| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 12, 25 August 2003
A new edition of DistroWatch Weekly is out and let's make it a less serious issue, shall we?
RE: SuSE's dangerous arrogance
I hope that nobody got offended by the parody which I wrote for PCLinuxOnline and which is re-published here in the "User Feedback" section. It was a joke. It was prompted by a surprisingly high number of posts, both here and on Slashdot and OSNews forums, who's authors argued with a (presumably) straight face that SuSE's CEO is right and that the top enterprise has pretty much no other choice besides using Red Hat Linux or SuSE Linux.
Now, come on folks! The top enterprise got to the top for a reason. They did not get to the top because they believed the first salesman who came their way and told them that they don't have any other choice. They got to the top, because they did a careful research of all their options and chose the best one. You have every right to agree or disagree, but if you still maintain that Mr Seibt is right, then please leave your telephone number. I have a few bridges I'd like to sell you.
But SuSE's CEO second interview was in fact more worrying. His statements are akin to urging hardware vendors not to consider any distribution other than Red Hat and SuSE. This is wrong, wrong, wrong and if you still don't see how this is not in the best interest of the Linux community, then it is probably because your are a Red Hat or SuSE user. Even the interviewer felt perplexed by Mr Seibt's attitude. I believe that as a Linux community, it is our duty to guard against any attempts by one commercial vendor to manipulate the market and hijack our software for its own benefit. I don't have to remind you how real these dangers are.
Page Hit Ranking changes
Many of you have noticed the changes in the page hit ranking statistics. This is in response to many queries, comments, suggestions and even instances of suspicion associated with the gathering of data and you will find the explanation in the "Web Site News" section below. I would appreciate your further comments and suggestions about how to make the Page Hits data more objective, more representative and more accurate.
|Released Last Week
Damn Small Linux 0.4.4
A new release of Damn Small Linux is out. What's new in 0.4.4? "For DSL 0.4.4 there is not a lot of cosmetic changes, but some added functionality. New for 0.4.4 is Mount.App, a handy app for quickly mounting and unmounting drives. Also new for DSL 0.4.4 is telnet (highly requested), less, un/zip, autos, and a new version of Links-Hacked." Find out more from the release notes and package list.
The kmLinux project has released kmLinux 4.0. This is a German distribution based on SuSE Linux and designed for schools and educational establishments. The latest version is based on SuSE Linux 8.2 and it is the first time that the distribution comes on two CDs. 3GB of hard disk space is required for installation. Some of the more interesting packages include Linux Kernel 2.4.20, KDE 3.1.3, OpenOffice 1.0.3, Mozilla 1.4, Scribus 1.0.1, QCad 1.5.4, Wine 20030709, Kdevelop, Lazarus, Eric and hBasic. Read the full announcement (in German) for further details.
A new ByzantineOS ISO image has been released. Changes in version 20030820: "In this release I hope that I have fixed the problem with the PS/2 and USB mouse support. Changes: Encap Package Management System v2.3.8 (encap.org), DirectFB 0.9.19, metacity 2.5.2, JRE 1.4.2, Mozilla 1.4, alsa-driver-0.9.4, Gaim-0.67." The full changelog.
Libranet GNU/Linux 2.8.1
Libranet GNU/Linux 2.8.1 has been released: "2.8.1 has passed the rigor of beta testing and the CD masters have been sent to the manufacturer. Libranet 2.8.1 is now available for download and CDs can be ordered for delivery in early September. The largest difference between 2.8 and 2.8.1 is updated KDE and GNOME. There are some improvements to the install and to adminmenu and some packages have been upgraded. 2.8 systems can be upgraded from the new CDs. The procedure will be in the install guide. As usual, existing Libranet users will receive a reduced price. As always, we are grateful for your continuing support of Libranet." The Libranet's features page has all the details and links to screenshots. The download edition of Libranet GNU/Linux 2.8.1 can be obtained from the Libranet store for US$64.95 (full price) or US$44.95 (upgrade price).
Slackware-Live Linux CD 184.108.40.206
Version 220.127.116.11 of Slackware-Live Linux CD has been released. Changes: "Some of the main feature enhancements: added kernel 2.4.21, KDE 3.1.3, mplayer 0.91, kopete 0.71, k3b 0.9, apache, php, mysql, mutt and procmail, apm support is started automatically after boot and initrd uses only 13 MB of RAM for ramdisk now, configsave was rewritten and it's faster then ever, etc... There are also some new cute wallpapers in KDE :-)" See the complete changelog.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Lycoris Amethyst Update 3
Lycoris has announced the final release of Lycoris Amethyst Update 3 is now available for pre-order: "Lycoris is now accepting pre-orders for the much awaited Desktop/LX Amethyst Update 3. Amethyst Update 3 includes many new features and much more roboust hardware support. Lycoris is also offering a fabulous upgrade deal. If you already own a version of Desktop/LX, there's a LycorisDirect Deal for you! You can pre-order Amethyst Update 3 CD's for only $10.00, shipping included. To pre-order your own copy of Desktop/LX visit the Lycoris Store". According to the announcement accompanying the RC1 release, the final product is expected to ship in early September.
LinuxInstall.org launches Web Service
LinuxInstall.org launches a premium service called Web Service powered by Open Webmail. This is a monthly subscription service which costs US$5 per month for 10MB of space. It includes:
- WebMail which allows to check email anywhere
- WebDisk which allows to backup your data
- WebCalendar which allows to track your schedules.
