Linux is an open source operating system (released free of charge to the general public, allowing anyone to access the source code and contribute to its development). Therefore, several open-source organisations were founded in the last years that developed different distributions of this operating system. This is an operating system that has many advantages over the well-known Windows, including compatibility among physical components from multiple vendors, ease of use and low vulnerability to viruses and cyber attacks. The first Linux Kernel version was released on 5 October 1991 by Linus Torvalds.
A Linux distribution (also known as “distro” for short) is an operatingsystem based onthe Linux kernel. The distributions include a wide range of software: word processors, spreadsheets, media players, Internet browsers, disk utilities, database applications and eventually games. There are currently over six hundred Linux distributions available, from which over a half are still in development, being revised and improved constantly.
Linux distributions have taken a wide variety of forms, from fully featured desktop, server, laptop, netbook, mobile phone, and tablet operating systems to minimal environments (typically for use in embedded systems or for booting from a floppy disk). Beside certain custom software (such as installers and configuration tools), a distribution can be described as a particular collection of applications installed on top of a set of libraries that are specific to a version of the kernel.
We can distinguish two types of distributions: commercially baked (Fedora – developed by Red Hat, openSUSE – developed by SUSE, Ubuntu – developed by Canonical Ltd.) and entirely community-driven distributions (Debian, Slackware, Gentoo).
Flexibility and choice are characteristic to the Linux ecosystem. When talking about Microsoft Windows or MAC OS X, if there are some aspects related to operating system that do not appeal, you can’t do much to change them. However, in the world of the Linux operating system, there is a wide range of distributions you can choose from. Each build has its own components selection, depending on the target audience. Each distro also offers different options for customisation, so the user type you are does not count, because a suitable distro for you certainly exists!
The best-known Linux distribution for home users is Ubuntu (based on Debian). It is named after the Southern African philosophy of ubuntu, which could be translated as “humanity towards others” or “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity” and have been in development for over 8 years. Although it is not suitable forLinux desktop users without experience, this distro presents a few state-of-art features, including the Unity desktop interface. Other features that have to be taken into consideration include: file syncing service (with 5GB free storage space included) and the Ubuntu Software Center, through which you can install/remove applications very easily. The installation process of this distro is very easy, as it can be resumed to a few clicks.
Another Linux distro very suitable for home use is Mageia. It is is a fork of Mandriva Linux that was established in September 2010 by the employees of Mandriva S.A. that had contributed to the popular French Linux distribution. Its first release took place in June 2011. Unlike Ubuntu that primarily uses Gnome, in Mageia, KDE is the main and most used environment.