Before talking about the major Linux distributions, let's take a quick look at the history of Linux. Many other operating systems such as Darwin (Max OS X), SunOS (Solaris/Open Solaris), and Windows NT (XP/Vista/7), Linux is well known fully-networked 32/64-Bit Unix-like Operating System and widely used today. The Linux kernel, which is the main system component of Linux, was written by a Finnish student, Linux Torvald. Linux was posted on Internet since 1991. Linux is free and open source software, which released under the license of the GPL (General Publish License). Many people said Windows is better than Linux because window has user-friendly graphical interface. But Linux is not that far away from Windows when it comes to a Command Line Interface (CLI) or a Graphical User Interface (GUI) nowadays. In fact, Linux is now easily to use as Windows. Linux has at least a dozen different highly configurable graphical interfaces. KDE and GNOME are the two most commonly used graphical interfaces today. The first graphical interface introduced by Linux was KDE (Common Desktop Environment), which founded in 1996. GNOME is the latest user interface. Linux has many versions or flavors which people called the Linux Distributions. Each distribution has different focus, specific set of files, and installer. Especially, it has its own distributed version of the Linux kernel. The three distributions of Linux I want to talk about are Debian Fedora, and Ubuntu.
The first most well known Linux distribution is Debian. It was founded by Ian Murdock in August 16, 1993, which was named after him and his wife, Debra Lynn. It is one of the oldest, most stable, and popular Linux distributions. Debian is a free distribution of the Linux based operating system. It is released under the GNU General Public License and other free software licenses. In fact, there are many distributions which are based on Debian, including Ubuntu, Dreamlinux, Xandros, BackTrack, Parsix, Knoppix, Linspire, MEPIS, and many others. Debian runs on almost all personal computers, including older models. A larger number of computer architectures, which range from the Intel/AMD 32-bit/64-bit architectures for personal computers to the ARM architecture for embedded systems and the IBM eServer zSeries mainframes, are also generally supported by each new release of Debian. Another feature of Debian is the APT package management system. It allows for an easy automated installation and packages removal. Also, Debian is designed to be simple to install and configure. The installation process is as modular as the system itself. All packages are installed independently of the base system, which can be installed less than ten minutes, with the Debian package maintenance system called dpkg. Dpkg allows the administrator of a Debian system easily to install, remove, upgrade and obtain information both installed and not-yet-installed packages. Debian always has at least three releases modes: stable which contains the latest officially released, testing which contains packages that haven't been accepted into a stable release yet, and unstable which is still under development. Debian has been released ten versions; the new 6.0 versions will be released in 2010. The code names of Debian release are the names of characters from the film Toy Story, such as, Debian 2.0 known as "hamm, Debian 2.1 called "slink, Debian 5.0 named "lenny. Debian minimal hardware requirements are: Pentium 4 processor at 1 GHz, 64 MB of memory, and 1-5 GB of hard drive space. Because of its security, stability, and ease of installation, Debian was selected for the most used Linux distribution.
The second most popular Linux-based operating system is Fedora. It was created in late 2004, developed by Fedora Project, and sponsored by Red Hat, which founded in 1995 by Bob Young and Marc Ewing. The name of Fedora came from a volunteer project, Fedora Linux, which provided extra software for the Red Hat Linux distribution and from the characteristic Fedora which used in Red Hat's "Shadowman logo. Fedora contains free and open source software. It is also licensed under GNU GPL and various others. Fedora is distributed in several different ways, such as Fedora DVD/CD set, Live images, and Minimal CD. Fedora focuses on security. One of the security features in Fedora is Security-Enhanced Linux. Fedora Project has released about eleven versions of Fedora. Fedora Core was the first version of Fedora and was released on November 6, 2003. The current version is Fedora 12. Basically, Fedora Project releases new version every six months. There are some new features added as each new version of Fedora has been released. Also, there were two main repositories before Fedora 7. They were Core and Extras. While Fedora Core was maintained by Red Hat developers and the packages were distributed along with the installation CD/DVDs, Fedora Extras was not distributed along with the installation CD/DVDs and was community-maintained. At all, Fedora is one of the community distributions that easy to download, install and use.
Last but not least on major Linux distributions is Ubuntu. Ubuntu was considered to be the most popular Linux distributions, and was first announced in September 2004. Ubuntu was released a month after GNOME releases. It is a complete desktop operating system which based on the Debian Linux distribution. "Ubuntu is an ancient African word, meaning "humanity to others, and is distributed as free and open source software. The main license used is the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL), which goes along together with GNU Lesser General Public License (GNU LGPL). Also, Ubuntu was created by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth and is currently funded by his company Canonical Ltd. Ubuntu contains all the applications such as a web browser, office suite, media apps, instant messaging and much more. There are about more than ten versions of Ubutun have been released from October 2004 till October 2009. The new Ubutun 10.4 Lucid Lynx will be released in 2010. In general, each new version of Ubuntu is released every six months and each Ubutun release is also given a code name which using an adjective and an animal with the same first letter, such as "Warty Warthog and "Dapper Drake. In addition, Ubuntu mainly focuses on usability and security. People will get free security updates for at least eighteen months on the desktop and server. Other special features of Ubutun also include an installable live CD, desktop themes, and creative artwork. People can easily install Ubutun to the hard drive from the live CD without restarting computer before the installation. Furthermore, the minimum system requirements for desktop version of Ubuntu are processor 300 MHz (86), at least 256 MB memory, 4GB of hard drive capacity, VGA video card at 640 by 480.
In conclusion, Linux is one of the popularly used operating system and is free and open source software. Linux distribution is a collection of software applications built on top of the Linux kernel and operating system. Even though there are approximately three hundred Linux distributions, but I consider Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu as the most popular Linux distributions. As we see that Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu offer the same base Linux kernel and system tools. However, their installation method, applications and configuration are different, as each distribution has its own features and uses.