^Updated^ NOTE: For the article concerning firewall/gateway/router/etc distros, go here - http://www.linux.org/threads/which-firewall-distro-is-right-for-me.5209/ Similar article discussing the different types of distros - http://www.linux.org/threads/about-the-distros.4680/ Aloha! On numerous forum sites, including this one, I see many people ask “I have X computer systems. Which distro should I use?”. These many questions inspired me to write an article that will hopefully answer at least 99% of future questions of that nature. I also hope the great moderator of Linux.org (ryanvade) will direct such people to this article in the future. Debian: Debian Linux will be well-suited for those who need stability. Debian Linux uses older software that is known to be stable. Generally, hospitals that use Linux will use Debian on important systems. Debian is usually a wise choice for a server system because the software is usually stable. The recommended system requirements are 1GHz processor, 512MB memory, 5GB hard-drive. http://www.debian.org/distrib/ Ubuntu: For those that like Debian, but want the latest software and an interface with better graphics, Ubuntu is a common choice. Ubuntu is stable, but many Linux users recommend Debian for critical systems. The average mainstream desktop/laptop user will probably want Ubuntu. The recommended system requirements are 800MB memory, 1GHz processor, and 5GB hard-drive. http://www.ubuntu.com/download Kubuntu: Same as Ubuntu, but uses KDE. Users that dislike Unity may prefer Kubuntu. The recommended system requirements are 1GHz processor, 10GB hard-drive, and more than 1GB memory. http://www.kubuntu.org/getkubuntu Xubuntu: Xubuntu is a lightweight Ubuntu system for older hardware or hardware with less resources. Xubuntu uses the XFCE interface instead of Unity. The recommended system requirements are 512MB memory and 5GB hard-drive (tyr Lubuntu for something more lightweight). http://xubuntu.org/getxubuntu/ Linux Mint: For people that want a Debian-based system, but dislike Unity may be interested in Linux Mint. Linux Mint may come with the MATE, Cinnamon, XFCE, or KDE interface (user's choice). The recommended system requirements are 1GHz processor, 1GB memory, and 10GB hard-drive. http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php BackTrack (Kali): This is a Ubuntu-based high-security system. I would recommend this for Anonymous. BackTrack (now called Kali) is often used for hacking into other systems. Although, that is illegal unless you are hacking into a computer of your because you forgot the password. BackTrack/Kali is also used to evaluate security. Some companies may use BackTrack/Kali to find security flaws in their own system. http://www.kali.org/downloads/ Slackware: Slackware is a simple lightweight system. Usually, Slackware is preferred among advanced users due to Slackware being less of a user-friendly system compared to other distros. The recommended system requirements are i486 processor, 256MB memory, and 5GB hard-drive. Advanced users wanting a lightweight system may prefer Slackware. http://www.slackware.com/ Arch: Arch Linux is a minimalistic system that is supposedly very simple. It is also a lightweight system that is used among advanced Linux users. Advanced users that dislike Slackware may like Arch. https://www.archlinux.org/download/ Fedora: Some Linux users may say Fedora is the RedHat counterpart of Ubuntu (Debian system). Fedora is perfect for many mainstream desktop/laptop users. Fedora handles graphics well and uses appealing interfaces. The recommended system requirements are 1GB memory and 10GB hard-drive. http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora Red Hat Enterprise Linux: RedHat is usually used as a server system. Fedora is the client/desktop system while RedHat is the server “version”. So, if you would like to use Fedora as a server or need a system that is more stable than Fedora, then use RedHat. Puppy Linux: This is a very lightweight system that is usually used on older systems due to the light requirements. Puppy Linux may not have the best-looking interface, but it is still easy to use. The recommended system requirements are 333MHz processor, 64MB memory, 512MB swap, and 1GB hard-drive. http://puppylinux.org/main/Download Latest Release.htm AnitaOS: This is a form of Puppy Linux developed by @Darren Hale intended for old hardware. AnitaOS uses old kernels while the mainstream Puppy Linux uses the newer kernels. http://sourceforge.net/projects/anitaos/ | http://www.linux.org/threads/anitaos-a-diy-distro-you-build-it-yourself.4401/ Damn Small Linux (DSL): This is a lightweight Linux system that requires 8MB of memory and at least an i486 processor. People needing a lightweight system may want DSL if they dislike Puppy Linux. http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/download.html CentOS: CentOS is often comparable to Linux Mint, but CentOS is Red-Hat-based instead of Debian-based. In fact, CentOS is RHEL without the branding. Basically, if you want RHEL, but do not want to pay for it and support, then get CentOS. People who like Linux Mint, but want a Red-Hat system may be interested in CentOS. The recommended system requirements are 256MB memory and 256MB hard-drive. http://www.centos.org/modules/tinycontent/index.php?id=30 OpenSUSE: OpenSUSE is a RedHat-based distro that has YaST and ZYpp. OpenSUSE is available as a rolling release or a stable version-by-version basis. The minimum requirements include 2GB memory, 5GB hard-space, AMD64 or Intel 2.4GHz. http://www.opensuse.org NOTE: Many readers have contacted me through Google Plus or email about the system requirements. These are the hardware requirements set forth by the developers of the distros. I personally disagree with some of the numbers, but that is what the developers recommend for their distro. For all of the mentioned systems, at least one forum site exists for any given system. However, most Linux systems have many forum sites, so help is abundant. I mention this because some people want to select a system based on the available help. Well, that should not be a factor because there are many sites where you can get help. As for software support (not for the system itself), applications of every kind exist for each distro. So, on any given distro, you should be able to find an office suite or what ever application you desire. All of the mentioned distros in this article are being actively developed, so that should also not be a factor in your decision. Generally, for old hardware, use Puppy Linux, DSL, or Slackware. If your hardware is new and you want the “best” distro for your general needs, choose Ubuntu, CentOS, Linux Mint, or Fedora depending on which one you like the best. If you are choosing a system based on your knowledge level of Linux, then use Ubuntu, CentOS, or Linux Mint if you are a beginner/newbie. If you are experienced in Linux and want to further your knowledge, then choose Slackware or Arch. If you are a Linux wizard, then I have no clue why you are reading this. If your concern is reliability and stability, then choose Debian or RedHat Linux. If you like the latest software, then get Rawhide Fedora which is a rolling-release version. If you prefer Debian Linux, then get Ubuntu and enable backports and proposed updates. Arch Linux is on a rolling-release developmental cycle. NOTE: Stability is a relative term that cannot be measured or accurately defined. I refer to Debian as being more stable because the majority of the Linux community agrees with that. However, many people debate about the most “stable distro”. If you are wanting the Linux distro that best supports Windows software, then you should use Windows. Linux does not natively support Windows. To run Windows programs on Linux, try installing WINE (http://www.linux.org/threads/installing-and-configuring-windows-emulator-wine.4368/). Be aware though that WINE will not run all Windows programs correctly or without errors. Some programs run very well while some have minor issues and others may have severe issues. I did not include any of my personal opinions in this article (or at least I tried not to). I included some of the most common and well known distros and the most commonly recommended distros on randomly selected forum posts on many forum sites. There was no bias in the selection process. Okay, maybe a little in not choosing OpenSuse. NOTE TO FANS: Feel free to email me Linux topics you would like me to write about. If I know the topic well, then I will write an article. If there is some Linux topic you or other people have problems understanding, then email me and I will try to write an article on that topic so others can easily understand. Mahalo!