I was explaining to a user why their question is off topic (not about Ubuntu or official derivatives).

Their reply was the following.

Then why is there a "custom-distributions" tag?

So why is there? To me this seems to just make people think they can ask about any modified version of Ubuntu, whereas in the help centre it says

Using and administering official Ubuntu flavors including: Edubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Kylin, Lubuntu, Mythbuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Xubuntu and Ubuntu Touch.

But not

Linux Mint, Backtrack, Gnome-Remix (prior to 13.04) and other Linux distributions (try our friends at Unix & Linux Stack Exchange).

Another point is that it doesn't actually have a tag wiki - barely even an excerpt. It just says what a custom distribution is:

A custom Distribution is a custom-built version of Ubuntu.

And this (to me) is off topic, because it is not an official Ubuntu flavour. I would say it is a more of another Linux distribution...

Am I right here, or should I retract my vote? Either way (weather it is on or off topic) it is not a good question.

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure a question about customising Ubuntu should neccessarily be off-topic. Even if that stretches out to creating a whole new distribution. It's the use of that distribution that isn't supported here.

That post about StratOS was posted by the StratOS creator in a very astroturfy way.
I have deleted it as spam but yes, it was also off-topic amongst other things.

  • Right, because developing is supported? But using it isn't.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 10:17

The problem with that (now deleted) question wasn't mainly that it was off-topic (which it was), but that:

  • It was spam, or pretty close.
  • It wasn't a question at all, so much as a call for discussion. Or maybe not even that. It was essentially saying, "Hey, take a look at X!"

If the discussion had been about an official derivative of Ubuntu, it would still have been primarily opinion-based (if it was clear that no answer based on objective facts was being solicited) or unclear. Or perhaps too broad.

Anyway, it was a call for discussion about a topic, rather than a specific question. It was also off-topic, sure. It was entirely about an existing unofficial derivative of Ubuntu. But that wasn't the main thing wrong with it. Still, voting to close it for that reason was perfectly good and correct option.

As for why we have a tag, as Oli says, creating a custom distribution from Ubuntu is a way of using Ubuntu. Using a custom distribution, at least once it gets to the point of having its own name, being released, etc., is a way of using an Ubuntu derivative.

We have a question about this, and the votes on its answers (and absence of any answers saying questions about making custom distros should be considered off-topic) indicate pretty strongly that the current community consensus is that we will help people with specific problems or requests for information, in service of the creation of new custom distributions based on Ubuntu:

While my answer there was intended as a robust discussion from a site policy perspective, I think RolandiXor's answer clarifies best how the customization of Ubuntu, including to create a new custom distro, is a topic supported by Ubuntu help resources and in Ubuntu's documentation. Thus that answer may be what you're looking for.

  • I think that the tag wiki should be changed to express that it is only for making not using.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 10:34

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