A Brief Overview of Linux Distributions

To know more about Linux and how to pick a distribution to use, see "What is Linux? And is it for me?"

1. Urls to Linux Distribution Info

2. Some Major (Well-Known) Distributions
    (Alphabetical Order)

  • Debian (http://www.debian.org/)

    Debian was created to provide a 100% free distribution, under the guidelines of the Free Software Foundation's GNU project, and only accepts as part of the distribution software that follows the "GPL", "BSD" or "Artistic" licenses. This distribution is growing rapidly in it's popularity, and has a well-earned reputation for insistence on rock-solid stability, rather than being bleeding edge.

  • Fedora (by RedHat) (http://www.redhat.com/fedora/)

    Produced by the folks at RedHat, Fedora is officially called "a Red Hat sponsored and community-supported open source project." In reality, it is more of a beta distribution, used to test new ideas and technology, which when successful, are then folded back into the official RedHat distribution. Although it can be a great distribution on the workstation (with adequate technical support, that is), its rapid changes cause a high level of instability, making it a poor choice as a production-level server OS.

  • Mandrake (http://www.mandrakelinux.com/)

    An enhancement of the Red Hat distribution, Mandrake is designed to be easy to use for beginners, and easily configurable for experts. Although it lives up to its design, its past bankruptcy and its service record raises questions about its use. In February 2003, one of our members ordered the book and CD directly from Mandrake, and never recieved it. So, in spite of its quality, regard this one as a "caveat emptor". ;-)

  • Red Hat (http://www.redhat.com/)

    Probably the most widely-known distribution, Red Hat was one of the first aimed at the general commercial user. Although it has lost some "appeal factor" as of late, it is still remains the most widely supported Linux distribution by vendors and open source software creators, and is still known as "the" commercial Linux distribution.

  • SCO Linux (formerly Caldera Open Linux)

    Since about January of 2003, SCO has been begun acting against Linux, making claims of violations of SCO's Unix intellectual property rights.

    Prior to then, SCO sent SYRLUG copies of it's United Linux CDs, and contacted us via e-mail regarding our group's contact information and status. We replied in January 2003 asking for details regarding SCO's actions concerning intellectual property rights violators. Four months passed with no response, so we've posted the messages for your review: http://syrlug.org/about/sco-query-msgs.txt

    If you would like to contact SCO personally, here is the contact info they sent SYRLUG when inquiring about our User Group for their records:

    Adrienne Lee
    Public Relations
    The SCO Group
    (801) 932-5709

    Due to SCO's recent actions, and its claims that Linux is in violation of its Unix intellectual property rights (see these links), we can only recommend that no-one use ANY version of Caldera or SCO Linux, nor conduct business with SCO, its subsidiaries, and its parent companies, until the matter has been resolved.

  • Slackware (http://www.slackware.com/)

    Slackware's design goal is to be "the most Unix-like distribution available". Originally the most widely-used Linux distribution back when Linux was considered a "hacker's playground", it lost its popularity when commercial distributions started appearing, most especially when Red Hat made its debut. It has made a comeback, but is still often considered a hacker's distro. It is ideal for the accomplished SysAdmin who prefers a minimalist install footprint from which to build a "roll-your-own" platform using source code.

  • S.u.S.E. (http://www.suse.com/)

    Originally a Slackware-based distribution for German users, SuSE has become a solid commercial distribution that is growing considerably in U.S. popularity, especially since it is now owned by Novell. Actively working on making Linux for the desktop a commercially viable reality in addition to being a server platform, Novell has integrated SuSE into its own product line, superseding its original NOS.

Copyright © 1999-2005 by James R. Williams Zavada. All Rights Reserved.

Site Contents