Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The distribution homies

Linux seems to draw a lot of people who want to do specific things, like, say, video editing or bioinformatics. All too often, such groups of people go off and start their own distribution that does only one thing, but does that one thing well. This is a fruitful way to proceed if the issue is porting Linux to new hardware. I myself have been known to propose a dedicated distribution for laptops (and if I were to make the same argument again today, would doubtless include tablet PCs). But making a whole new distribution just because you mostly just need, say, the music editing tools, strikes me as counterproductive. Entrat autopackage, which allows people to define dependency relationships and build instructions in a distribution-independent way - using tools such as this, people could use any standard Debian, Slackware or Fedora base and put their own tools on top, without becoming incompatible with major package repositories.

So if what you're trying to achieve with Linux does not depend crucially on some very specific kernel patching, why not put your own distro aside and contribute to one of the big community-driven Linux projects, like Debian, Fedora or Gentoo?

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