E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.

Book

I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!

Colophon

Built using Django, served with gunicorn and nginx. The database is SQLite. Hosted on a FreeBSD VPS at Johncompanies.com. Comment-spam protection by Akismet.

Elsewhere

Pile o'Tags

Stuff I Use

bitbucket, Django, Emacs, FreeBSD, Git, jQuery, LaunchBar, Markdown, Mercurial, OS X, Python, Review Board, S3, SQLite, Sublime Text, Ubuntu Linux

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At least 236528 pieces of comment spam killed since 2008, mostly via Akismet.

Linux will eat itself

When I came across Distro of the Month I started thinking that maybe there's a problem with the number of Linux distributions.

Distrowatch.com tracks approximately 372 different Linux distributions. At one per month, it would take 31 years to make it through the list -- assuming that no new distributions arrive during that time, which I'm afraid is wishful thinking.

Distrowatch's How Independent Is Your Distribution page boils the numbers down some -- 129 of those 372 are based on Debian, for instance. Even so, you've got four or five years of work ahead of you there if you just want to sample the major families plus independent distributions like Puppy Linux.

Many of those variants only differ from their parent projects by having a different default window manager, application bundle, package management system, or set of device drivers. Do you really need to make your own LiveCD just for that? Why not go all the way: a vanity service where for $99 you can have your very own version of Linux -- "JoeBlowix," for example -- with a picture of you on the splash screen.

This is a very halfhearted rant on my part. It's dumb to wonder about what would happen if those 372 distributions joined forces, because that will never happen. People will do what they want to do; if somebody is set on creating Beelzebubuntu, I can't stop them. Many great open source projects started out as somebody just playing around.

In fact, with Ubuntu topping the charts and 128 other distros based on Debian, perhaps there's some convergence happening and this isn't all just entropy and eventual heat death.

But I'm going to keep an eye on the numbers at Distrowatch. And if that list tops 500, I'm launching yourveryownlinux.com.

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006
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2 comments

Comment from Matt Rose , 1 week later

Guess what? You're already too late. http://www.rpath.com/project/rpath/ browse the projects to get even more of the same as at distrowatch.

Comment from Paul , 1 week later

Excellent! Now I have to get to work on the custom splash screen for E-Scribuntu.

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