Originally Posted by Space Cadet
Why are there so many different distros of Linux? What and where are the "man" pages.
Welcome to using Linux.
Here's my short explanation for you and for all newbies:
What people refer to as Linux is a combination of a many little programs. Linux is really a kernel which only understands how to manipulate the hardware (video, keyboard, mouse, disks). Almost all the other programs really started as Unix programs (X Windows, bash, gcc). However, the Unix programs are mostly licensed under the GNU license which is open source. That is also why they call it GNU/Linux which is the right name to call it.
So now you have the separation of the kernel from the programs. GNU/Linux is a collection of really tiny programs, libraries and device files that all do one thing, but they all call each other back and forth in order to process a final result. All these little programs process and then hand off the output to another program and so forth.
There are many distros because there are a thousand ways to do the same thing in Linux. There are many different brands and versions of each program; so the distro aims for the use of some brands versus others. Other the way the configuration directories are setup may be different on each for simplicity; but they are also similar.
Basically you can configure Linux in your own way and that is what the distro's are. Picture Configuring Windows to use drive XYZ: as the main drive instead of drive C: and the folder XYZ:MYOS instead of C:\Windows. You can even create your own distro for your company or for yourself. Picture yourself creating your own SpaceCadeOS.
It's the popular distros that people talk about, Fedora, Debian, Mandrake. But there are thousdand out there not even heard of. Like my own for example. I'm currently creating my own distro at the moment. I'll let you know when it's ready.
The man pages are the help files for each command. For example to get help with the command 'ls' which is the equivalent of the command 'dir' in Windows, type 'man ls' at the command prompt.