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Recommended GNU/Linux Distributions

Pedro Rosario Barbosa

Gentoo Linux ImageGentoo Linux:   For me, Gentoo Linux is the best of all GNU/Linux distributions.  Gentoo Linux is almost the GNU/Linux version of FreeBSD, which is one of the best free operative systems available.  Gentoo Linux uses a utility called "portage", similar to FreeBSD's "port", through which Gentoo can be very easily updated.  For this task, all you have to do is to write as root the command:  "emerge sync" and "emerge world" to keep the whole operative system updated.  Also Gentoo Linux has international teams dedicated completely to patch and solve bug problems of all aplications, as well as they have a great forum to seek for help and solve any problems anyone can have with Gentoo Linux.  Personally, I think it is the most active forum anyone can find in the Internet.  The only two problems with Gentoo Linux is that the one who installs it must be acquainted with GNU/Linux already, because the installation process is using exclusively command interface.  Another problem is that it takes an awful long time to compile the essential components for Gentoo Linux to work, including graphic interface, browsers, etc.  Good news is, though, that in most recent versions, Gentoo has released a second CD which contain the most recent versions of GNOME, KDE, Mozilla and OpenOffice.org in executable form.  Also, the advantage of compiling the entire operative system from the source code of the programs is that Gentoo Linux provide the means to adapt the program to the computer being used.  If you have an Athlon XP, it can adapt the programs to Athlon XP, if you have a Pentium III, it can adapt it to Pentium III, etc.   Also, by experience, Gentoo Linux is the most stable and reliable operative system I have ever found.  It is for now my default operative system.  :)

Fedora ProjectFedora Project:  Fedora Project is what was called before Red Hat Linux.  Red Hat recently decided to invest more in the server market, an leave the basic development of Red Hat to Fedora.  Fedora takes from Red Hat all its heritage.  Let's remember that Red Hat has practically established the stadard in the market.  Like Red Hat, Fedora uses RPMS, binary packages which can easily be installed without compiling the source code.  But Fedora also includes an utility called Synaptic, with which people can update the packages.   Fedora at the present moment is an open community, and anyone can participate to make it better.

Debian LogoDebian GNU/Linux:  Debian was one of the very first GNU/Linux distributions ever created, and it was the first Linux organization that recognized the importance of the aspect of freedom in the area of software.  It also has been the only GNU/Linux distribution that actually calls the operative system GNU/Linux, as it should be.   It has a great social contract and it has been a leader of free software development throughout the years.  It also uses means such as APT  to update the debian packages, it is very stable and easy to upgrade.   However, Debian is mostly directed to programmers and developers who are working on GNU/Linux.

SuSE LogoSuSE:  SuSE has been one of the most popular and oldest GNU/Linux distributions in the market.  For many years it has maintained itself as one independent companies which has made the lead of GNU/Linux in Europe.  Recently it was bought by Novell and will soon be made into a multi-million dollar distribution.   With the purchase of SuSE, Novell will have the lead in GNU/Linux service around the world, exceeding the capacity of Red Hat, which is now the leading GNU/Linux distribution.  SuSE uses an utility called YaST2 for installation which makes it very easy and user-friendly kind of installation.  Also it uses RPMS as means to install its own packages.

For now, these, for me, are the best GNU/Linux distribution around.   I know that there are many of them that are also good, such as Knoppix Linux which runs from a CD-ROM and that I highly recommend.  Also people have been attracted to Mandrake Linux, but Mandrake essentially follows Red Hat and is based on Red Hat.  However, these four are dominating the market and/or are by far the most stable and most professional.

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