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I tried out Red Hat, Ubuntu, Kali Linux. While working on them I searched for the difference between the distributions of Linux. One thing I got was the difference in Package Management, (.rpm and .deb). But I don't think it's only the difference.

Secondly, while trying some commands on Kali Linux (like quotacheck), it's giving no results. So how can I know which distribution support which commands and also how to enable them?

Thirdly, I read that Kali OS is based on Debian. So what does based on really mean?

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2 Answers

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comparing distros

I'd start first with the comparison of Linux distributions on the wikipedia page titled: Comparison of Linux distributions. Distrowatch is another good resource for comparing Linux distros.

The site Digital Inspiration also has a good article titled: Which is the Best Linux Distribution for your Desktop? which has invaluable information in showing what each distro's primary target audiences are.

based on?

The "based on" term is exactly what the name says. Linux distros can be complicated to setup and maintain. So often times people want to take the guts of an existing distro and use it as a base for their own distro, changing only pieces that they really care about.

Debian, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint are good examples of this. The Debian distro is a pretty old and expansive distro. So it has lots of architectures and packages available.

So the Ubuntu distro takes Debian at its core and expands upon it, changing the desktop among other things. The Linux Mint project takes Ubuntu as its core and further expands upon Ubuntu, again changing the desktop, file explorer and such.

The true advantage to this is that each "child" distro is able to leverage from it's "parent" or "grandparent" distro.


Looking up packages across the distros is next to impossible in a systematic way, to my knowledge. This site has proven useful in looking to see what packages are available in most of the larger distros. The site is called pkgs.org.

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Thanks for such a deep explanation. So I cannot install .rmp package on debian based OS.Can I enable some commands like 'qouta' in kali os(or any other) –  wek Jul 22 '13 at 4:07
@wek - no not typically. The packages are pretty much meant for only the distro they're built for. As to the commands, sure. You'll have to use the distros package manager to do this though. Usually the package managers have search facilities. RPM (yum search quota), DEB (apt-cache search quota). The tools apt-cache and apt-get can be used for Kali as well. –  slm Jul 22 '13 at 4:14
[apt-cache search qouta] got no result in Kali.What else I can try –  wek Jul 22 '13 at 4:18
@wek - did you spell it as qouta or quota? –  slm Jul 22 '13 at 4:18
OOPs sorry for that silly one..Thanks a lot. –  wek Jul 22 '13 at 4:21
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Package managers

For information regarding differences between package managers, I advise you to look at the Pacman Rosetta. This page is oriented towards Pacman, Arch Linux's package manager, but it is effective at pointing out the differences between several other major package managers as well.

In the Pacman Rosetta, look at the entry that says, "Displays packages which provide the given exp..." The commands provided there are useful for determining which packages provide which commands.


Each distribution makes its own little choices. These little choices add up to create large sets of differences between distributions. Here are some examples that I am familiar with:

  • Arch Linux's default version of Python is 3. Many other distributions still use Python 2.

  • Each distribution chooses a default init system. Arch uses Systemd. Slackware, Debian, and Red Hat use SysV initscripts. Ubuntu uses Upstart.

  • Distributions have different interpretations of the FHS. Arch Linux has a single default directory for executable files. /bin, /sbin, and /usr/local/bin are symlinks to /usr/bin. Other distributions assign each of these locations different meanings.


Kali Linux adds a number of packages on top of Debian. It is basically just Debian plus a set of tools for penetration testing.

Kali maintains its own package repositories. The packages in the main (http) repository are pulled from Debian. The packages in the security repository are maintained and provided by Kali. Kali also comes with a version of Linux kernel that has wireless drivers patched for injection.


If a distribution is based on another distribution, it tends to keep some consistency between itself and its parent. If Debian began using Systemd, Kali would (out of near-necessity and desire) start using Systemd as well. If Kali didn't follow Debian, it would be unable to use Debian's packages. It all comes back to the sorts small differences I mentioned above.

Some child distributions differ more from their parent distributions than others. For example, Ubuntu is based on Debian. It started out as Debian and made changes on top of it. Now Ubuntu is massively different than Debian. On the other hand, there's a small Arch-based penetration testing distribution called BlackArch (disclaimer: I am associated with it and this is a shameless plug) that is basically just Arch plus a set of penetration testing tools. We don't even call BlackArch its own distribution in some contexts.

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Thanks Evan. So that means that as kali is not for administrator purpose, so they have not included 'quota' commands (and many other).Is their any way we can include it, or their is any other command for it. Also I liked the link you provided 'packman rosetta' –  wek Jul 22 '13 at 4:03
Precisely. The quota utilities do not come with Kali by default but you should be able to install them by installing the quota package. To do this, run apt-get install quota. –  Evan Teitelman Jul 22 '13 at 4:08
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