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I've got a package written in C++ using boost libraries and a bunch of helper scripts, and I want to make sure it's easy to compile for most Linux x86_64 distributions. It uses cmake and downloads the appropriate version of boost if there isn't one found in the system. I need to decide which ones based on which ones are most used and cover the widest versions of libraries. I have chosen the following ones so far:

  • Ubuntu 12.04.02 LTS
  • CentOS 6.4

The following ones I am not sure if I should include or not:

  • CentOS 5.x -- for older system configurations out there. Worth adding?
  • RHEL v.3 -- is this going to be any different than CentOS 6.x?
  • Fedora -- is this going to be any different than CentOS 6.x?
  • openSUSE -- is this worth adding?

I know this question is a bit subjective depending on people's opinion and what they might have seen out there, but considering there is a distribution-choice tag, I thought I would ask. Also, whatever people say, it's still better than my naive knowledge of people using mostly:

  1. Ubuntu/Mint for desktops/laptops
  2. some brew of either Debian or a RedHat based one on supercomputing grids (CentOS/Fedora/RHEL)
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closed as not a real question by Chris Down, slm, Anthon, Tshepang, rahmu Jun 21 '13 at 13:06

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are effectively two main distributions (not trying to disparage anyone, just pointing out this is becoming a defacto standard).

  1. Debian
  2. RedHat

From Debian, the following are derived (directly or indirectly):

  • Ubuntu
  • Mint
  • and many more...

From RedHat, the following are derived (directly or indirectly):

  • Fedora
  • Mandriva
  • CentOS
  • and many more...

There are three other major distros that are worth mentioning outside of the Debian/RedHat camp:

  • Arch
  • Slackware
  • SUSE

As far as Linux is concerned start by picking one from the Debian camp (I recommend Debian Sid) and one from the RedHat camp (I recommend CentOS). Throw in Arch and SUSE because if you don't have a package for those some people won't even bother. Anybody using Slackware probably has the chops to get it working on their own and then send you patches. Don't worry about supporting anything that is more than a year out of date. If people try it you'll hear about it and if the fix is easy, go for it. If it's hard tell them to upgrade to something supported.

If you're interested in even wider availability I would also recommend adding non-Linux systems:

  • Solaris 11
  • OmniOS
  • FreeBSD

But ultimately, it will depend on how much time you are willing to spend on each platform. And that's the question you really need to answer for yourself. Is the investment of your time worth it to you?

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I'll also recommend Arch and Slackware. If you have an up-to-date Arch install, you've got the latest compilers and libraries. Your compilation will work in the future. Slackware emphasizes stability, so if you compile on slackware, people who don't have whatever's currently in vogue will be able to compile. They also have radically different package systems. I mean, you can mostly install a Red Hat rpm on a SuSE box, but you may flush out problems with Slackware or Arch packaging. – Bruce Ediger Jun 20 '13 at 18:12
One more thing, which is a bit outside your question, but not far. If you can get access to a SPARC/Solaris system, you may flush out mis-aligned pointer and memory problems. SPARC hardware is really finicky about that sort of thing. – Bruce Ediger Jun 20 '13 at 18:14
Thanks for the SPARC tip. That sounds like a good idea. Can I have a SPARC Virtual Machine running on Virtualbox? – 719016 Jun 20 '13 at 20:30
Unfortunately no, VirtualBox is an x86 emulator (more precisely accesses native virtualization on x86 processors). So you can't make a SPARC VM with it. – bahamat Jun 21 '13 at 0:09
That's right. I tried before seeing your answer yesterday and when trying to boot up, I got an "unbootable" error message. I guess if there is no easy option to have access to a SPARC machine, that's going to be it for now. – 719016 Jun 21 '13 at 8:37

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