Upstream projects vs. Distributions

Filed under
Linux
Software

You can globally split open source projects into two broad categories. Upstream projects develop and publish source code for various applications and features. Downstream projects are consumers of this source code. The most common type of downstream projects are distributions, which release ready-to-use binary packages of these upstream applications, make sure they integrate well with the rest of the system, and release security and bugfix updates according to their maintenance policies.

The relationship between upstream projects and distributions is always a bit difficult, because their roles overlap a bit. Since I’m sitting on both sides of the fence, let’s try to find common ground.

Overlapping roles

In an ideal world, everyone would install software through distribution packages, and the roles wouldn’t overlap. In the real world though,

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