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OSCON.

Session

Toward a New Kind of "Linux Distribution"
Jeff Licquia, Progeny

Track: Linux
Date: Thursday, July 29
Time: 10:45am - 11:30am
Location: Mt. Hood

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There's no denying that "Linux distributions" have played a central role--arguably the central role--in the evolution of Linux from hobby project to mainstream technology.

However, even as Slackware, Red Hat, and other distributions became "Linux" to millions of users, one inescapable fact remained: that unlike their proprietary OS cousins, which contain technologies developed (or licensed) by a single organization to fit into a single, integrated product, Linux distributions are merely convenient packaging around a loosely knit collection of thousands of independently developed technologies.

The typical Linux distribution optimizes for breadth--because it is "one-size-fits-all," it needs to include a huge assortment of features and technologies to satisfy the widest possible audience, only a few of which may be important to any given project. Ideally, for users that view Linux not as a product but as a platform on which to build their own products, a distribution should optimize for depth--to excel in those few features and technologies important to the project at hand.

To allow optimization for depth, a new kind of distribution is needed--a componentized distribution from which users may build platforms from the bottom up, including only the features and technologies their products require. In this talk, Debian founder Ian Murdock will describe Progeny's Componentized Linux, a new kind of Linux distribution built bottom-up as a set of interchangeable parts that closely track their counterpart "upstream" open-source projects, rather than top-down as a monolithic, difficult-to-change whole. By being constructed in this fashion, the componentized Linux is easier to customize and modify than traditional Linux distributions.



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