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The source(s) from which all Linux distributions spring: Debian, Slackware, and Red Hat

Red Hat, Debian, and Slackware are the source of most Linux distributions. Why?

I came across this Linux distribution timeline today and found it fascinating. Truly a picture is worth a thousand words or, in the case of Linux, a thousand (thereabouts :-) Linux distributions. Looking at the graphic, it's clear that the many Linux distributions essentially come down to three primary springs:

Debian, Slackware, and Red Hat.

Virtually every other Linux distribution branches out from these three "trunks." I'm not sure if this indicates the inherent quality of these distributions, or if it has more to do with the vagaries of history, but it's interesting to me that SUSE, a variant of Slackware, despite being a very strong distribution, has only given root to three seedlings (Astaro, Caixa Magica, and Sun JDS), whereas Ubuntu has sprouted many.

Again, I don't know how to read that data. Is it good or bad? Does it imply trust in these fountain heads or dissatisfaction? I think it's the former, but any thoughts from others would be appreciated.

Via Digg.