I came across this very nice image showing the lineage of various GNU / Linux distributions over the past 15 years (since 1992). It's rather amazing how many flavors of the operating systems now exist, and what all the specialty distros are all about.
One could perhaps argue that having a couple hundred distinct distributions is a bit much, and that Linux could evolve faster if some of these disparate projects could just find a way to come together and focus their talents on a single solution. But, alas, that is not going to happen from the looks of things.
Surely some of these "specialty" Linux / GNU derivations fit a particular need - like being small enough to run optimally from a USB-Drive or such. But, I still have to wonder why even that type of need can not be just a matter of flipping a few configuration "switches" on a larger aggregated distribution, where by means of toggling a few parameters, you could create a USB-optimized-linux from the same root-OS that you would otherwise install on your desktop.
Well, at least that graphic obviates the argument about whether Linux development is active - certainly there are plenty of people working on the operating system and software to run under it.
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