Linux Guide/Distributions

A distribution is a type of Linux. Linux comes in a large number of distributions, some of which are designed for everyday use, and others designed with a specific task or device in mind. We'll discuss some of those differences below.

Most Linux distributions have a special type of CD, called a live CD. If you insert this CD and then restart your computer, the live CD will run Linux on the computer while avoiding changing anything on your computer as much as possible. For example it won't normally install any files on your PC, but run only from the CD. You can give the operating system a try to see if you like it without the risk of installing anything on your hard drive. You should remember that linux typically runs very fast - if the system seems slow, it is because it is running off your CD drive, not your hard drive.

Choosing A DistroEdit

There are dozens of different Linux distributions. Here are some ways to help you narrow down the options to a short list.

How do you intend to use the system?
Desktop or server? This distinction is probably the most important. Distributions for the desktop will have a graphical user interface, while server distributions won't.
Specific hardware requirements
Try out a few LiveCDs of different distributions. Does it recognize and work properly with your hardware?
If you intend to install Linux on a low-end specification computer, or you have other peculiar hardware compatibility problems or requirements, your choice might be influenced by this need. Most linux distributions should run fine on all but the lowest end of the spectrum.
Application support
Which applications or desktop environment are important to you?
Does a given distribution install those programs by default or is it easy to install and integrate them with the rest or your system?
Does the distribution have a good package management system, and suitable software repositories?
Support
What options will be available for getting support? Is commercial (paid) support available? Is there free community support? If the distribution has a small user base, you will have a harder time getting distribution-specific support, as compared to a more widely-used distribution.
Desktop environment
For desktop systems, you'll need to feel at home. Check out Linux Guide/Desktop environments for information on some common ones. GNOME and KDE are the two most popular.

Try a distro chooser, like http://www.zegeniestudios.net/ldc/. Often several different distributions will meet all your requirements. Your final choice from the short list may be based on whim or personal taste.

External linksEdit

Selected distributionsEdit

Main page: Linux Guide/Distros in detail
Arch
A minimalistic and lightweight distribution that caters to the experienced Linux user.
Debian
Contains a lot of packages
Easy to use and update
Very stable
Fedora
Free version of Red Hat Linux.
Gentoo
Offers four levels of installation, very time consuming, but easy to upgrade.
Used mainly by advanced users.
Linux From Scratch
This page details how to build a Linux system without relying on any particular distribution. For experts only.
Linux Mint
Makes Ubuntu easier with improved hardware detection, scripts, and multimedia integration.
Mandriva
Formerly known as Mandrake.
Very easy to install and use - targets newcomers to linux on the desktop.
MEPIS
Debian-based distribution with superb hardware support and a rich Live CD environment.
Comes in two flavors: SimplyMEPIS for the regular desktop users and ProMEPIS for use in a more commercial environment.
openSUSE
Distribution designed mostly for business, but very user friendly and easy to pick up and use.
PCLinuxOS
Very popular for beginners.
Red Hat
Commercial distribution (but see centOS) designed mostly for business, yet also usable for individuals.
The free version is Fedora (above)
Sabayon
Gentoo Linux based distribution that focuses on newest technologies.
Slackware Linux
One of the first Linux distributions.
Easy installation, but a bit of knowledge would be useful.
TaraElla Computer System

The TaraElla Computer System (TECS) is a system demonstrating a possible way to use the computer in accordance with the TaraElla Computer Lifestyle principles. It is made by pop singer songwriter TaraElla. As it is made by a member of the entertainment industry, it is considered very non-geeky.

Ubuntu
The most successful and popular desktop distro based on Debian.
Uses the Unity user interface and has frequent updates.
Very easy to use and install.
Ubuntu Linux has different variations:
  • Kubuntu: Uses KDE instead of Unity. Also see KubuntuGuide.
  • Xubuntu: A light-weight version of Ubuntu that uses Xfce instead of Unity. This version is useful for less powerful PCs and for people who want a simple interface.
  • Lubuntu: A very light-weight but still full featured that uses LXDE instead of Unity. This version is usefull for legacy PCs and for people that want a to get the most out of their hardware. Lighter than even Xubuntu.
  • Edubuntu: Distribution designed for educational purposes.
  • Fluxbuntu: Uses the Fluxbox Desktop Environment.
  • Studio: Distribution designed for multimedia production.
Linux Mint (above) is a remastered version of Ubuntu
Baltix
Very popular in Baltic countries Ubuntu based Linux distribution.
Optimized for Baltic sea region users.
Xandros
Commercial distribution for anyone from businesses, to individuals.
Easy to install, and use.

External linksEdit

Last modified on 12 April 2014, at 06:21