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According to the Wikipedia comparison tables, Ubuntu has ~47K available packages, while other major distros, under this particular aspect, have a smaller number.
I.E. openSUSE has ~40K, Debian ~37K, Fedora ~22K, ArchLinux ~10K and Chakra ~3K (yes, I know, Chakra is not a major one but I'm keeping an eye on it because I find interesting its purpose of being KDE-centered).

Why these great differences? Compared to other distributions, Ubuntu is a fairly young one, I can't understand how it has a package availability greater than 20/50% against other distros.

Right now I'm using Kubuntu 12.04, but I'm also looking around for some alternatives for when I will have to upgrade it (in particular I'm interested in a semi-rolling distro, hence my attention to Chakra), and these numbers make me wonder if the software availability is more or less the same for these distributions.

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Why are you more worried about "number of packages total" rather than "number of packages I care about"? –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 18 '13 at 22:11
    
I'm not worried, I'm just curious. And I'm not judging the quality of these distros from their repos size, at all. I'm just curious about this. –  Sekhemty May 18 '13 at 22:22
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closed as not constructive by Karan, Brad Patton, Patches, Mokubai, techie007 May 19 '13 at 14:56

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Barring political reasons (or [usually silly] technical reasons), any piece of open-source software available for any given Linux distribution can work with any other Linux distribution available.

Packaging a piece of software, however, has a non-zero cost. Not only must the files be placed in the appropriate locations for the distribution, but there are also other both technical and non-technical changes that must be made before it is in a form acceptable for inclusion. Not everyone is willing to spend the effort required to prepare an arbitrary program on the Internet for their distribution(s) of choice.

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That, and I guess not everyone will want to package something just for the sake of packaging it. –  slhck May 18 '13 at 22:30
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The correlation between the number of packages in its repositories and the fact that it is the most popular desktop and server distribution may hold the answer to your question [1].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_Linux

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The correlation breaks on the second datum. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 19 '13 at 6:43
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For science, I took the 31 distributions with the most packages and compared the number of packages against their rank on DistroWatch for the last year. Only a third of those even appeared in DistroWatch's top 30 something, and the correlation is just off: i.stack.imgur.com/LzSRm.png –  slhck May 19 '13 at 14:30
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