Top 10 Distributions
Leading distributions have usually been around for a while and are well-established. They will support several architectures from low-end x86 versions to high-end versions for IBM mainframes and the latest 64-bit technology. Some come from companies that supply service and support contracts for their products, others are community projects. Leading distributions usually support many languages.
The Debian Project is one of the oldest distributions and is currently the largest volunteer based distribution provider. The distribution supports many languages and hardware platforms, for example the lenny release supports i386, amd64, powerpc, alpha, arm, arm64, hppa, ia64, mips/mipsel, sparc and s390. The old stable version 4.0 (etch) was released April 8, 2007 – now at revision 8 released April 8, 2009. The current stable version 5.0 (lenny) was released February 14, 2009 – the third revision, v5.0.3 was released September 5, 2009. Debian users who want a more current desktop distribution are encouraged to use the testing branch, which is where the next stable release (currently codenamed Squeeze) is prepared and which should normally be quite stable. Debian Developers and users who want to live on the bleeding edge can run the unstable branch (Sid) or even try packages from experimental.
The Fedora Project is Red Hat’s community distribution. It is intended to be a fast-paced distribution for those that like to stay on the leading edge of technology. It is also a test-bed for Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux products. The Fedora contains all the packages necessary to run a functional desktop or small server. The first Fedora Core release was dated November 5, 2003. Fedora strives for a new release every 6 months and releases will be supported for 13 months. Still supported: Fedora 10, released November 25, 2008 and Fedora 11, released June 9, 2009. Fedora 12 Beta was released October 20, 2009.
Gentoo Linux is a source-based distribution that can be optimized and customized for just about any application or need. Gentoo offers extreme performance, configurability and a top-notch user and developer community. Users keep their systems up-to-date using Portage, which is based on BSD Ports. Gentoo is a meta-distribution with a large number of packages available (nearly 11,000 as of April 2006). Gentoo Linux 2005.1 is currently available for Alpha, AMD64, PPC, PPC64, SPARC, X86, IA64 and SPARC32. Gentoo Linux 2006.0 was released February 27, 2006. Gentoo Linux 2006.1 was released August 30, 2006. Gentoo Linux 2007.0 was released May 7, 2007. Gentoo Linux 2008.0 was released July 6, 2008. Gentoo 2008.0-r1 fixes some live CD issues. Sets of weekly stage3 tarballs and minimal CDs were released December 20, 2008. Gentoo Ten LiveDVD 10.1 was released October 10, 2009.
Mandriva is a new name for two popular distribution companies resulting from the merger of the French company Mandrakesoft and the Brazilian company Conectiva. Mandriva has also acquired Lycoris assets and hired Lycoris founder and CEO, Joesph Cheek on June 15, 2005. Mandriva Linux 2006.0 merged technology from MandrakeSoft, Conectiva and Lycoris. This version became generally available on October 13, 2005 and reached an end of support on April 13, 2007. Mandriva Linux One is a combined live and install CD, first released in March 2006. The Mandriva Corporate Server 4.0 was released September 19, 2006. Mandriva Corporate Desktop 4.0 was released June 21, 2007. Mandriva Linux 2008 was released October 9, 2007. ML 2008.1 was released April 9, 2008. ML 2008.1 Xfce edition was released May 1, 2008. Mandriva Linux 2009 was released October 9, 2008. XFCE One 2009.0 was released November 20, 2008. Mandriva Linux 2009.1 was released April 29, 2009. Mandriva Linux 2010 RC2 was released October 10, 2009.
Red Hat Enterprise
Red Hat, Inc. provides one of the the best known distributions in the world. In 2003 the company announced its decision to drop its popular Red Hat Linux in order to concentrate on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux line. The Fedora Project (see above) has replaced the Red Hat Linux line for the home user or small business. Red Hat Linux 9 was released April 7, 2003, and official Red Hat support ended on May 1, 2004. Red Hat Enterprise Linux comes with service and support contracts for those Red Hat customers who require a stable, supported system. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 was released October 22, 2003. The seventh update for RHEL 3 was released March 15, 2006. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (Nahant) was released February 15, 2005. RHEL 4.8 was released May 19, 2009. RHEL 5 was released March 14, 2007. Version 5.3 was released January 20, 2009. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 was released September 2, 2009.
