In praise of small Linux distros

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Linux

Among the hundreds of Linux distributions, only a handful get much media attention, and only a small segment of those have become household words in the Linux community. At Distrowatch.com, one of the better known Linux ranking sites, you'll see the same names week after week in the top 20 -- Ubuntu, Mepis, Fedora, Slackware, etc. So who is using the bottom 80? And why?

Of course, many distros are created for special needs. One example is SME Server, designed as a plug-and-play file server and network gateway. Another is Smoothwall, created to be a network router. But the majority of distributions that don't receive much attention aren't that different in structure or purpose than those that get the notice and popularity.

Since the major distros are all fast and stable, small distros have to provide more than just speed and stability. Why do so many small distros have such a loyal entourage? The answer lies in the word "community."

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