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Linux distributionThe Linux operating system packaged for customers for a fee. It includes the Linux kernel, essential operating system components from the GNU Project, an installation program, various open source utilities and applications, documentation and technical support. Some distributions contain a thousand or more programs delivered by download, CD-ROM or DVD.
Linux distributors sometimes offer a version free of charge, which may comprise an older kernel, fewer utilities and no support, other than written help on their Web site. The paid version includes the latest modifications, a multitude of related software and a support program. For example, Red Hat's Fedora is totally free of charge, but offered without support (see Fedora). For information about more than 100 Linux distributions, visit www.distrowatch.com.
Why a Distribution?
Linux packages are called distributions because the Linux vendor is distributing an open source operating system that it did not develop from scratch, although it may have enhanced it with its own modifications. See Linux, GNU, GNU/Linux, embedded Linux and open source.