For a limited time until the end of September, LinuxInstall.org will send you a free copy of LinuxInstall.org CD.
|Web Site News
Page Hit Ranking changes
At the time when the Page Hit Ranking (PHR) statistics were launched, the concept was very simple. We counted how many times each distribution-specific page is visited and rank the "popularity" accordingly. In the beginning, it was great fun, it was a light-hearted attempt to create a popularity contest among the dozens of distributions listed on DistroWatch. But as the web site grew, the PHR has slowly transformed itself into a tool and into perhaps the most comprehensive barometer of popularity of Linux distributions on the Internet. And since everybody else seems to be taking the ranking very seriously, perhaps it is time that we took a serious look at it too, cleaned up its image and made it more resistant to external manipulation. What follows is a brief discussion about certain issues and some ideas for improvements, but everything is still open to suggestions and ideas.
Let's take last week's ranking of top ten distributions, where we'll immediately see two surprises - Yoper at number 3 and Damn Small Linux at number 10. Both of them are relatively new, rarely reviewed distributions and have a fairly low user base. Especially Yoper has been a thorn in the eye. Its public forums have 306 registered users who have posted some 1,700 articles. Now contrast this to Gentoo's public forums, which have over 26,000 registered users and about 475,000 posts! Yet on DistroWatch, Yoper is ranked higher than Gentoo! No wonder many people have accused DistroWatch of taking bribes to influence the ranking.
Similar situation exists with Damn Small Linux. Until recently, few people have even heard of it, but suddenly it is at number 10. Why? The answer is simple. Damn Small Linux has a frequent release schedule of about one new release every 1 - 2 weeks and all these releases get reported on the main page. Many people visit the Damn Small Linux page to find more information, so the ranking remains consistently high. Also, once a distribution gets to the top 10, it is hard to displace it. During a 5-hour experiment last weekend, I have replaced the PHR table on the main page with an alphabetical list of distributions and monitored the page hits. While the Red Hat and Mandrake pages saw no significant drop in page hits, visits on the Yoper page suddenly dropped from about 10 - 15 per hour to an average of 3 per hour.
The above examples illustrate why the current way of gathering page hits and ranking distributions is far from perfect. Other factors also play a significant role. As an example, consider that the number of visitors to DistroWatch has been increasing quite dramatically - from about 2,000 per day in January 2002 to about 11,000 - 15,000 per day at present. It follows that those distribution added to DistroWatch recently would generate high average hit count - simply because they weren't around during the low-traffic times.
Many readers have written in and suggested various workarounds to eliminate the above problems. In the end, I have settled, on an experimental basis, on a solution where only distributions which have completed 52 weeks of page hit data collection will be ranked on the main page.
Unfortunately, my inbox has already started filling up with cries of protests, especially from fans and developers of those distributions that are gone from the ranking. Yoper Limited was kind enough to sponsor DistroWatch earlier this year and the LinuxInstall.org developers have helped with translating parts of the site. Unfortunately, both of them are relatively new and no longer ranked. Knoppix is also gone, because it was only included in DistroWatch in October 2002 and it still has a few weeks to go before it is ranked again. But if you look at the new ranking, you have to admit that it looks a lot more realistic. The ranking is probably biased towards desktop and home use, rather than server use where Red Hat and Debian would most certainly be the top two choices. In certain circles there are still doubts about how widely Gentoo is used and whether it has really overtaken Debian. It is hard to say and Gentoo has certainly introduced many great new ideas, but what is its retention factor? How many of you have tried it, but did not keep it? How many of you have tried Debian, but switched to something else later?
So we have the top six distributions of Mandrake, Red Hat, Gentoo, Debian, SuSE and Slackware, immediately followed by the three newbie-friendly distributions of Lycoris, Xandros and Lindows. All in all, based on the presence of these distributions in the media, the number of posts and users on their mailing lists and user forums, as well as comments, feedback, support requests etc, I'd say that this is about right. (And before any of you suggests that China's Red Flag Linux must be the most widely used distribution, simply because of the sheer size of China's population, then please don't. Indications are that even within China, Red Hat and Mandrake are still far more popular than Red Flag Linux or any other domestic distribution.)
Other suggestions are also under active consideration; one of them was to replace the ranking with an alphabetical list of all distributions and move the ranking away from the main page on to the statistics page. As always, your opinions are welcome.
New on the waiting list
- GeeXbox is a full operating system, running under Linux and based on the excellent MPlayer. No need of hard drive, you just have to put the GeeXboX bootable CD into the CD-Drive of any Pentium-class computer to boot it. Moreover, GeeXboX is a free software, created thanks to many open-source software. This means that everyone can modify it and build his own release of the GeeXboX. At the time of the first development releases (Dec. 2002), it was only able to play DivX movies, but for now, nearly every kind of media files can be played from GeeXboX
DistroWatch database summary
- HRID is a Croatian distribution based on Mandrake Linux.
- SystemRescueCd is a Linux system available from a bootable CD-ROM in order to repair your system and your data after a crash.
- Salvare (from the Latin "to rescue") is a small Linux distribution designed for small, credit-card sized CDs which typically hold around 34MB.
- Number of distributions in the database: 168
- Number of discontinued distributions: 22
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 59
On SuSE's dangerous arrogance
- "Seibt's statement about it being SuSE, Red Hat and nobody else is merely a statement of fact. As good as other distributions are, the only ones actively considered by businesses are SuSE and Red Hat. Anyone arguing otherwise has not been paying attention to commercial buying trends."
