Mayank Sharma helps you choose your next dis­tri­bu­tion, how to build one your­self and re­veals 20 of the best out there

Mayank Sharma can’t help you find your pur­pose in life, but he sure can help find a dis­tri­bu­tion for your pur­pose.

Linux Format - - CONTENTS -

Linux, the ker­nel, by it­self wouldn’t be of much use to most of us. Ver­sion 0.01 of the Linux ker­nel made its de­but in Septem­ber 1991, but it only made sense to a par­tic­u­lar Fin­nish stu­dent and his ilk of uber-geek hack­ers.

One of them, Owen Le Blanc of the Manch­ester Com­put­ing Cen­tre (MCC), wrote a menu-driven in­staller to in­stall the ker­nel along with a hand­ful of GNU util­i­ties, and in the process cre­ated the first Linux dis­tri­bu­tion in Fe­bru­ary 1992. This dis­tri­bu­tion al­lowed even non-Unix users to get a taste of Linux and helped roll in more devel­op­ers. Later that year Peter MacDon­ald cre­ated the Soft­land­ing Linux Sys­tem (SLS) dis­tri­bu­tion that of­fered a soft­ware col­lec­tion on top of the X11 graph­i­cal in­ter­face, which had only re­cently been ported to Linux. SLS in turn spawned two ma­jor dis­tri­bu­tions. The first was Slack­ware cre­ated by Pa­trick Volk­erd­ing in July 1993. Over two decades later it re­mains the oldest Linux dis­tri­bu­tion that’s still ac­tively main­tained. The other was Ian Mur­doch’s De­bian. Al­though it had been in de­vel­op­ment for sev­eral months, v0.91 re­leased in Jan­uary 1994 was its first pub­lic re­lease and in­cluded a sim­ple pack­age sys­tem that could in­stall and unin­stall pack­ages. The next ma­jor mile­stone in the Linux dis­tri­bu­tion time­line also hap­pened in 1994 with the birth of Marc Ewing’s Red Hat Linux.

To­gether these three dis­tri­bu­tions form the bedrock of the mod­ern Linux dis­tri­bu­tion habi­tat. Al­though there have been other in­de­pen­dent dis­tri­bu­tions such as Crux, Arch, Gen­too and Puppy, a ma­jor­ity of the cur­rent stock is an off­shoot of the three oldest dis­tri­bu­tions. You’ll find hun­dreds of them on dis­trowatch, all vy­ing for a slice of your hard disk. Over the next few pages we’ll help you sort through the lot and pick the one that’ll serve you best.

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