Linux has been covered in some of the early articles on this site. However, as a quick introduction to our new readers, Linux is an operating system kernel used by the Linux family of Unix-like operating systems. It is one of the most prominent examples of free and open source software.
What all that jargon above means is that, Linux, unlike popular misconceptions, is not an Operating System in itself but rather, is the backbone that powers several operating systems in existence today.
Windows is by far the most popular operating system available to consumers as it comes preinstalled on most new computers. However, there are several alternatives which most people are not aware of.
One of the most compelling features of linux is that, it can run on several platforms, ranging from Laptops to even wristwatches and toasters :). It is also opensource and therefore, in most cases, free of charge to download, install and distribute.
In this article, I will highlight the five most popular Linux Distributions (distros) in the wild today according to my own preference
1. Android: It might come as a surprise to many, but Google Android OS runs on the Linux Kernel, and that makes it a Linux Distribution. Android is arguably the most popular mobile phone operating system today and runs on a wide range of smartphones and tablets from different manufacturers. Not much needs to be said concerning this particular OS as it is now all around us, thanks to its giant patron, Google.
2. Ubuntu: Ubuntu is the most popular Linux Desktop Distribution. Founded by Mark Shuttleworth in 2004, it has grown over the years both in community and quality of the versions. Ubuntu is my personal favourite Linux Distribution. Versions are released in 6month intervals. The desktop is powered by the GNOME Desktop environment (more on that at a later post).
Ubuntu comes preinstalled with most applications needed for productive work. Some of them are: Evolution Email Client, OpenOffice Office Suite, Rhythmbox Media Player, Mozilla Firefox Web Browser, Ubuntu Software Center, etc.
One of the gripes of using ubuntu, especially in this part of the world is the fact that it doesnt come preinstalled with multimedia codecs. Therefore, out of the box, one cannot play any other media format except ogg/vorbis. This is easily rectified by downloading the required codecs once you are online.
3. Fedora: Fedora is another Linux Distribution that is quite popular. It is developed by the RedHat Company which is a popular Linux company. Fedora is reputed to be on the bleeding edge of innovation. This makes their releases sometimes unstable. However, Fedora is still beloved by its users. It might be a little too much to handle for beginners to linux though
4. Linux Mint: Linux mint is the operating system i recommend wholeheartedly to any beginner in linux. Its windows-like Graphic User Environment makes the new convert feel right at home. Every software one could possibly need is included, along with multimedia codecs. Linux Mint, which is built on Ubuntu, and it is an exceptional and user friendly OS.
There are several other Linux distributions, some of which are just “respins” of other OSes with different default applications. However, honorable mention should go to the following
1. Mandriva Linux
2. OpenSuse Linux
4. Debian Linx
5. Arch Linux