I am looking for hard data for at least top 10 Linux distro or (better) an address of a web page which keeps such data and (maybe) updates it from time to time (after all repositories are public to view).

The criteria is -- the number of native (rpm for SUSE, deb for Ubuntu, etc.) packages programs, libraries, and available in repositories (not on install CD/DVD). For example library counts as 1, not as 10 just because there are 10 packages (ARM, Intel, SPARC, etc.) of it.

Thank you in advance.

If you are interested why I am asking about this. Well, I am a bit tired searching repo, finding out there is no package, downloading zip/gz/bz2 of it, finding out how to make an rpm (in case of top layer software of another software, for example Rattle, it is not trivial task), and finally installing it. So it would be good for me to consider other distros which are higher in such ranking.

  • Are you limiting this to official repositories? I suspect Debian it may be Debian or Ubuntu. Debian shows as having ~28442 'normal' packages on amd64 squeeze (apt-cache show stats). But it doesn't have non-free or proprietary software, the non-free repository is pretty sparse. – Zoredache Sep 6 '11 at 20:10
  • No, I count official and semi-official, like Packman for openSUSE. I don't count "repositories" per 1 package, like for example Opera or VirtualBox. – greenoldman Sep 7 '11 at 5:05

Well, here you find some information, I don't know if accurate or not, I suspect not too much.

Anyway, each major Linux distribution has almost everything one can ever need. What is missing are essentially niche applications, or applications that in some way cannot be packaged.

  • It looks like Ubuntu and derivatives followed by Debian and derivatives are the top choices. – Zoredache Sep 6 '11 at 20:17
  • 3
    Technically, Ubuntu is a Debian derivative. – Shadur Sep 7 '11 at 4:17
  • And I am very interested in niche applications, because as it turns out usually they are most difficult to repack (create rpm in my case) and also as I see my needs I am on the other side of "yet another wallpaper" usage of Linux. Thank you for the link, very useful! – greenoldman Sep 7 '11 at 5:08
  • 1
    The data on this page may be a bit outdated. Last time I looked Debian had ~36000 and Fedora ~25000 (so a few thousands more than what is mentionned on Wikipedia). – gentledevil Sep 7 '11 at 12:04

This is in principle an objective question (count the number of packages available out there), but difficult to answer for lack of comparable figures.

If you count only packages that come with the distribution, then the table in Wikipedia (thanks to enzotib for the link) gives the answer. Or rather it goes some way towards an answer: different distributions break up packages in different ways. For example SuSE tends not towards monolithic packages, so it has barely more binary packages than source packages. Debian, which usually separates anything that can sometimes be installed separately, has about the same number of source packages, but twice as more binary packages. All in all, most major Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux including AUR, OpenSuSE, Fedora, Mandriva) have a similar amount of software.

There is more difference if you count third-party repositories and binary packages provided directly by vendors. Simply put, the more users a distribution has, the more people are inclined to make packages for it. I don't have any hard figures, but I suspect that Ubuntu is a winner here, both due to its large collection of user repositories¹ and due to the widespread support (because of Ubuntu's popularity). For enterprise software, Red Hat is also a strong contender.

¹ Personal package archives (PPA) — entry point for users, entry point for developers.


on Debian:

apt-cache pkgnames | wc -l

on RedHat:

dnf repoquery | wc -l

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