In this post, find a list of my favourite discontinued linux distributions. Linux offers a wide variety of choices when it comes to distributions. Some of these have stood the test of time, while others have been discontinued for various reasons. We will explore some once-popular Linux distributions that are now discontinued. I have tested or used each of the distributions in this blog post at some period of time, typically between 2017 and 2020.

लिनक्स विविध प्रकार के वितरणों का विकल्प प्रदान करता है। इनमें से कुछ समय की कसौटी पर खरे उतरे हैं, जबकि अन्य को विभिन्न कारणों से बंद कर दिया गया है। इस ब्लॉग पोस्ट में, हम कुछ लोकप्रिय लिनक्स वितरणों का पता लगाएंगे जो अब बंद हो गए हैं।

Introduction

One of the remarkable aspects of Linux is the sheer number of distributions available in the market. However, it is not uncommon for many of these distributions to fade out over time. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind the existence and discontinuation of various Linux distributions, as well as why only a handful of large distributions remain active for longer periods.

The Proliferation of Linux Distributions

The vast number of Linux distributions can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, Linux is an open-source platform that allows anyone to create their own distribution by modifying existing ones or starting from scratch. This freedom fosters innovation and experimentation within the Linux community, leading to a diverse range of distributions catering to different needs and preferences.

Secondly, Linux distributions are often driven by specific goals or philosophies. Some focus on providing a lightweight and minimalistic experience, while others prioritize user-friendliness or advanced customization options. These diverse objectives result in a proliferation of specialized distributions that target specific user groups or use cases.

Lastly, regional and cultural factors also contribute to the creation of niche Linux distributions. Certain communities may develop distributions tailored to their language, region-specific requirements, or even religious beliefs. These localized distributions aim to preserve cultural heritage and promote accessibility in underrepresented areas.

OpenMandriva Linux is a fork of Mandrake/ Mandriva Linux
OpenMandriva Linux is a fork of Mandrake/ Mandriva Linux

A note on Discontinued Linux Distributions

While these distributions may no longer be in active development, they each played a significant role in the evolution of Linux. They introduced new features, pushed the boundaries of what was possible, and, most importantly, contributed to the open-source community. Their legacy continues to live on in the distributions we use today.Whether you’re a long-time Linux user or new to the world of open-source software, exploring discontinued distributions can be an interesting journey through the history of Linux.

It’s fascinating to see how far we’ve come and how these distributions have shaped the landscape of modern operating systems.So next time you fire up your favorite Linux distribution, take a moment to appreciate the pioneers that came before and paved the way for what we enjoy today.

While the Linux landscape is constantly evolving, it’s important to remember the once-popular distributions that have paved the way for the operating systems we use today. ApricityOs, Mandriva Linux, CrunchBang Linux, and others no longer be actively maintained or available for download, but their contributions to the open-source community should not be forgotten. These discontinued distributions showcased innovation, user-friendliness, lightweight performance, and even ambitious experiments with alternative kernels. They served as a foundation for newer distributions that offer improved features and enhanced user experiences.

Dell D520 Booting with ApricityOS installer, Dec 2016
Dell D520 Booting with ApricityOS installer, Dec 2016

Reasons for Linux Distributions to Fade Out

While new Linux distributions emerge regularly, many eventually fade out over time. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon:

Lack of Developer Support

Maintaining a distribution requires dedicated developers who can provide ongoing updates, security patches, bug fixes, and compatibility with newer hardware and software technologies. Smaller projects with limited developer resources may struggle to keep up with these demands, leading to stagnation and eventual discontinuation.

Fragmented User Base

With numerous Linux distributions available, the user base gets fragmented across different options. This fragmentation can lead to a lack of community support, fewer contributions, and limited feedback for smaller or niche distributions. Without an active and engaged user community, it becomes challenging to sustain development efforts.

Duplication of Effort

Some discontinued distributions may have similar goals or target the same user base as existing popular distributions. This duplication of effort often results in unnecessary competition and divides resources that could have been better utilized by collaborating with established projects. Over time, these redundant distributions may lose relevance and fade away.


Reasons for longevity of Larger Distributions

While many Linux distributions come and go, a handful of large distributions manage to remain active over longer periods. There are several reasons behind their longevity:

Established User Base

Large distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and CentOS have built a significant user base over the years. These communities provide valuable feedback, contribute code improvements, and offer support to fellow users. The presence of an engaged user base ensures continuous development and sustains the distribution’s popularity.

Strong Developer Community

Successful Linux distributions often have a dedicated team of developers who work tirelessly to improve the system. These developers collaborate closely with the community to address issues promptly and introduce new features regularly. The collective effort of skilled developers ensures the longevity and stability of large distributions.

Sponsorship and Corporate Support

Some major Linux distributions receive sponsorship or corporate backing from organizations or companies that recognize the value of open-source software. This financial support allows for dedicated resources, infrastructure, marketing efforts, and long-term planning. Such backing significantly enhances a distribution’s chances of remaining active over an extended period.


Generic vs Niche Distributions

When comparing generic distributions to niche ones catering to specific languages, regions, or intended purposes like multimedia production, there is no definitive rule regarding their lifespan. Both types can thrive or struggle depending on various factors.

Generic distributions often enjoy wider adoption due to their broad appeal and versatility. Their user base is not limited to a particular niche, which provides a larger pool of contributors, testers, and developers. This broader support network can contribute to the longevity of generic distributions.

