April 25, 2019

DistributionWatch: Your Guide to Linux Distributions

Introducing Our Linux Distribution Guide

  • September 27, 2004
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

Linux is an interesting beast. It is not actually owned persay by any one vendor or particular group, though Linus Torvalds does hold ownership over the copyright of the name Linux. Beyond that, 'ownership' rests with the Free and Open Source (FOSS) community and free software users and developers themselves.

In its state of shared community development, Linux distributions continue to evolve alongside the packages that they are comprised of driven by the relentless pace of innovation and continuous improvement. Enterprise users crave rock solid stability and longer development cycles that typically are 18 months in length while bleeding edge 'enthusiasts' demand and receive a significantly faster distribution release cycle.

A Linux distribution as we know it today is essentially a Linux Kernel wrapped in 'distribution' of tools and applications that make for a full operating system. Most of those tools and applications are open source themselves and are in constant state of evolution and improvement. A Linux distribution is essentially a 'snapshot' of the Linux kernel and the included packages at the point when the particular distribution decided to freeze development for a full release.

This list is by no means exhaustive. At present it is intended to provide a 'snapshot' if you will of the some of the more popular mainstream distributions at the time this revision was written. By design, Linux is continually evolving and so will this list, as we update it section by section in the days to come.

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