Fedora based distributions: An overview

Rahul Sundaram sundaram at redhat.com
Fri Sep 30 14:30:45 UTC 2005


There is a recent effort being made as part of the Fedora marketing team 
to create a list of Fedora based distributions which includes the 
project links, package listing, contact details etc classified into 
several groups based on their functionality.


I had committed to sending a mail with my ideas on this a few meeting 
back and you got it now. I would like to invite more volunteers to 
participate on this effort and send in your feedback.f

The numbers game

The number of Linux distributions continue to explode in a phenomenal 
rate. There are 345 active distributions at present not counting 64 
discontinued efforts. A large number of them are however derivatives 
based on other distributions, in particular Red Hat Linux/Fedora and 
Debian. The ones that are build from scratch are much lower at 28. 
Factoring in distributions that were originally based on some 
distributions but have evolved into independent ones we can put the 
numbers at approximately 35.

Fedora Derivatives

Fedora is the second highest base for a large number of distributions 
right after Debian. There is a impressive 63 distributions based on 
Fedora and 13 others based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux which itself is 
based on Fedora. I havent counted Mandriva and others which are now far 
apart from their lineage.

That puts the final count as 76.

Source: http://distrowatch.com

Classification of Derivatives

There are a fair number of reasons to create new distributions and 
derivatives help you reach there better if you choose a appropriate base 
depending on the requirements. Some major categories include the following:

* Live CD's: These is potentially the biggest group and they provide 
value as rescue cds, demonstrations and technology showcases etc

* Regional: These include GUI and docs in their native language, locale 
information with potentially more utilities for input methods and 
changes to accommodate hardware in that particular region

* Niche groups: New technology, product demonstrations etc that appeal 
to a limit audience like terminal servers and low end hardware. These 
might eventually evolve into a mainstream technology or product

* Package mix: Changes in default set of packages, branding and other 
specific targets like games or edutainment software.

* Commercial offshoots: Productizing a distribution appeals to many 
groups and for several different uncategorized reasons


Fedora as a project provides ample opportunity for such derivatives to 
collaborate with each other and with Fedora itself. As an example, the 
Live CD distributions can base themselves off Kadischi, Fedora's Live CD 
generation tool and contribute towards improving it helping themselves 
in the process.


Agenda items could include the following

* Contact and discuss areas and projects where we can have a win-win 
* Provide templates for new project proposals and sub groups within 
Fedora. Provide webspace, cvs access, mailing lists,  bandwidth and 
publicity for such projects wherever appropriate
* Make it easier to create derivatives and branding. Fedora potentially 
benefits from being a base for different people to explore different areas

Let me know your thoughts


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