Linux Distributions

Sections

  • What is Linux?
  • Does Linux Have Software?
  • Where Is Linux?
  • Recommended Linux Desktop Distros
  • Recommended Linux Server Distros
  • Commercial Assistance

What is Linux?

Linux (technically called GNU/Linux) is a very mature open operating system and ecosystem that is over 25 years old.   Any person or company is free to use, modify, and add to Linux without the need, in most cases, for licenses on any machine such as a laptop, desktop, server, point of sale machine, ATM, etc.

Since Linux is so open and freely available there are many different looks/layouts and behaviors. These are usually called flavors or distributions (distros for short). You might think of these distros as companies but in reality most are simply small informal teams of one to a few people. In fact any one, including you, is free to create his/her/their own distro.

So how many distros are there? No one has the total number but hundreds for sure. Some are publicly available meaning anyone can download and use them while others are private and reserved for a specific individual(s) or company(ies). However when looking over the landscape of different Linux distros most fall into a few groups or families.

This is because in reality most Linux distributions are really based on another with only minor changes and thus it is more like a few parents with lots of children. As an example there is one family called Debian, which has a child called Ubuntu, which in turn has lots of children based on itself like Ubuntu MATE (pronounced ma-tay).

Linux has the same functionality as proprietary systems like Windows and MacOS (OSX). Linux is able to do everything those two systems can do and much more. Now that doesn’t always mean the exact same software is available for Linux as say on Windows but there are alternatives. In some cases titles like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox work on Windows, Mac, and Linux. In other cases there are alternatives like GIMP in place of Adobe Photoshop.

Does Linux Have Software?

Linux can literally run millions, yes millions, of pieces of software.  Some examples include the ability to edit and create videos, pictures, and word processing documents, hook up scanners, access USB external drives, access flash drives, use printers, use web cameras, access smart phones, it can surf the Internet, create emails, be modified with themes, supports multiple monitors, and the list goes on and on. In fact since Linux is so open it has more support than Windows and Mac because any one is free to do just about anything with their computer.

Where Is Linux?

You are surrounded by Linux!

A partial list of items running Linux:

  • Printers
  • Android devices like smartphones, tablets, and watches
  • More and more ATMs
  • More and more Point of Sale machines
  • Many DVRs
  • Some gaming consoles
  • Most smart devices like the NEST thermostat
  • Smart TVs
  • Roku
  • Cameras, like the GoPro
  • Routers
  • And the list goes on and on

The bottom line is Linux isn’t some back room special operating system. It literally runs on billions and billions of devices which is more than Windows and Mac combined and we haven’t mentioned servers where Linux shines. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Wikipedia, and so many more run Linux for their sites. It depends on which source is referenced but in 2016 many reliable ones put over 80% of all web servers running Linux.

Recommended Linux Desktop/Workstation/Laptop Distros

1) Ubuntu MATE – This is our number one recommended Linux distribution. It offers a very easy to use interface that most Windows users will pick up quickly. Therefore it works well for Linux newbies. Still there are plenty of features and options for advanced users thus it provides a good balance. Also Ubuntu MATE doesn’t have high computer demands meaning it runs great on old hardware and if put on newer hardware it works even better. It is important that while Ubuntu MATE is considered an old look the developers are upgrading the code to keep the system working with the latest Linux features.

2) Lint Mint – While many veteran Linux users aren’t fond of this distro the fact remains this is a very easy to install and use option.  Mint generally just works.  For this reason it is a good choice, especially for those just starting out in the Linux world.

3) Elementary OS – This distro is mainly recommended for former Mac users. It offers a clean and simple desktop experience.

4) Solus – This distro is unique in the Linux world in that the developers are creating a truly unique experience. This is the only distro listed in desktops that isn’t based on something else. As stated most distros are in a family. For example Elementary OS and Ubuntu MATE are based on Ubuntu which is based on Debian. Manjaro and Antergos are based on Arch. Solus is its own unique way of doing Linux. This is both freeing and limited. The team has total freedom which will allow for an exciting new direction. Still on the flip side more work needs to be done because everything is being recoded and tweaked. In the upcoming years Solus will become a true power house.

5) Advanced: If you are looking for advanced Linux desktop options Manjaro and Antergos, which are based on Arch, are highly recommended.  It should be noted that Arch based systems use cutting edge technology and thus can suffer from stability issues.  So these distros are only recommended for advanced users or persons that don’t mind troubleshooting issues.  Arch has the reputation of working today broken tomorrow.

Recommended Linux Server Distros

1) CentOS – This is our number one recommended distro for stability and long term support.  It is considered the free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).  The CentOS team values stability and support over new features. Therefore new features are slow to appear.  However you can rest easy knowing updates will last well over five years in fact ten is now common. This goes far past other Linux offerings.  So the trade off is slow feature growth for extreme stability.

2) Ubuntu Server – This server distro holds the number two spot. It is a very reliable platform that receives five years of ongoing support.  Ubuntu Server adds new features much faster than CentOS and thus it is a really good balance between the latest features and stability.  This distro is highly recommended over CentOS for storage and backup servers due to supporting ZFS.

3) Debian – This holds the third and final Linux server spot. Ubuntu Server is based on Debian therefore there are a lot of similarities. Still Debian and Ubuntu don’t match one hundred percent.  Ubuntu is still recommended over Debian however this distro is still a solid choice.

4) Bonus: FreeBSD – This is the most recommended non Linux server platform. FreeBSD is its own operating system totally separate from Linux. Still FreeBSD offers many advantages such as ZFS which offers the best data protection of any filesystem. While FreeBSD isn’t Linux there are many shared concepts and generally speaking if one has working knowledge of either Linux or FreeBSD then using the other isn’t difficult. FreeBSD is a very robust and strong system and is used by many well known companies like Netflix.

Commercial Assistance

  • Looking for commercial/business Linux assistance (desktops/laptops/servers)? Contact us
  • Looking for residential Linux assistance? Contact EzeeLinux

External Material: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux