Linux Distro Review Summery UBUNTU Pros: Fixed release cycle and support period; novice-friendly; wealth

of documentation, both official and user-contributed Cons: Some of Ubuntu's own software (e.g. Launchpad, Rosetta) are proprietary; lacks compatibility with Debian Software package management: Advanced Package Tool (APT) using DEB packages Available editions: Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu for 32-bit (i386) and 64-bit (x86_64) processors; Ubuntu Server edition also for SPARC processors Suggested Ubuntu-based alternatives: Linux Mint (desktop), Freespire (desktop), gNewSense (free software) openSUSE Pros: Comprehensive and intuitive configuration tool; large repository of software packages, excellent web site infrastructure and printed documentation Cons: Novell's patent deal with Microsoft in November 2006 seemingly legitimised Microsoft's intellectual property claims over Linux; its resource-heavy desktop setup and graphical utilities are sometimes seen as "bloated and slow" Software package management: YaST graphical and command line utility using RPM packages Available editions: openSUSE for 32-bit (i386), 64-bit (x86_64) and PowerPC (ppc) processors (also a non-installable live DVD edition); SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop/Server for i586, IA64, PowerPC, s390, s390x and x86_64 architectures Fedora Pros: Highly innovative; outstanding security features; large number of supported packages; strict adherence to the Free Software philosophy Cons: Fedora's priorities tend to lean towards enterprise features, rather than desktop usability Software package management: YUM graphical and command line utility using RPM packages Available editions: Fedora for 32-bit (i386), 64-bit (x86_64) and PowerPC (ppc) processors; Red Hat Enterprise Linux for i386, IA64, PowerPC, s390x and x86_64 architectures; also live CD and live DVD editions Suggested Fedora-based alternatives: BLAG Linux And GNU (desktop, free software), Berry Linux (live CD), Yellow Dog Linux (Apple's PowerPC-based systems) Suggested Red Hat-based alternatives: CentOS, Scientific Linux, StartCom Enterprise Linux, Lineox

Debian GNU/Linux Pros: Very stable; remarkable quality control; includes over 20,000 software packages; supports more processor architectures than any other Linux distribution Cons: Conservative - due to its support for many processor architectures, newest technologies are not always included; slow release cycle (one stable release every 1 - 3 years); discussions on developer mailing lists and blogs can be uncultured at times Software package management: Advanced Package Tool (APT) using DEB packages Available editions: Installation CD/DVD and live CD images for 11 processor architectures, including all 32-bit and 64-bit processors from Intel, AMD, Power and others Suggested Debian-based alternatives: MEPIS Linux, Ubuntu, Damn Small Linux, KNOPPIX, sidux, Dreamlinux, Elive, Xandros, 64 Studio Mandriva Linux Pros: Beginner-friendly, especially the commercial editions; excellent central configuration utility; very good out-of-the-box support for dozens of languages; installable live CD Cons: The company's customer service has developed bad reputation over the years; complex, confusing web site infrastructure; dropping popularity due to its commercial nature and unpopular corporate decisions in the past Software package management: URPMI with Rpmdrake (a graphical front-end for URPMI) using RPM packages; "SMART" available as an alternative method Available editions: Freely downloadable Mandriva Free and One editions for 32bit (i386) and 64-bit (x86_64) processors; commercial Mandriva Discovery, PowerPack and PowerPack Plus editions for 32-bit (i386) and 64-bit (x86_64); also high-end "Corporate" solutions for desktops, servers and firewalls, all with long-term support options Suggested Mandriva-based alternatives: PCLinuxOS (desktop), MCNLive (live CD) PCLinuxOS Pros: Out-of-the-box support for graphics drivers, browser plugins and media codecs; fast boot times; up-to-date software Cons: No 64-bit edition offered; no out-of-the-box support for non-English languages; lacks release planning Software package management: Advanced Package Tool (APT) using RPM packages

Available editions: MiniMe, Junior and BigDaddy editions for 32-bit (i586) processor architectures Suggested PCLinuxOS-based alternative: SAM Linux Desktop MEPIS Linux Pros: Beginner-friendly; excellent hardware auto-detection and support; intuitive, installable live CD Cons: Software in its repositories not always up-to-date, lacks development roadmap Software package management: Advanced Package Tool (APT) using DEB packages Available editions: SimplyMEPIS for 32-bit (i386) and 64-bit (x86_64) processors KNOPPIX Pros: Unparalleled hardware auto-detection and auto-configuration; portable operating system that can be used for rescue, demonstration and testing tasks; provides a hard-disk installation script Cons: Recent releases somewhat buggy; lack of polish and unification of menus across the different desktop environments; slow when run from DVD Software package management: Advanced Package Tool (APT) using DEB packages Available editions: Live CD and Live DVD editions for 32-bit (i386) processors Suggested Debian/KNOPPIX-based alternatives: Damn Small Linux, sidux, Xandros Desktop, Elive, Dreamlinux, Parsix GNU/Linux, grml Slackware Linux Pros: Highly stable, clean and bug-free, strong adherence to UNIX principles Cons: Limited number of officially supported applications; conservative in terms of base package selection; complex upgrade procedure; no official 64-bit edition Software package management: "pkgtools" using TGZ (TAR.GZ) packages Available editions: Installation CDs and DVD for 32-bit (i486) processors Suggested Slackware-based alternatives: Zenwalk Linux (desktop), VectorLinux (desktop), SLAX (live CD), Slamd64 Linux (64-bit), Bluewhite64 Linux (64-bit), Wolvix (desktop, live CD), GoblinX (desktop, live CD) Other distributions with similar philosophies: Arch Linux, Frugalware Linux, KateOS

Gentoo Linux Pros: Excellent software management infrastructure, unparalleled customisation and tweaking options, superb online documentation Cons: Occasional instability and risk of breakdown, the project suffers from lack of directions and frequent infighting between its developers Software package management: "Portage" using source (SRC) packages Available editions: Minimal installation CD and live CD (with GNOME) for Alpha, AMD64, HPPA, IA64, MIPS, PPC, SPARC and x86 processors; also "stages" for manual installation from command line Suggested Gentoo-based alternatives: SabayonLinux (desktop, live CD/DVD), VLOS (desktop), Ututo (desktop, free software only) Other source-based distributions: Lunar Linux, Source Mage GNU/Linux, Sorcerer, Linux From Scratch FreeBSD Pros: Fast and stable; availability of over 15,000 software applications (or "ports") for installation; very good documentation Cons: Tends to lag behind Linux in terms of support for exotic hardware, limited availability of commercial applications; lacks graphical configuration tools Software package management: A complete command-line package management infrastructure using either binary packages or source-based "ports" (TBZ) Available editions: Installation CDs for Alpha, AMD64, i386, IA64, PC98 and SPARC64 processors Suggested FreeBSD-based alternatives: PC-BSD (desktop), DesktopBSD (desktop), FreeSBIE (live CD) Other BSD alternatives: OpenBSD, NetBSD, DragonFly BSD

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