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Survival time of Linux distributions

Creating and maintaining Linux distributions is a surprisingly popular activity. The GNU/Linux Distribution Timeline listed over 500 distributions by the time recording stopped at the end of 2012.

Once a distribution becomes available, how long do the people involved on a distribution continue to maintain it? The plot below shows the survival curve for Linux distributions based on their original parent distribution; the five most popular parent distributions are shown (code+data).

Survival curve of Linux distributions based on their parent distribution

The plus-signs on lines are censored data, that is distributions that are still actively maintained (or at least not listed as no longer supported) when maintenance work on the timeline stopped (October 2012).

My interpretation of the data is that when the maintainers of a parent distribution are responsive to community pressure, it is difficult to motivate people to maintain a distribution derived from it.

RedHat is a commercial distribution and likely to be less focused on the developer community.

Ubuntu (79 derived distributions) and Knoppix (20 derived distributions) are relative newcomers. It looks like Knoppix has been squeezed out by the top 4.

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