A Linux distribution combines the Linux kernel with other software to make a complete operating system. The term “distribution” is sometimes used for other operating systems.

Linux (desktops and servers)

  • Arch Linux aims at keeping simple, light-weight and flexible.
  • CentOS is a community-supported, freely available distribution based on Red Hat
  • Debian has a large number of packages, many supported architectures, a slow release cycle and many derivatives.
  • Fedora is a Red Hat-sponsored community-managed distribution with a short release cycle.
  • Gentoo aims at being highly modular and customizable.
  • Mandriva
  • OpenSUSE is a freely available, community-managed distribution sponsored by Novell (SuSE owner).
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a commercial Linux distribution. The company sponsors many Linux-related projects.
  • Slackware is one of the oldest Linux distributions, once the leader of the field, supplanting the now-defunct SLS.
  • SuSE Enterprise Linux is the oldest existing commercial Linux distribution.
  • Ubuntu provides a tightly integrated core aimed at being simple to install and use; it is based on Debian.

Linux (lightweight and embedded)

  • Maemo is developed by Nokia for their smartphones; it is to be superseded by MeeGo.
  • MeeGo targets smartphones and other mobile devices.
  • Puppy Linux is a lightweight distribution for PCs, focusing on ease of use; it runs from RAM and includes a GUI.
  • SliTaz is a lightweight distribution for desktop and server PCs.
  • WebOS is developed by Palm for their PDAs.
  • The WRT family of distributions (DD-WRT HyperWRT, OpenWRT, Tomato, …) targets networking equipment, primarily home routers.


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