Distrowatch: everything you need to know about this platform

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If you have been in the world of free software for a long time, especially in that of GNU / Linux distributions (although it goes beyond that), it is probably not the first time that do you hear about Distrowatch. On the other hand, if you have just arrived or are planning to install a distro, it is sure to be a name to take into account, since it can help you a lot in the choices and to know this world better.

Distrowatch is a web page, like so many others. But since its inception it has been focused on a very specific function. That is why it has become so famous. If you want to know all the details of this project and you do not know it, I invite you to continue reading to discover all its secrets ... and even if you already knew it, you may be surprised to know some details that perhaps you did not know.

What is Distrowatch?

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Distrowatch is a site dedicated to several fundamental things:

  • News about free and open source software. You can use it as a source to keep up to date as well.
  • Links with analysis, screenshots and information on updates, releases or new developments.
  • But if there is a feature that this website is really known for, it is because of the information on the operating systems or distros it contains. Offers popularity rankings de the most used distros statistics set about these SSOO so that you can consult it.

And yes, I have written operating systems since it does not only focus on distributions GNU / LinuxYou will also find information about other operating systems such as BSD, Solaris and derivatives, and even other free or open source systems that are not so well known.

The objective of this great project is to facilitate the adoption of this software and systems, first making it known. And secondly, that interested users can make comparisons of distributions and operating systems, being able to analyze the characteristics that differentiate them from others and thus be able to choose the best one in each case.

In addition, the popularity of Distrowatch has resulted in numerous people collaborating with it, maintaining the site on various languages These include English, French, Spanish, German, Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, etc.

A Little History

Distrowatch emerged on May 31, 2001, a year where the adoption of GNU / Linux and other systems is not like it is today, but I was already seeing how more and more users were choosing to use it. Keep in mind that it was not too long since the creation of Linux (1991), although of other systems that you will find, it was a little longer since its launch.

It was intended to be a single place to find extensive information, and it has succeeded. Since that time it has been maintained by Ladislay Bodnar. But since then a lot has changed. In its beginnings, it only had a simple table that showed the five largest Linux distros of the time, comparing price, versions, date of realization, etc. And little by little it was adding more content and functions.

Over time it has also grown beyond the GNU / Linux distros, with * BSD and Solaris systems, as well as other derivatives of these. That has transformed them into the most important database which the community can access to learn about free software and open source projects.

Ladislay Bodnar himself has commented that the function of the statistics of the website was a before and after for the project. Bodnar wanted to create a good honest foundation on existing distros so that users could refer to it and help them choose. In addition to including links to go to each official page of each distro to download it.

So popular did his statistics become that many other websites and analysts use them as a reference guide on the popularity of distributions. It is based on the number of visits each entry has on the Internet. That way you know which is being the trend each year.

How to consult it?

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This one you see on these lines is the Distrowatch web interface. As you can see, it is a fairly primitive looking website but easy to use. As you can see, you have everything you need at your fingertips, for example:

  • Página principal: has several distinguished zones.
    • In the central area you have the latest news about free software and open source. You can filter by date or distro, if you want to search for something more specific.
    • On the left you can find a column with the list of the latest distributions that have been updated and also the latest packages.
    • On the right you can see the statistics area about distros. They are ordered by number of clicks, from most popular to least popular. It has a filter to be able to evaluate its popularity in different time ranges. You can even for years of the past ...
  • Upper menu areaHere are some simple links that take you to other areas of the Distrowatch website. Among them you can highlight:
    • Torrent zone: to download various operating systems using this protocol from a client such as Transmission. It can be a good way to download your systems using a fast and safe procedure, as an alternative to the official websites.
    • Glorary: it is a very practical mini dictionary with some of the terms that you can find throughout this website and that will help you better understand what they refer to.
    • Upcoming releases: it will show you what the next releases will be, as a preview of its main news page to know what is to come ...
    • Add a new distribution: you can enter the data to add a new distribution unknown so far or that you have developed yourself. That way it will appear on the web among the others.
    • Others: you will also find other sections with information about the Distrowatch itself, about the site map to better locate what you are looking for, about the advertising they use to finance the project, etc.

Throughout its history it has published the statistics of the most popular distros or visited. You can read a history of those that have been occupying the top positions over the years from this link.

I hope it helped you discover some unknown details about this old acquaintance!


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  1.   Zabalero said

    The number of distros out there is excessive.
    If instead of spreading so much they joined forces in one that works everything and well,
    the world could finally break free from the tyranny of Windows.

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