On the GNU/Linux train line of life, DistroWatch is Grand Central Station, Victoria Station, Potsdamer Platz and Shinjuku Station all wrapped up into one point where GNU/Linux users invariably stop, sometimes more than once (sometimes a lot more than once, in my case, since I visit DistroWatch on a daily basis).
Making its typical contribution to the cause, DistroWatch is now providing a Top Ten List of the hundreds of distros out there. No, my distro didn’t make it, but that’s okay: For the computing masses, it’s an excellent guide to what’s popular and why.
“The bewildering choice and the ever increasing number of Linux distributions can be confusing for those who are new to Linux. This is why this page was created. It lists 10 Linux distributions (plus an honourable mention of FreeBSD, by far the most popular of all of the BSDs), which are generally considered as most widely-used by Linux users around the world,” the site explains.
Despite the fact that there are no figures to back it up and there are many other distributions that might suit a user’s particular purpose better, as a general rule, all of these are popular and have very active forums or mailing lists where you can ask questions if you get stuck, it continues.
Can’t wait to see the list? Okay:
4. Debian GNU/Linux
7. MEPIS Linux
10a. (Honorable Mention) FreeBSD
Ladislav Bodnar is not exactly a household name. In fact, ask someone on the street who he is, and they might answer that he’s part of the recent wave of Russian hockey players to play in the NHL, or maybe he’s that Russian leader who was prime minister of the nation . . . sometime between, oh, Andropov and Putin.
But no: Bodnar, to my knowledge, has never taken a shot on goal and he has never been in the Russian legislature. Yet in GNU/Linux circles, Bodnar is far more important than he could have ever been with a hockey stick or a stump speech.
Bodnar runs DistroWatch.com, the site that — day in and day out — monitors the 350 active GNU/Linux distros, not to mention keeping an eye on the other 200 or so that are no longer active. To those of us who have a journalistic stake in getting the news about GNU/Linux to the masses, DistroWatch is a priceless gem and Bodnar is the ideal candidate for GNU/Linux sainthood.
GNU/Linux journalist Mayank Sharma interviews Bodnar on his Web site, a Q-and-A that’s definitely worth the read.
Finally grabbing a minute from my duties (in no particular order) as Dad, chauffeur, daily newspaper copy editor, raffle-ticket seller, Green Party official, honey-do husband and Open Source Reporter editor/publisher/webmaster, allow me a few random thoughts, cheap shots and bon mots (to quote the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler):
Lost in the shuffle: While panic reigned for the last couple of weeks regarding Daylight Saving Time being moved up a couple of weeks and while the Y2K-like distress accompanied the advent of yet another meaningless time change (which, incidently, should be abolished), did it occur to anyone to . . . ahem . . . just go into your preferences, find the time/date item and just set the clock ahead an hour? Sheesh.
C’est Ubuntu: This just in from across the Atlantic — the French government has decided to forego Windows and have the government work with an open source operating system, specifically the GNU/Linux distro known by all (and loved by many) as Ubuntu. Starting in June, 1,154 desks of the legislators and their parliamentary assitants in the National Assembly will feature GNU/Linux-based computers. Allez, France! “More on the story,” as we say at OSR, from C|Net can be found here. But wait, there’s more . . .
Who’s carrying the ball for Open Source in England? It ain’t Labour, surprisingly. The Conservatives have run with this issue, as shadow chancellor George Osborne has been saying to all that will listen that a Conservative government will insist all software is open source would cut the the UK’s IT costs by 5 percent. Hello, Tony? More on the story, again, from Britian’s IT Contractor here.
Gentoo hubbub: The GNU/Linux distro known as Gentoo has fallen on hard times. Or has it? DistroWatch, an above-average source of news in the GNU/Linux world, touched off a bit of a back-and-forth firestorm on the site’s weekly report. What more interesting than DW publisher Ladislav Bodnar’s story about Gentoo is the firefight in the reader comments that are linked at the bottom of the report’s page. In his story, Bodnar writes that “[F]urthermore, one has to wonder: with the amount of time some of them spend flaming other people on the various mailing lists and planet blogs, do they actually have any time for coding?” So how do some of the pro-Gentoo people respond? With flamethrowers blazing, of course. A legitimate question, Ladislav, and a good story that, flaming aside, has resulted in a good discussion on your great site. Stick to your guns.
What will it be, Steve?: Those of you who know me — those three of you outside my family now reading this — know that I’m a completely committed Mac guy. Despite the fact I have taken the free software and open source software path, I still think that Apple still makes the best built hardware, period. I say this because having been faithful to the hardware for the last 15 years, I’m siding with DefectiveByDesign.org in asking everyone to sign a petition going to Steve Jobs to “set the ethical example” by eliminating digital rights management (DRM) from iTunes. You can click on the gif at the left to sign the petition (go ahead, but don’t forget to come back). The petition responds to an open letter Jobs wrote on DRM last month. C’mon Steve: Other than axing the Newton (yes, finally I’ve forgiven you for that), your record has been flawless, and those of us who are eternally grateful to you for saving Apple hope you will continue to do the right thing. Keep it up by keeping your word on April 1.
Who left the dog out? Yep, I did. My apologies to the well known, and fairly loved, GNU/Linux distro known as Puppy — a dog that didn’t make it into my GNU/Linux zoo tome a few blogs ago. It should have, and I really did plan to put it there, but I forgot. Here, have a Milk Bone, Puppy folks, and thanks for sparing me the embarrassment of notifying me personally in very civil e-mails — rather than frying me, Gentoo-supporter style, on my own blog.