If youre thinking there are only a few linux distributions available, then you’re wrong. There are many different distributions available, but there are some difference between them. All of them are using the same kernel which is the link between your computer hardware and software, but not every Linux uses the most recent kernel.
You could also choose for a Unix system, because you will not notice the difference between Linux and Unix. Both systems use the same software for almost 99%. The biggest difference between Linux distributions can be found in package management. This package management can easily install programs. Programs that are installed in this way are also updated automatically through the auto update feature of their package management program. But this doenst mean that you cant install other programs, only you need to do it manually. Some Linux versions are trying to support as much as possible all hardware. Others go for stability and supports only the hardware that they know it’s works well.
Ubuntu is very user-friendly Linux distribution. The installation is very easy, there is a wide selection of current software which is easy to install. Ubuntu also detects a lot of hardware and that simplifies the installation. Every six months comes a new version so the program is up-to-date. Each version provides one and a half years of security updates. These versions are more stable and provide longer service updates.
Ubuntu has different options, you can choose for the Gnome desktop (Ubuntu) or KDE desktop (Kubuntu) If you run Linux on an older PC, Xubuntu is a nice option, because it focuses on underprivileged hardware. Edubuntu is specially equipped with educational software.
There is also the Ubuntu netbook remix. This version is specially made for the many small netbook computers. UNR you can download from the normal ubuntu web site.
Ubuntu has quickly become the most popular Linux distribution, with the greatest benefit to the easy entry. It is actually based on Debian, which provides Ubuntu as a very stable program.
This is also a very user-friendly Linux, both at installation and during everyday use. During installation you can choose which desktop manager you want to use. You can choose GNOME, KDE3 and KDE4. All settings and managing all the programs goes with the yast2 program, which clearly arrange all settings. Suse is running as operating system already for a couple of years. Since 2004 suse is sponsored by Novell but still maintained by the open source community.
Debian has a reputation as one of the most stable Linux versions. Therefore it is one of the most conservative Linux versions. The newest programs you will not encounter as a package. There are not frequent new releases compared to other Linux versions and it is regularly delayed if there should be discovered problems with the software. There are still 3 Debian releases:
- Stable version.
- Tesing. This will be the next stable release.
- Unstable (Sid). The trial version of Debian with more recent software. The software of this version is not good enough to get the name stable but this doesnt mean that your computer will crash all the time with this version.
Knoppix was the first successful Linux distribution that could started from a Live CD. It was also very easy to install the system on the hard disk. Unfortunately, the attention to Knoppix slightly blurred after the introduction of several Live CD versions.
Linux Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu, and also indirectly a derivative of Debian. This distribution is equipped with multiple media codecs which makes it suitable as a multimedia operating system. It is maybe one of the most user user-friendly Linux operating system.
Redhat Linux is the professional version, that why its not free. But you get a lot of professional support, something that you dont get with the free versions. If you want to make free use of Redhat you can choose such as Fedora or Centos.
The Fedora Project is sponsored by Redhat and is more used as a test for Redhat. New programs and techniques are first tested in Fedora before they are implemented by Redhat.
CentOS is based on Redhat Enterprise Linux. Most software under CentOS is free to use.
Gentoo Linux has adopted the name of the Gentoo penguin. The installed software in Gentoo Linux is mostly compiled on the spot, so completely rebuilt on the basis of the source files. Only very large packages, like Firefox, are available pre-compiled available. This has the advantage that the software is tuned to your system so it will work a little faster. The disadvantage is that it takes sometimes a long time before you have installed a new program.
Of course there are much more other Linux distributions such as Slackware, Mandriva, FreeBSD, PC-BSD, Puppy Linux, OpenSolaris and much more, but there are simply too many to talk about in one article. At Distrowatch you will see them all. These are just some of the most common Linux and Unix distributions. Do not be fooled especially by the overwhelming amount of distributions, usually they do all the same work but only a little bit differently.