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Linux back in August of 1991, the operating system basically consisted of his kernel and some GNU tools. A Linux Distribution is a version of a Unix-like operating system comprising the Linux kernel and other assorted free software/open-source software, and possibly proprietary software.

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Linux back in August of 1991, the operating system basically consisted of his kernel and some GNU tools

A Linux Distribution is a version of a Unix-like operating system comprising the Linux kernel and other assorted free software/open-source software, and possibly proprietary software.

Commercially backed distributions such as Red Hat, Ubuntu (backed by Canonical Ltd), SUSE (backed by Novell), Slackware, Fedora and Mandriva, and community projects such as Debian and Gentoo assemble and test the software before releasing their distribution. There are currently over three hundred Linux distribution projects in active development, revising and improving their respective distributions.

MCC Interim Linux, which was made available to the public for download onthe ftp server of University of Manchester in February, 1992;

TAMU, created by individuals at Texas A&M University about the same time, and

SLS (Softlanding Linux System).

None of these distributions were well-maintained, so Patrick Volkerding released a distribution based on SLS, which he called Slackware; this is the oldest distribution still in active development.



A typical Linux distribution comprises

a Linux kernel,

GNU tools and libraries,

additional software,


a window system,

window manager,

and a desktop environment.

Most of the included software is free software/open-source software which is distributed by its maintainers both as pre-compiled binaries and in source code form, allowing users to modify and compile the original source code if they wish. Other software included with some distributions may be proprietary and may not be available in source code form.


Package Management

A package management system is a collection of tools to automate the process of installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing software packages from a computer. The term is most commonly used with regards to Unix-like systems, particularly Linux, as these systems rely heavily on it, with thousands of discrete packages on a typical installation being common.

Package management systems are charged with the task of organising all of the packages installed on a system and maintaining their usability. These systems meet these goals using various combinations of the following techniques:

Verification of file checksums to help prevent differences between the local and official versions of a package;

Checking of digital signatures

Simple installation, upgrade, and removal facilities;

Dependency tracking to deliver working software from a package;

Update checking to provide the latest version of software, which often includes bug fixes and security updates;

Grouping of packages by function to help eliminate user confusion when installing or maintaining them.


Linux Distributions

Fedora Core










Yellowdog Linux






Foresight Linux


Choosing a Linux Distributions

My computer is: Older / Newer

I want my distro to be: Easy / Technical, so I can learn a lot / Either or

I like my installation to be: Graphical With all the pretty colors / Console based and fast / Off of a LiveCD, so I can browse the web while I install / Doesn't matter to me

I want: Everything installed for me / Just a base system, I'll do the rest on my own thank you

I want my hardware to be: Automatically Detected / I'll use which modules I want

For default packages I want: Many choices for one application / Just one please

When it comes to my distro being a live CD(runnable without installing it): It must function as a livecd / It doesn't matter

I would like my distro to be: Cutting edge and full of features / Lightweight and fast

For my packages I want them to be: In binary form ready to run / In source form, customisable/optimisable to my pleasing

Dependancy checking is: A must / Not necessary / I don't know what this is

I want my windowing enviroment to be: Similar to Windows / Similar to Macintosh / Similar to Windows or Macintosh / Different from Windows or Macintosh / As long as I have one I'm happy


Debian-based free distributions


Amber Linux

Bonzai Linux















Loco Linux







Symphony OS


Zen Linux


Gentoo-based free distributions


A distribution for EPIA based systems


A distro that aims to be bleeding edge

Flash Linux

Linux distribution that can fit onto a 256mb USB pen drive


A distribution intended for enthusiasts and professionals with its own package management system called Portage. Gentoo focuses on the compilation of source code rather than the distribution of binary packages, which is expected to make applications to run faster.


An adaptation of Gentoo linux for the xbox.


Gentoo-based Linux distribution which aims at easy installation of a Gentoo system by using install scripts instead of manual configuration. This one gained attention early in March 2006, when it was the first available live CD with enabled Xgl abilities.


New kid in the block. Aimed purely at USB sticks. (Gentoo based). See track record.


A Gentoo-based distrubution based on the idea of one, unified PC from multiple networked PCs. It uses distcc to dramatically cut down compile times across a network.


Gentoo-based free distributions

Navyn OS

Yet another linux liveCD. Most applications included with Navyn OS have very low resource requirements.


Penetration testing LiveCD distribution based on Gentoo.

RR4/RR64 Linux

RR4 and its 64-bit counterpart RR64 are live DVDs released on March 18th, 2006. They include a wide range of desktop environments and open-source software applications. Just like Knoppix, RR4/RR64 can be installed on the hard drive.


System rescue liveCD based on the Gentoo LiveCD.


A Gentoo-based distribution, made in Argentina.


A Gentoo-based distribution. It is essentially Gentoo (it uses Portage and ebuilds), but uses Anaconda to install.


RPM-based free distributions


A distribution for home use equivalent to Windows XP Home (formerly Peanut Linux).

ALT Linux

A collection of popular Cyrillic-based distributions, such as Master, Compact, Junior, and Castle. APT package management tool.


Security-focused server distribution using tools like runit, urpmi, SSP-enhanced gcc, and more. Originally based on Mandrake 9.2 but has diverged a lot.

Ark Linux

A distribution that is focused on ease of use and ease of learning, while remaining technically sane.


A distribution that provides support for Russian and other Cyrillic languages.


a Linux distribution with emphasis on support for several European languages.

Berry Linux

A medium Fedora Core based distribution that provides support in Japanese and English.