The Slackware project is headed by Patrick J. Volkerding, with a cast of volunteers and a loyal following. It is the oldest active Linux distribution with the first release dated July 16, 1993. For a very long time the official Slackware project only supported x86 platforms, however others have made ports to other platforms. In 2009 the x86_64 port and the ARM port were offically accepted into Slackware. Slackware 12.2 was released December 11, 2008. Slackware 13.0 was released August 28, 2009.
Nuremberg based SuSE Linux AG is one of the older Linux distributions. It became the the European UnitedLinux partner, and supplied much of the code base for UnitedLinux and for Sun’s Java Desktop System (both now unsupported). SuSE was later acquired by US company Novell (finalized January 12, 2004). SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) supports x86, x86-64, IPF (ia64), POWER (32 & 64bit, ppc & ppc64) and Mainframes (32 & 64bit, s390 & s390x). OpenSUSE is the community distribution beginning with SUSE Linux 10.0, released October 6, 2005. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) are available for enterprise customers. SLES/SLED 10 became generally available July 17, 2006, now at Service Pack 2, released May 21, 2008. openSUSE 10.3 was released October 4, 2007. The 10.3 Live edition is also available. SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time 10 was released November 27, 2007. openSUSE 11.0 was released June 19, 2008. openSUSE 11.1 was released December 18, 2008. SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 (SLES/SLED/JeOS) was released February 28, 2009, generally available March 24, 2009. openSUSE 11.1 KDE4 remix, released September 10, 2009, comes with KDE 4.3.1 and all online updates. openSUSE 11.2 RC1 was released October 15, 2009.
Kubuntu, Edubuntu, Xubuntu, Mythbuntu, Ubuntu Studio
Ubuntu and its close cousins are freely available distributions, supported by Canonical Ltd. Ubuntu takes a snapshot of Debian unstable and then creates a small fork, recompiling and stabilizing the code to get a final stable release. It usually takes 6 months between the snapshot and the release. Ubuntu comes with the GNOME desktop, Kubuntu with the KDE desktop, Xubuntu features XFCE and Edubuntu comes with educational packages. Mythbuntu integrates the MythTV package. Ubuntu Studio integrates packages for multimedia creation. The first Ubuntu release (4.10 Preview released September 15, 2004) supported Intel x86 (IBM-compatible PC), AMD64 (Hammer) and PowerPC (Apple iBook and Powerbook, G4 and G5) architectures. SPARC64 support was added for v6.06 LTS. Supported versions: 6.06 LTS Server “Dapper Drake”, 8.04 LTS “Hardy Heron”, 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” and 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope”. V6.06.2 LTS (the second maintenance release) was made available January 21, 2008. “Hardy Heron” aka v8.04 LTS was released April 24, 2008, available in desktop and server editions. Ubuntu 8.04.3 LTS was released July 16, 2009. Kubuntu 8.04 is available with KDE 3 or KDE 4. Kubuntu 8.04.2 was released February 21, 2009. Other available 8.04 variants include Xubuntu, UbuntuStudio and Mythbuntu. Ubuntu 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” was released October 30, 2008. Jaunty Jackalope (9.04) was released April 23, 2009. Additional Jaunty varients include Netbook Remix, MID and ARM. Currently in development: Karmic Koala (9.10) Beta was released October 1, 2009.
Arch Linux is an i686-optimized Linux distribution. It is lightweight and contains the latest stable versions of software. Packages are in .tar.gz format and are tracked by a package manager that is designed to allow easy package upgrades. Arch is designed to be streamlined while allowing for a customized configuration, with newer features such as reiserfs/ext3 and devfs. Arch uses the internally developed Pacman package manager. The inital version, 0.1, was released March 11, 2002. x86_64 support was added in April 2006. Arch Linux 2009.08 was released August 9, 2009.
http://dreamlinux.com.brDreamlinux aims to be a light, modern and functional free OS that runs as a live CD or installed to a hard drive. Dreamlinux Works edition includes plenty of desktop applications and the XGL Edition provides additional eye candy for people with Nvidia cards. It comes with the XFCE desktop environment. The MkDistro tool is included to help people create their own specialized distribution. Dreamlinux Works Edition 2.1 was released September 19, 2006. Dreamlinux 2.2 is the current release. Dreamlinux 2.2 Multimedia GL Edition, with BERYL-AIGLX, was released June 29, 2007. Dreamlinux 3.1 was released April 5, 2008. Dreamlinux 3.5 was released February 28, 2009. Dreamlinux 4.0 – XFCE 4.6 – ALPHA was released October 9, 2009.