Linux Distributions

With so many different distributions or 'flavors' of the Linux Operating System it can be difficult to choose which is right for you. Each distribution is unique, having it's own strengths and weaknesses.

In this section we will briefly cover our favorite choices of Linux distributions. These suggestions may help you in choosing the best Linux distribution to meet your objective.

 

Editions

Some Linux distributions are released as different editions. The table shown below indicates Desktop, Server / Enterprise, Live or Netbook / IoT editions for each listing.

Edition Description
Desktop Includes a Desktop environment with graphical interfaces for common software applications. Great for home or business use on personal computer, laptop or a workstation.
Server / Enterprise Typically excludes a Desktop environment by default. Focused more towards multi-user environments, hosted services and network resources.
Live A bootable Operating System runs in memory from a USB stick, CD or DVD. Perfect for system recovery or trying Linux without installing to your hard drive.
Netbook / IoT A light-weight distribution supporting lower end hardware found in Netbooks and IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

 

Debian Linux

Debian

Debian is a Linux distribution that emphasizes free software. It supports most hardware platforms and is considered to be the best for Server installations. Along with a large selection of pre-packaged software, the advanced package management tools allow for easy installation, maintenance and live in place upgrades of the operating system version. Extensive pre-release testing is done to ensure the highest degree of reliability possible, and a publicly accessible bug tracking system provides user feedback. This has made Debian one of the most popular Linux distributions.

  Website: debian.org
Get it: Debian ISO download
License: Open Source (Free)
Editions: Desktop, Server / Enterprise

 

Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is based on Debian and offers both free and paid enterprise support. Each release follows a fixed or Long Term Support (LTS) release cycle that includes a Minimal Edition which has the fewest possible packages installed, a Server Edition which has a standard set of out-of-the-box usability conveniences, and a Desktop Edition which has the default GUI experience preinstalled. Known for a large support community, Ubuntu is very popular among novice users and offers an excellent Linux Desktop experience.

  Website: ubuntu.com
Get it: Ubuntu ISO download
License: Open Source (Free)
Editions: Desktop, Server / Enterprise, Live, Netbook / IoT

 

Linux Mint

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and has various editions to choose from, each featuring a different desktop environment. Emphasis is put on the desktop experience along with out-of-box multimedia support and encourages user feedback for improvements. Releases follow the Ubuntu life-cycle and takes a conservative approach to software updates. Linux Mint is a popular alternative to Ubuntu if you're seeking a Desktop variety.

  Website: linuxmint.com
Get it: Linux Mint ISO download
License: Open Source (Free)
Editions: Desktop

 

Arch Linux

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a popular Linux distribution among enthusiasts and not suggested for the novice user. Installation is a minimal base system, the 'Pacman' package manager attempts to handle dependencies, but there is a lot of configuration by the user to suit their individual needs. Based on a rolling-release model, Arch strives to stay bleeding edge by offering the latest software versions. Development focuses on simplicity, minimalism, and code elegance. Though highly configurable, Arch does not hold your hand.

  Website: archlinux.org
Get it: Arch Linux ISO download
License: Open Source (Free)
Editions: Desktop

 

Fedora Linux

Fedora

Fedora is a Linux distribution sponsored by Red Hat. Fedora is the upstream source of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution. An obvious free alternative to Red Hat Linux, Fedora leans towards enterprise installations.

  Website: getfedora.org
Get it: Fedora ISO download
License: Open Source (Free)
Editions: Desktop

 

CentOS Linux

CentOS

CentOS is an Enterprise-class Linux Distribution derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). CentOS conforms fully with the Red Hat redistribution policy and aims to be 100% binary compatible. (CentOS mainly changes packages to remove Red Hat branding and artwork.) Basically, CentOS is RHEL without the cost of paying for it.

  Website: centos.org
Get it: CentOS ISO download
License: Open Source (Free)
Editions: Server / Enterprise

 

openSUSE

openSUSE

openSUSE, formerly SUSE Linux and SuSE Linux Professional, is a Linux distribution sponsored by SUSE Linux. The focus of its development is creating usable open-source tools for software developers and system administrators, while providing a user-friendly desktop and feature-rich server environment. Two variations are availbe a rolling release named 'Tumbleweed' and fixed release named 'Leap'.

  Website: opensuse.org
Get it: SUSE ISO download
License: Open Source (Free)
Editions: Desktop, Server / Enterprise, Live

 

RHEL

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is a Linux distribution developed by Red Hat and targeted toward the commercial market. All of Red Hat's official support and training, together with the Red Hat Certification Program, focuses on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform. Though a paid product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server subscription is available at no cost for development purposes and there are also Academic Editions of the Desktop and Server variants at discounted pricing.

  Website: redhat.com
Get it: Red Hat ISO download
License: Commercial
Editions: Server / Enterprise

 

Raspbian

Raspbian

Based off Debian, Raspbian is the officially supported operating system for Raspberry Pi. The OS comes pre-installed with plenty of software for education, programming and general use. There are several versions to choose from, all are highly optimized for the Raspberry Pi hardware.

  Website: raspberrypi.org
Get it: Raspbian ISO download
License: Open Source (Free)
Editions: Desktop, IoT