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I'm new-ish to the Linux world. I was recently investigating Private Internet Access, and I noted that its Linux client is listed as requiring Ubuntu 12.04 or newer. Why would an application only be compatible with a specific distro of Linux? I'd have figured that an application's OS dependency is on syscalls and perhaps library calls, which I imagine are tied to the kernel...it's not clear to me why there would be a dependency on a specific distro. (I thought the Linux kernel was "universal" and distros add their own customizations to UI, and other such non-kernel aspects)

Is it generally expected/accepted in the Linux community for apps to only be compatible with certain distros?

The context to this question is: I bought a new laptop that came preinstalled with Ubuntu, but I was thinking to wipe it and install Fedora or Red Hat to experience the Linux installation process first-hand. But Private Internet Access' seeming incompatibility with those two distros gave me pause, because it is an app I would have liked to have installed.

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    Some libraries or configuration files could be located in different locations. And if this is a commercial supported, presumably they don't find it viable to support (aka build, test, debug) their program on multiple distros. Steam games often work fine on Arch Linux, but they'll always warn you it's an unsupported platform because the devs have no intention of worrying about the idiosyncrasies of $RANDOM_DISTRO and don't want to be bothered if you're using an unsupported one. Also, distros add custom patches to the kernel if they feel like it. – muru May 24 '17 at 3:37
  • @muru - This question may get me banished for life from this site, but isn't Linux's future then some form of overarching "unification" resembling Windows and/or the dominance of one Linux distro? Arguably, an OS' role is largely to support software that PC users want to run. Broadly speaking, most users are not techies, so it seems quite a hindrance to wider Linux adoption if users cannot have "Linux compatible" software the way they have "Windows compatible" or "MAC OS compatible" software, no? Or is Linux's roadmap to remain techie-focused, with large, incompatible diversity among distros? – StoneThrow May 24 '17 at 4:50
  • You should add it as an answer – saga May 24 '17 at 4:51
  • @StoneThrow or the new packaging formats like snap or flatpak might succeed. – muru May 24 '17 at 4:54
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    @StoneThrow The "goal" of Linux, if there is one, is to provide a Unix kernel that allows one to build a usable and adaptable Unix environment around it (a "distribution"). The goal of a company providing Linux software is to minimize their own cost. They do this by limiting the number of officially supported Linux distributions that they support. The client may well work on other distributions, but the company can not guarantee it, no support you if you try. – Kusalananda May 24 '17 at 6:11

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