Following the feedback to "SuSE's dangerous arrogance", as well as posts on Slashdot, OSNews and other sites, I've done some serious thinking. I have concluded that my analysis of Mr Seibt's talk was completely wrong and that there are, in fact, only two distributions - Red Hat and SuSE. As a result of being enlightened by Mr Seibt's interview and also by many readers who wrote to me and kindly pointed out my gross misunderstanding of the whole situation, some important changes on DistroWatch will come into effect next week.
- "Commercial customers cannot use Gentoo, they cannot use Debian, they cannot use LFS, they are stuck with RedHat or SuSE, like it or not."
Firstly, I am going to migrate this site to SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8. The truth is that DistroWatch.com is a business and as I have been kindly reminded by many readers, I cannot run the DistroWatch.com server on Debian or Linux From Scratch - I can only run it on either Red Hat or SuSE. Luckily, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 costs only $749.00 and this price includes a generous Maintenance Program valid for one whole year! Even better, after the first year, the cost of the Maintenance Program drops to $699 per year, but I am sure that by then SuSE will have released a new version with some special pricing for its valued customers.
The bad news is that I will have to find a new web hosting company, because my current one does not offer SuSE Linux as a choice of OS (although astonishingly, they still offer Slackware and Debian). I will search around to see what I can get, so if you find DistroWatch.com off-line in the near future, please don't panic. I don't expect the downtime to last for more than 6 weeks, but I will keep you updated via the forum on PCLinuxOnline.com.
The second big change on DistroWatch.com is the removal of all Linux distributions, except Red Hat and SuSE. There is no need to cover the rest any more, really. From next week on, DistroWatch.com will specialise in Red Hat and SuSE only and it will bring you all the exciting news from the industry's only two players. We will follow every move and every word by the senior executives at Red Hat and SuSE and these will be duly reported and analysed by our staff. These will be exciting times and I expect the readership to at least triple once we start bringing you the exclusive coverage of all the happenings in the world of Red Hat Linux and SuSE Linux.
The migration of DistroWatch.com from Debian to SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 will of course mean extra expense and as a result of this you will see an increase in advertising on this site. I doubt that either Red Hat or SuSE will be willing to provide us with some advertising revenue, since they will be covered exclusively anyway, so I will be contacting advertisers in the gambling and pornographic industries to compansate for the increased cost associated with the planned migration. Yes, I know - this might offend some visitors and I'd hate to lose them, but I am sure that many of you will understand that because there are only two distributions for the enterprise, I can no longer use Debian to host DistroWatch.com.
These are exciting times on DistroWatch.com and I really want to thank everybody who have sent in their feedback and made me see the light. The changes will come into effect shortly. If you still haven't joined our great Timesavers Programme, then now is the time as we will soon bring you all the great features, including detailed comparisons between Red Hat Linux Advanced Server and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server so that you too can make an informed decision about your company's Linux needs.
Once again, thank you all for your feedback.
Put the fun back into computing. Use Red Hat or SuSE.
PS.: Great news - I have found a new web host, less than 24 hours after posting the above story: "My name is V. N. I read your comment on http://www.distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20030818 that you are loking for a Web hosting company offering Suse Linux based hosting. Our service providers are usually installing Redhat, but as I am German and using Mandrake , Redhat and Suse everyday at work I agree, that Suse is by far the most stable and best working (also Mandrakes menu is better). We have some servers near New York whith supperb connection. The access will be lightning fast from nearly all over the world. I will have to double check with the Suse OS, so I will come back on that. Let me know what your requiremets are , I am very positive that we can work something out. Best regards. V. N."
That's all for this week, keep well and see you next Monday :-)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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1 • I vote for "alphabetical list of distributions" (by Thomas Chung at 2003-08-25 01:29:49 GMT) |
Hi Ladislav, per your suggestion, I'm posting my vote here:
I really like the idea of "alphabetical list of distributions" instead of "Page Hit Ranking" system because it gives every distos an equal chance for an exposure and at the same time it gives users to find distro of their choice without the influence of ranking system.
2 • Re: I vote for "alphabetical list of distributions" (by ABC on 2003-08-25 01:56:01 GMT)
I agree; an alphabetic list would help my distribution out tremendously on the ranking index!
ABC-Linux Distribution Project
3 • Distribution list (by Rusty at 2003-08-25 01:56:15 GMT)
First of all, I want to thank you for such a great site. Although I'm not a 'timesaving' customer, I'm an occasional reader that finds your site quite informative.
Re. your distribution list, I personally prefer a more complete list of distributions that doesn't remove those that haven't been on the site for a year.
In fact I'm at a loss to understand the logic of creating a 52-week prior-to-listing period since it wouldn't solve the 'Yoper' or 'Damn Small Linux' problem. i.e. Once Yoper is out for a year, if they sponsor your site, they'll again rise up in the hit rankings and will get back to the top of your list. Once DS Linux has been out for a year, they will similarly rise to the top if they come out with a few quick releases.
I think that what you and other readers have to treat the page ranking for what it is: a list of what distro links people are clicking. Removing immature distributions only prevents potential winners from getting the visibility they (may) deserve, and your readers from getting an accurate representation of what links people are clicking. Today, when I look at the ranking, I have much less of an idea of what distributions people are looking at lately and can no longer monitor the 'Popularity' of some of the 'less mature' distributions (e.g. Knoppix, Morphix, Ark) that are of interest to me.
Again, keep up the great work!
4 • No more page ranking drama (by Nick at 2003-08-25 02:10:37 GMT)
Alpha Problems: First in list get best exposure.
Hit Ranking Problems: Zealots get zealous.
So, what is the solution?
