10 Linux Distributions and Their Targeted Users

Do you know from where does the power of Linux comes from? Well Linux is getting richer everyday with the presence of so much distros and every distro possessing a large group of users and developers working voluntarily on the project. Linux distributions come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re aimed at addressing every conceivable need. This article aims at briefing why a certain distro exist, who are the targeted user of the distro, and what special features it has as compared to its’ counterpart.

Read Also : 10 Top Linux Distributions of 2012

1. Debian

Debian is extremely stable, and this makes it ideal for servers. Debian maintains three official and a non-free repository and this has inspired several distributions (e.g., Ubuntu, Kali, etc). Debian is the mother OS of a number of Linux distribution. It has more than 37,500 packages and any other distro that can beat Debian in this regard is Gentoo. Debian uses apt or aptitude to install and update software.

Debian is an operating system certainly not for Newbies but for System Administrators and Advanced users. Debian is available for most of the architecture (Processor) of today.

Download Debian ISO Images: http://www.debian.org/distrib/

Installation of Debian with Screen shots: Debian 7.0 “Wheezy” Installation Guide

Download Debain Linux

Debain Linux

2. Gentoo

Gentoo is an Operating system that contains a large number of packages as Debian do. Gentoo doesn’t comes in pre-compiled form but needed to be compiled every-time for every system. Even Gentoo community finds it difficult to install and use it, however it is considered perfect for learning and to know internal working of a Linux OS. It is always said for GentooIf you learn a Linux distro you learn that distro, if you learn Gentoo you learn Linux”. Gentoo uses portage to install and update software.

Gentoo is an operating System which is for those who already know their way in Linux.

Download and Installation of Gentoo: http://www.gentoo.org/main/en/where.xml

Download Gentoo Linux

Gentoo Linux

3. Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian and is the most popular free operating system. Ubuntu coverage focuses on its use in that market and is popular on server, cloud computing and even some of the mobile devices running Ubuntu Linux. Being a derivative of Debian Gnu Linux most of its processes, look and feel remains same to Debian. It uses apt package management, install and update. It is one of the easiest Distro available today. Ubuntu uses apt based package manager.

Ubuntu is an operating system on which a newbie must have their hands.

Download Ubuntu ISO Images: http://www.ubuntu.com/download

Installation of Ubuntu with Screen shots: Ubuntu 13.04 “Raring Ringtail” Installation Guide

Download Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu Linux

4. Damn Vulnerable Linux

Sure most of you would not be knowing about this distro, still this distro made a place in this article. What’s so important in this?. Damn Vulnerable Linux is exactly what it sounds like. Vulnerable Linux (DVL) is everything a good Linux distribution isn’t. It intentionally is bundled with broken, ill-configured, outdated, and exploitable software that makes it vulnerable to attacks.

It aims to train Linux Admins. And what else could have been better than to hand them a broken distribution to fix? With older/broken versions of Apache, MySQL, PHP, FTP, and SSH, your admins in training will have their hands full.

Damn Vulnerable Linux is a training laboratory.

Download Damn Vulnerable Linux (DVL) ISO Images: DVL_1.5_Infectious_Disease.iso

Download Damn Vulnerable Linux

Damn Vulnerable Linux

5. Red Hat Enterprise Linux

It is the first Linux distro targeted for commercial market. It is release in server versions and for a number of processor architecture including x86 and x86_64. Red Hat trains and certifies system admins through courses RHCSA/RHCE. On global level 80% of total profit comes from support and 20% from training and certification however this is not the case in India.

In India Red Hat earns 80% from certification and training and only 20% from support. Whereas, Fedora is a platform, rather a testing lab where a new product or application is developed, when stable it is bundled with Red Hat and includes support. Red Hat provides very much stable applications but is notorious for packing too old packages in the box and the cost of support is really considerable. However when security is the prime concern, RHEL is a perfect distribution, it uses YUM Package Manager.

Red Hat is the first choice of System administrators with variety of packages and nice support.

Since RHEL is Commercialised, it is not available for free. However you can download the Beta-Release for Educational purpose.

