Saturday, 11 February 2017

10 of the Most Popular Linux Distributions Compared

Arch Linux

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a rolling release distribution that has been around for all 14 years of the Distrowatch rankings.
A rolling release distribution for the power user, Arch has grown in presence and boasts one of the largest software repositories.
Stand out features include the AUR and incredible documentation.
Championed by a large community this distribution provides everything the experienced Linux user could ever need.
It took until 2010 for Arch to hit the top 10 and its highest position was in 2011 when it reached 6th position. This can be largely put down to the complexity of the distribution.



CentOS is a community version of Red Hat Linux which provides all of the stability and power of the its parent.
It has been around for quite a while but only hit the top 10 distributions in 2011.
It is a good solid distribution without frills and perfect for home and business use.

Damn Small Linux

Damn Small Linux

Damn Small Linux (DSL) has been around since about 2003/2004 and its main selling point is that it has an incredibly small footprint.
The download size of DSL is just 50 megabytes and for a few years it was in the top 10 distributions but it slipped out of the list in 2009 and has been falling ever since. It's highest position was 6 into 2006.
The main issue with such a small image is that it requires a lot of setting up to get it to do anything. A novel idea but not much real world substance.



Debian is the only distribution to have been in the top 10 since 2002.
Its highest position is 2 and that is its current ranking.
Debian is a founding father of Linux and it provides the base for many of the other distributions available today including Ubuntu and Linux Mint.
Used by professionals and large businesses makes it a key distribution for people thinking of getting in to Linux as a career choice.
It is relatively easy to install and is highly customisable and it is easy to use.

Dream Linux

Dream Linux

Dream Linux was around up until 2012. It is hard to find information about it.
The screenshot was taken from
Dream Linux hit the top 10 rankings in 2008 and it must have been the 3.5 releasethat was responsible for its rise.
Based on Debian Lenny, Dream Linux came with the XFCE desktop environment with an option to install the GNOME desktop.
The best tribute that can be given to this Brazlian distribution is from Unixmen who described Dream Linux as fast and beautiful.

Elementary OS

Elementary OS

Elementary is a relative new comer to the block. It first reached the Distrowatch rankings in 2014 and currently sits at number 7 which is its highest position to date.
The key to Elementary is the visually pleasing and highly aesthetic desktop.
The concept is simple, keep it simple.  


Fedora Linux

Fedora is an offshoot of Red Hat. It is every Linux enthusiasts dream distribution because it is completely cutting edge, bringing all of the new concepts to the table first.
As with Debian it is a good idea to use either Fedora or CentOS as they provide the perfect platform for anyone wanting to get a career in Linux.
Fedora was one of the first distributions to introduce both Wayland and SystemD.
It is relatively easy to install and the GNOME desktop is easy to use. However it isn't always the most stable.
Fedora first entered the Distrowatch top 10 in 2004 and hasn't been below 5th ever since peaking at position 2 in 2010.


Gentoo Linux

In 2002 Gentoo was the 3rd most popular Linux distribution. Of course that was a time before graphical installers.
Gentoo isn't for the faint hearted and is used by a core community of people who live to compile code themselves.
It dropped out of the top 10 in 2007 and currently sits in position 34. 
Technically speaking based on hits per day it is only slightly less popular then is was back in 2002 but the popularity that Linux has gained means easier to use distributions will always jump ahead.
A niche distribution for the full on Linux geek. 



Knoppix is a Linux distribution designed to be run from a DVD or USB drive.
It has been around a very long time and first hit the top 10 in 2003, peaking at its highest position of 3rd before dropping off the list in 2006.
It is still going and is currently on version 7.6 and it resides in position 55. 



The one thing that has been consistent in the past 14 years is the obsession with making Linux distributions that look like Windows.
One of the very first was called Lindows but the name had to be changed because it was too close to a certain other company's trademark.
Lindows only appearance in the top 10 was in 2002 at position 9 although it went on to become Linspire. 


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