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Old 03-25-2011, 02:19 PM   #1
newlinuxuser11
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Differences between Linux flavors...


Hi,
I'm new to Linux and UNIX and learn with dvds by unixacademy for Solaris. Beside the actual training for Linux/UNIX the set comes with many Linux distros included. I guess my question is basic and I'm rushing ahead of my training, but here's my confusion. I tried installing few of the distros included into set (OpenSUSE, Fedora, Ubuntu etc.) and by the end of successful installation, I see the same GNOME desktop, the directories structures the same (as far as I can tell), installed applications are almost the same. The only difference I found is the way how different Linuxes manage its installation packages. The installations are very similar as well.
So here's the question. Are all these Linux flavors are essentially the same? I mean is the difference is only skin deep, in package management and installation procedures?
 
Old 03-25-2011, 02:31 PM   #2
ojdon
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Visually, a lot of Linux distributions are changing interface wise this year. For example, the new Ubuntu 11.04 which is coming out next month is going to have the new Unity shell for it's interface, where as Fedora 15 (an alpha version is currently available from their website) is moving from GNOME 2 to the new GNOME 3 interface. There are many different interfaces to choose from, for example KDE looks completely different to the more lightweight desktop environments like XFCE and LXDE.

Not too sure how useful this post is for you, but it's a quick insight to the different interfaces the different Linux flavours have to offer.
 
Old 03-25-2011, 02:43 PM   #3
moongodjon
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In several ways, yes most unix systems are quite similar, in part because they all (~99%) conform to postix standards, and use similar methods to solve similar problems. But keep in mind that the difference of linux from the mainstream os [apple,windows ect.] is that two installations of a linux distro can look completely different from one another, not all linux users use the gnome desktop, or install the same packages. In my opinion, yes, most distros are the same except for package management and installation managers, but any distro can be molded into something different from any one else's distro, but that's just my opinion. play, learn, ask questions (answer them) and formulate your own opinions.
 
Old 03-25-2011, 02:46 PM   #4
snowpine
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You are correct that in a "snapshot" of the present moment in time, the various Linux distros are more alike than different. Package management is different of course, some distros lean towards one desktop environment or the other, some have newer software, etc.

I think the biggest difference is in how each distro evolves over time. Some distros are rapidly-evolving and cutting-edge, others are slow-moving and conservative. Some have large online communities of friendly beginners, others attract more technical users. Some have 10+ year track records of excellent releases, others are brand-new projects whose future is uncertain. Some have large corporations backing them, others are one-man projects.

So when you are choosing a distro, it is great to test-drive several and evaluate their performance, stability, ease of use, etc. But it is also good to ask, where will this distro be in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years?

At the end of the day, though, you are correct: all Linux distros use pretty much the same kernel, command line, desktop environments, applications, etc. This is a good thing because it means skills you learn with one distro can be easily applied to other distros.
 
Old 03-25-2011, 03:25 PM   #5
pingu
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In a way all distros are "the same" - a bit like the often used "car" comparison: a car is a car - an engine, a car body and a bunch of controls.

What is Linux then?
1) The kernel - you could in a way compare it to msdos.sys (if you're old enough to remember...). This kernel is very small, 1-2 MB normally - and this is what Mr Torvald actually created!
2) All the apps around the kernel, making it possible for humans to interact with computer. Again, if old enough to remember, think command.com, think all those small programs that made up DOS. (I'm using DOS to compare with because I find it pretty easy to understand the principles then. Don't take the comparison too far!)
This is not really Linux - it's GNU! Have a look here if you want to know more.
(So to put it short, in a way you can say that DOS is GNU and msdos.sys is Linux!)

Now on top of all this there is "X" (the graphics server) and a whole bunch of Desktop Environments and WindowManagers.
These are what you actually see on your monitor.
And you can put any one of them on any variant of Gnu/Linux you want.

To the differences now:
1) As you mentioned, the package system. Different package systems (rpm, deb, or whatever) also means you use different repositories - this is why you sometimes can install an app easily in one distro but not in another.
But actually the difference in packaging system also often reflects some differences in file-system hierarchy.
Most rpm-based distros have the same structure which is not the same as on a .deb-system and also not the same as in eg Slackware (don't remember what Slack uses, tgz?)!
No big differences but still, coming from one system to another sometimes you have to search for a file you thought you knew where it was!

2) Init: The startup differs, here I'm on thin ice but I think most systems use SystemV-style init some other BSD-style. Can't go into details here because 1) the post would get too long and 2) I don't really know much about this...)

3) The difference you might really notice:
Distro's are built for a purpose.
Mint, Ubuntu, Mepis...for instance - they are all built on Debian.
But they are adding something: they take the very-stable and very newbie-unfriendly Debian and tries to make it newbie-friendly. That means adding things like a controlpanel, it means making it easy to configure your computer without much knowledge.
Other distro's have other aims: firewalling, Multimedia, network server, etc etc. Of course, you can start out with a very small GNU/Linux system, install what you need and build your own specialized distro if you have the time - or just pick one already configured for your purpose!

Hope it helps, could write a lot more but this post is already getting too long - and I am getting hungry..
 
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Old 03-25-2011, 11:31 PM   #6
theKbStockpiler
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It's like anything else until you are able to look at it close.

