The Top Five Linux Distributions of 2013
It’s that time of the year when making lists is fashionable. Here is one such list in which the top five Linux distros of last year are featured.
The beauty of open source lies in the diverse array of choices that one can make when selecting software or a particular tool. Unlike most other proprietary or closed source software, open source solutions do not tie you down to a particular product or entity. Instead, you are encouraged to take your pick from the multitude of offerings available, and then decide which one works best for you.
Similarly, when it comes to Linux distributions as well, you do not have to limit yourself to any particular one and give up on all others. As a Linux enthusiast myself, I often tend to switch distros just to try out something new, even though I often find myself coming back to Linux Mint and openSUSE. That said, to each his own, and hence almost every Linux distribution, big or small, has its own share of loyal followers.
In this article, I shall attempt to enumerate five of the best Linux distros of 2013. Once again, selecting a particular Linux distribution is a matter of individual preference, but I have tried to consider the distros’ relative popularity and ease of use while ranking them (yet, pardon the bias please, for I am openly in favour of Linux Mint and openSUSE, above all others).
A note on the list
It is obviously not an easy task to single out five particular distros. There were many worthy names that had to be left out. For instance, the first ‘honourable mention’ should rightfully go to Debian, which serves as the parent distro for both Ubuntu and Linux Mint. However, considering the fact that both Ubuntu and Linux Mint have surpassed Debian in terms of their user base, it only made sense to favour them over Debian.
Apart from Debian, there were certain other distros too that had to be omitted, simply because the others deserved their rankings more—Slackware, Gentoo Linux, Mageia, Sabayon and Arch Linux—all personal favourites of mine, but sadly, they couldn’t make it to the top five.
Finally, considering the fact that this is more of a list about generalpurpose Linux distros, those distributions that serve a specific need were not considered. For this very reason, you will not find CentOS on this page ( it is more of an enterprise OS than a generalusage distro), nor ArtistX ( meant for artists and creative heads), Red Hat Enterprise Linux ( again, for enterprises), or Puppy Linux.
1. Ubuntu (and variants)
You just cannot talk about Linux distributions without mentioning Ubuntu in the same breath. In fact, in terms of popularity, Ubuntu beats almost all Linux distros.
Based on Debian,
Ubuntu is an extremely popular and user- friendly operating system that comes with an aesthetically impressive interface and is backed by a large community of fellow Ubuntu users worldwide. With over 20 million users, Ubuntu has a rightful claim as the world’s most loved free operating system.
In fact, Ubuntu is much more than just a Linux distro. It is gradually evolving and venturing into newer markets and niches, such as solutions for smartphones and tablets, among many others. Quite obviously, if there is one Linux distro that deserves to be ranked above the rest, it has to be Ubuntu!
Ubuntu comes with its own desktop environment, which is called Unity. However, there are other variants available as well, such as Kubuntu for KDE and Xubuntu for XFCE. Website: www.ubuntu.com
2. Linux Mint
Considering the fact that Linux Mint traces its ancestry back to Debian and Ubuntu, it makes good use of the official repositories and update channels, providing its users with a plethora of updated software and tools to choose from.
Linux Mint natively comes with a remixed desktop environment of its own, commonly called Cinnamon. KDE, GNOME, LXDE and other versions are available as well. However, the USP of Linux Mint is that it was one of the earliest distros to offer certain key elements out of the box (such as multimedia codecs), which helped this distro attract new audiences and build a strong community. Website: www.linuxmint.com
Moving on from the .DEB family to the .RPM family, we have Fedora that is ranked third on our list.
Fedora is often termed as the testing ground for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. That said, Fedora’s distinction is that it is one of the most cutting-edge Linux distros meant for general usage. It is based on a rough six-month release cycle and owing to this terrific update frequency, Fedora often ends up incorporating and making use of newer software and updated tools way before any other distro.
Fedora is also one of the premier and flagship distributions that ship with GNOME (of course, other desktop environments can also be installed). Website: http://www.fedoraproject.org/
openSUSE is a general-purpose Linux distribution that offers a good variety of options when it comes to selecting your desktop environment and other specifics. However, right from its inception, openSUSE has not enjoyed much neutrality from the Linux community for some reason or the other. Apparently, openSUSE is either passionately loved or extremely hated by Linux users.
Generally, openSUSE follows an eight-month release cycle. Besides, it also serves as the base for SUSE Linux Enterprise. All in all, openSUSE is a highly polished and versatile Linux distribution that you should surely give a spin, if you have not done so already.
PCLinuxOS is probably a questionable entry to wind up this list (ahead of the likes of Gentoo and Slackware), but the fact that it is one of the most popular among all the distros that trace their lineage to Mandrake Linux earns it the #5 spot.
PCLinuxOS attempts to combine different and diverse technologies in order to create a worthy computing experience for lovers of open source. It is one of those few distributions that can be used by both newbies and advanced users alike. Plus, even though it is an independent project in its own right, PCLinuxOS maintains many elements from Mandrake Linux.
While PCLinuxOS is definitely a Linux distro worthy of respect and appreciation, its community and user base is not as large as that of Ubuntu or Fedora. Beyond that, though, it definitely packs a punch and provides all the functionality that is required from a full-fledged Linux distribution. Website: http://www.pclinuxos.com/ With that, we come to the end of this roundup of the top five Linux distros. Once again, considering the fact that open source is about appreciating and acknowledging the power of freedom, what are your picks when it comes to the top five Linux distributions? Does your list seem to overlap with mine or not at all? Do write in and share your thoughts!