What the heck does "Distro" mean?

Something that when I got to the Linux environment I had a hard time getting into my head was this:

Everyone on Linux talks about "the distro." That distro this, what the distro this other, what is distro is better than the other distrowhat's up distro is little girlwhat's up distro it is men's.

Since you use Windows, you wouldn't have to know what «Distro', But it's not that hard to understand.

Let's start with the essential

To begin with, let's say that "Distro" is an informal term and means "Distribution". It must be recognized that GNU / Linux comes from the most nerdy and geek world that exists, so in order to install GNU / Linux on the PC in those first years of the penguin era, when nobody knew that this existed, you needed to be a master computer to get this installed. At that time, no one was even in the event that Linux could have some popularity.

When the Linux group started to grow, they realized the potential it had and that Linux was to become a "usable" system on the computer of a normal human being who could not spend several days compiling the kernel and many other things that were needed so that the system could only begin to be used minimally. When they realized such a thing, that is, not only was it a huge waste of time for an ordinary user, but it was also highly unlikely that ordinary users would come to understand the process well enough to do it on their own, they decided simplify these processes.

Already between 1992 and 1993, installations of GNU / Linux preconfigured to be installed with a wizard process and a couple of commands, be careful, it was not a breeze, you still had to know exactly what you were doing to be able to move forward. From there arose "distributions" such as: SLS, TAMU, yggdrasil linux, Among others.

To recap, a Linux distribution is a kind of GNU / Linux pack designed to be installed with a certain simplicity.

After what was happening is known history, people began to ask that Linux installations be as simple as those offered by Windows, with a "nice" visual environment, with a wizard (Next, next, next) and also designed to comply with certain functions, in a certain way. Distros were no longer just an easier way to install Linux, now choosing a Linux distribution also meant deciding on a working method.

Differences between the "distros"

What you surely intuit or deduce is that the "distros" are different from each other, now you understand that these are mechanisms that help a user to implement Linux in a better way. The big problem is that when "distros" began to be designed, linuxers never set out to reach an agreement, therefore, the way the "pepoX distro" (an invented name) operates is not the same (and it is to a certain extent incompatible) with the form of use of the «distro ubuntuntún».


Distros distinguish between easy to use but less configurable and difficult to use but more customizable. I'm just going to show a few:

Ubuntu it is easy to install, it can even be installed as a Windows program, and has a method of installing programs called .deb (invented by its predecessor 'Debian«). Its ease has made it one of the most popular distros.

On the other hand, we have Gentoo, a distro difficult to install and handleMany may try to install it several times without success, due to the amount of "knobs" that must be moved, but according to its users, once ready, it is a distribution very fast and made to measure for the computer what are you using.

Perhaps an imperfect analogy of distros could be to say that XP would be a Windows distro, 98 another, Vista another and so on, but the Linux distros unlike the Windows versions are parallel or contemporary, they are not an evolution over time but rather different methods of working with the system.


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  1.   Maylee said

    I do not think your analogy is entirely correct, since windows would be a distro and as it is actually 98, xp, vista would be its versions, and rather another distro could be windows server with its versions 200, 2003, 2008

  2.   mxkro said

    I did not know .. thanks for the clarification about the "distros".

  3.   Norman tiller said

    I gotta favorite this internet site it seems very useful handy.

  4.   ariel said

    Thanks for making it clear. The truth after 5 years of Windows I got tired of viruses and all the crap. I'm going to try Linux. Hopefully get lucky

    1.    red lego said

      I have both systems in a note, and at least with windows I have never had problems, with linux less, there are times that users simply do not know how to use them, maybe windows was not for you.

  5.   Cristian Jimenez said

    Well, for this world of productivity in front of a computer, there is nothing better than having many options to compare what best suits your needs and why not ... Linux and its magic that its great family creates. The truth is finally good to know that it is a Distro because I was already going crazy, and in terms of programming I think that I will choose Fedora for its features and for personal use a great distro known as Elementary OS 'Luna' but I will not delete windows because it is original XD and that thing is not seen again in life only that its problem is the great instability with heavy programs -_- the result of Widows 8.1 but hey there I have the best design suite for my Adobe Caster Collection Cs6 Original something that doesn't seem to ever exist for linux, does it?

  6.   adanelle said

    There is no word 'usable' we, it would be 'usable', but in the use you wanted to say, it is more 'useful'