Some talk of lack of focus or waste of effort with the proliferation of GNU/Linux distros but SoftPedia announced, “We are proud to announce that we have just crossed the mark of 2,000 Linux distributions, right here on our Softpedia Linux section, as you can see from the counter situated on the top right of the page.”
I see it as a sign of health, genetic diversity with utter flexibility. Only the efficiency of FLOSS could survive such biological processes. This diversity is not a disease but is a symptom of perfect compatibility with all humans do in IT. It used to take months or years to produce a distro from scratch but thanks to FLOSS licensing, anyone beyond the complete newbie can produce a new distro simply by customizing any of the base distros: Debian GNU/Linux, Fedora GNU/Linux, Gentoo, or Slackware. Even modest organizations can produce their own distro for maintaining clients and servers with very little effort. With Debian GNU/Linux, one can set up a repository and create package lists and a minimal installation can bootstrap whatever management wants in a few minutes on any system. It’s not much different to putting stuff on a CD or bootable disc-image.
What this milestone indicates is that GNU/Linux is now incredibly widespread, reaching every kind of utilization that the minds of man can conceive. It’s all good. This growth continues. Softpedia’s count was 2003 when I started this post. It’s now 2004… 😉 Softpedia’s Linux Distro pages start here and end here, 65 screens of 30 downloads each… and one more of 5 downloads comes to 1955 but it’s still an impressive number. 2004 was Turnkey CouchDB Live CD. It already has 6 downloads… Meanwhile Distrowatch counts 335 distributions but doesn’t count individual downloads…
Whoops! Softpedia’s count is now 2005! I can’t keep up with it all. 😉