Top 10 Linux Distributions 2012
1. Linux Mint
The very popular Linux distribution, Mint, has a new version Linux Mint 13, Maya, and a new take on the GNOME 3.x desktop interface: Cinnamon 1.4. The result is, in my opinion, the best Linux desktop for experienced users to date. Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distribution whose goal is to provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including browser plugins, media codecs, support for DVD playback, Java and other components. It also adds a custom desktop and menus, several unique configuration tools, and a web-based package installation interface. Linux Mint is compatible with Ubuntu software repositories.
Ubuntu is a complete desktop Linux operating system, freely available with both community and professional support. The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit. “Ubuntu” is an ancient African word, meaning “humanity to others”.
Fedora is the free version of Red Hat, who’s RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) has been a commercial product since 2003. Because of that close connection, Fedora is particularly strong on enterprise features, and it often offers them before RHEL does. Fedora also offers a six-month release schedule, and its security features are excellent. While some have viewed it as a cutting-edge distro for the Linux “hobbyist,” I think improvements over the years and widespread popularity have combined to make it a good choice for newer Linux users as well.
The Debian Project is an association of individuals who have made common cause to create a free operating system. This operating system is called Debian GNU/Linux, or simply Debian for short. Debian systems currently use the Linux kernel. Linux is a completely free piece of software started by Linus Torvalds and supported by thousands of programmers worldwide. Of course, the thing that people want is application software: programs to help them get what they want to do, from editing documents to running a business to playing games to writing more software.
5. Arch Linux
Arch Linux is an independently developed, i686- and x86_64-optimised Linux distribution targeted at competent Linux users. It uses ‘pacman’, its home-grown package manager, to provide updates to the latest software applications with full dependency tracking. Operating on a rolling release system, Arch can be installed from a CD image or via an FTP server. The default install provides a solid base that enables users to create a custom installation. In addition, the Arch Build System (ABS) provides a way to easily build new packages, modify the configuration of stock packages, and share these packages with other users via the Arch Linux user repository.
The openSUSE project is a community program sponsored by Novell. Promoting the use of Linux everywhere, this program provides free, easy access to openSUSE, a complete Linux distribution. The openSUSE project has three main goals: make openSUSE the easiest Linux for anyone to obtain and the most widely used Linux distribution; leverage open source collaboration to make openSUSE the world’s most usable Linux distribution and desktop environment for new and experienced Linux users; dramatically simplify and open the development and packaging processes to make openSUSE the platform of choice for Linux developers and software vendors.
Rather than GNOME, PCLinuxOS uses the KDE desktop environment and is essentially a lighter-weight version of Mandriva. With good support for graphics drivers, browser plugins and media codecs, PCLinuxOS can be a good choice for beginners. Its release cycle can be erratic, though, and there is also no 64-bit version of the software.
CentOS as a group is a community of open source contributors and users. Typical CentOS users are organizations and individuals that do not need strong commercial support in order to achieve successful operation. CentOS is 100% compatible rebuild of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux, in full compliance with Red Hat’s redistribution requirements. CentOS is for people who need enterprise class operating system stability without the cost of certification and support.
Mageia is a fork of Mandriva Linux formed in September 2010 by former employees and contributors to the popular French Linux distribution. Unlike Mandriva, which is a commercial entity, the Mageia project is a community project and a non-profit organization whose goal is to develop a free Linux-based operating system.
10. Slackware Linux
Slackware Linux is extremely technical and clean distribution with only a very limited number of custom utilities. It uses a simple text-based system installer and primitive package management system that doesn’t resolve software dependencies. Slackware is to be considered as one of the cleanest and less buggy Linux distribution today.