Communities in the distrowatch.org top 20

Distribution Forum Wiki Community Membership Bug Reporting Mailing List Chat
MX Linux Yes Technical Only No No Yes No No
Manjaro Yes Yes No No Forum Only Yes Yes
Mint Yes No Yes No Upstream or Github No IRC
elementary Stack Exchange No No No Yes No Slack
Ubuntu Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes IRC
Debian Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes IRC
Fedora Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes IRC
Solus Yes No Yes No Yes No IRC
openSUSE Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes IRC
Zorin Yes No No No Forum Only No No
deepin Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No
KDE neon Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes IRC
CentOS Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes IRC
ReactOS* Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Webchat
Arch Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ArcoLinux Yes No No No No No Discord
Parrot Yes Debian Wiki No No Forum Only No IRC/Telegram
Kali Yes No Yes No Yes No IRC
PCLinuxOS Yes No No No Forum Only No IRC
Lite Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No

*All are Linux distributions except ReactOS

Column descriptions:

  • Distribution: Name of the distro
  • Forum: Is there a support message board?
  • Wiki: Is there a user-editable wiki?
  • Community: Are there any links where I can directly contribute to the project?
  • Membership: Can I become a voting member of the community?
  • Bug Reporting: Is there a way to report bugs that I find?
  • Mailing list: Is there an active mailing list for support, announcements, etc?
  • Chat: Is there a way to talk to other people in the community directly?

What is this list?

This is the top 20 active projects distributions according to distrowatch.org in the past 12 months.

Things that I learned:

Only well-funded corporate sponsored Linux distributions (Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE) have all categories checked. That doesn’t mean that anyone is getting paid. I believe this means that employees are probably the chief contributors and that means there are more people putting in resources to help.

Some distributions are “Pat’s distribution”. Pat’s group owns it and Pat doesn’t want a steering committee or any other say in how the distro works. Though contributions by means of bug reports may be accepted.

A few distributions “outsource” resources to other distributions. Elementary allows Stack Exchange to provide their forum. Parrot Linux refers users to the Debian wiki. Mint suggests that you put in bug reports with the upstream provider unless it is a specific Mint create application.

There are a few Linux distributions that leave me scratching my head. How is this in the top 20 distros on distrowatch? There’s nothing here and the forum, if there is one, is nearly empty. Who uses this?

What do you want from an open source project?

Do you want to donate your time, make friends, and really help make a Linux distribution grow? Look at Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, or Arch. These communities have ways to help you make this happen.

Do you want to just install a free OS on your machine and not worry about what goes into it until something breaks? Check out a Linux distribution with an active and friendly support community. Sometimes the more avenues the better. Sometimes you only need one really good and helpful forum.

Suggestions for distro owners:

Explicitly declare on your website what you want from the people who use your distribution and how they can help! Maybe you just need funding so you can quit your day job and do this full time.  Maybe you really need well written bug reports and testers. Say so and help them help you!

Did I miss something? Did I say that you have no chat but you have a thriving community on IRC? Then let me know and I will update this blog post! Also, make sure that it is visible on your page and not hidden away.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the nice overview. I have been active in several Linux distributions over the last years, mainly in the area of art. Personally I have always been using Slackware (which I guess is what you call ‘Pat’ Distribution). From my experience most of the big players like Fedora, CentOS or openSUSE are company driven. There is a core community which is often refereed to the ‘Linux Tea Party’. From my experience I can confirm this. Also the idea of meritocracy does only seem to work in theory as long as the ‘leaders’ stick to their positions.

    From the user perspective it does not matter so much, but as the idea of Free Software ecosystems is that users should become contributors, it’s an important point.

    Like

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