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When Does a Variant/Spin of a Distro become its own Distro?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

This morning, A friend and I over breakfast, were discussing somethings about linux, as we are both Linux users, and we value each other opinions and philosophies on the subjects. Today was the first morning I can honestly say we had a "true" argument over something, where he blatantly told me I was a "Ubuntu Fanboy and can't accept the success of Linux Mint".

 

The discussion started off benign enough, we were discussing the rampant release of a lot of articles lately, claiming victory in distro wars for Linux Mint, cause of a page hit ranking on distrowatch. Now is this enough proof to claim this? I honestly don't believe it is, as when did distrowatch become the defacto popularity gauge and final word on which distro gets the most use? We both agreed that they were just sensationalist articles, by uninformed or biased writers, who for whatever reason has decided to take it on a personal crusade to bash Unity, and get New users to listen to them.

 

There is no denying that unity is not that great, I don't use it, I prefer Gnome 3/XFCE/KDE to it, but I didn't jumpship from Ubuntu to get to these desktops, I just simply ran a sudo apt-get install gnome-shell/kubuntu-desktop/xfce-desktop to get these. Our argument wasn't really over Mint choice of DE or Ubuntu's, it was over something I said in response to one of his questions.

 

"Maybe there is something to Linux Mint, Maybe we should install it and use it to see what all the fuss is about, what you think?"

 

and i responded with:

 

"you know how I feel about variants, Mint's are for pillows, its a refugee camp for all the Ubuntu users who didn't know how to install a different desktop in ubuntu or weren't smart enough to stick with 10.04/10.10 if they wanted to stay with Gnome 2 and then use backports/ppa's for the newer software. I honestly don't see what they offer other than a buggy and slow Gnome extension, and a pretty 'theme', they use ubuntu repositories, its installer, and unlike debian, anything that is made for ubuntu will work in mint without any tweaking, cause they are the same OS."

 

His ears turned red and he said "So to you, Mint is nothing more than a variant of Ubuntu like kubuntu is?"

 

and I said yes.

 

To me Linux Mint has always been a Variant of Ubuntu, I've never seen it as a "distro" of its own, I mean how can it be? the only distinctions they make between themselves and Ubuntu now, is they use Gnome-shell, created an extension for it, include multimedia codecs, and use a different theme...To me, this is no different than what (K)(X)(L)Ubuntu has done. So am I wrong in viewing Linux Mint as nothing more than Ubuntu with a different theme? Has it truly forked itself enough from the Ubuntu for me to raise the white flag to my friend and admit I'm wrong in my View of it?

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post #2 of 13
Linux Mint is a variant of Ubuntu because it still relies heavily on Ubuntu's repositories and only updates after Ubuntu does. You're right in saying its no different than the other Ubuntu variants, although Mint takes far more liberties. They are almost there, but I'm pretty sure Mint 12 is still based on Ubuntu 11.10. They just have to cut the umbilical cord and start managing their own packages and setting their own releases and I'll consider them a full distro.

If you want an example of a variant becoming its own distro look at Chakra. They phased out the Arch repos and pacman in favor of their own repo and CInstall and are moving in their own direction now, completely independent of Arch.
    
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post #3 of 13
I think when a distro uses it's own repository, independent of the distro it came from, it becomes its own distro. If I am not mistaken, Mint has its own repository, and therefore has it's packages separated from the Ubuntu packages. It applies its own patches its programs, making it different than the programs used in Ubuntu. Therefore Mint isn't a spinoff distro of Ubuntu.

This makes Mint different than Kubuntu. All of the packages of Kubuntu come straight from the Ubuntu repository. The same with Archbang. It is just a spinoff of Arch Linux. It downloads it's packages directly from the Arch repositories.
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post #4 of 13
Maybe not it's own distro the current mint version is closer than any other versions since the interface/DE has a number of changes. It used to be just Ubuntu with extra codecs couple nice tools and a nice theme. To say it is just for people who are too dumb to use Ubuntu with a different DE is just being stubborn. I could make Ubuntu just like Mint but why bother when Mint exists already with no real draw back. Especially considering the fact that Ubuntu is the every man's Linux to begin with.

I often use Archbang when I want to use Arch with openbox and don't feel like starting from scratch. It is not it's own distro but it serves a purpose.
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post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by cavallino View Post

Maybe not it's own distro the current mint version is closer than any other versions since the interface/DE has a number of changes. It used to be just Ubuntu with extra codecs couple nice tools and a nice theme. To say it is just for people who are too dumb to use Ubuntu with a different DE is just being stubborn. I could make Ubuntu just like Mint but why bother when Mint exists already with no real draw back. Especially considering the fact that Ubuntu is the every man's Linux to begin with.
I often use Archbang when I want to use Arch with openbox and don't feel like starting from scratch. It is not it's own distro but it serves a purpose.

You can also say that Ubuntu is just for people who are too dumb to use Debian tongue.gif

I'm installing Mint 12 in VMware right now. I haven't really used it since version 9, and I want to check out what they've done with Mate. I'll probably be back in an hour with a decision on whether or not its its own distro.
    