Download RHEL Beta DVD ISO Images: RedHat Enterprise Linux (Beta)

Installation of RHEL 6 with Screen-shots: RHEL 6 Installation Guide

Note: Marc Ewin, who created this distro is believed to name his product as Red Hat, as he lost Red Coloured Hat which seems lovely to him and was presented by his grand-pa on one of his birthday.

Download RedHat Enterprise Linux

RedHat Enterprise Linux

6. CentOS

CentOS is an Enterprise Linux Distro which is rebuild using free sources available in Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This rebuild just removes the trademark logo and a very slight change in Binary packages. Those who want a taste of Red Hat Enterprise Linux without paying a considerable amount of money, they must give CentOS a try. Moreover CentOS seems identical in look and action to its mother RHEL. CentOS uses YUM for Package Management.

Very-stable packages and anyone who want to test the working of server on Desktop must give this OS a try.

Download CentOS 6.4 DVD ISO Images: http://wiki.centos.org/Download

Installation of CentOS 6.4 with Screen shots: CentOS 6.4 Installation Guide

Download CentOS Linux

CentOS Linux

7. Fedora

In Small, Fedora is for those who want to taste bleeding-edge technology and can’t wait for the program to get stable. Actually Fedora is a testing platform of Red Hat and a product is developed and tested here before entering the Enterprise distro. Fedora is a very nice distro, a large user forum and quiet a lot of packages in its repo. Fedora uses same YUM for Package Management.

Download Fedora 18 (Spherical Cow) DVD ISO’s: http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora

Installation of Fedora 18 (Spherical Cow) with Screen shots: Fedora 18 (Spherical Cow) Installation Guide

Download Fedora Linux

Fedora Linux

8. Kali Linux

Kali Linux is a derivative of Debian. Kali is meant for penetration testing. It has been released only a month ago or so. The predecessor of Kali was Backtrack. All the Binary packages meant for Debian could be installed on Kali Linux and from here comes the power of Kali. Moreover the user forum supporting Debian adds strength to Kali. Kali comes with a number of penetration tools be it Wifi or Database or any other tools, build to be used instantly. Kali uses APT for Package Management.

Kali Linux is undoubtedly a penetration tester or an ethical hacker (I won’t talk about Black-Hat-Hacker) OS.

Download Kali Linux DVD ISO’s: Kali Linux 6

Download Kali Linux

Kali Linux

9. Arch Linux

Arch is a rolling release Operating system, where one time installation is sufficient and every time a new version is released distro can be upgraded without the need of fresh install. Pacman is the Package Manager for Arch Linux. Arch Linux comes for X86 processor architecture as well as X86_64 architecture and installer could be run from CD or USB. Arch is build to be kept simple from Developer’s point of view and not users point of view. Arch is super configurable and installable. It is truly a geeky distro which lets you understand every in and out of Linux System.

Download Arch Linux ISO Images: https://www.archlinux.org/download/

Download Arch Linux

Arch Linux

10. OpenSuse

OpenSuse is a Linux distro which is free as far as it is not used for commercial usages and remains for personal usages. True Competitor of OpenSuse is Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It uses Yast for Package Management. Yast make it very easy to use and manage server application. Moreover Yast setup wizard can configure an e-mail, LDAP, file or Web server without any undue fuss or muss. It comes with snapper which makes it possible to roll-back or use older version of file, update and configuration. Thanks to Tumbleweed which makes it possible to implement rolling release, i.e., installed OS could be updated to latest release without any the need of any fresh release.

SUSE is getting more famous among admins because of the availability of Yast and such other application that automates the task of System Administrators and the feature which other distro of same calibre is missing.

Download OpenSuse 12.3 DVD ISO’s: http://software.opensuse.org/123/en

Installation of OpenSuse 12.3 with Screen shots: OpenSuse 12.3 Installation Guide

Download OpenSuse Linux

OpenSuse Linux

It is not the end. There are several hundred of distro, and every distro is unique to other in some manner or the other. It is not possible to mention here all of them hence only 1010 (there are only 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don’t) of them are listed here. Spread the power of Linux. Share and help us Spread.

