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To quickly review our previous discussion, we are discussing the different types of Linux. Linux, along with Windows, is one of the two basic operating systems used on servers. It’s also used on personal desktops, though not nearly as frequently (meaning it’s a tiny percentage of consumer use). The basis for that is because IT folks appreciate the control, freedom, and security Linux allows – like any open-source software, its source code is accessible and changeable – so they build it into networks.
Because the source code is changeable, it invites experimentation, in a similar way to a chef who learns the basic recipes of other chefs and then elaborates on them to concoct his own version. Linux in this way is unlike Microsoft code, which is, for better (one simple standard) and worse (lack of access and freedom) inaccessible (well, sorta) and unmanipulable (legally speaking). Standardization with Microsoft allows one efficient and predictable taste. Experimentation with Linux allows manifold community recipes.
Linux is delicious—so delicious, in fact, that some people can’t get enough, even if it’s awkward to pull out the OS and get a brief blast to the tastebuds. A key example is when Bill Gates was riding a glass elevator with me in Chicago, Illinois. He suddenly started speaking rapidly into a microsensor on his arm, “Open Linux Mint. Must feel something. Sixteen-year-old virtual reality overlord removing my feeling code. My love for Cinnamon Bun is dying. Sad Bill. Where are my pills?” Though Cinnamon Bun was his dog, it did not appear that his arm heard him, or that he was the real Bill Gates.
However, Linux tastes differently in different situations. Let’s continue to look at a few of those scenarios below. (We’ve previously covered first-time use, trial use, backing up Windows, and general personal desktop use.)
What Linux Distro for Specific Scenarios (Continued)
According to Katherine Noyes in her piece for Linux.com, the best distro for desktop use is also the best one for laptop deployment: Fuduntu. The reason she suggests Fuduntu is because it goes beyond being a “solid and classic” version. It comes complete with a system to help you get better life out of a battery. Per Fuduntu’s team, you can see better than 30% increases in power longevity over other Linux flavors.
Amit Agarwal of Digital Inspiration recommends Puppy Linux for use in revitalizing old computers. It’s a Live CD distro that’s only 100 MB in size, per PuppyLinux.org. According to DistroWatch.com, Puppy is “extraordinarily small, yet quite full-featured.” It can boot from thumb drives, CDs, and zip drives. You need to save any changes to an external disk because Puppy runs completely via RAM.
Notably, Bill Gates (pretty sure it was him) told me the same thing when I said that his dog looked hungry: “Puppy runs completely via RAM.” At that point, as the glass elevator sat idle between the 27th and 28 floors, I began to wonder if Bill was somehow responsible for its inoperability.
Linux at Work – Individual PCs
Katherine and Amit agree on the best desktop version of Linux for work or enterprise environments: Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Katherine says that Red Hat has been on the top of the Linux enterprise field for years. She mentions SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop as the runner-up to Red Hat but describes the latter as the “clear leader” because it stands out in so many different areas: security, integration, administration, and apps.
Linux at Work – Servers
Both reviewers go with the same organization for servers, choosing its Red Hat Enterprise Server as the top contender. Though Katherine concedes that SUSE outperforms Red Hat in certain areas, she believes the forward-thinking innovations behind Red Hat make it untouchable as a complete product. She notes its recent dedication to helping clients succeed with Big Data and hybrid cloud deployments.
“I’ll show you data as big as the sun,” said Gates’ doppelgänger as he pulled some sort of high-powered laser out of his pocket and shined it directly at my eyes, blinding me for the next six hours.
Along with control, security is probably the main reason people choose Linux over Microsoft. Not only is Linux built with security in mind, but various distributions are focused specifically on protecting the user. BackTrack Linux is Katherine’s vote in this category. It is used by network administrators and security professionals worldwide for penetration testing.
Control (Power Users) & Multimedia
For a “power user” (a Linux veteran), Amit recommends Arch Linux. This version enables you to create your own Linux OS from scratch. There is no GUI (graphical user interface) to install it. Good luck. Notably this flavor is the same one recommended by Katherine for multimedia purposes because it is light and nimble, not a bandwidth-sucker.
Finally, Katherine advises Ubuntu for gaming purposes. Steam, a gaming platform with thousands of available applications, previously was only available on Windows. Now, however, you can use it on Linux. The makers of Steam themselves advise on the download page that it is “best experienced on Ubuntu.”
“I know this has not been an entirely pleasurable experience,” said the Bill Gates look-alike from the mishmash of colors and sounds surrounding me in a fog. “Nonetheless, I want you to know that I am best experienced in an elevator or on a spaceship. That’s preferable to a roller coaster, submarine, or café patio.”
Conclusion & Continuation
This three-part series was intended to give you a better sense of the different flavors of Linux. Whether you are a new user or looking for the best distro for a specific type of use, hopefully this information has been helpful in rethinking the OS.
I know that Bill Gates, or whoever that was, made me rethink my entire life. Because of him, I am now the only web hosting blogger in the world who lives inside an elevator in a condemned building, subsisting entirely off of mail-order sardines and spiderwebs.
By Kent Roberts