I'm going through the Suggested Edit queue, and I'm seeing a lot of removals of the tag. This question is one example. Since the asker is specifically asking for something for Ubuntu,

I feel it's appropriate to keep the tag for that distribution. But what does the community think? Should we have tags for Ubuntu, Arch, CentOS, etc?

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    I’ve removed them, and the asker thinks they want something for Ubuntu, but mostly everything generic to Linux also will work on Ubuntu. Also, the specialisation is still kept in the post text. – mirabilos Feb 5 '14 at 16:32
  • @mirabilos the problem I have with this is the fact that there are many packages that are designed to be ubuntu-only, and integrate with (or sometimes require) Unity. – dotVezz Feb 5 '14 at 16:33
  • Yes, but these are only additional Ubuntu packages. Anything that works on “all of” Linux will work on Ubuntu as well. – mirabilos Feb 5 '14 at 16:35
  • @mirabilos that's a good argument for inclusion with Ubuntu, but what about exclusion with CentOS? There are a lot of linux packages that will be problematic with CentOS because of lack of updated dependencies. You're almost stuck just using the default repos and EPEL. – dotVezz Feb 5 '14 at 16:36
  • In these cases, the software will still work, it’s just not packaged. Or packaged in EPEL or Fedora Extras or someplace else. This is a problem of RHEL/CentOS, not a problem of the software which is the answer. In those cases I feel that the software recommendations should still include those not packaged (or, say, being packaged on Debian/Ubuntu but too old there), and the asker has the drawback of deciding whether that’s still worth to install them. – mirabilos Feb 5 '14 at 16:37
  • @mirabilos It's a lot deeper than that - the software won't work, often because it's a herculean task to find and compile all the dependencies. Also, what about differences between, for example, distros that use systemd vs init? – dotVezz Feb 5 '14 at 16:39
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    Yes, but those are all specifics that can be handled by keeping the distribution in the post body. These are not the general case, as it doesn’t matter for most software. (I’ve got to go, let’s go to the chat later.) – mirabilos Feb 5 '14 at 16:41
  • @MariuszS What... but... huh? – dotVezz Feb 5 '14 at 21:21
  • Related: Is the Ubuntu tag justified? – unor Mar 31 '15 at 3:09

It is extremely rare for Linux software to require a particular distribution. I've seen a lot of questions with the tag and retagged them to , because the questions were not about Ubuntu, they were about Linux.

If the question is “I want software that does X and runs on Linux, and by the way I'm using Ubuntu”, then Ubuntu is not a key requirement, because any Linux software will run on Ubuntu. “Available as an Ubuntu package” would be a plus, but that doesn't warrant a tag.

The tag should be used in addition to only if the question does not apply to every Linux distribution. For example it would make sense to use if integration in Unity was a requirement.

The tag should almost never be used instead of . That would only make sense if a question was absolutely specific to Ubuntu, for example an application to interact with Launchpad.

Most Linux distributions will not warrant a tag at all. Ubuntu does (and even then it's overused) because it provides an integrated environment, and it makes sense to have requests that are somewhat specific to Ubuntu in that they require good integration in that environment. or or wouldn't make sense in this way.

See also How specific should the OS tag be? for a more general perspective.


Most definitely not!

Tag the OSes generically – windows osx bsd android windows-mobile windows-phone iphone etc. or web or cross-platform – and then mention the specific flavours (like a Windows® version, or a GNU distribution) in the post body.

Answers are generally relative to the operating system, but mostly alike across different versions/flavours of one OS (such as Desktop Windows, or GNU/Linux). Some do have minimum requirements (such as Windows >= XP, or Linux Kernel 3.2+), but that’s okay.

While the distribution can influence the software selection, it does so on a much smaller scale than the operating system. Tags are for quick filtering, the type of distribution is only a minor clarification, and usually (yes, not always, but usually) not even needed.

  • As you mention, tags are for quick filtering and searching. I'd think that's another reason to keep them - for someone in the future looking for a Gentoo-specific piece of software, they have access to a gentoo tag to help them find questions/answers. – dotVezz Feb 5 '14 at 16:43
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    We have only five tags. I think you’re over-valuing the OS space here. I think using 3-4 tags on the problem space itself, and using only one, at best two, OS tags is better in the long run. – mirabilos Feb 5 '14 at 16:46
  • Yep, sounds good. I've made all my arguments, so I guess this is essentially decided. XD – dotVezz Feb 5 '14 at 16:48

I've posted a question and tagged it with both Linux and Ubuntu - Linux for the broad OS category, and Ubuntu for discovery via search engines (notice that the page title starts with 'ubuntu') when you tag it as such). Since many people include the distribution in a software search*, this could be useful for SEO purposes.

But if we care most about the broad OS categorization and want to mention distributions just in the title/body, I think we should consider changing the tag to something like 'ubuntu-specific', or even removing the tag alltogether. Or we should accept that a lot of re-tagging is going to be needed, because I expect many Linux/Ubuntu questions will get just the Ubuntu tag from the poster.

* Statement based on my own search behaviour as well as viewing many such questions on various fora, superuser, etc. ;)

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    SEO is another good point to consider - and I agree with what you're saying (distro-specific tags being good for SEO). Unfortunately, I'm out of votes to give =( – dotVezz Feb 5 '14 at 21:14
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    Ah, I see SEO is indeed the motivation for the tag in the page title. – arjan Feb 5 '14 at 21:30

The linux tag itself is too narrow, I suggest we retag most questions in this tag "unix". People don't often ask for software run with linux specific syscalls. People often ask for generic graphic and commandlines. The linux tag stands when it comes to firewalls, filesystems

However the ubuntu tag can keep as is, since we have for long tolerated a seperate askubuntu stackexchange. This way people who ask for the ubuntu sector are prepared to get ignored by people not wanting to give an "apt-get" answer.


Yes - This isn't just because of the difference between desktop distributions like Ubuntu and Fedora. It's also because of enterprise distributions like CentOS and Red Hat. The software that's easily available for one distribution, especially in the enterprise sector, can be very different from other distributions.

This also applies to people who might, for some reason, be using CentOS as a desktop distribution (This happens at offices I've been to, for example) and they want to replace Gnome 2. Unfortunately, running Gnome 3 on CentOS is nearly impossible.

Additionally, software that is recommended may require dependencies that are unavailable for a distribution. CentOS is another example here - there's no real easy way to install mono, so I had to run my Kerbal Space Program multiplayer server on an ArchServer.

This demonstrates, at least, that the distribution that a user has can influence the selection of software he can install. Even though most Linux software will compile and run on essentially any distribution, it's still enough reason to keep the distribution-specific tags.

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    @ may require dependencies that are unavailable for a distribution: Yes, but in this case, the distribution is still in the text. Tags are for quick filtering, not for specifying the entire answer domain. Remember you can only have five. – mirabilos Feb 5 '14 at 16:33
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    The requirement then isn't so much “I need X on CentOS” as “I need X on an old Linux distribution”. Use the linux tag and specify your requirement in the question's text. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 5 '14 at 17:33

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