Random? Nothing? Or, do we all grow up and get over it. I mean come on! Distrowatch page hit ranking is not the terrorists!
5 • Alphabetical list, please (by common sense at 2003-08-25 02:24:11 GMT)
An alphabetical list is great. If you want to include a ranking system, put the rank in small brackets next to the name of the distribution. Make the ranking system a pure page hit count and try to weed out bot activity. I think people need to stop worrying about page hit ranking and worry about the quality of the distribution.
6 • About the new Rankings (by Prabhuram at 2003-08-25 02:24:56 GMT)
I vote for Alphabetical type of ranking list rather than for the 52-weeks type.
I think the previous method of rankings is good but the only problem was in its way it was listed.
Forum, mailing list members should not be taken account.
Because that depends upon the distribution.
Infact usually users of a distribution will register for that forum or mailinglist only if they have any problem with it.
Members of a Forum does not by any chance reflect the Number of Users of that distribution!!!.
"Also Beware!, it is possible for a distribution developer to register FAKE members and make it look to others as though he is having a big userbase"
Onebase Linux Project
7 • Page Hit Rankings (by John Gabriel at 2003-08-25 02:46:20 GMT)
I'm not sure if this is possible, but instead of ranking hits of DW's distribution specific pages, why not base the rankings on click throughs from the distribution pages to each distributions home page or download page? This way you would be ranking the OS's that people are actually interested in researching further or downloading.
Certain pages may be getting clicked on from the home page just to take a quick look at what they offer, and then the user clicks back to DW's home page because they decide from the info on the distro-spec page that it's not what they are looking for.
I also disagree with the 52 week listing criteria for the same reason noted above: it means that valuable new distributions might not get the attention they deserve. I frankly believe that Damn Small Linux has moved up so far not just because of it frequently being listed on the news here, but because it fills a niche that a lot of people are interested in and does it better than the other credit-card size distos.
8 • Ranking Distros and Live CDs (by monkymind on 2003-08-25 04:40:34 GMT)
The 52 week listing criteria may work for the Top 5+ distros and other installable ones. But the live linux CDs ala Damn Small Linux and Knoppix are extremely versatile fulfil very different needs.
Infact I know someone who primarily uses Windows but connects to the net via knoppix for banking etc. Others it's a live toolbox to test PC hardware e.g. before installing an(y) OS or for repartitioning/resizing a hard drive(qtparted) etc.
Another avantage is they can be run in computer class labs and other software restricted areas where there are normally no linux boxes. :-)
As you have noted the release cycles are frequent but that is often because the releases keep up with the latest software and/or hardware support.
Hope you manage to find a fair way of ranking the mounting interest in this portable, non-HD dependent linux.
9 • Page Hit Ranking (by G.G. on 2003-08-25 05:01:32 GMT)
I dislike the 52 weeks criteria. I think a lot of people want to learn about the new distros. I prefer if you put a random distro on the top of the list. Each time that homepage is load a new one is on top. This gives visibility to all.
10 • page hit ranking (by andrew at 2003-08-25 05:19:31 GMT)
How about system based on short, rotating cycle? Perhaps as short as one month... Totals would be reset back to zero at the end of each period. This system would have two advantages: one, it would favour distributions that were active during each period, which seems just and proper to me. Second, it would take care of difficulty of dislodging top contenders from the top of the list. This would make the system more of a snapshot than reflection of any long-term trends, but perhaps that's not such a bad thing. In any case any long-term trend could be still presented by doing some sort of summary, say, once a year.
11 • PHR (by Luk van den Borne at 2003-08-25 06:52:10 GMT)
I think the new critereum will only weaken the position of new distributions that could have been very popular otherwise, so Mdk/RH/SuSE won't have much healthy competition. Why leave a great initative on the waiting list for 52 weeks to get the attention it deserves? Besides that, I don't think it will solve the Yoper-problem.
12 • Keep PHR the same! (by Eudean Sun at 2003-08-25 08:15:21 GMT)
The PHR isn't supposed to be an accurate listing of the popularity of the usage of eash distro. It's what it says it is: PAGE HIT RANKING, nothing more. I'd prefer it be left as-is. You can make a separate listing if you want, perhaps call it "Most Widely Used Distros" or something, but don't make PHR out to be anything more than it is.
13 • Page rankings (by fritz on 2003-08-25 08:17:44 GMT)
The 52-weeks requirement seems harsh for new distros. But what about basing the rankings on the 52-weeks average, whether they existed or not ? That way they would appear, but with reduced exposure at first.
Another thing to consider would be two distinct lists.
One would be or theme-based (à la lwn distribution list) and alphabetical in each category, with links to each distribution's page for those needing more information.
The second list would be the top 10 by popularity, without links and without giving the number of votes. Maybe it would limit ballot-stuffing to real zealots ? Or maybe I'm hopelessly naive.
Thanks for your good work.
14 • Page rankings (by Fred at 2003-08-25 09:22:02 GMT)
Firstly I wanted to say I love distrowatch and have a look on its site at least once a day.
I mostly use the menu on top to get to a distribution page to know what there is and to read the short description you have put on each. Really usefull when I hear about a distro I 've never heard before.
About hit ranking I would prefer to have let's say on the main page only the ranks from the last 4 weeks or even less (1 week ?) and a link to the page statistics http://www.distrowatch.com/stats.php?section=popularity where we have a ranks based on a 1year, six months, three months and 4 weeks time
On the other hand I like the idea of ranking only hits from the distros page to their homepage, reviews or dowload area. Indeed as I said, I most of the time just have a look on your description and if it doesn't answer my needs I just come back to DW home page.
