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Linux distribution comparison chart

Originally Published:
Nov 2017

If you’re new to the world of Linux and trying to figure out which distribution is right for your needs, this chart can help. It lists 10 key attributes for 20 popular distributions to help you zero in on the best choice.

About the chart:

So you’re considering giving Linux a shot as either your desktop or your server operating system and you have no idea where to start. Considering there are myriad choices to be had, the decision of where to begin isn’t exactly a simple one. That’s why we’ve created a spreadsheet that can serve as an easy launching point, to help make the decision a bit easier.

This chart includes 20 of the most popular Linux distributions and the aspects that are of most concern for users new to the world of Linux. A few of those aspects may need a bit of an explanation.

First there’s the Release Model. Generally speaking, there are two types of models:

  • Point—A point release distribution puts out installation images on a fixed schedule.
  • Rolling—A rolling release distribution releases updates continually and eschews version numbers altogether.
Next there is the Init System. Although this particular aspect may not be a big concern to the new user, there are those who prefer to choose one type of init system over another. Many modern systems have migrated over to systemd—which has caused much upheaval in the Linux community (systemd is, however regularly updated, solves real-world problems that other systems can’t, and offers a much stronger feature set than other init systems.)

Beyond that, you should have no problem using this tool to help you get started on choosing a Linux distribution. Remember, however, that there are nearly 1,000 active Linux distributions at the moment. If you don’t find one here that offers exactly what you need, head over to Distrowatch and you can check out every currently listed version of Linux.

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