BLAG Linux and GNU

An entire free (as in freedom) distribution intended for the home desktop user designed to provide many features while remaining within the size of one CD.

Caixa Mágica

"The Portuguese distribution of Linux".


RPM-based free distributions

cAos Linux

Diversely managed by the community, general purpose, lightweight (fast and can be suitable for running on older hardware) and easily customizable


Community supported distribution which aims to be 100% compatible with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution without Red Hat branding and various non-free software

Cobind Desktop Conectiva

A Brazilian company merged with Mandriva Linux.


A distribution for educational purposes (cf. Guadalinex, Skolelinux ).

Engarde Secure Linux

EnGarde Secure Linux is a Linux server distribution that is geared toward providing an open source platform that is highly secure by default as well as easy to administer

Fedora Core

A general purpose distro for workstation, desktop and server use. Developed by Red Hat and the community.

Fox Linux

A Fedora Core-based distribution made in Italy, stable and simple to use, designed for basic home computing tasks: browsing the Web, writing and printing documents, using multimedia and burning discs.


RPM-based free distributions

Linux Mobile System

A Fedora Core-based distribution designed to boot from USB Mass Storage devices, such as keydrives.

Magic Linux

An easy-to-use distribution for Chinese users.


The first user-made live CD based on SUSE LINUX, targeted at system rescue and software development.


An easy-to-use LiveCD distribution which can be installed to hard drive. Originally based on Mandrake 9.2 but since pursued its own course of development while remaining an RPM-based distribution. Includes APT package management tool from Debian together with its Synaptic GUI frontend.


A distribution made by the Indian magazine PCQuest, based on Fedora Core.

PLD Linux Distribution

A Polish distribution intended for more advanced users, while remaining more convenient than Slackware or Gentoo.


made in Italy, completely from scratch. The QiLinux staff has developed a desktop and live version as well as a server and advanced server version.

Red Flag Linux

A distribution developed in China and optimised for the Chinese market.


RPM-based free distributions

Scientific Linux

A distribution, solely recompiled from the source distributed under GPL by a commercial Red Hat Enterprise

Linux (in RPM-based distributions).

Sesco Linux

A secure Linux distribution, solely recompiled from the source distributed under GPL by Sesco information

Systems Inc., (in RPM-based distributions).

Tinfoil Hat Linux

A distribution for the security-conscious and paranoid.


A somewhat-hardened distribution focused on security. Contrast SELinux, from NSA, which is a set of kernel modifications, not a distribution, and cannot be used alone, however.

Vine Linux

A Japanese distribution based on Red Hat Linux.

White Box Enterprise Linux

A distribution designed to be 100% binary-compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Yellow Dog

A Red Hat Linux-based distribution for the PowerPC platform.


"Your Operating System", a desktop distribution from New Zealand.


Slackware-based free distributions


business card size (50MB) bootable live CD Linux distribution developed by Latvian programmers


a network security suite developed by It includes many penetration testing utilities and code development tools. <<Back|Track also features a hard disk installer in addition to being a live CD.


a very configurable Linux based on Slack made in Romania. See track record.


general purpose Linux distribution, designed for intermediate users. See track record.

Kate OS

A Slackware based lightweight, Polish language distribution. See track record.

Plamo Linux

A Slackware based Japanese distribution.


The oldest Linux distribution still maintained. Slackware packages are tar/gziped files with the extension .tgz.


A Slackware based small live CD which can also be installed on keydrive. No hard drive install. See track record.


Slackware-based free distributions


Sauver is a "Live CD", so no installation is required. The whole Operating System runs right off any removable media (USB or CD) , putting whatever system files it needs into RAM only.


Designed to run on top of Microsoft Windows. Does not need any partition changes.

Ultima Linux

Customized distro by Martin Ultima.

Vector Linux

Zenwalk Linux (formerly MiniSlack)

A Slackware based optimized distribution featuring XFCE as the default desktop, Gnome libraries, the new reiserfs filesystem, and new kernel.


Special-purpose free distributions

Network Oriented


Basically enables to quickly set up a VOIP server based on Asterisk Open Source PBX.


Router/firewall distribution

Coyote Linux

Router/firewall distribution


firewall/router/server distribution running from CD


small easy to install Internet-server[2]


a single floppy ISDN, DSL and Ethernet-Router


a free replacement for commercial routers supporting up to 10 network cards and up to 10 modems.


Router/firewall distribution. See track record.


Special-purpose free distributions

Network Oriented


Router/firewall distribution


a floppy-based Linux designed to turn an old computer into a simple Network Attached Storage device


CD-based Linux with tools needed for penetrating testing servers and networks with a Fluxbox GUI.


Linux live-CD for information assurance.


Security-Enhanced version of the Linux kernel (i.e., no distro as such) created by the NSA

Sentry Firewall

A firewall, server or intrusion detection system distribution


Router/firewall distribution


Special-purpose free distributions

Network Oriented

The Linux Router Project

Router distribution

Tinfoil Hat Linux

Bootable floppy distribution focusing on extreme security


Security tools distribution


Alternate platforms

Linux started life as an operating system for X86-compatible systems but has expanded to include numerous other computer processors. Various distributions cater to those other computer architectures.

Linux on zSeries: IBM mainframes [4]: Linux/ppc (POWER-based systems, e.g. IBM pSeries, iSeries, and newer Apple Macintosh)

Linux/m68k [5]: Motorola 680x0 series (older Apple Macintosh, NeXT, etc.)

UltraLinux [6]: SPARC and UltraSPARC based systems, e.g. Sun Fire servers.

ACCESS Linux Platform [7]: for Palm devices.