If a program is developed for Linux, why exactly does it matter what distro you are using? How does installing programs like Steam/Dropbox/Skype work across distros like Mint, eOS, Debian, Fedora, etc.

On Steam's site for example it says:

Currently, Steam for Linux is only supported on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or 12.10 with the Unity, Gnome, or KDE desktop. Additional distributions will be examined for support as time permits. For more information on Steam for Linux, see https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Valve

Do you really have to be running those DEs? Is it assumed that Ubuntu-based OSes like Mint, eOS would work fine? As well as the various Ubuntu flavors?

Or if you were running Ubuntu and downloaded the Fedora or opensuse download link on the Skype website would it simply not work?


All distributions of Linux do not use the same packaging systems and formats. They also do not all use the same build and compilation options for the software they do include. In the case of Skype, the only probably difference between the download links for Fedora, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, or some other Linux, would be in how the files are packaged and installed on the system. There would be no advantage to trying to run a version built for another distribution of Linux, on Ubuntu, nor the reverse.

The Steam for Linux statement of support is so that Valve can limit the amount of problems they have to deal with. It's possible to run Steam under a different configuration for sure, but it will not necessarily be supported by them. Claiming to only support specific versions of Ubuntu with a specific environment being used, means that there is a known stable reference configuration to deal with. Supporting any version of Linux with any configuration means that it would have to be tested on all of those configurations, and versions.

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