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July 18th, 2013

Debian Tops Our Community Distro Poll

The results have been tallied and Debian got the most votes in our Community Distro Poll. We would call them the “winner,” but this wasn’t about winners and losers. It was about trying to reach a consensus on what we mean by the term “community distro.” We asked, “Which GNU/Linux distros do you consider to be legitimate community distros?” Choices weren’t limited to one; voters could choose as many as they wanted and even add more through a text box supplied by choosing “Other.”

Debian community distroHere at FOSS Force, we thought we had a clear understanding of the term “community distro” until Christine Hall singled out a particular distro as not being one. This resulted in all heck breaking loose in her article’s comments. It appeared that Ms. Hall had inadvertently offended some users of that distro, who were adamant in their insistence that they were as much a community distro as any other brand of Linux.

Despite the fact that many of you expressed the belief that this whole discussion was somewhat sophomoric and downright silly, we couldn’t lay the matter to rest and decided to put it before you, our most gentle readers, in this poll.

We had to run the poll twice. We initially ran it for a couple of days in early June, until we discovered an overeager fan of a particular distro had gotten around our limited efforts to discourage multiple voting and had stacked the deck in favor of a favorite flavor of Linux. We dropped that poll, tightened our enforcement efforts and rebooted a week later. These are the results of the second poll. Voting was pretty active, with 255 people taking part. Because we allowed multiple choices, this resulted in 855 answers.

The choices offered, in order of votes garnered, were Debian, Arch, Mint, Fedora, Mageia, Puppy, openSUSE, PCLOS, Manjaro, and “Other.” Choosing “Other” allowed the voter to write in as many additional distros as desired. The listed choices represented the top ten distros from the Page Hit Ranking at Distrowatch at the time the poll began. The poll opened on June 16 and closed on July 18.

[yop_poll id=”17″]

Interestingly, the two distros with the most votes represented our own preconceived notion that “community distros” referenced noncommercial distros that belonged to a community of developers and users.

Debian, which pulled 20% of the vote with 173 votes, was actually the distro referenced by Ms. Hall as an example of a community distro in the article that started this discussion. The second highest vote getter, Arch Linux, a distro developed primarily with developer sensibilities in mind by a community of developers, received 16% of the vote with 141 votes. The third distro on our list, Mint, is the last distro to pull double digit percentages, with 11% and 95 votes.

After these three, our personal ideas go south rather quickly and the term “community distro” begins to take on an anarchic meaning. It appears that under comman usage any distro can be a community distro if you want it to be. Although none of the distros that followed Mint on our list garnered more than 9% of the vote individually, collectively they represent a 53% majority–64% if we include Mint, which is in a grey area insofar as our definition goes. Of the remaining distros on the list only two, Puppy and Manjaro would’ve fallen under our definition of the term.

Perhaps we should say, our ex-definition of the term. This poll has taught us that the term “community distro” is meaningless when used on it’s own without modifiers and/or qualifiers.

Distros receiving more than one vote under “Other”: Gentoo (9 votes), Slackware (6 votes), CrunchBang (4 votes), CentOS (3 votes), Ultimate Edition (2 votes), ArchBang (2 votes), Kubuntu (2 votes) and SolydXK (2 votes).

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