Choosing the best Linux flavor for someone is largely dependent on user specific needs which is based out on the hardware compatibility, ease of use, type of application and the size of a application repository. These attributes are unique to each Linux distribution. But simultaneously, each Linux distribution is at liberty to take and mix whatever it desires from any other.
There are over hundreds Linux distributions available out there that anyone can choose from. The choices can be overwhelming. There is no general agreement as to what is the best linux distro. Linux Ubuntu is the most popular on the desktop while Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the most popular in enterprise settings. But popularity does not mean that those distros can fit in every users requirement. To find out which flavour would be best for you read one !
1. For the Beginner
If you are using Linux for the first time, the best disto for you would be Linux Mint or PCLinuxOS.
Linux Mint has very user friendly user interface. It is based on Ubuntu whose goal is to provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including browser plugins, media codecs, support for DVD playback, Java and other components. It also adds a custom desktop and menus, several unique configuration tools, and a web-based package installation interface. Linux Mint is compatible with Ubuntu software repositories. Linux Mint comes installed with a wide range of software that includes LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, XChat, Pidgin, Transmission and GIMP. Additional software downloaded and installed using the package manager per user requirement.
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PCLinuxOS is a user-friendly Linux distribution based on Mandriva Linux. This distro of Linux is aimed at ease of use with out-of-the-box support for all major graphics and sound cards, as well as other peripheral devices. The bootable live CD provides an easy-to-use graphical installer and the distribution sports a wide range of popular applications for the typical desktop user, including browser plugins and full multimedia playback. PCLinuxOS can also be installed to a local hard disk drive or USB flash drive. PCLinuxOS comes with many pre-installed applications such as Amarok, GIMP, KTorrent, K3B, Adobe Flash plugin, MP3, DVD playback, video codecs, JAVA and Compiz effects. More are available in the PCLinuxOS official repositories. They can be installed using the easy-to-use Synaptic Software Manager.
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2. For the Masses
If someone is looking for a distribution that is easy to use and has all the bells and whistles of a pro OS, then Ubuntu is the undoubted leader.
Ubuntu is a complete desktop Linux operating system, based on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and is distributed as free and open source software. Ubuntu is freely available with both community and professional support. The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas consecrated in the Ubuntu Manifesto:
- Software should be available free of charge.
- Software tools should be usable by people in their local language, despite any disabilities.
- User should have the freedom to customize, alter, modify their software in whatever way they want in order to fulfill their requirements.
"Ubuntu" is an ancient African word, meaning "humanity to others". The Ubuntu distribution aims to brings the same spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.
The desktop version of Ubuntu is available for the x86 32 bit as well as 64 bit architectures. Ubuntu comes installed with a variety of program like LibreOffice, Firefox, Empathy, Transmission, GIMP & several games such as Sudoku, Chess etc. Additional program that is not installed by default can be downloaded & installed using the Ubuntu Program Center or the Synaptic package manager. Ubuntu offers support for over 46 languages. Ubuntu can also run plenty of programs designed for Microsoft Windows through Wine or using a Virtual Machine.
Installation of Ubuntu is very easy, it can be installed with the Live CD or via a Live USB drive. It can be installed inside a Windows Operating system. Ubuntu can be booted and run from a USB Flash drive or a Live Cd without actually installing it. Booting with a USB Flash Drive, with the option of saving settings to the flashdrive. wil make that a portable installation that can be run on any PC which is capable of booting from a USB drive. The USB creator program is available to install Ubuntu on a USB drive (with or without a LiveCD disc).
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3. For experienced users
The Fedora Project was created in late 2003, when Red Hat Linux was discontinued. Fedora is an RPM-based, general purpose collection of software, including an operating system based on the Linux kernel. This distro is not for everyone, definitely not for average users or Beginners. Any attempt to falsify that truth only makes the situation worse for beginners. Fedora plays well in the hands of power users and enthusiasts.
Fedora contain software distributed under a free and open source license. Fedora developers prefer to make upstream changes instead of applying fixes specifically for Fedora—this ensures that their updates are available to all Linux distributions. The goal of The Fedora Project is to work with the Linux community to build a complete, general purpose operating system exclusively from open source software and to stay on the leading edge of technologies which means, with Fedora 15 users will get the best of both worlds: the cutting edge world of Gnome Shell, straight from installation CD, and a completely customisable, standard and reliable environment from which anyone can build their own distribution.
This is not an ideal distribution for someone looking for proprietary and closed software. such as MP3 codecs, Adobe Flash, etc. Even Nvidia Display drivers are not easy to install on this distro. The users has to stick with the open source alternatives drivers provided by Fedora for various hardware which is again get even less easier with each new release.
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4. For old and dying hardware
Puppy Linux is yet another Linux distribution. It is an amazing distribution specially made for older machine with low computing power. Puppy is extraordinarily tiny, less then 130MB, yet full-featured. Puppy boots in to a ramdisk, unlike live CD distributions that must keep pulling resources form the CD, the entire system run from RAM. This means that all applications start in the blink of an eye and reply to user input instantly.
Puppy Linux has the ability to boot off a flash card or any USB memory tool, CDROM, Zip disk or LS/120/240 Superdisk, floppy disks, internal hard drive. It may even use a multisession formatted CD-RW/DVD-RW to save everything back to the CD/DVD with no hard drive necessary at all. People says puppy can do magic, Pull out that old machine from the loft, Puppy Linux will turn it into a fully fledged 2011 Linux powerhouse.
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Other Flavors created for a purpose are :-
CentOS is simply an unbranded and free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Debian is also an excellent choice, being well known for its stability.
Ubuntu Studio is the most popular music and recording solution out there, aimed at the GNU/Linux audio, video and graphic enthusiast as well as professional.
Mythbuntu turns computer into a multimedia station. Mythbuntu is focused upon setting up a standalone MythTV based PVR system. It can be used to prepare a standalone system or for integration with an existing MythTV network. The learning curve is a little high, but worth it.
If you really want to learn Linux, then Gentoo or Slackware is the way to go. Slackware just happens to be the oldest Linux distribution still in active development
EasyPeasy or Jolicloud for using Linux on a netbook.
For those who like the KDE desktop enviroment OpenSUSE or Kubuntu are probably the best.
Its been said Linux's great strength is its flexibility. It runs on everything from mobile phones to spaceships. IF something above don't suits your need check out the full Distro list in DistroWatch