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Software distribution is the process of delivering software to the end user.[1]

A distro is a collection of software components built, assembled and configured so that it can essentially be used "as is". It is often the closest thing to turnkey form of free software. A distro may take the form of a binary distribution, with 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.

In recent years, the term has come to refer to nearly any "finished" software (i.e. something that is more or less ready for its intended use, whether as a complete system or a component of a larger system) that is assembled primarily from open source components.

Examples of distros

Examples of software distributions include BSD-based distros (such as FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and DragonflyBSD) and Linux-based distros (such as openSUSE, Debian, and Fedora).

Distro support

Technical support is a key issue for end-users of distributions, since the distribution itself is typically free and may not be "owned" in a commercial sense by a vendor. Depending on the distribution, support may be provided by a commercial support vendor, the developers who created the distribution or by the user community itself.

Free software distribution tools

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

Commercial software distribution tools

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 inconsistent connection to the Internet. Some tools that cater to this category of devices are:


  1. ^ Beyond computing and connectivity: Where is communications technology taking US? ; Proceedings of the 4th Annual Connectivity and Technology Symposium ; January 1993, Center for Connectivity & Data Bases, West Chester University. DIANE Publishing. 1993. ISBN 978-1-56806-279-2.