Linux is starting to take the world of computers by storm. Corporate greed, insane legal licensing and constant Windows vulnerabilities are starting to take its toll on the general computing population, and many are looking for an alternative. For some Linux is the answer.
The Linux Operating System is very different than proprietary Operating Systems. Linux has a community based development model where many people, organizations and businesses jointly develop the software. With this style of development, there is no one entity that controls everything, but because of this, it is quite difficult to build a coherent system that will run on personal computers. This is where distributions come in.
Distributions are complete Linux Systems that are built by companies or organizations to aid in the support and installation of the Linux Operating System. Distributions take care of all of the rudimentary tasks of building the system, such as building and testing the software, providing technical support and to provide security updates and bug fixes, etc.
There are all types of distributions available, from ones that are very user friendly to advanced ones that allow you to build your system from the source code. This article covers the three most popular intermediate Linux distributions available today, Fedora Linux, Mandrake Linux and Suse Linux. Intermediate distributions give the user plenty of control and choice over their system, yet provide easy to use tools to administer and maintain their system.
There is no one distribution that will perfectly fit into everyones needs. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses which will vary from person to person. This article covers all the major advantages (and disadvantages) each of these distributions have to offer and hopefully give you enough information to help you correctly choose which Linux Distribution is right for your computer.
Fedora Linux was started by Redhat Linux in September 2003 as a community based open development Operating System based on the Redhat Linux distribution. The Redhat distribution was first released in October 1994 and has progressed to one of the most popular Linux Distributions available today. The latest release, Fedora RC2, was officially released in May 2004.
Mandrake Linux was first started in 1998 as a custom built Redhat Linux distribution. The company that releases Mandrake Linux, Mandrakesoft, is a publicly traded company in France. More recently Mandrakesoft has just gotten out of bankruptcy and looks to continue to be a very strong Linux Distribution contender. Their latest release, Mandrake Linux 10 Official, was released in May 2004.
Suse Linux was started in 1992, and was the first "real" commercial Linux vendor to appear. Suse is a very strong Linux Distributor, especially in Germany and other European countries. In January of 2004, Novell acquired Suse, and another Linux company, Ximian. Suse Linux Professional 9.1, which was released in May 2004, is the first release since Novell acquired Suse Linux.
NOTE: Linux is actually only the kernel of a complete system. Many contributors like to call a complete Linux system a GNU/Linux system. The GNU stands for GNU's Not Unix* (a recursive acronym) and is the system first started by Richard Stallman, then later developed with the coordination of the Free Software Foundation. The whole name idea is to get the point of freedom across when you discuss the operating system. Within this article I will use the generic name Linux to signify the whole system, but please, keep software freedom in mind when reading this article.
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