Linux Distribution Chart
For this LJ distro chart, we selected distributions and categories based on suggestions from Linux Journal editors and readers, and gathered the information from each distro's Web site and DistroWatch.com. Linux Journal readers shared their comments, favorite distributions and thoughts about each distro's best use in our readers' poll on LinuxJournal.com. We include a few readers' comments here with the chart, but be sure to visit www.linuxjournal.com/content/what-each-distribution-best and www.linuxjournal.com/content/which-linux-distribution-do-you-use-most-frequently-0 for many, many more comments and to add your own feedback—we're sure we left out at least a few people's favorites! Note that under the “Best for” category on the chart, all distributions were voted as favorites on both desktops and servers, so in the interest of avoiding repetition, we left those out. Also note that in the on-line readers' poll for “Most Frequently Used Distro”, 2% voted for “other”.
|Distribution||Latest Stable Release (Date)||First Release||Release Cycle||Support Lifecycle||Based on||Developed by||Sponsored by||Package Format||Package Management||Default Desktop Environment(s) (Version)||Linux Kernel||Default Filesystem||Official Ports||Derivative Distributions||Most Frequently Used (Readers' Poll)||Best For (Readers' Poll)|
|Arch Linux||2009.08 (08/10/2009)||03/11/2002||3–4 months (follows kernel releases)||None (rolling releases)||None||Aaron Griffin & Community||None||tar.gz||Arch Build System, Packman||None (user selected||188.8.131.52||None (user selected||x86, x86-64||None||7%||Ease of upgrade, education, older hardware|
|CentOS||5.4 (10/21/2009)||12/2003||2 years (follows Red Hat Enterprise Linux)||7 years||Red Hat Enterprise Linux (open-source SRPMs)||CentOS Project||None||rpm||RPM, YUM, up2date||GNOME (2.16)||2.6.18||ext3||x86, x86-64||None||2%||Ease of installation, proprietary hardware support, security|
|Debian||5.0 “Lenny” (02/14/2009)||08/16/2003||2 years (beginning with 6.0 “Squeeze”)||3 years||None||Debian Project||None||deb||dpkg, APT, Synaptic||GNOME (2.22), alternate CDs: KDE, Xfce, LXDE||2.6.26||ext3||x86, Alpha, SPARC, PowerPC, SPARC, PowerPC, ARM, MIPS, Itanium, HP PA-RISC, s/390, AMD64, ARM EABI||Ubuntu, Knoppix, Damn Small Linux, Linspire, Maemo||9%||Ease of upgrade, getting support, security|
|Fedora||12 “Constantine” (11/17/2009)||11/05/2003||6 months (approximate)||13 months (approximate)||Historically: Red Hat Linux||Fedora Project||Red Hat||rpm||RPM, YUM, PackageKit||GNOME (2.28), Fedora Spins: KDE, LXDE, Xfce||184.108.40.206||ext4||x86, x86-64, PowerPC||Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Yellow Dog Linux, Moblin||9%||Ease of installation, new users, security|
|Gentoo||None (versionless)||03/31/2002||Rolling releases||None (rolling releases)||None||Gentoo Foundation||None||ebuild||Portage||None (user selected)||2.6.32||None (user selected)||Stable: x86, x86-64, PA-RISC, PowerPC, SPARC 64 bit, DEC Alpha; Development: MIPS, PS3, SystemZ/s390, ARM, SuperH||Sabayon||4%||Education, older hardware, real-time apps|
|Linux Mint||8 “Helena” (11/28/2009)||08/27/2006||6 months (follows Ubuntu)||18 months (follows Ubuntu)||Ubuntu||Linux Mint Team||None||deb||dpkg, APT, MintInstall/MintUpdate||GNOME (2.28); Community: KDE, Xfce, Fluxbox||2.6.31||ext3||x86, x86-64||None||7%||Ease of installation, multimedia, new users|
