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apehater: so the debian linux distro is one of the most basic/naked linux distros? did i got that right?
No. The situation is much more complex than that.

Simplifying everything to such a degree that anyone with any knowledge at all will be extremely right in saying that everything I'm about to say is totally wrong:
"Linux" is the core of the OS, the underwater bit you mostly don't see. Its most important part is the "kernel", which has regular versioned releases. On top of that there's the window manager, which creates the graphical user interface you'll mostly interact with. There are many different window managers. Gnome and KDE are the two traditional big ones (with many small ones like LXDE also existing), but when Gnome took off in a direction many people didn't like, there were a bunch of attempts to maintain its former version, or to recreate it on the basis of the technology of the new version (MATE and Cinnamon, an important basis for the popularity of Mint), while Ubuntu created Unity.

As a crosscut to these layers there's distributions (distros), which pick a specific version of the Linux kernel, and distribute it together with a specific window manager, and a suite of programs which work well together, and look nice together, mostly due to support in these programs for the chosen window manager.

The main historical difference between these distros is their choice of "package manager", which is the technology for installing new programs, and deciding that if you want to install program X, you'll also need libraries Y and Z, and automatically installing those along. APT with its .deb files is what's used in the Debian/Ubuntu/Mint system (but there's other root distros also using this). Redhat meanwhile opted for RPM.

Many distros have started from scratch. Many others base themselves on the choices of another distro, and tweaked them due to believing some of the choices to be wrong. Some of these distros have effectively become standalone, others rely heavily on the continued work of their 'parent' distro. "Debian" is one of the older distros, which has a couple of hundred other distros based on it, either directly, or through intermediate other distros like Ubuntu. But there's also slackware and redhat as two other completely separate distros, each with their own large family of dependent distros. (From a design philosophy points of view, Slackware comes close to being very "pure", in that it makes very few design decisions on how things should work together. Arch Linux, which adamhm mentioned above, possibly even more so.)
Here's a perpetually outdated visualisation of the hierarchical relations between a couple of hundred distros.

And the thing is, theoretically you don't really need a distro. You could install the linux Kernel by itself, and install a window manager on top of it (with a whole bunch of layers in between which I glossed over), and manually download and install security updates, and figure out the correct dependencies, etc. That would be the most pure Linux. But mostly people want the convenience of having someone else figure out the hard bits of that. There's also a thriving support system (linux from scratch e.a.) for not going the distro route.

Within the Linux world, choice is everything, and there's enough people with the technological know-how that if they don't like the choices someone else made, they'll bloody well make their own choices and let other people benefit from it, too. It's the cause of much chaos, but also a great strength.
Post edited August 03, 2016 by gogtrial34987
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apehater: ah ok, i didn't know that there is a direct debian os. i thought that there are only debian based os's like ubuntu.

so the debian linux distro is one of the most basic/naked linux distros? did i got that right?
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adamhm: If you're after a really basic distro then you could try a very "DIY" distro like Arch, that starts you off at the terminal & you have to build it up from there.
i see, so debian is a partially preconfigured distro and arch is the kind of distro i was looking for. what does diy mean?
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apehater: what does diy mean?
Do it yourself.
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adamhm: If you're after a really basic distro then you could try a very "DIY" distro like Arch, that starts you off at the terminal & you have to build it up from there.
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apehater: i see, so debian is a partially preconfigured distro and arch is the kind of distro i was looking for. what does diy mean?
DIY = Do It Yourself

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners%27_guide
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adamhm: If you're after a really basic distro then you could try a very "DIY" distro like Arch, that starts you off at the terminal & you have to build it up from there.
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apehater: i see, so debian is a partially preconfigured distro and arch is the kind of distro i was looking for. what does diy mean?
If you want to really go from scratch though, there is , which isn't so much a distribution as a set of instructions and guidelines on how to build your own (yes, from scratch) though I wouldn't recommend it unless you are already fairly well educated in Linux. There's also [url=https://gentoo.org/]Gentoo, which I've understood to let you do your own thing even more than Arch does (but, obviously not on LFS's level).

Personally though, I'm quite happy with Arch.
Post edited August 03, 2016 by Maighstir
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gogtrial34987: No. The situation is much more complex than that.

Simplifying everything to such a degree that anyone with any knowledge at all will be extremely right in saying that everything I'm about to say is totally wrong:
LOL at that distribution timeline :-D

If that post of yours was a simplification I don't really want you to spend hours writing about the really complex situation :-P, but out of curiosity, why would somebody say it's "totally wrong"? Just a few pointers or references are ok.
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nepundo: If that post of yours was a simplification I don't really want you to spend hours writing about the really complex situation :-P, but out of curiosity, why would somebody say it's "totally wrong"? Just a few pointers or references are ok.
Well "totally wrong" is hypoerbole, of course, to stave off potential pointless reactions pointing out where all I was simplifying too much, but to give two examples: I effectively equated Unity to Gnome and KDE, but the latter two are full-fledged desktop environments, consisting of a toolkit library, a graphical shell and a whole host of programs designed to make use of that toolkit - while Unity is just an alternative shell, and is built on top of Gnome.

