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The reason people says that Ubuntu is Debian, or CentOS is Redhat is because lots of distrobutions evolve from one of the big names. This is probably not an exhaustive list, but here are the main types of distros
Redhat based (fedora, redhat, centos, possibly Suse)
Debian based (Debian, Ubuntu, Kubuntu)
Slackware based (Slackware, I think YellowDog)
Source based (LinuxFromScratch, Gentoo)
Now there are people that will take it a step farther by saying a distro is Gentoo based when Gentoo is categorized as "Source Based". It all means that the package management and updating tools are the same for each distrobution that is based on the Main variant. Usually they will specify a new distro being based on a very old distro. Redhat, Debian and Slack have been around for a long time and have very good reputations, so people base their new distro off of one of these to hopefully inform newcomers what to expect from their distrobution.
For you question about Suse. Suse has been around a long time, and I tend to think of it as Redhat based, but it also has commercial tools(YaST) that I don't think are available to be used on other distros. This might make it separate into a whole new catagory. I've not seen another Yast tool on any other distro. I do believe that Suse uses an RPM repository which is why I classify it as Redhat based.
Last edited by musicman_ace; 10-15-2006 at 10:58 PM.
Personally If I'm going to use a Distro I will typically choose the Parent rather than one of the Children..
I left Mandrake to go with Redhat.. ( way back when Mandrake was based off RH but a LOT has changed since then..)
After RH Frustrated me I switched to Debian and haven't looked back. Debian was the right choice for me. ymmv