15 • Page Hit Ranking (by Grunt on 2003-08-25 11:30:11 GMT)
For starters, albeit the 52 weeks barrier seems to have cured one particular problem of PHR listing (I think we all know what distro we're talking about here), that hardly seems to do justice to newer yet popular projects. Methinks it's a "no go", very much so, in fact...
I have already proposed this on previous DWW's RCAs (without much response from Ladislav), but me being the persistent bugger that I am - I'll do so again.
1. PHR listing should include ALL distros, all 168 of them (as of today), INCLUDING the "discontinued" ones (since their pages are STILL available on DW, and people still get interested in them).
2. PHR listing should certainly remain in it's current sort order - by popularity - as this is the whole idea behind the word "Ranking" in the term "PHR"!
3. PHR listing should include the current trend of the popularity (same/falling/rising).
4. PHR listing should certainly NOT include direct links to the DW pages dedicated to those distros, otherwise PHR turns into a direct page hits generator for the major distros. Even without direct links, PHR listing will still influence its own results, but IMHO - MUCH less so (Ladislav : how did the experiment with removing links go? What's the stats on that one?)
5. PHR listing should be MOVED from the front page to a separate page dedicated solely to PHR. Preferably, the listing should have columns with "Last Update (News)", "Latest Release (any/unstable)", "Latest Stable Release" added, WITH the ability to sort the listing by any of the columns (by release/news dates, alphabetically, by PHR), and preferably with the ability to bookmark those specific sort orders. Moving the PHR listing from the front page should also reduce the influence of PHR on its own stats.
6. In the "Site Navigation" table at the top/bottom of every page a link to that separate PHR page should be provided. Perhaps in red font and/or in bold text style so that it could be easily spotted. Perhaps a news flash should be ran notifying of the change. If Ladislav is aware of any websites actively using/monitoring PHR, perhaps he should email them the direct URL of the new PHR listing page.
The proposed system is NOT perfect :
1. It will STILL influence the PHR stats (people will ALWAYS watch for the leaders), but to a MUCH lesser degree - you'll be surprised to learn how much difference another one or two mouse clicks (that will be required to "Hit" the distro from the new PHR) can make (have a look at any serious web design guide if you don't believe me).
2. The PHR listing will NOT be visible on the front page. I personally have some VERY serious doubts that this is a drawback, and will stick to those doubts until someone logically proves to me otherwise. Those who visit DW solely to observe the PHRs (and jump with joy that their beloved Mandrake/IDMS is still Numero Uno/#81) will still be able to bookmark the PHRs listing and jump with joy to their heart's content there. Those who drop by DW 10 times a day to scroll down the front page to the umpteenth position in PHR and click on their favorite distro to "boost it" will be out of luck - as they should be. Webmasters/editors of other web resources interested in OBTAINING the PHR info will simply follow the new bookmark. The rest of folks who drop by for news will not be affected at all.
Overall, however, it is my strong belief that the proposed method will reflect Linux community's interest in various distros MUCH more accurately that the current weird one (The "52 weeks barrier". KNOPPIX, anyone?) and the previous one (plain ol' hits generator for the top-5. Yoper, anyone?). I would be inclined to believe that the whole idea of PHR was to REFLECT the community's interests, not directly INFLUENCE them! (Unless there is some conflict of interests out there that I am not aware of... ) So why not let PHR do ITS job, instead of doing fanboys' job for them?
Best of luck, folks, and Ladislav in particular.
16 • RE: Page Hit Ranking (by Grunt) (by ladislav at 2003-08-25 11:57:18 GMT)
Grunt, how good are you at PHP (or some other scripting language)? Would you be willing to maintain a rankings page, as per your proposal? I'd be quite happy to give you an account on the server and you'll get all the freedom to implement the ranking as you please (and deal with suggestions, feedback, etc). Please get in touch with me if you are interested.
As for the new 52-week ranking system, it seems to have met with some opposition so far. Fair enough, if you don't like it, I won't insist on it, but let's see if we get any other ideas first.
17 • PHR (by Isamoor on 2003-08-25 13:10:45 GMT)
I don' want the PHR to go off of the front page. It's a very neat tool. I also don't want the hyperlinks to go away from the PHR. How about a compromise and just have the links from the PHR itself not count towards the running total?
18 • PHR (by Rusty on 2003-08-25 13:24:44 GMT)
1) Keep the phr listing on the front page
2) Keep the hyperlinks from the distro listings in the phr to the actual distro pages (the fact that there are thousands of hits from the phr to the actual distro pages is fairly indicative of the fact that a large number of people find this a useful means of accessing distro-specific information.
19 • Ranking ideas (by Leo on 2003-08-25 14:53:58 GMT)
1) Please keep it where it is as it is, I think it HELPS the visitor sort out where to go first. This is VERY IMPORTANT for newbies
2) How about normalizing the number of hits to the number of announcements of each distro in distrowatch ? So, the page hit ratio would be: "number of heats in the last year" / "number of announcements in the last year" - This for each distro.
3) How about posting an overall popularity ranking weighting different sources ? These could be: your ranking, linux counter  (the most reliable IMHO), and google groups posts in the last year . You can update this once a month, it may be a little work. A possible algorithm woul be:
a) normalize each ranking to one. Fist = 1. Second = "# hits for the second " / "# hits for the first". Etc.
b) Finf the overall score as: s = (s1 * s2 * s3) ^ (1/3)
The last operation is a cubic root, assuming three sources.
4) How about limiting the counter to 1 hit per IP per day (you probably do this) to prevent abuse ?