And I said that distros pick a specific window manager, which is true, but not the end of it, because they mostly also support installing most of the others. And so you can install KDE on Ubuntu, and that'll be a different thing than if you install Kubuntu, which is the Ubuntu-based distro which opted for KDE rather than Gnome/Unity.
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gogtrial34987:
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adamhm:
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Maighstir:
big thanks to all 3 of you, especially to gogtrial for the long text with the basics about linux. my experiance so far is only knoppix (the cd emegency version) which sadly didn't include the package that allows to write on ntfs formated partitions.

if you all don't mind, then i'd like to make some more questions about the structure of linux distros.

so if we talk about linux then it actually means a linux distro, stuffed so that it is a full os with graphic surface, network drivers, basic mainboard and drives (hdd, cd-rom, usb, ...) drivers, inet browser, media player with codecs, basic gfx drivers, probably some more small stuff?

then i would first like to know more about the linux kernel. as far as i got it right, there must be different versions then. i don't mean, the updates that patches the kernel. i mean that one linux kernel version is for arm cpu based devices and another is for common desktop pc's with multicore x64 cpu and so on?
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apehater: so if we talk about linux then it actually means a linux distro, stuffed so that it is a full os with graphic surface, network drivers, basic mainboard and drives (hdd, cd-rom, usb, ...) drivers, inet browser, media player with codecs, basic gfx drivers, probably some more small stuff?
Yep, that's indeed generally what is meant when someone says they have Linux as their OS.

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apehater: then i would first like to know more about the linux kernel. as far as i got it right, there must be different versions then. i don't mean, the updates that patches the kernel. i mean that one linux kernel version is for arm cpu based devices and another is for common desktop pc's with multicore x64 cpu and so on?
Good question. I'm very much not an expert in this area, but as far as I understand it, it's all the same Linux kernel code no matter what computer architecture (x86, ARM, PowerPC, SPARC, etc) it's running on, although there's some codepaths inside the code which are only used for specific architectures. It's the compiler which then makes the kernel code suitable for running on one of the many different architectures on which Linux has been made to run. (Linux is extremely portable - for the longest time, it was something of a sport to get Linux running on the most obscure devices, including toasters and washing machines. (And there, what's meant is really just the kernel plus a couple of the most basic commandline utilities.))
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gogtrial34987: ...
Good question. I'm very much not an expert in this area, but as far as I understand it, it's all the same Linux kernel code no matter what computer architecture (x86, ARM, PowerPC, SPARC, etc) it's running on, although there's some codepaths inside the code which are only used for specific architectures. It's the compiler which then makes the kernel code suitable for running on one of the many different architectures on which Linux has been made to run. (Linux is extremely portable - for the longest time, it was something of a sport to get Linux running on the most obscure devices, including toasters and washing machines. (And there, what's meant is really just the kernel plus a couple of the most basic commandline utilities.))
ok, then the next question: when i would download just the linux kernel, does that download contain a commandline interface and an runtime environment suitable to get the kernel to run on a current x64 cpu based desktop pc (suitable compiler, very basic motherboard, drives, keyboard and gfx driver, bootable installer, ...)?
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apehater: ok, then the next question: when i would download just the linux kernel, does that download contain a commandline interface and an runtime environment suitable to get the kernel to run on a current x64 cpu based desktop pc (suitable compiler, very basic motherboard, drives, keyboard and gfx driver, bootable installer, ...)?
No. What that download includes is the source code for the kernel. (Basically the same files as you can see here, in the kernel.org git repository. You'd need to compile these yourself, and then install the result. Most instructions I was able to find swiftly assume you're already on a unix-like OS and have all the requisite tools installed for compiling the kernel. (Then on top of that you'll probably want to install a boot loader (GRUB is a well known and frequently used one, but there are others), a commandline shell like bash, and probably a set of utility programs.)

If you want to go that route, then reading the Linux From Scratch manual which was linked to before, is really your best bet. As I'm near the end of my knowledge here. I have no real idea what all bootstrapping yourself to such a system would involve.

If you don't want to compile things yourself, but just to get the most minimal system possible, which is still useful to build on top of, (basically a precompiled LFS-equivalent), then Arch comes closest from those systems I know about, According to its wiki documentation, it contains the same things as LFS, plus systemd (a service manager, for automatically starting and stopping services on boot e.a.), some more utilities, and a package manager. (Through which you can then install a very large set of other precompiled programs.)

There are undoubtedly even more minimal distros which don't include even that, but I'm not aware of them.

(If your worry is purely "will it run on my system", then yes, all of this will; your keyboard will be usable, and you'll get output on your screen. But I can't judge if you have the right impression of how little you can "do" in such a situation.)
Post edited August 06, 2016 by gogtrial34987
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apehater: so if we talk about linux then it actually means a linux distro, stuffed so that it is a full os with graphic surface, network drivers, basic mainboard and drives (hdd, cd-rom, usb, ...) drivers, inet browser, media player with codecs, basic gfx drivers, probably some more small stuff?
you'll find some people who insist on calling the OS "GNU/Linux" to emphasize that it consists of a kernel (which is called Linux) plus addition software. (lots of the core software like compiler suite, standard library, tools come from GNU projects).
Though it is more common, as gogtrial34987 said, to simply use "Linux" to the describe the whole OS.
Post edited August 06, 2016 by immi101