Currently 117 questions are tagged with , 5 questions are tagged with , and 3 questions are tagged with (all three are GNU/Linux distributions → ).

The discussion Should we have tags for separate Linux distributions? doesn’t seem to have a clear community-backed answer (currently the five answers range from -2 to +3).

In the discussion Is the Ubuntu tag justified?, the top-voted answer (currently +9) suggests to keep the tag.

Given the +9 pro Ubuntu, should we keep that one, or have things/opinions changed?

What about and (and future tags for GNU/Linux distributions that might come up)?


3 Answers 3


I stand by my previous opinion: distribution tags are for the most part not warranted. Since a program that runs on Linux will run on any distribution, using a tag like to say “I want a program that runs on Debian” is a misuse of the tagging system: a question asking about a program to run on Fedora would have exactly the same answers, thus the question should not be tagged , it should only be tagged .

The tag should be indicative of a question that's specific to Debian, for example software designed to interoperate with Debian's build infrastructure or their package distribution infrastructure. This is an extremely specialized requirement that I don't expect to come up for a long time yet.

The tag is a bit of an exception… because it isn't really supposed to mean “I want a program that runs on Ubuntu”, but “I want a program that's integrated in Ubuntu”, which is a stronger requirement. However the nuance is so subtle that I don't think it's realistic to expect everyone who chooses tags here to be aware of it, let alone understand it. In fact, in practice, the requirement tends to be integration with Unity, not integration with Ubuntu, so the right tag would be — but most people who would use this tag are not aware of the distinction and might not even be able to name Unity.

The distribution tags are causing more harm than good because they needlessly fragment the taxonomy. If I'm looking for a program to run on Linux, it might be on a question tagged , or tagged , or tagged , etc. Imposing a rule like “all questions tagged must also have ” is not an option: the rule wouldn't be followed, it takes up space in the 5-tag-per-question limit, and it conflicts with the desirable use of as actually meaning something (because questions that are really specific to Ubuntu should not be tagged ).

Given that distribution tags are consistently misused, I propose to merge all existing tags for Linux distributions into , and delete them all except which we'll keep as a synonym because it gets used so often.

  • I follow this line. It misses one detail, though: tagging a Q debian could also mean there must be a .deb package available or, even stronger, it must be available via the standard repos (same for other distributions). Still, this wouldn't justify a tag but should be part of the requirements listed in the question body.
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 14:40

Taxonomy can categorize layers of abstraction of knowledge, so in my opinion the distro tag is useful. Linux is a particular implementation of posix, witch is common for all Unixes, and you can say that a soft for linux can, but maybe not so easily, run on solaris or minix. The same applies to linux distros, and again, to specific versions of a distro.
Just the last month, i had trouble build two softwares for ubuntu, because the libraries are not anymore on default repositories... So if a user request soft that run on, say, ubuntu lts 14, why not tag this accordingly?
Nobody wants a bunch of new tags, but you can have tags that literally warn the intention to narrow to versions, distros, etc., like "version dependent", "system specific", that can get attention of people who have knowledge on that domain. The details, as stated on other answers, can be specified on the body of question. Another problem, more subtle, is that those questions and answers are to stay online for a long time. Stack exchange is online for some time, and probably will be for much more. Imagine someone filtering software for windows and getting today a lot of answers for software that runs on windows 95... Obviously the site can use some heuristics to avoid problems like that, but allowing taxonomy to do that make this MUCH more easy and (in my opinion) get more straight to the point.


I don't think we should have version specific tags to start. For instance, should just be and the version required should be stated in the body of the question. I do; however, think we should have distribution specific tags as some questions do require a particular distribution. As the definition of a tag goes:

A tag is a word or phrase that describes the topic of the question. Tags are a means of connecting experts with questions they will be able to answer by sorting questions into specific, well-defined categories.

I believe that tags like and do meet this requirement.

  • 2
    No, ubuntu and centos (the way they're used, i.e. to mean “software that runs on X”) do not meet this requirement. Software that runs on Linux runs on any distribution, so a particular distribution does not represent a useful classification. It does not define a topic of expertise and it is not useful in a search. The more experience we get with these tags, the more we see that they're just a nuisance, and I now wish I'd been less cautious and just nipped them in the bud two years ago. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 1:18
  • @Gilles Maybe narrow them down by specifying what distro is based on (like Debian, Fedora, etc.) because not all software is compatible on both. Using a term like Linux I believe is way to broad
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 1:25
  • No, that's pointless. What makes you claim that “Linux” is too broad? It's exactly the right category: it defines a category of software. “Software that runs on distributions derived from Debian” is not a useful category because it's identical to “software that runs on distributions derived to Fedora”, and to “software that runs on Linux”. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 1:33
  • @Gilles Do you not think then that the Windows tag should not have individual versions as well? Each version of Windows means software that runs on Windows but applying directly to a specific version. This would work the same. Specific distros of Linux all mean Linux, but each tag would apply directly to a specific distro to, again, help narrow down questions.
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 1:42
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    Once again: tags for Linux distributions do not narrow down questions! I'm not competent enough to settle on Windows, but my impression is that windows-7, windows-8 and windows-10 are heavily misused (to denote “I run this version of Windows” rather than “I need software specifically for this version of Windows”) if not wholly unwarranted. A tag is only useful if it categorizes questions. Tags that do not categorize questions are at best useless, and they are harmful when they fragment a category like Linux distribution tags do. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 1:50
  • @Gilles I disagree only when certain software applies to certain Linux distros; however, I do agree as you pointed out that tags based on other distros should go. For example, Ubuntu should go but the tag Debian should stay.
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 2:01
  • I'm again with @Gilles here, Tom: while there might be very few cases where "windows-X" could mean software for "windows-Z" wouldn't work, that's something to point out in the question body. Answers to e.g. Windows-7 might still be useful to Windows-10 users (and usually are), while mostly pointless to e.g. Linux users. Same with the Linux distros: yes, there are exceptions where something available for Debian wouldn't work on CentOS, but those are rather exceptions than a "general rule" – so again, those details belong to the question/answer bodies.
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 14:45
  • @Izzy Alright, I see your point - out of curiosity, then, why do the windows version tags still exist? I've looked through some of the questions using windows specific tags and most of them do not make a difference what version there on - coming from an avid windows user, almost all software is compatible as long as you have windows XP SP3 or up
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 15:07
  • 1
    That's exactly what @Gilles was pointing at. And they do still exist because … hm, have we reached a consent on that already? See these questions – especially Windows vs. Window-7 tags (OS) and what's linked from there.
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 15:21
  • @Izzy I've added an answer of my own
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 16:02
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    Upvoted that – matches my opinion :)
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 16:07
  • 1
    @Izzy Unor pointed out that it may be better to start a new discussion titled something like, "Should we remove all Windows specific tags?" - I have a question and my answer ready to go, should I start this other new discussion specifically for the removal of windows specific tags?
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 16:45

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