On the other hand, niche distributions cater to specific needs and requirements that may not be adequately addressed by generic distributions. They serve a dedicated user base that values their specialized features or localization efforts. However, these niche distributions may face challenges in terms of limited developer resources, smaller user communities, and potential difficulties in keeping up with evolving technologies.


My personal Favourite Discontinued Linux Distributions

Mandrake Linux / Mandriva Linux

Mandrake Linux, later known as Mandriva Linux, was a Red Hat-based distribution first released in 1998. Known for its user-friendly design and a robust set of pre-installed software, it gained popularity especially among new Linux users. Unfortunately, due to financial difficulties, the company behind it, Mandriva S.A., ceased its operations in 2015. The forks of this distribution continue to surviev and thrive today in the form of Alt Linux, Open Mandriva and Rosa Linux.

Linspire

Initially released as “Lindows” in 2001, Linspire was a commercial Debian GNU/Linux-based operating system. Aimed at providing an experience close to Microsoft Windows, it was quite popular among new Linux users. However, in 2008, the distribution was discontinued after its acquisition by Xandros Inc.

CrunchBang Linux

Often referred to as #!, CrunchBang was a lightweight Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the Openbox window manager. Known for its minimalistic approach and low resource requirements, it became a favorite among users with older hardware. Development ceased in 2015 due to the lead developer’s decision to move on to other projects. Archbang linux, which uses a similar philosophy but is based on Arch Linux, is still around.

CrunchBang Linux on Virtualbox. My Favourite Discontinued Linux Distributions
CrunchBang Linux on Virtualbox, circa Jan 2017

Apricity OS

An Arch Linux-based independent distribution, Apricity focused on providing a simple and user-friendly interface with an emphasis on security and privacy. It was discontinued in 2020 due to internal conflicts within the development team. I had taken the below images from my older mobile phone when I was installing ApricityOS in December 2016. The hazy images are a result of my poor photography skills from that era.

ApricityOS- Dec 2016
Installation of ApricityOs on Dell D 520, Dec 2016

Vector Linux

A distribution that aimed at offering a stable and secure environment, VectorLinux was popular among users who prioritized stability and security. It was discontinued in 2017 due to lack of funding and resources.

Antergos OS

This Linux distribution was also based on Arch Linux, had a great installer and UI, it had gained a bit of fan following around 2017-2018 era. However, this project was disbanded in 2019.


EnsoOs screenshot on Virtualbox
Enso Os is another Ubuntu based distribution that is discontinued

 


 

Other Noteworthy Mentions

Hamara Linux (means Our Linux), a Ubuntu based distributions, could have become my Linux distro of choice in 2018. The reason was that it was developed in India. However, that was the only reason for testing them out and I found the distribution sluggish and bloated, with due respect to developers.

Hamara Linux - Ubuntu Based distribution from India
Hamara Linux

Swagarch Linux, as the name suggests, was based on Arch Linux and I tested the Deepin and Budgie desktop editions of this distribution in 2017 and 2018. I had taken a liking to this now-discontinued distribution which served as primary OS for my Dell D 520 laptop.

Swagarch Budgie Desktop. Blog of Amar Vyas
Swagarch with Budgie Desktop
Swagarch Linux with Deepin Desktop
Swagarch Linux with Deepin Desktop

Parting Thoughts

The existence of numerous Linux distributions reflects the vibrant and diverse nature of the open-source community. While many distributions fade out over time due to factors like lack of developer support, fragmentation, or duplication of effort, a few large distributions manage to remain active for longer periods. The world of Linux distributions is ever-evolving and constantly shaped by the needs and preferences of its users. The availability of a wide range of options ensures that users can find a distribution that best suits their requirements while contributing to the growth and development of the Linux ecosystem as a whole.

Exploring the history of Linux through these discontinued distributions allows us to appreciate how far we’ve come and how much progress has been made in the open-source world. It’s a testament to the collaborative efforts of developers and enthusiasts who continue to shape the future of Linux. So next time you boot up your preferred Linux distribution, take a moment to reflect on the legacy of these once-popular distributions. Their impact will always be felt in the ever-evolving world of open-source software.

Links and Resources

While DistroWatch and ArchiveOS are excellent sources for learning about discontinued Linux distributions, here are some additional resources to explore:

  1. Sourceforge.net: Many Linux distributions have open-source repositories hosted on Sourceforge.
  2. GitHub.com: Many Linux distributions have open-source repositories hosted on GitHub, where you can browse source code, issue trackers, and release notes.
  3. Distro.ibiblio.org: The granddaddy of them all, and one of the oldest repositories of Linux distributions.
  4. Reddit.com/r/linux: This subreddit is dedicated to all things Linux and often discusses discontinued distributions, their history, and the reasons behind their demise.
  5. Linux.org: This website serves as a central hub for news, documentation, and resources related to Linux, including discontinued distributions.
  6. Wikipedia also has a list of Linux distributions, and some of them are now discontinued.
  7. LinuxQuestions.org: Offers forums discussing older distributions.
  8. The Wayback Machine: For exploring archived websites of discontinued distributions.
Representative Image- My Favourite Discontinued Linux Distributions
Representative Image for a CD Cover

 


WattOS

This was a lightweight distribution based on Debian, known for its minimalist approach and quick boot times. Despite its initial popularity, it was discontinued in 2018 due to a lack of maintainers and resources. Note: WattOs project appears to have been revived , with its most recent release in  November 2022 as per Distrowatch. I am tentatively moving this Linux distro out of the list of my favourite discontinued Linux Distributions.

This post “My favourite discontinued Linux Distributions” was substantially updated on 11 Feb 2024. You can find more posts on the topic of Linux and Open Source by clicking here.