5) You have shown great ethics Ladislav, I find it insulting that anyone though you were bribed to be put in a high position in your ranking :-(
20 • phr - 12 weeks instead of 52 weeks (by LPH at 2003-08-25 16:44:24 GMT)
Well, since others are giving their opinion then I'll submit mine too ;-)
Linux development is very fast and 52 weeks does not fit with the climate of Linux. Therefore, the 52 weeks is too long. However, 12 weeks seems reasonable. This is basically one development cycle. Many new projects are announced and then stop development after 3 months. Therefore, use the 12 weeks.
I'd like to know what happens arranging the page hits in this fashion.
21 • If it ain't broke, don't fix it (by DaveW on 2003-08-25 16:55:24 GMT)
Seems to me the whole phr business is a tempest in a teapot. True, it doesn't make much sense as a measure of popularity or interest, but so what? It is what it is, a snapshot.
To me, the main interest of DW is to keep up with new and revised distros, especially those that promise radical departures like Arch. The list is a useful way of accessing them.
That said, I think the 52 Week Rule is exactly the opposite of the right way to go. I'm not even slightly interested in reading about Mandrake, Red Hat, SuSe, and the other biggies, because I know about them already and know how to get to their sites if I want to. It's the new little distros like Knoppix, Ark, and so forth, and things I might have read a blurb about last week, that the PHR helps me remember and find.
I think Isamoor had the best idea: keep it on the front page, keep the links, go back to the previous timeframe, but don't count hits directly from PHR in the stats. This should change the rankings somewhat to reflect serious interest as opposed to idle clicking.
Beyond that, don't worry, be happy. Great as DistroWatch is, it ain't a holy book or a tax form. The rankings are just a snapshot, openly derived, to be taken for what they're worth according to each reader's own predelections. Like all internet polls, they come with a virtual warning that says "for amusement only". Isamoor's idea will make DW exactly what it should be: a site that puts the users' interests first, and those of the distros second.
22 • Pleasing everyone... and their opinions. (by MadHunter at 2003-08-25 17:16:48 GMT)
In regards to trying to please people with the ranking system, etc. I would have only one suggestion. Don't worry about it. I have learned in the very short time that MadPenguin.org has been around that everyone is a critic, and you can't please all of the people all of the time. Granted, opinion is good when it is brought about in a constructive way. Suggestions are what help people see their creations (websites, ranking systems, etc) from a number of different angles.
However, what it ultimately comes down to is this- not everyone who has an opinion or makes a suggestion is bright. They don't always know the entire picture and have not bothered to do any actual research before spouting off what is usually silly, non-related nonsense that proves their ignorance in a particular issue. I can't tell you (although I'm sure you know) that half the comments made out there end up arguing what an article says had they bothered reading beyond the first sentence.
Anyway, enough of my bashing... I apologize. I have the gift of babble when emotions run high. I simply wanted to say, as far as the ranking system worked, I understood where it pulled it's numbers from and what it took into consideration. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that the distros that appear on the front page are NATURALLY going to get more hits than those that don't. It was a good system, and bottom line is that if you liked it, don't bust your hump trying to make it idiot proof...
Relax, and let me buy you a beer! :) And know that most people understood the ranking system for what it did... It is unfortunately the mindless minority that have the loudest voices.
23 • PHR discrimination (by Ariszlo at 2003-08-25 17:51:27 GMT)
I just feel unjust that you exclude new distributions. Although I very much like Slackware, the oldest surviving distribution, I don't think Knoppix, CollegeLinux, or Yoper should be excluded. Yes, I like Yoper. It is one of the fastest OS's I have ever tried: it installs very fast, boots up very fast and launches KDE very fast. Well, the installation became about 10 minutes longer in the latest release that includes Gentoo's Portage but it still only takes about 20 minutes. A distribution that provides both an easy-to-use office core for people who have only known the One Operating System so far and Portage for people who are interested in new things but lack the time to install Gentoo might deserve getting ranked even if it is frowned upon by fans of other distros.
24 • jsiv sucks (by A concerned Linux Citizen on 2003-08-25 17:52:28 GMT)
http://jsiv-sucks.com has it all. This business of SuSE acting all superior is nothing, heck SCO is nothing, compared to what this guy is trying to do!
We are going to need a small army of lawyers soon, if people like Jsiv continue to do what they are doing!
25 • rankings (by Joe Barron at 2003-08-25 18:11:50 GMT)
I read enough on Distrowatch that I don,t by the rankings but more by the package list.Thomas is a great guy and I,m using my third version out of the four but the name LINUXINSTALL is misleading,what,s the time saver is the work his done on plugin,s.Synaptic along with video players on first boot is nice.
26 • Please reconsider PHR policy/procedure (by Ezra at 2003-08-25 18:45:25 GMT)
Since others are airing their views, I'll join in. I mean tis to be friendly and constructive, please do not take offense.
1. Page Hit Ranking should remain just that, page hits and nothing more. The new criteria has little to do with page hits.
2. 52 week criteria unfairly neglects new distros. I know Yoper was the primary target for such policy, among others, but Yoper has been around for more than a year if you count the release candidate availability. Yoper is no great shakes, but it deserves to be counted.
3. All distros should be included in the PHR (old, new, discontinued, even Caldera).
4. The PHR list should continue on the home page as an alphabetical list without hyper links to the distro pages. Put the page hit ranking number in parentheses next to the distro name, and maybe a link at the tope of the list to a PHR page with the distros in rank order.