A lot of it has to do with marketing and making your distro look unlike the rest. Then there is the way in which people see things as done right from their own perspective.

KDE and Gnome are as big as a factor as Distros themselves. KDE offers more features but usually a lot more overhead where as Gnome can be to simple. If you want to see a nice KDE desktop try Mandriva's. Fedora 13's KDE must turn users into Gnome fans. I don't think there are many KDE Fedora users. Gnome desktops are usually identical except for the menus.

Suse is a huge departure from any other desktop in my opinion. I don't see how anyone could utilize it but some people are into it. Suse works well though.

If Debian did not come up with deb files it would have no distinction between Redhat's RPM file and so on. It is a way to make you look different from the incumbent. Some distros do , accomplish things in a better way. Mandriva 08 used to have latency problems but their package installer is way better than Fedoras. Fedora's Package Installer is buggy, which is not good for an absolute beginner. I would say that Ubuntu is a full featured GUI version of Linux which separates it from the rest in that way. If you have a GUI issue go to a Ubuntu forum.If you have a CLI issue go to a Slackware forum.

Some distros are more challenging and some distros have the persona of being more challenging but are not. The installations can be quite a bit different as well as the Packages offered. If you are a beginner the choice of which distro may be made because a application is available as a package and will install and work correctly via the Package Installer.

Last edited by theKbStockpiler; 03-31-2011 at 11:06 PM.
 
Old 03-26-2011, 01:44 PM   #7
DavidMcCann
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Another thing that varies is their attitude to the upstream code. Some distros take the software as they find it, only making their own bug fixes. Others alter anything they don't like. For example, OpenOffice has changed the way in which dictionaries are installed; Fedora has changed it back.

Then there's the media codec thing. Options are: include the codecs (Sabayon), give a one-click installation with a warning that you shouldn't do it in the USA (Salix), make people go to a website (SUSE), ignore them completely (Fedora).
 
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Old 03-26-2011, 03:18 PM   #8
tarbez17
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Fedora Core is a free operating system that offers the best combination.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
You are correct that in a "snapshot" of the present moment in time, the various Linux distros are more alike than different. Package management is different of course, some distros lean towards one desktop environment or the other, some have newer software, etc.

I think the biggest difference is in how each distro evolves over time. Some distros are rapidly-evolving and cutting-edge, others are slow-moving and conservative. Some have large online communities of friendly beginners, others attract more technical users. Some have 10+ year track records of excellent releases, others are brand-new projects whose future is uncertain. Some have large corporations backing them, others are one-man projects.

So when you are choosing a distro, it is great to test-drive several and evaluate their performance, stability, ease of use, etc. But it is also good to ask, where will this distro be in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years?

At the end of the day, though, you are correct: all Linux distros use pretty much the same kernel, command line, desktop environments, applications, etc. This is a good thing because it means skills you learn with one distro can be easily applied to other distros.
*Fedora Core is a free operating system that offers the best combination of stable and cutting-edge software that exists in the free software world.
 
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Old 03-26-2011, 04:15 PM   #9
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarbez17 View Post
*Fedora Core is a free operating system that offers the best combination of stable and cutting-edge software that exists in the free software world.
Fedora isn't anymore named Fedora Core for a long time. I have seen your posts in other threads, only advertising Fedora, I would assume you are a troll, trying to start a flame-war.
By the way, if Fedora is so good (which I wouldn't deny), why are all your posts made from Windows?

Last edited by TobiSGD; 03-26-2011 at 04:17 PM.
 
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:54 PM   #10
newlinuxuser11
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Thanks! I appreciate time and effort everyone committed to address this my question.
 
Old 03-28-2011, 03:01 PM   #11
szboardstretcher
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarbez17 View Post
*Fedora Core is a free operating system that offers the best combination of stable and cutting-edge software that exists in the free software world.
Since, forever ago, Fedora dropped the "Core" from their name. Its just called Fedora now. Also, there are quite a few Fedora "Spins" you can look at.

And, even though I am a contributor and supporter of Fedora, I would only say that it offers "a combination" rather than "the best combination," because that's just opinion. Everything devolves into a war when you start talking about the "best." IMO.
 
Old 03-28-2011, 03:53 PM   #12
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by szboardstretcher View Post
Everything devolves into a war when you start talking about the "best." IMO.
I think that is what the poster aimed to achieve. Have a look at his other posts.
 
Old 03-30-2011, 11:34 AM   #13
newlinuxuser11
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I was typing into wrong thread. Thanks!

Last edited by newlinuxuser11; 03-30-2011 at 11:37 AM.
 
Old 03-30-2011, 11:48 AM   #14
brianL
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Differences between Linux flavors...
Ubuntu = Chocolate & Blackcurrant
Debian = Raspberry Ripple
Slackware = Vanilla
Mint = Mint
 
Old 03-31-2011, 10:55 PM   #15
theKbStockpiler
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Observation:What does a Core have to do with a hat anyway?

I have Fedora 13 installed and a lot of times there is a "C" after an "F" in the name of the architecture or a file. Pbone RPM files have a fc in them also. Fedora works well and does not have bloat. I don't think the "cutting edge" thing has much to do with it,it is just marketing. Fedora has support from Redhat "one word" which shows in its performance. Fedora is meant to be bla for the average user and is.Bla is good.
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