Linux comes in many different guises. The basic system is the same, but the look and feel and the subsystems around it are different. Each version is produced by a different organisation with it's own ethos and aims. The result is a unique version of Linux (-known as a Distro in Linux speak) which is aimed at a slightly different set of users.
Here is a brief taster of a few of the available flavours of Linux currently available:
|Linux Distro||Ethos / Aims |
Currently the most popular distro, Canonical's user friendly slick desktop GUI driven Linux, based on the Debian core. Ubuntu's philosophy is to hide the complexity of the underlying O/S from the user and to provide maximum reliability. The most user-friendly version for Linux newbies
Unusually, Canonical provides a free server version of Ubuntu for non- commercial use
Click here to read an introduction to Ubuntu
The next most popular distro is Red Hat's free distro that includes a powerful desktop GUI based on Gnome 3 but there are also various spins of it that use different desktops - such as KDE instead. It is often amongst the first to include new technology and is strong on security.
It is based on - and often used as a testbed for - Red Hat's commercial Linux server distro (RHEL).
Generally, Fedora requires a little more tinkering than Ubuntu or Mint, with the user having to resort to the command line more frequently, but is more reliable and ideally suited to the slightly more adventurous user
Click here to read an introduction to Fedora
Currently in third place is another user friendly version of Linux, based on an Ubuntu core and sometimes described as "an improved Ubuntu".
Mint adds various tools on top of the standard Ubuntu offerings - and comes with more applications pre-installed, so it is ready to use out of the box. It has a full-featured desktop GUI, reminiscent of Ubuntu 10.x
Once again, well suited to Linux newbies
Click here to read an introduction to Linux Mint
http://puppylinux.org/main/Overview and Getting Started.htm
Small footprint (100Mb once installed) Linux, suitable for old hardware or low specification machines. Can run easily from a USB memory stick or Live CD/DVD.
Includes a full desktop GUI, browser, general purpose tools and minimal applications. Great for old / low specification hardware
Click here to read an introduction to Puppy
Very small footprint (10Mb once installed) Linux, suitable for old hardware or low specification machines / embedded devices.
It ships with a minimal desktop GUI (-although you can get a 7Mb version without it, known as MicroCore) but no applications: the user is left to install what they require. Ideal for ancient hardware or occasional use
Click here to read an introduction to TinyCore
A rival to Mint, MEPIS aims to have everything you need straight out of the box.
There are two versions: the full version is known as SimplyMEPIS but there is also a version called AntiX, which is suitable for old hardware or low specification machines. Both can run from a hard drive or direct from a Live CD/DVD.
SimplyMEPIS includes a full KDE desktop GUI, browser, general purpose tools and general applications
Click here to read an introduction to MEPIS
Zorin OS is another Linux distro based on Ubuntu binaries. It's (Unique Selling Point) is easing the move from Windows to Linux.
Zorin adds various tools to the standard Ubuntu ones to aid this transition. These include a Look Changer - which emulates the desktop layout of various Windows releases - and emulation software - allowing you to run your existing software on Linux. It comes with a full-set of applications pre-installed, so it is ready to use out of the box.
Once again, well suited to Linux newbies, especially those coming from a Windows background
Click here to read an introduction to Zorin OS