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Software distribution: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A software distribution, also referred to as a software distro, is a bundle of a specific software (or a collection of multiple, even an entire operating system), already compiled and configured. It is generally the closest thing to a turnkey form of a usually GNU GPL, free software source code for a software. It may take the form of a Binary Distribution, an executable installer which can be downloaded from the Internet. Examples range from whole operating system distributions to server and interpreter distributions (for example WAMP installers). Software distribution can also refer to Careware and Donateware.

They can be either official distributions by the makers of the software, or 3rd party distributions. Notable is the fact that one using such 3rd party distributions will have to turn to the distribution maker for support, the developers of the actual software being distributed usually do not provide support for 3rd party distributions of their software.



Notable vendors of software distributions systems:

Free Software Distribution Tools

GNU Autotools are widely used for distributions which consist of source files written in C++ and the C programming language, but are not limited to these.

Distribution Tools for Mobile Devices

Distribution of software to small mobile devices such as phones, PDAs and other hand-held terminals is a particular challenge due to their ad-hoc connectivity. Some tools that cater to this category of devices are:

Standard Files

Free software / Open source projects typically contain a few standard files that live in the root of the distribution extraction. These files are most commonly named:

  • README - top level documentation overview
  • Changelog - list of changes spanning the life of the project
  • INSTALL - instructions on how to install
  • LICENSE or COPYING - conditions of use and redistribution
  • CREDITS or AUTHORS - attribution for project contributors

Some less frequently used names that you might also see:

  • FAQ - frequently asked questions (and answers)
  • TODO - list of features yet to be implemented
  • BUGS - list of software bugs
  • HACKING - development guide for new participants
  • NEWS - interesting project information, sometimes used in place of the Changelog


See also

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