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Choosing UNIX-like Operating System for Your Needs?

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Linux was created and is now maintained by a small group of developers and will always be free of charge.The source code is readily available, making it a community development. Since individuality is encouraged among the community, there are at least a hundred different versions of Linux. Each version is called a distribution or a ‘distro’.

Linux in all its forms is downloaded from a website or installed from a CD and contains, not only the operating system, but a number of packages that include software designed to do the expected tasks. They will include an office suite with word processor, spreadsheet manager, database manager, power point presentation creator and web browser as well as developers tools and network management software.

It’s possible to run Linux inside of windows through the use of a virtual computer such as VirtualBox (https://www.virtualbox.org) or VMware (http://www.vmware.com). The virtual computer made by the software acts like a completely separate machine, walling off the Linux installation and keeping the two programs from interfering with each other.

There is no solid method to determine the popularity of a certain distribution of Linux due to the chaotic state of open source software. However, some generalizations can be made using lists provided by DistroWatch (http://distrowatch.com), a Linux software website and industry publications. Here is a list of the most notable distros.

While these are not specifically server or desktop systems, each one of them may find the way to your web hosting provider or your home server. You’ll notice that there’s no Windows mentioned here as it cost, maintenance and closed nature doesn’t make it perfect for this purpose.

Ubuntu

http://www.ubuntu.com

It is designed for the casual user and is general in approach and function. Thirty percent of all Linux installations are Ubuntu or one of its derivatives. Ubuntu is easy to download and install and particularly easy to use. Package management is considered to be the best of the Linux distributions. Ubuntu aims at desktop users but there is a network server edition available.

Ubuntu

Kubuntu

http://www.kubuntu.org

Kubuntu is a derivative of Ubuntu and remains a part of the Ubuntu project. It’s similar to Ubuntu but with a different file system. Both Ubuntu and Kubuntu are easy to learn and use.

Kubuntu

Linux Mint

http://www.linuxmint.com

Linux Mint is similar to Ubuntu, but is much easier to install. Ubuntu requires the user to exam their needs at installation and choose applications which are then installed. Linux Mint provides all the programs and drivers the most common user needs at installation without being told. The community surrounding Linux Mint is close and accessible. Some users have made a request for a change online and seen their request adapted in the next mainstream release. It began as Ubuntu with better multimedia support and moved away as it evolved.

Linux Mint

Debian

http://www.debian.org

Debian came first and is capable of running desktop computers and network servers. Ubuntu and Kubuntu were developed from Debian. It has been around since 1993 and isn’t aimed at any commercial targets. Debian is more complicated and harder to learn than either of its descendents and comes with 29,000 software packages covering a multitude of needs.

The name comes from the combination of the words ‘Deb’ and ‘Ian’. Ian Murdock was the leader of the team that developed Debian, and Deb was his wife. Debian remains a very conservative piece of software, intended to work all the time in all situations. New developments are rarely installed until they become mainstream.

Debian

openSUSE

http://www.opensuse.org

openSUSE comes with YaST (Yet Another Setup Tool) that allows the user to configure virtually everything on the computer or server at the same time. YaST handles printers, Bluetooth devices, modems and more. Networks will welcome AppArmor, an openSUSE software application that handles security for both online and offline threats. AppArmor manages access for each application, keeping people on the net and in the office from getting into programs where they don’t belong. openSUSE is good for both beginners and professionals.

openSUSE

Fedora

http://fedoraproject.org

Fedora’s desktop and operations are like those of Ubuntu and Kubuntu, but it is designed to operate on older computers with limited system capabilities. Fedora comes with the Anaconda graphical configuration and installation tool, making it easy and quick to bring a new installation up to speed. It also offers the option to embed an enhanced security system called SELinux.

Fedora

ArchLinux

https://www.archlinux.org

If your computer is old, small and slow, and you need to use it as a server, get ArchLinux. It is small and flexible. However, it has no graphical interface. Everything is done through the command line. ArchLinux gets its updates on a rolling basis. There is no set date for an update. You’re never six months behind. If there’s a better version, you get it immediately, not in six months.

ArchLinux

BSD Derivatives

Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) is a Unix based operating system developed at the University of California, Berkeley from 1977 to 1995. It served as a basis for a number of derivatives that can run Linux software at full speed without change. BSD serves as a common ground for new Linux applications and older Unix tools.

BSD

Current derivatives are FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, DragonFly BSD, MirBSD, PCBSD and DesktopBSD. The BSD family of operating systems are used extensively by government, universities and are also found in commercial use and they stand for one of best choices for server purposes due to their advanced and rock-solid architecture, security and highly technical community surrounding them.

List of BSD Projects:

Conclusion

I started recently playing with dedicated server i bought to host my and several sites of my friends. I’ve learned a lot while using command line exclusively and switched between couple of mentioned systems. I somehow settled with Debian as most viable solution which offers the best security/performance ratio and features enormous amount of documentation and healthy, large community should you have any questions or need for help.

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