Linux Distributions

Other operating systems like Microsoft combine each bit of codes internally and release it as a single package. You have to choose from one of the version they offer.

But Linux is different from them. Different parts of Linux are developed by different organizations.

The kernel, shell tools, X server, system environment, graphical applications, etc. are some examples of different sections. You can obtain the scripts for each of these components and assemble them yourself if you so choose. However, it is a difficult operation that takes a lot of time and requires accurate assembly of all the parts in order for it to function.

From here on distribution (also called as distros) comes into the picture. They assemble all these parts for us and give us a compiled operating system of Linux to install and use.

As a free and open-source operating system, Linux has spawned several distributions over time, spreading its wings to encompass a large community of users. From desktop/home users to Enterprise environments, Linux has ensured that each category has something to be happy about. 

Linux Distributions List

There are on an average six hundred Linux distributors providing different features. Here, we’ll discuss about some of the popular Linux distros today. 

1) Ubuntu

It was created by Canonical in 2004 and gained popularity immediately. Canonical wants Ubuntu to be used as a simple, command-line-free graphical Linux desktop. The most well-known Linux distribution is this one. The following version of Debian, Ubuntu, is simple for beginners to use. It has a large number of pre-installed applications and convenient repository libraries.

Earlier, Ubuntu uses GNOME2 desktop environment but now it has developed its own unity desktop environment. It releases every six months and currently working to expand to run on tablets and smartphones.

2) Linux Mint

Mint is based on Ubuntu and uses its repository software so some packages are common in both.

Because media codecs and proprietary applications are present in mint but not in Ubuntu, it used to be an alternative to Ubuntu. However, it now has its own following and switches from Ubuntu’s unity desktop interface to cinnamon and mate.

3) Debian

Debian has its existence since 1993 and releases its versions much slowly then Ubuntu and mint.

This makes it one of the most stable Linux distributor.

Ubuntu is based on Debian and was founded to improve the core bits of Debian more quickly and make it more user friendly. Every release name of Debian is based on the name of the movie Toy Story.

4) Red Hat Enterprise / CentOS

Red hat is a commercial Linux distributor. There products are red hat enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Fedora which are freely available. RHEL is well tested before release and supported till seven years after the release, whereas, fedora provides faster update and without any support.

Red Hat uses trademark law to stop the redistribution of its software. Red Hat Enterprise Linux source is used in CentOS, a community effort that eliminates all of Red Hat’s trademarks and makes it publicly available. In other words, it is a free version of RHEL and offers a long-lasting reliable platform.

5) Fedora

It is a project that mainly focuses on free software and provides latest version of software. It doesn’t make its own desktop environment but used ‘upstream’ software. By default it has GNOME3 desktop environment. It is less stable but provides the latest stuff.  

What Linux Distribution should I choose?

Choosing a Linux distribution is a personal thing. It greatly depends on what you want to do with it.

  • Ubuntu and Linux Mint : Suitable for – Beginner to Advanced/ServerUbuntu is currently the most popular of the Linux Distributions. It is built on a Debian core, but has a more regular release cycle, is more polished, is easy to use and has major financial backing. Being a completely free distribution, Ubuntu does not include copyrighted software for playing DVDs by default. You must download and install it separately, although this is a simple process. A GNOME or KDE version of Linux Mint, which is based on Ubuntu and designed for beginners, is still available if you don’t like the appearance and feel of the newest Ubuntu desktop (named Unity).
  • Red Hat/CentOS/Fedora : Suitable for – Beginner to Advanced/Server
    Used to be very popular, easy to use, good installer. Has some annoying quirks, RPM software packaging can suffer from dependency problems, even with YUM system. RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) is the non-free Enterprise version offering of this distribution, it comes with full telephone based support and is backed by rigorous testing. The free version of RHEL that is derived from CentOS typically lags behind it and, of course, does not have enterprise support. There is also Fedora Core. The cutting-edge fork of Red Hat, Fedora, offers all the newest features, but because it is cutting-edge, it may not be as stable as its enterprise-grade competitors.
  • SuSE Linux : Suitable for – Beginner to Advanced
    SuSE was once an independent German Linux distribution, which later was purchased by Novell, who later sold it to VMWare. It has evolved into a fantastic all-arounder that is prepared for the Enterprise. excellent documentation, a ton of fantastic apps, and first-rate service. The enterprise version is excellent for commercial use, includes business support, and has partnered with organizations like SAP (and of course VMWare). Software Installer continues to rely on RedHat’s RPM system, which occasionally has dependency issues but is largely obsolete now.
  • Slackware and Arch Linux : Suitable for – Advanced to Server Users
    Slackware was probably the first linux distribution. Targeted at geeks who like to tweak or for the server market looking to get every little ounce of server performance. Quite hard to install and use, Uses .tar.gz packages rather than more popular .deb or .rpm systems. If you consider yourself to be more advanced but dislike the idea of compiling everything, Arch might be the right choice for you since it still offers Flavorless degrees of customization.
  • Debian : Suitable for – Intermediate to Advanced Users
    Very established Linux distro. DEB packages combined with apt-get system solve the tedium of the RPM software packaging in Redhat/Suse/Mandriva. Traditionally known for being further behind than some other distros, but rock solid. Is now the basis for many modern, easier to use distributions such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

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