|Mandriva||2010 (11/03/2009)||07/23/1998||6 months||18 months (base updates); 12 months (desktop updates); 24 months (server updates)||Historically: Red Hat Linux||Mandriva S.A.||Mandriva S.A.||rpm||urpmi/rpmdrake||KDE (4.3.2), GNOME (2.28.1), Xfce & twm||220.127.116.11||ext4||i586, i386, x86-64, PowerPC, MIPS, ARM||PCLinuxOS||6%||Ease of installation, education, new users|
|Mepis||8.0.15 (01/12/2010)||05/10/2003||Unspecified (6 months to 1 year)||Unspecified||Debian/Ubuntu||MEPIS LLC||MEPIS LLC & Community||deb||dpkg, APT||KDE (3.5)||18.104.22.168||ReiserFS, ext3||x86, x86-64||SimplyMEPIS, antiX||2%||Ease of installation, new users, olderhardware|
|openSUSE||11.2 (11/12/2009)||03/1994||8 months||2 releases + 2 months||Historically: SUSE Linux||openSUSE Project||Novell||rpm||RPM, YaST, Zypper||GNOME (2.28), KDE (4.3.1)||2.6.31||ext4||x86, x86-64||SUSE Linux Enterprise||11% (with SUSE Linux Enterprise)||Ease of installation, new users, proprietary hardware support|
|PCLinuxOS||2009.2 (06/30/2009)||11/2003||Unspecified||Unspecified||Historically: Mandriva||PCLinuxOS Development Team||None||rpm||APT-RPM, RPM, Synaptic||KDE (3.5.10)||2.6.16||None||x86||None||4%||Ease of installation, multimedia, new users|
|Puppy Linux||4.3.1 (10/17/2009)||06/18/2003||Unspecified||Unspecified||None||Puppy Community||Puppy Foundation||.pup, .pet||PetGet||JWM/IceWM||22.214.171.124||SquashFS (ext2)||None||None||1%||Ease of installation, new users, older hardware|
|Red Hat Enterprise Linux||5.4 (09/02/2009)||03/26/2002||18–24 months||7 years||Fedora||Red Hat||Red Hat||rpm||RPM, YUM||GNOME (2.16)||2.6.18||ext3||IA-32, x86-64, PowerPC, i386, ia64, s390, s390x||CentOS||1%||Getting support, proprietary hardware support, security|
|Slackware||13.0 (08/26/2009)||07/16/1993||Unspecified||N/A||Historically: Softlanding Linux System||Patrick Volkerding & Community||Slackware Linux, Inc.||txz/tgz (tarball)||installpkg/upgradepkg (pkgtool)||Blackbox, Fluxbox, FVWM, KDE (4.2.14), WMaker, Xfce; Community: GNOME||126.96.36.199||ext4||x86, x86-64, IBM S/39||Slam64, SLAX, VectorLinux||4%||Education, older hardware, security|
|SUSE Linux Enterprise||11 (03/24/2009)||03/1994||Major: 24–36 months; Service Packs: 9–12 months||5–7 years||openSUSE||Novell||Novell||rpm||YaST, Zypper||KDE (4.1), GNOME (2.24)||188.8.131.52||ext3, JFS, ReiserFS||XFSIA-32, x86-64, PowerPC, Itanium||None||11% (with openSUSE)||Getting support, proprietary hardware support, security|
|Ubuntu||9.10 “Karmic Koala” (10/29/09); long-term support “Hardy Heron” (04/24/2008)||10/20/2004||Biannually (April/October)||18 months; long-term support: 3 years for desktop, 5 years for server||Debian||Ubuntu Community||Canonical||deb||dpkg, APT, Synaptic, Ubuntu Software Center||GNOME (2.28)||2.6.31; long-term support: 2.6.24||ext4; long-term support: ext3||x86, x86-64, ARM, SPARC||Kubuntu (KDE), Edubuntu, Xubuntu (Xfce), Ubuntu Studio, Linux Mint, Crunchbang, Ubuntu Netbook Edition||31% (any flavor)||Ease of installation, getting support, new users|
|Yellow Dog||6.2 (06/29/2009)||1999||Unspecified||Whichever is longer—1 year from launch or 3 months from new version||RHEL, CentOS||Fixstars Solutions||Fixstars Solutions||rpm||YUM||Enlightenment, GNOME (2.16.0), KDE (3.5.4)||2.6.29||ext3, JFS, ReiserFS||XFSPower||None||0%||Gaming, older hardware, proprietary hardware support|
Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.
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