro is born.
Tip: 10 things to do after installing Linux Mint 19.2 Tina
Keep your Linux Mint healthy: Avoid these 10 fatal mistakes
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iain_33
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Re: Looking for a primer on the Linux family tree

Post by iain_33 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:08 am

All those points are important to me and I guess they point to me staying at Mint, which is fine by me. My post wasn't so much "recommend me another distro" but to find out what all the distros are and their reason for being. Like the old explorers did, exploring the world but not necessarily to find somewhere else to live :lol: It all fascinates me, after coming from Windows where it's a singular thing, everyone's is the same.
Linux Mint 19.1 MATE (64 bit) on a HP G70 laptop (circa 2008)
Intel Pentium Dual Core T3400 @ 2.16GHz -- 3GB RAM -- 1TB HDD
Intel Mobile 4 Series graphics -- Intel 82801I audio
Atheros AR242x/AR542x wireless network adapter

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Pjotr
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Re: Looking for a primer on the Linux family tree

Post by Pjotr » Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:30 am

It's a candy store, that's true.... :)

Most of the distro's were either started just for fun, or to fulfil a particular task really well. Their software is usually cost-free, libre and open source. So creating a distro is relatively easy.

My own distro reconnaissance ended over a decade ago, because in the end all that matters to me are the criteria I mentioned in my previous posting. But in the beginning, back in 2006-2007, it was a big explorer party for me. It was good fun, and I sometimes still miss the beautiful graphical art in Fedora 7....

A tip for happy exploring: dedicate a test rig to your experiments. Don't endanger your work flow; don't go distro hopping on your production machines that have to "just work" at all times.
Tip: 10 things to do after installing Linux Mint 19.2 Tina
Keep your Linux Mint healthy: Avoid these 10 fatal mistakes
Twitter: twitter.com/easylinuxtips
All in all, horse sense simply makes sense.

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Moem
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Re: Looking for a primer on the Linux family tree

Post by Moem » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:00 am

I think Distrowatch was pretty much custom made to answer questions like the ones you stated.
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If your issue is solved, kindly indicate that by editing the first post in the topic, and adding [SOLVED] to the title. Thanks!

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Re: Looking for a primer on the Linux family tree

Post by lexon » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:27 pm

I have been happy with Mint since Mint 6. It does everything I want.
I do have an issue with upgrading Mint 19 right now. Something about a better log in. It does not like my user name and password but I digress.
I am using an older Acer 5515 laptop which still works fine.
I also use a HP laptop with W10. Too much trouble dual booting anymore.

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Lindows, Linspire, Freespire, Ubuntu, Mint 15 Cinnamon, Mint 16 XFCE, Mint 17 Cinnamon 64 bit. MInt 18 64 bit Cinnamon.

iain_33
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Re: Looking for a primer on the Linux family tree

Post by iain_33 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:22 pm

Moem wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:00 am
I think Distrowatch was pretty much custom made to answer questions like the ones you stated.
Thanks Moem, I've learned a lot even just from the Major Distros page and it's given me a few more tangents to go googling along too. Although Mint is the only one I've ever installed and used, I have tried live sessions of a few others and beyond a different desktop environment and bundled apps I've not really seen much difference between them so I've not gone any further. At least now I've got an idea how each one comes about from a different ethic, or a different way of doing things. Could it be as simple as, if I decided I wanted to change some things with the way Mint looked or worked, I could download the source, make the changes, recompile and release it, and boom, it's yet another distro? (not to make light of the hard work that all the "real" distro creators do - I realise there's more to it than that)
Linux Mint 19.1 MATE (64 bit) on a HP G70 laptop (circa 2008)
Intel Pentium Dual Core T3400 @ 2.16GHz -- 3GB RAM -- 1TB HDD
Intel Mobile 4 Series graphics -- Intel 82801I audio
Atheros AR242x/AR542x wireless network adapter

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Moem
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Re: Looking for a primer on the Linux family tree

Post by Moem » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:02 pm

As far as primers go, this one is really basic but it does give an overview: https://linuxjourney.com/lesson/linux-history
iain_33 wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:22 pm
Could it be as simple as, if I decided I wanted to change some things with the way Mint looked or worked, I could download the source, make the changes, recompile and release it, and boom, it's yet another distro?
Basically, yes. There are some rules: for example, you would need to remove the name Mint and some Mint-specific artwork. And it doesn't mean that your new distro would be any good, or that anyone would want to use it. But yes, open source means that others can derive new distros from existing ones.

(If I'm saying something that is incorrect, I hope someone will correct me!)
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If your issue is solved, kindly indicate that by editing the first post in the topic, and adding [SOLVED] to the title. Thanks!

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