Linux is the Kernel
You posted "I think that the handling of Linux (not just the kernel, I mean the whole shebang) "
This belies your ignorance about Linux and the OSS community. Linux IS the Kernel - its called the Linux Kernel and thats all it is, there are few versions like current, or stable (not as many changes for reliability in servers or device hardware) But most people aren't even aware of these release versions.
Repeat: Linux = Kernel. The Distribution (which can be done by anyone) is more accurate and correct way to refer to the whole shebang as you say. But keep in mind there are MULTIPLE shells or GUI's (Graphical User Interfaces) to use as well. Gnome and KDE are popular choices, but Unity is a new one as well)
Apple's OSX is just a GUI slapped ontop of BSD (a UNIX/LINUX style kernel)
A distribution (like Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint etc) Chooses which kernel version (usually the most recent stable version) to use, and which GUI to put on top of it. Because its freeware its easy for others to change this. For example Ubuntu used to use Gnome for their distribution, but as some people liked KDE better than Gnome, they released a version of Ubuntu that used KDE instead of installing with Gnome as the default GUI (called Kubuntu).
You are incorrect about package management as well, there are only two major versions, (with a few other competing as well, but not that polished or popular) Redhat has their RPM (redhat package manager I think) version, and then there is the debian version (which is the distro that Ubuntu is built off from) So this one is popular because Ubuntu uses it.
Currently for consumers Ubuntu has switched to Unity for their GUI instead of Gnome and lot of users are not happy about the change so some are switching to Kubuntu, others are to Mint (a different Distro) Others still are installing Ubuntu, but choosing to use Gnome 2 or Gnome 3 (also not liked by some) as the GUI during the install.
The theme you should be catching here is the Linux/OSS community is all about competing products in an open market where choice is unlimited and dominates. If you don't like a version you download another for free. You are completely wrong about the Project management aspect of OSS. Any project that does not innovate and improve (unless its perfect as is of course) and certainly applications, GUI, Kernel even that do not keep up to date are booted out of the way for better choices.
There are actually many other OpenSource Kernels as well, it could likely that upcoming versions of redhat fedora, or Ubuntu may run on a kernel that is not Linux, and then calling that solutions "Linux would be even more incorrect. Lets go with OSS (Open Source Software) This is really one of the few terms that accurately covers the many different types of Open source licenses and applicaitons, kernels etc that exist out there today.
The press and mainstream does miss-use this "Linux" term often enough to be an understandable mistake. But really its like saying PC's are all M$ Windows machines, Really PCs (Personal Computers) run Linux, OSX and other OS as well)... its just not accurate.