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Old 04-20-2011, 04:21 PM   #1
kienlarsen
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Difference between various Linuxes:Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Centos, openSUSE


I’m just starting out with Linux. I’ve got unixacademy training DVDs, new ASUS laptop, eight books and about zillion questions. The first question and I really appreciate if someone would contribute a minute for addressing it: What is the difference between all the Linuxes around there? My training comes bundled with bunch of various Linux installation DVDs and I have tried few: Ubuntu,Debian, Fedora, openSUSE, Centos, Kubuntu and few other. After installation they all look practically identical, with SAME Gnome or KDE running. I was trying “uname” and “lsmod” commands and they all run the same kernel and the same set of drivers! So what makes them different?! Why are we talking about this Linux and that Linux? Is the difference is only skin deep in colorful screens shown during the installation?
 
Old 04-20-2011, 04:30 PM   #2
savona
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This should spark some interesting conversation.

The differences are not only skin deep, they are produced by different people with different ideas. Some use different package managers, different initialization programs, etc...
 
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:32 PM   #3
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Most of the differences between distros is what kind of tools they do or do not offer to simplify it. Ubuntu is basically debian with a bunch of gui admin tools to do everything. package formats are different, Debian, the ubuntus, mint etc. use the .deb package and apt-get, while others use the .rpm format such as fedora, CentOS ,and openSuse. The initial desktop is basically the same. Each distro is targeted for a specific group of people, which is why you'll find a 100 different answers to the question "which distro should I use" It's all personal preference and taste.
 
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:34 PM   #4
snowpine
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I recommend http://distrowatch.com for comparing distros.

In particular: http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major

A good analogy is cars. If you don't know much about automobiles then Ford, BMW, Honda, etc. all look pretty much the same. They all have 4 wheels and get you to work on time. If you are a driving enthusiast, then you will find all kinds of subtle reasons for choosing one car over another.
 
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:43 PM   #5
bret381
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good answer!
 
Old 04-20-2011, 04:46 PM   #6
savona
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
A good analogy is cars. If you don't know much about automobiles then Ford, BMW, Honda, etc. all look pretty much the same. They all have 4 wheels and get you to work on time. If you are a driving enthusiast, then you will find all kinds of subtle reasons for choosing one car over another.
Love this analogy!
 
Old 04-20-2011, 05:09 PM   #7
kienlarsen
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While I understand where you're coming from, I can't accept it as a valid answer. I'm talking about Linuxes, not about cars, so I would like to be given, if possible the actual reference to the differences, not the abstract one. Yeah, all cat and dogs walk on four feet, all birds have two wings and all human have one head, but we know the difference.
Cars are different in many ways and they do not look the same to anybody. The difference is strikingly obvious to everyone: from body shape to engine, wheels, driving experience. The linuxes I got, all show the same body shape, seats, wheels, everything. The only difference so far, that I can see is the name trumpeted on the dealerships. Car has window sticker that exhaustively describes its tech specs and add ons.
As you can figure out of question, I don't have a problem of generalizing, to the contrary, I can't tell the difference, so can you be more specific, please.
 
Old 04-20-2011, 05:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kienlarsen View Post
While I understand where you're coming from, I can't accept it as a valid answer. I'm talking about Linuxes, not about cars, so I would like to be given, if possible the actual reference to the differences, not the abstract one. Yeah, all cat and dogs walk on four feet, all birds have two wings and all human have one head, but we know the difference.
Cars are different in many ways and they do not look the same to anybody. The difference is strikingly obvious to everyone: from body shape to engine, wheels, driving experience. The linuxes I got, all show the same body shape, seats, wheels, everything. The only difference so far, that I can see is the name trumpeted on the dealerships. Car has window sticker that exhaustively describes its tech specs and add ons.
As you can figure out of question, I don't have a problem of generalizing, to the contrary, I can't tell the difference, so can you be more specific, please.
Did you find the links I provided helpful?
 
Old 04-20-2011, 05:38 PM   #9
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It is interesting... please take a look on the links... don't you see yourself that screen shots are the same (kde/gnome) only the background pictures are different. Look on the description... they all are talking about various applications, not system level differences. I can install various applications on my Windows 7, or change the skins, it is still Windows 7, if you know what I mean. The same goes for my iphone and any other system. having additional apps is nice but it is not how OS is defined. Beside these differences aren't unique as far as I understand and used universally across Linux distros.