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90 Responses

  1. Aran says:

    Dear Avishek,

    Thanks for this nice article which lets a newbie to choose a distro according to their needs.
    I am also a newbie and looking for a suitable distro. It’s very confusing to choose a right distro when so many options are available. The reason I need a linux distro is because I want to use my hardware efficiently while running some resource demanding programs/applications (CAE and CFD applications) and also want the system to be stable. Now the thing is I run Windows 8 which doesn’t allow dual boot. The application I intent to run doesn’t run on Win8 (I didn’t check compatibility before buying my laptop), so I installed VMware and installed Win 7. I have assigned 4 cores out of 8 cores of the processor(Intel i7) to run Win 7 on VMware. After tweaking a lot, I found the VMware runs Win 7 best If I assign only 1 GB of RAM out of 8 GB RAM I have got on my system. Now this application runs fine when the resource demand is low, but sometimes crashes when the demand is high. And then I got this idea of turning towards a Linux OS. Other reason I want to switch to a Linux OS is I really wanted to try a Linux OS (curiosity).

    So could you please suggest a proper Linux distro to me keeping in mind my requirements which I restate are: 1) Good performance even when with low hardware specifications. 1) Stability. 3) I prefer to have at least some free resources to learn the distro.

    I have heard that Linux have got steep learning curve, but I am ready to learn a distro. But I would prefer to have a manageable learning curve at the start. [I read somewhere that Gentoo has a steep learning curve, and is like a very beautiful girl who is hard to get to bed. But once you get her to bed, you get enormous pleasure! :D] Maybe I will switch to Gentoo someday to get the enormous pleasure, but as of now, I am ready to learn how to be a “player”. :P

    Thank you very much! :)

    • Avishek Kumar says:

      @ Aran,
      there is nothing called best distro or something like that. If you are not much experienced and a newbie i would suggest you to go with Linux Mint or Ubuntu.
      They are user friendly. Once you get going you will develop attachment with a distro.

    • Antonio says:

      No need to wait. I’ve been using Linux for less than a month and I jumped right into Gentoo. They have very good documentation and an excellent install handbook. There are install help guides on youtube if you get really stuck with your install. I say if Gentoo interest you jump right into it. Dont be shy. If you don’t mind doing some googling searching the wiki and forums using Gentoo can be rewarding. I will say don’t jump into because it will make you some “Linux god”, I use it because it gives you the ultimate control over my computing experience.

  2. dan says:

    “Gentoo doesn’t comes in pre-compiled form but needed to be compiled every-time for every system.”

    This is the most misunderstood myth that keeps getting perpetuated. There is no requirement that the OS be built from source, nor is there a requirement that every package on every system be built from source. The simple fact of the matter is that most packages need to be built from source at least once. If you have 200 servers with similar hardware in a gentoo farm, 1 box can build packages and deploy the binaries to the other 199. The one box acts as a binary repository for others.

    A good example of this is ChromeOS – A Gentoo system that uses a binary repo.

  3. loser says:

    I am a newbie to Linux, but with so much of enthusiasm for Linux and Open-Source and community development softwares.. will you suggest me the best Linux version so that I can make my career in Linux start with a successfull one..

    • Avishek Kumar says:

      Dear loser (i find very inappropriate calling you by this name)

      well let me tell you there is nothing called best distro. All the distribution at its core is same, using the same kernel.

      Since you are a newbie, would have worked on windows before, i would suggest you to go with Either Linux Ubuntu or Linux Mint. They are very much user friendly. Once you get some knowledge and experience of the field you will develop affinity for a distro, as most of us have.

      Best of Luck!

  4. Abhishek Raw says:

    Dear guy’s/Avishek,

    Thanks for the great blog, am familiar with Centos from 5-years and i want to know how to customized my Centos 6.5 Login screen as you shown in your blog.

    Please help me, because i try lot’s of time to do this but not success.

    You can also mail me.

    Thanks.

  5. A Little Rant says:

    [Rant]

    Where’s Android? Oh, wait a minute… Those GNU/Linux distro users who frequent the sites that run articles on distro comparisons do not seem to consider it an actual, proper Linux distribution in the real sense of the word despite what the Linux foundation has stated on the matter, and what the de facto user share of the OS is. The sole exception is, of course, everything that has to do with the total OS market share. In these cases, Android would, of course, be regarded as a proper Linux distribution among Linux advocates… See?

