The DistroWatch web site was first published on 31 May 2001 (you can still find the original page here). The concept started as a very simple table comprising of 5 major distributions and the chart only compared a few features (price, version, release date) and a few package versions (Kernel, KDE, Gnome, XFree86, Apache). Trying to make it slightly more comprehensive and useful (and failing to find anything similar and up-to-date on the Internet), I have kept adding more distributions, features and packages until the table reached fairly reasonable state in terms of information provided. At that stage, I decided to share the table with the Linux community worldwide and moved it from a spreadsheet into an HTML document. The page was first mentioned on LinuxToday and on many other sites around the world.
The site has evolved dramatically since its early days – this is what it looked like at the very beginning. Besides visitors, the site has also received a lot of feedback. What follows below is my attempt to answer some of the questions and reply to suggestions.