DistroWatch The Best Website For Distro Hoppers


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DistroWatch is a well-known website in the open-source community as a dedicated place to get up-to-date information predominantly about open-source operating systems. This article will cover details about what the DistroWatch website offers to open source community including its much-hyped ranking system for Linux distros.

The DistroWatch – what does it provide?

The DistroWatch features release announcements of new versions of hundreds of Linux and other distributions. It does host reviews of distros, podcasts, and newsletters. DistroWatch first published by Ladislav Bodnar, the founder, and maintainer, on May 31, 2001.

DistroWatch initially focused on Linux distributions. But later based on user requests, it went on adding different flavors of operating systems like BSD family, Android x86, Oracle Solaris, MINIX, and Haiku, etc.

The DistroWatch presents detailed information in one place in a very convenient manner. At the time of writing this article, the DistroWatch hosted information of more than 300 active distributions (referring the list of distros populated under drop-down feature on the first page of the DistroWatch) and more than a hundred in queue. It is said that the DistroWatch lives out of advertising and donation.  LinuxCD.org is the first to advertise on the DistroWatch site.

The DistroWatch features a number of resources for both beginners and experienced users. Below is the partial list of what the DistroWatch offers to you:

​Headlines covering the latest news in open source​​Release announcements of new versions of distributions
​Submitting a new distributionNice distro search facility ​
Upcoming releasesRandom distribution option
(I like this very much)
Opinion Polls​Links to distro reviews
Podcasts and newslettersInformation of packages and comparison across distros
​Weekly newsletters called DistroWatch WeeklyGlossary of technical terms
Useful tips and a good collection of Q&A ​Contribution page

Ranking System of distros, the DistroWatch style

The DistroWatch started its much-debated controversial ranking system in the year 2002. The ranking system is based on page-hit count on specific Linux distro. It works like this – DistroWatch increment count of a particular Linux distro when somebody visits a Linux distribution with a unique IP address on a day. The DistroWatch defines its ranking system as –

It is a light-hearted way of looking at the popularity of distribution. Since each distribution has its own page, we thought it would be fun to track the number of visitors viewing individual distribution pages. The Page Hit Ranking figure represents hits per day by unique visitors; as determined by the visitor’s IP address. The DistroWatch lists top 100 distros based on page hit figures. Below is the list of top 30 ranked distros at the time of writing of this article:

distrowatch top 30 linux distros

After seeing the list, one may get surprised by not finding the popular ones.  For a long period of time, Manjaro has been on top of the DistroWatch! Suppose you are looking for Gentoo distro, then generally you try to access Gentoo official website to download or to know details of it rather visiting the DistroWatch every time. One reason to visit DistroWatch could be that some websites belonging to distros are not well maintained or looks ugly. Though many did not consider the DistroWatch’s Page Hit Ranking system seriously but it is considered authoritative.

Distributions and the Waiting List

The DistroWatch moves a newly submitted distribution a waiting list first where the submitted candidate distro will be evaluated on several parameters before listing on the DistroWatch. Below screenshot captures current waiting list at the DistroWatch:

Statistics of distorts at DistroWatch

As per DistroWatch Weekly Issue 746, various number related to distros are following:

  • Number of all distributions in the database: 881
  • Number of active distributions in the database: 307
  • Number of dormant distributions: 51
  • Number of discontinued distributions: 523
  • Number of distributions on the waiting list: 178
  • Number of distributions waiting for evaluation: 47

Some tit-bits

  • The founder of the DistroWatch – Ladislav Bodnar was born in Czechoslovakia. He studied Metallurgy.  Later he moved to South Africa to work for diamond mining companies. There he got the opportunity to get in touch with computers. Then he moved to Taiwan-based Linux company called Linpus Technologies. There he got the opportunity to work for a company that was trying to develop a Linux distribution.
  • The DistroWatch began as a task for Ladislav’s then employer to prepare a comparison matrix of existing Linux distributions at that time.
  • Ladislav’s initial favorite distros include are SUSE, PCLinuxOS, and, Gentoo.
  • The DistroWatch started with a comparison of five Linux distributions.
  • The DistroWatch is owned by Unsigned Integer Limited, Hong Kong and is hosted at Copenhagen and the web server is running Debian GNU/Linux 7.
  • The app is called LinTree (Google Play Store) which provides news, headlines, packages and distro information from the DistroWatch RSS feed.
  • Oracle Solaris is listed by the DistroWatch.
  • The DistroWatch website has its mobile version too.
  • The DistroWatch conducts a weekly opinion poll which explores preferences with regards to open source software
  • The DistroWatch has its sister website called http://cryptocoin.cc/ that focuses on digital currency.
  • The DistroWatch developed using PHP, Bash Scripts, SQLite, etc.

Distrowatch Screenshots

distrowatch search linux distros
distrowatch weekly
distrowatch latest distros headlines podcast
distrowatch advanced search


There is no doubt that the DistroWatch keeps you up to date on all the latest news about release announcements of Linux/open source distributions. The reviews, podcasts, and articles making it an ultimate place of Linux distributions.  Go ahead and find your favorite distro at the DistroWatch.

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