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post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rothen View Post

I think when a distro uses it's own repository, independent of the distro it came from, it becomes its own distro. If I am not mistaken, Mint has its own repository, and therefore has it's packages separated from the Ubuntu packages. It applies its own patches its programs, making it different than the programs used in Ubuntu. Therefore Mint isn't a spinoff distro of Ubuntu.
This makes Mint different than Kubuntu. All of the packages of Kubuntu come straight from the Ubuntu repository. The same with Archbang. It is just a spinoff of Arch Linux. It downloads it's packages directly from the Arch repositories.


It has repo's, but they don't contain much. Main includes their themes for desktop/grub and their Gnome 3 extension. Upstream, seems to include config for their "spins", and possible patched software for like their gnome 3 stuff and import, which looks to contain all the stuff for MATE. Not really nitpicking, but i've seen PPA's with more packages and changes than the Mint "repo's".

if i'm not mistaken, before they became "official" variants, (K)(X)Ubuntu maintained their own Repo's. It still in either case (considering for the most part only MATE is not included by default in Ubuntu's repository) 99% of Mint still relies on actual ubuntu packages and repositories.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cavallino View Post

Maybe not it's own distro the current mint version is closer than any other versions since the interface/DE has a number of changes. It used to be just Ubuntu with extra codecs couple nice tools and a nice theme. To say it is just for people who are too dumb to use Ubuntu with a different DE is just being stubborn. I could make Ubuntu just like Mint but why bother when Mint exists already with no real draw back. Especially considering the fact that Ubuntu is the every man's Linux to begin with.
I often use Archbang when I want to use Arch with openbox and don't feel like starting from scratch. It is not it's own distro but it serves a purpose.

 

Well considering this all started with the introduction of Unity in 11.04 and some people's hatred of it and gnome-shell, Mint made an announcement they were "keeping" Gnome 2 around for a bit longer...either it was cause they were too stupid or thru ignorance, they didn't realize that in 11.04 the "ubuntu classic" in the session was in fact gnome 2, and too permanently disable Untiy in 11.04, was just a matter of removing 2 packages...maybe to imply they were stupid was too strong of a word, maybe saying it was their ignorance of the fact, would've been better to say?

 

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post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transhour View Post

.either it was cause they were too stupid or thru ignorance, they didn't realize that in 11.04 the "ubuntu classic" in the session was in fact gnome 2,


Oh look, its the pot calling the kettle black. "Ubuntu Classic" is actually gnome 3's fallback mode, which is most certainly NOT Gnome 2.
    
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post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathris View Post


Oh look, its the pot calling the kettle black. "Ubuntu Classic" is actually gnome 3's fallback mode, which is most certainly NOT Gnome 2.


um in 11.04, Unity in the session selection, was called "Ubuntu", and Unity's fallback (which was Gnome 2.x from 10.10) was called "Ubuntu Classic". In 11.10, Unity is called "Ubuntu" and the fallback mode to unity is called "Ubuntu 2d", if you install gnome 3/shell in Ubuntu 11.10, in the session selection, they are referred to as GNOME and GNOME Classic and GNOME Classic(no effects) (which disables compiz/compositing), in 11.10, yes, the Gnome classic/no effects one are the Gnome 3 Fallback shell which "mimicks" gnome 2.x layout, but its not gnome 2.x. So here is a piece of free advice, before you try to make me sound stupid or ignorant again, maybe you should do a little faq checking, cause I can offer screenshots of this.

 

Ubuntu 11.04 "Ubuntu" chose from session, Unity:

11.04-unity.png

 

 

Ubuntu 11.04, (still using GDM instead of LightDM that 11.10 introduced) Session Selction menu:

 

ubuntu-11.04-gdm.png

 

 

 

Ubuntu 11.04, With Ubuntu Classic Chosen as my Session:

 

ubunut-classic-11.04.png

 

Gnome 2.32.1...


Edited by Transhour - 12/7/11 at 1:45pm
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post #9 of 13
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a Linux distro literally just a Linux kernel with a distribution of software? Named that way because different brands were essentially the same OS albeit with different software included. While different distros have grown into whole individual entities -some of which contrast significantly enough with some of the others that you could be forgiven for thinking they were (subtly) different OSs- if the term "distribution" is taken literally then all the Ubuntu variants are different distros (Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Mythbuntu, XBMC Live, Ubuntu Studio, etc) as well as Mint.

I think if you want to parametrise your question more accurately, you need to start evaluating when a variant becomes a fork and when a fork is no longer thought about as a fork. eg:
* Ubuntu -> Xubuntu == varient
* Debian -> Ubuntu == fork
* Softlanding Linux System -> Slackware == no longer a fork
Edited by Plan9 - 12/7/11 at 4:30pm
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transhour View Post

Well considering this all started with the introduction of Unity in 11.04 and some people's hatred of it and gnome-shell, Mint made an announcement they were "keeping" Gnome 2 around for a bit longer...either it was cause they were too stupid or thru ignorance, they didn't realize that in 11.04 the "ubuntu classic" in the session was in fact gnome 2, and too permanently disable Untiy in 11.04, was just a matter of removing 2 packages...maybe to imply they were stupid was too strong of a word, maybe saying it was their ignorance of the fact, would've been better to say?

And what happens when 11.04 comes out? That'd just be postponing the issue, picking up Mate was a great idea.

Mint is its own distro now IMO, when I install it, it looks and feels different to Ubuntu greatly. Ubuntu feels bloated and cruddy (Unless its the xubuntu varient) to me whereas Mint seems to have fixed up some, if not all, of that...That said, Arch ftw.
    
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