    This phenomenon could be framed as a dilemma – how can you be, on the one hand, proud of the fact that Android is likely to be the most popular OS in the world, and on the other hand dismissive of the actual substantive content of the OS?

    Naturally, I have observed the same phenomenon many times before amongst those who could be described as “Linux zealots”. In desktop environments Android seems to be a hitherto rather dismissed OS amongst hardcore GNU/Linux distro users as it appears to be regarded as a simple OS that is aimed for consumption, not production.

    [/Rant]

    Naturally, I took a risk by unleashing this tirade against the behavior of certain Linux loons but before you guys attack me or side with me, I would like to let you know that this rant really was about “Linux zealots”, not your average Linux users… As far as I have understood, most users do not care particularly much about distro wars and what OS is en vogue at any particular moment. However, I have browsed through perfectly normal non-tech forums and almost every time I have read posts in threads where people talk about operating systems, the comments that are praising Linux and insulting Windows appear to be heavily overrepresented if the total market share of these operating systems is taken into account. Compared to Windows users, Linux advocates seem to be far louder and more active in spreading their propaganda and popularizing their GNU/Linux distributions. However, the fact that many Linux evangelists seem to have adopted an attitude of contempt toward Microsoft is understandable when we consider certain anti-GNU/Linux/FOSS measures that have been taken by Microsoft. Some of these measures have been well documented. For example, the infamous Halloween Documents (see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_Documents) reveal some of the methods that MS was using in the 90’s…

  6. Hostivate says:

    Very useful article. Thank you.
    I was always wondering why Linux supporters seems to be fighting each other.
    If some distros were united, they would have made a lot more beatiful and advanced OS.
    Just my thoughts.

  7. haffiz says:

    from which version of ubuntu this screen shot is taken?

  8. kmashraf says:

    “Realm of the article”! Get to know your English!! You have mentioned Damn Vulnerable Linux but not Linux Mint? It is the no. 1 distro these days fullistop Look it up, you know where?

  9. Rocketman says:

    I would tell any new user to download a few distros and try the interfaces first (desktop environments).

    Ease of install has to go to Ubuntu. It has the Unity interface.

    Another rock solid performer that can be dowloaded in a variety of flavors and is fast and stable is ANY of the Linux Mint varieties. You can try virtually every GUI on the market in a tweaked form.

    For Gentoo I like Sabayon. It’s basically the new Mint for Gentoo users.

    There are plenty of other very good distros on the market… Debian, Arch, Mageia, etc.

    I would say for a newbie to go with Linux Mint KDE.

    When you want to learn more then Sabayon Gentoo, Debian or Arch.

    Mint is number one right now for a reason. It’s well rounded.

    Easy install, good drivers and apps, performance tweaked.

    I personally am running Sabayon right now and it’s really not much harder in my opinion.

    Linux typically as a whole means learning a lot of mnemonics and using a Terminal.

    It’s a trade off between ease of use (Windows) and massive customization of the O.S.

    Not to mention Linux just does about everything better(gaming still needs a lot of work).

    I had been running WIndows on my laptop with two internal drives and two externals. One of the externals started making the loud click sound. A few days later one of the internals sounded like it was having issues spinning up.

    I loaded Linux and BOTH drives are acting completely normal.

    I believe that Microsoft is in bed with the drive manufacturers and Prefetching and Search are really made to destroy drives. This feeds the economies of the drive manufacturers and their sibling drive recovery services.

    If I could figure out a way to prove it I would get rich.

    Later.

    ………..I never proofread………

    • PierreAP says:

      I have witnessed the failure of the hard disks in Windows. And I have the same view as you have. MS OS is doing some thing to the drives so they can die early. But I don’t know how to prove this.

  10. adri says:

    I`m using Debian 10 years, there was never anything that does not work.
    Unfortunately Debian 7 disappointed me

    • Avishek Kumar says:

      adri,
      I personally is a debian fan and would like to know, how Debian 7 aka Wheezy, disappointed you.

      I am using Debian since Squeeze, early day.
      Have used Squeeze-wheezy and now using jessie (sid).

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