SoftwareInReview looked at Linux distribution software. Listed below are the top seven Linux operating systems for 2011. Each program was ranked based on ease of installation, user friendliness, and availability of help/support. Here are brief overviews of each distrubution.
- Ubuntu – http://www.ubuntu.com
Ubuntu was introduced into the market in 2004, becoming one of the most popular Linux distributions for desktops. New versions are consistently released, usually every six months. This program is easy to install and use. The ample support comes from both technical professionals as well and end users. Ubuntu is a great program for novices looking to try out Linux.
- PCLinuxOS – http://www.pclinuxos.com/
PCLinuxOS was introduced into the market in 2003. This program is great for new Linux users with its intuitive graphical installer. It provides fast boot times and desktop software that is current. On the down side, PCLinuxOS only provides technical support in the English language. Also, the program is only available in a 32-bit version and new releases are intermittent.
- Gentoo – http://www.gentoo.org/
Gentoo was introduced into the market in 2000 with tremendous updates in 2006 for easier installation. This program was designed for power users. It has exceptional security and extensive customization. One of its best features is the ability to keep the system current without re-installing the software. However, long compilation times and occasionally instability makes it less of a crowd pleaser than other available software.
- Mandriva – http://www2.mandriva.com/en/
Mandriva was introduced into the market in 1998 and appeared to be a remake of Red Hat Linux. The current software has added user-friendly features including better hardware detection and and intuitive disk partitioning. Mandriva also utilizes a KDE desktop and has great support which makes it a good program for beginners.
- openSUSE – www.opensuse.org/
OpenSUSE was introduced into the market in 1996 and acquired by Novell in 2003. Novell uses the openSUSE code as their base system for their commercial products. Providing both a GNOME and KDE desktop environment has made it a crowd pleaser. It also gets high marks for help/support. However, its heavy use of resources for desktop setup and graphical utilities tend to slow the program down.
- Debian GNU/Linux – http://www.debian.org/
Debian GNU/Linux was introduced into the market in 1993. It has become the largest Linux distribution ever created and has inspired over 120 Debian-based distributions. This program includes more than 20,000 software packages and supports more processor architectures than any other Linux distribution. It is known for its stability and quality control. The down side to Debian GNU/Linux is that it only has a new release about every one to three years which doesn’t always contain the most current technologies.
- FreeBSD – http://www.freebsd.org/
FreeBSD was introduced into the market in 1993. The program is known for being fast and stable, and there are more than 15,000 software applications available. Installation of FreeBSD not only lacks a graphical installer, but also lacks the convenient features of hardware detection and system configuration. The user must perform these tasks after the program is installed.