5. Try to limit bot activity where possible. Do not limit PHR to one hit per IP address per day. Maybe limit to one IP address hit per hour (4 hours possibly). If this is not possible, at least a script that checks the logs and recalculates according to a similar rule or equation.
Just my two cents. Take it or leave it. I do believe my above suggestions would preserve the intent of the PHR.
27 • RSS (by Kenneth on 2003-08-25 20:53:25 GMT)
I'm not the creative solutions type so I don't have anything to say about how PHR should work, however, I had some site ideas. Maybe posibly you could make a RSS feed for Distrowatch? As far as I know there isn't one, only a Mozilla/Opera sidebar (which btw doesn't work with Mozilla Firebird; for me anyways). You could also make a RSS feed for the PHR too. If you need/want any help with it, I'd be happy to help.
28 • PHR: the cure is worse than the disease (by Ariszlo at 2003-08-25 21:57:50 GMT)
I understand your point that you want to adjust HPR to real popularity but the criterion of 52 weeks is a very bad one. I agree that on the base of user activity Gentoo deserves higher ranking than Yoper but then why do you include distributions that do not even have have user forums? Let me not mention them.
29 • I say leave it alone (by Benjamin Vander Jagt at 2003-08-25 23:16:04 GMT)
As it is now, readers know that the ones at the top are the most likely to be clicked and can understand that. It's not too bad at the moment, and for the most part it's accurate. If you start adding all sorts of modifications, then the inconsistencies will still exist, but readers won't know how to calculate downward...
One thing I can think of would be to occasionally wipe the numbers and scramble the list in some way, but even that I don't recommend. Of course, you want to eliminate cheats with things like one voter per IP per day...
30 • PHR (by Angelo on 2003-08-25 23:35:02 GMT)
How about an Alphabetic listing that cycles through the alphabet? One day distros starting with 'A' are listed at the top. The next day 'B' is at the top (and 'A' would be last after Z), the next day would be C...Z,A,B. etc...
Just a thought.
31 • Changes discarded (by ladislav at 2003-08-26 00:23:03 GMT)
Thank you all for comments. The idea of only ranking those distributions which have been around for at least one year has met with plenty of resistence and has been scrapped. Everything is back to the original format. But the experiment did serve a useful purpose - if in the future there are still people who compalin that the ranking is unfair, at least I have a page where I can direct them to read the opinions of others.
Now if only I could persude the Yoper people to spend more time improving their own web site rather than losing sleep over the DistroWatch ranking...
32 • PHR & change of OS (by jim at 2003-08-26 04:15:34 GMT)
as far as voting on PHR my two cents worth is to leave it alone . after all it does what it says! but on another note i had to read your post twice about red hat and suse being the only server distros. seems to me youve been doing quite nicely with debian. and no i dont understand why you have to use commercial hosting software. being a newbie, i was under the impression that linux was and is about choice. allthough there may be some pressures that im not aware of in your endeavor. red hat and suse are pretty well known distrows, i dont see the point . is this a change of mission or an eloborate joke? dont quite know what to think about, this about face. some enlightenment if possible would be greatly appreciated on my part. regards jim
33 • RE: PHR & change of OS (by ladislav at 2003-08-26 04:59:14 GMT)
is this a change of mission or an eloborate joke?
An elaborate joke.
34 • PHR: lies, damn lies, and statistics (by Bill M at 2003-08-26 13:39:55 GMT)
I never had any issues with the manner in which the PHR listings were presented or calculated. It was understood that the listing merely reflected the behavior of the sites visitors, and like any behavior, it was influenced by a variety of factors which are ever changing.
The conversation concerning the future of the listing hurts my head!! My 2 cents amounts to 3 options, and a lot of work for Distrowatch web developer:
1. Perhaps the listing can be variable, ie, insert a drop down menu that enables the list to be reordered in a variety of formats to match whatever the visitors feels is a viable presentation of the data collected. Enable a cookie mechanism to set a default for the users prefernence, and get on with presenting the news on Linux Distributions, which is the focus of Distrowatch (and by the way ladislav you're doing a hell of job!).
2. If you want to twist the statistics even further, build a new page where we can point and click our way through lots of variables to generate an infinitesimal number of reports to be abused to each visitors satisfaction.
3. Do nothing.
35 • Re : Isamoor, Rusty, ALL (by Grunt on 2003-08-26 14:05:46 GMT)
Isamoor, Rusty : please take my following question for what they are - an attemp to understand your point of view, not as a personal attack. By the way, others are most welcome to answer those questions as well - hopefully this will provide more information about DW readers base.
1. Why do you believe that the best place for PHR to be is the front page? Why is it important to YOU, personally YOU, to see how much interest each distro attracts at any given moment? Are you interested in viewing that information EVERY time you visit DW?
2. Why do YOU, personally YOU, prefer to have hyperlinks from the PHR (in its current form - without any fields indicating last updates of each distro)? Would an alphabetical list of distros with hyperlinks from the front page suffice, and if not - why not? Would a column with dates of last updates of distros make you follow the links less often (e.g. to check up what has actually CHANGED in the last unstable release, etc)?
36 • Re : Ladislav (by Grunt on 2003-08-26 14:13:58 GMT)
Grunt, how good are you at PHP (or some other scripting language)?
No good at all. I'm a C/C++ programmer, sorry... :(
Would you be willing to maintain a rankings page, as per your proposal?
Willing? Yeah, why not... :) Able? Considering the answer to my previous question - I don't think so... :(
A couple of questions on PHR :
How is "Hits Per Day" calculated? Is it an average for the indicated period? Does it include info from previous periods? Is it a global average (since counters' inception)?
