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Section 5.
Linux distributions
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"Slackware was great in that it did the one thing I want my distro to do more than anything, and that’s stay the hell out of my way... Gentoo basically stays the hell out of your way... and Portage goes a long way to basically do exactly what you’d have done on Slackware without having to do it manually... maybe I’m getting greedy in my old age, but I don’t want to compile my packages anymore."

An Interview with Ryan C. Gordon. - Michael Larabel - Phoronix 2003.

5. Some Linux distributions.

5.1. Slackware - Patrick Volkerding.

Created Slackware Linux, Inc 1993. Designed for stability and simplicity, the most "Unix like" Linux Distribution.

5.2. Red Hat - Mark Ewing.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Started by Bob Young and Mark Ewing in 1995. (Mark Ewing had created the Red Hat Linux distribution around 1993. Aimed at corporates who want the security of paying for 24 hour support contracts. The binaries are no longer freely distributed but the source code is and is used in other distributions.

5.3. Debian - Ian Murdoch 1993.

A very popular non-commercial distribution. Strong emphasis on ease of installation and administration has become the base for many commercial distributions. Regained it’s leading position as a web server platform earlier this year (2012).

5.4. Gentoo - Daniel Robbins 1999

Gentoo for the most part avoids precompiled binaries and encourages users to to optimise the kernel and software application for their hardware. Originally developed by Daniel Robbins as "Enoch" it became Gentoo in 2002 and ownership was transferred to a not for profit company the "Gentoo Foundation" in 2004. The package management system is called "Portage".

Considered to be more technically demanding than many other distribution once installed the optimized system should outperform other distributions on the same hardware.

5.5. Arch - Judd Vinet 2002

Binary packages aimed at i686 and x86-64 processors to better performance on modern hardware. Targetting intermediate and advanced Linux user who are not afraid of the command line. Development headed by Aaron Griffen since 2007.

"Relying on complex tools to manage and build your system is going to hurt the end users. [...] "If you try to hide the complexity of the system, you’ll end up with a more complex system". Layers of abstraction that serve to hide internals are never a good thing. Instead, the internals should be designed in a way such that they NEED no hiding."
--Aaron Griffin

5.6. Cent-OS.

A rebadged release of Red Hat, claims 100% binary compatibility. First released in 2002, overtook Debian as the most popular release for web servers in 2011.

5.7. Ubuntu

Debian derived commercial distribution. Hugely popular on the desktop. Preeminent in its ease of installation and use.

5.8. Mint.

First release in 2006 Mint is based on Ubuntu. Reckoned by some to be the best current distribution it is challenging Ubuntu to be the most popular desktop distribution. Mint uses proprietary software applications and drivers in addition to those employed on most out of the box Linux distributions and so is able to to claim to be more "comfortable" or complete than other community releases. Mint appears to be quite heavily commercially sponsored.

5.9. OpenSuse.

Started in 1992 in Germany to produce a German language version of the Slackware distribution. First release 1994. Bought by Novell in 2003. Features the YAST systems administration tool. OpenSuse project started 2005. Novell bought by Attachmate in 2010. Suse split off and headquarters moved back to Nuremberg.

5.10. Knoppix.

Claims to be the first LiveCD (and now LiveUSB) distributions of Linux. Based on the Debian distribution it includes some proprietary software. It was first released in 2003.

5.11. Slax

Slax, first released in 2002 predates Knoppix. It is currently developed by Tomas Matejicek. Packages can be selected using a website to build a customised Slax iso image.

One of the chief advantages of the Slax distribution is its ease of customisation using Slackware packages and Slax modules. A package manager such as APT is not required to load additional software, Slax modules are completely self contained.


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