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. Nath says:

    I’m a programmer. I work with java, python, php and ruby. But I’ve been on windows since. I feel the need to move to linux. I’m used to working with IDEs: Netbeans, Eclipse. And servers: apache tomcat mostly. Which linux distro will help me get up to speed quickest?

    • Ravi Saive says:

      @Nath,

      The only one Debian the father of all Linux distributions, go for debain distro..

    • SALEEM says:

      While any linux should do but Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Open Suse and Cent OS 6 or 7 should server the perhaps reasonably well.
      aLL THREE WORK AND THINGS DEPEND UPON YOUR COMFORT LEVEL

  2. Aaron Kili K says:

    You can also check out Parrot OS which is an alternative to Kali Linux. It is also used for penTests.
    I have it installed on a Samsung notebook works fine with many themes.
    One problem i have encountered with Kali is that as being a security testing distro, the developers and maintainers have restricted installing third party software on it.

  3. Arpiti111 says:

    What about the evolve os and ozone os they have great design and snappy performance

  4. Vladimir says:

    Which distribution would you recommend for best end-user experience on a pretty old laptop? The user will be my wife on a pretty old Lenovo IdeaPad S10e (2GB of RAM, Intel Atom 1.6GHz and slow HDD). Reading the article I got the impression I should install OpenSUSE (due to Yast) or CentOS (maybe because I have it on each web server I use at my work..). What would you recommend to us? And thank you for this nice overview!

  5. Spirit says:

    So, CentOS for a server, Kali for playing around with hacking or cybersecurity, and which do you think is a good one for programming or learning to program?

    • Ravi Saive says:

      Debian or Ubuntu both are the perfect distributions for learning, but Debian is for both programming/learning..go for debian

  6. jimh says:

    Avishek – you are 100% incorrect about openSUSE here. First off, openSUSE is not a “competitor” of RHEL – it more closely aligns with Fedora as a distribution.

    Secondly, and more importantly, this statement:

    “OpenSuse is a Linux distro which is free as far as it is not used for commercial usages and remains for personal usages.”

    is completely, 100% false. openSUSE may be used for commercial and noncommercial purposes. However you want to use openSUSE is just fine with the project. openSUSE is free software – free to distribute, free to copy, free to use, free to modify in any way you want. The open source components included in openSUSE are not under a special license of any sort with openSUSE that restricts the user’s freedom in any way whatsoever. openSUSE (and its predecessor, SUSE Linux) has never had such a restriction.

    The current version of openSUSE is 13.2 – version 12.3 no longer receives updates, and hasn’t since January 29, 2015. (I note that your post was created well before that time, so that’s fair – consider this note an update with regards to that information).

  7. greg says:

    How would you rate Linux Bodhi ?

  8. tycj4n says:

    Where is mint linux? is great too, better than Gentoo, Gentoo definitelly sucks is experimental OS for those people who don’t cares about stable OS.

    • Avishek Kumar says:

      Linux Mint is a Great OS and i do agree. But this never means it is at par with Gentoo and the vice-versa is also correct. And mind it, Gentoo is very stable, and you have the pleasure to view the compilation from Source right before you. Agree it takes time but Gentoo is Nearest to LFS. It lets you understand the internals of Linux very closely. You can make anything out of Gentoo (same is for arch).

    • Olli says:

      You did not get the point about gentoo.

      • Jamie says:

        You measured linux mint with gentoo.
        Mate, linux mint is for beginners who want everything there out of the box. Gentoo is built for people who care what packages are in the system from the start.
        Gentoo is built for professionals and there for you will not see linux mint in any environment where linux’s distros are a key part in task operations due to the design of mint. Also linux mint is a desktop OS and is very hard to mold into “your system”. So before you argue further, Gentoo is for professional use and the other is built for playing movies on desktops and laptops with almost the opposite designs for a good server.

      • Avishek Kumar says:

        The first thing is Distributions are like religion and one should not question anybody’s religion, at-least that is not my ethics.
        Throughout my journey to Linux land, i learnt it very hard – Don’t compare a Distro, Don’t compare a Programming Language. This discussion will take you no-where.

  9. nikhil says:

    I am a newbie.I want to learn (learn and not just use) linux inside out. Suggest a suitable distro. I beleive the command only distros would help me learn.

  10. jyoti says:

    i have not any idea about Linux os. Iam just going to install linux mint 17.1.
    what about it??

    • Avishek Kumar says:

      You should try Linux Mint and mind me you won’t regret. It is one of those distros which is easy to Install, Configure and Use. If you are new to Linux Mint is Preferred!

      Welcome to the world of Linux and Tecmint.

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