37 • So.... (by MadHunter at 2003-08-26 15:01:38 GMT)
... has anyone read any good books lately? ;)
38 • Books (by Kenneth on 2003-08-26 17:39:17 GMT)
That's random question. Well, I know I will have to once school starts again. And some that aren't as good too. So, what do you think about the RSS idea Ladislav? It'd make it possible to display Distrowatch news in Karamba or gDesklets. :) Oh, and another suggestion. Maybe Distrowatch Weekly as an e-mail newsletter? Or maybe for Timesavers only.
39 • PHR (by Vm. at 2003-08-26 21:49:46 GMT)
The name PHR is self explanatory. Page Hit Ranking... and it means that it has nothing to do with the actual popularity of the distribution, and that it only shows how popular it is on this site. If that is not the way it is supposed to work then the title - PHR - is flawed and needs a fix. Right now, I don't think that PRH doesn't need a change. But indeed, Yoper on number 3 does seem rediculous. So I request for a new ranking system which will not be wholly based on the number of hits the distribution's page gets. I hope I have been clear enough.
40 • RE: RSS feed (by ladislav at 2003-08-26 23:00:59 GMT)
DistroWatch has had RSS feed for over a year. Please check the "About" page for details.
41 • alphabetic listing (by MixMatch at 2003-08-27 00:44:03 GMT)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can tell there is already an alphabetic listing of the distros on every page. It's right at the top in a drop-down menu. Oh, wow, and it even has even the newer distros! Someone remind me why we want to duplicate this?
42 • Grunt's question (by Rusty on 2003-08-27 02:46:19 GMT)
To answer Grunt's questions:
1)a) why do _I_ like phr on the front page?
Because it's the tool on the site that I use most often for getting information about various distros. Also because I like the fact that I can have a look at the front page and get a quick overview of what's happening with various distros (sort of like a dashboard--you get a summary of most of the relevant info).
1b) why do _I_ want to see how much interest each distro attracts at any given moment?
Because if I haven't kept up to date in the rapidly changing world of linux, this gives me a _very_rough_ idea of some of the distros that have changed (damn small linux would be a good example).
1c) Do I need to see that info every time I visit DW?
I won't necessarily look at it, but I want to see it. When I'm driving my car, I rarely look at the odometer, but I'm happy that the manufacturer hasn't positioned it in the glove compartment ;-)
2a) Why do I like the hyperlinks?
Because that is the quickest means for me to get more info on a distribution (yes there's a drop-down list at the top, but that's not a very usable interface). Moreover, the rankings sometimes affect a decision on my part to seek more info on a distro in which case a hyperlink saves me from having to go to a different portion of the UI (the dropdown list). Note: I have no aversion to including the date of last update for a distro in the table, although it could appear cluttered.
2b) Would an alphabetical list suffice?
It would, but as I pointed out earlier, the ranking does provide _some_ information that I consider useful (although I do take it with a grain of salt), which an alphabetical listing would not.
2c) Would last published date make me check the distro less often?
I'm not sure--it's one of thos UI things that I'd have to try out before I can comment.
Hope this helps...
43 • Increase the statistical timescale (by Penguin Domesticus on 2003-08-27 03:30:44 GMT)
I think the current page hit ranking list may be ok just the way it is (& it's just a PHR, nothing more serious), but if some refinement is really needed, how about just increasing the statistical time scale enough, from one year to two or rather three years or so? (maybe two years now, if DW doesn't yet have proper three year stats) I.e. if a distro is new, it would get zero page hits from all the days of the 2-3 year period before it has been listed on DW.
When thinking about it, I'm pretty sure that stats from the last three years could give quite reliable results. Also, doesn't a new distro really need about that time, 3 years, before it can really established itself as a serious alternative to the big ones?
On the Statistics sub pages you could still have several newer stats from the recent months etc. too.
44 • No subject (by Kenneth on 2003-08-27 05:21:31 GMT)
Doh! I should've looked harder. I feel so stupid. Thanks for telling me about it.
About the PHR, I would agree with the suggestion of rating click-throughs to the distribution's site. I'm also one of those people that go to a distro's page to read the short descriptions. If I were actually interested, I would then click through to the distro's sites. This could also be made that only distros with working sites would get ranked because they would be the only ones with click-throughs that would work. It would also mean a distro without a site (which would most like be an inactive one anyways) would not have it's ranking increase.
45 • Not about PHR, but a comment on "top enterprise" (by Ric de France at 2003-08-27 07:12:10 GMT)
They did not get to the top because they believed the first salesman who came their way and told them that they don't have any other choice. They got to the top, because they did a careful research of all their options and chose the best one.
I disagree with the above statement (as your article allows me to do). Managers will look at the first (and most likely flashiest) salesman that comes through the door promising them the earth. I working on a project as a result of that. I'm not saying that it always happens that way, but it can. Managers don't want to think they have a problem. The minute they can shift "blame" onto someone else, they will, be it the vendor, or their developers.
Just speaking from experience,
46 • no counts for clicks in ranking (by Nuno Barreto at 2003-08-27 17:28:17 GMT)
My sugestion is simply this: Do not count when people get to the distributions page by clicking in the ranking section. This way we eliminate the "lets click on this one because it is high in the ranking" mentality.
47 • SuSE and Red Hat (by Anonymous on 2003-09-26 14:49:43 GMT)
It's only marketing. The market leader (Red Hat) will say there's only one choice. Everyone else will say there are two choices - Red Hat and ourselves.
Number of Comments: 47
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