Last edited by kienlarsen; 04-20-2011 at 05:40 PM.
 
Old 04-20-2011, 05:42 PM   #10
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"Absence of proof is not proof of absence."

The differences are there, below the surface. If you decide to pursue Linux as a hobby or career, these differences may become important to you. If you just need to surf the web or type a word processing document, then any one of the top distros should meet your needs.

Last edited by snowpine; 04-20-2011 at 06:10 PM.
 
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Old 04-20-2011, 05:48 PM   #11
sibe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kienlarsen View Post
I was trying “uname” and “lsmod” commands and they all run the same kernel and the same set of drivers! So what makes them different?!
At the kernel level, especially when you have the same kernel version installed, they are all pretty much the same thing; Linux.

On the other hand, from system administration perspective, when you refer to Debian or CentOS for example, what you would have in mind is the difference to do things; try configure a static IP thru their network service, then you will see. Most distros also implement filesystem hierarchy in their own style and in a slightly different layout sometimes. What you see in Gnome or KDE will not always give you what you think you will get; you can run KDE on Fedora or openSUSE and see the same colors and those fancy buttons, you can even run it on FreeBSD and you probably won't notice a difference!

It's lying there under the hood that makes Ubuntu and Slackware far different in term of system behavior, their initialization procedure, anatomy of their scripts, names, or other things that sometimes too obscure to be bothered with.
 
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Old 04-21-2011, 08:52 AM   #12
kienlarsen
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I want to say "thank you" to sibe and snowpine for the helpful replies. I realize that been newbie I can't grasp many important parts of Linux experience yet. However, aren't those differences, you mentioned, are artificial? Why for a goodness sake I would have a bunch of systems that run the same core bundle of kernel/drivers/GUI each of which uses different procedures/scripts to activate it? Itsn't it an ultimate disorder (I'm trying to avois another word)? Isn't standartization is good things in technology and wouldn't it be much more productive, having one universal convention on it? And having all these people doing something more productive rather than tweaking the same scripts in parralel efforts? I understand that I'm reaching too far with this question, but it doesn't seems logical to me. It looks to me aftificial, like someone tries to create a "brand" and so intentionally introduces the variations.
 
Old 04-21-2011, 09:47 AM   #13
bret381
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kienlarsen View Post
like someone tries to create a "brand"
exactly...

Linux is nothing more than the kernel. Everything else are other tools (mostly from the GNU project) and other programs to make an Operating System. Each distro does not try to be the same as the others or there would be no point in having multiple distros. Why make the exact same thing and put a new name on it???
 
Old 04-21-2011, 09:53 AM   #14
MTK358
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kienlarsen View Post
Isn't standartization is good things in technology and wouldn't it be much more productive, having one universal convention on it? And having all these people doing something more productive rather than tweaking the same scripts in parralel efforts?
Because many advanced Linux users want it done their way, and they don't all agree.
 
Old 04-21-2011, 10:13 AM   #15
snowpine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kienlarsen View Post
I want to say "thank you" to sibe and snowpine for the helpful replies. I realize that been newbie I can't grasp many important parts of Linux experience yet. However, aren't those differences, you mentioned, are artificial? Why for a goodness sake I would have a bunch of systems that run the same core bundle of kernel/drivers/GUI each of which uses different procedures/scripts to activate it? Itsn't it an ultimate disorder (I'm trying to avois another word)? Isn't standartization is good things in technology and wouldn't it be much more productive, having one universal convention on it? And having all these people doing something more productive rather than tweaking the same scripts in parralel efforts? I understand that I'm reaching too far with this question, but it doesn't seems logical to me. It looks to me aftificial, like someone tries to create a "brand" and so intentionally introduces the variations.
You're welcome!

Linux is simply a different "ecosystem" with a lot of diversity. Linux gives you 100% freedom to do as you like, and people like to do a lot of different things. Yes, it can seem a little chaotic at times, however some people find the idea of "standardization" too restrictive and prefer to live at the other end of the spectrum.

If you are looking for a "standardized" Linux distro then the 3 most important standards in my opinion are source-based (Slackware, Gentoo, etc. and to a lesser extent Arch), .rpm (Red Hat, Fedora, SUSE, etc.), and .deb (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, etc.). My recommendation is that your first distro should be from one of those three categories.
 
  


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