Thursday, January 28, 2016

Linux distros: a signal to the death of Windows

Hi! It's been a long time since I wrote a post, and finally I got the time to do this one. I have written a few articles about how Microsoft will self-destruct itself, and Windows 10 perfectly seems to go into that direction. The forced conversions of Windows 7 and 8/8.1 users to Win 10, the privacy invasion that is inevitable (Privacy Protector for Windows 10 by SoftOrbits seems like a new way to make money!)

And after a long time, finally I see the Linux distros getting mature and stable for daily life use... just love the feels! Ah! The tech freedom we get with Linux.. Android makes a bold statement. Hence.. you know what's the article about.

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There are many plus points to the world of Linux that it is: there is something for everyone. Thousands of distros... Linux nails it. Be it daily life tasks, privacy-centric, mobile, cloud, servers, enterprises, forensics and even gaming... Linux really is the next big thing. And it is all open source and free.

But before that, I want to explain some things people confuse often.. it is so noobish.. and my tech mission cannot allow anyone to remain noob. So, what is Linux? UNIX? GNOME? KDE? Ubuntu? Debian? Packages? Repositories? Bash? And on and on and on...

Linux: it is similar to UNIX according to POSIX standards. But it is a UNIX clone. Developed by Linus Torvalds and some other developers, the most important thing related to Linux is the kernel.
NOTE: Linux is not a derived OS.

UNIX: it is the first operating system that was run on the PDP-7 in 1969. Derived from it was the BSD OS and the Xenix OS, from which came few others like NetBSD, HP-UX etc.

BSD: it is derived from UNIX OS. From it came the FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Sun OS and the famous Mac OS X.

GNOME: it is a desktop environment. It is just like the .NET framework, a framework for developing interfaces for OS and applications for Linux (and for some BSD derivatives).

KDE: it is a community, works of which are the famous framework itself, Plasma Desktop environment and cross-platform apps for Windows, Linux and BSD.

Bash: it is just like the PowerShell or well, maybe an advanced MS-DOS of Linux distros.

Packages: they are just like the setups of Linux distros.

Repositories: Unlike Windows or Mac OS X for which we need to find setup EXEs from file sharing sites, torrent or individual sites, for Linux distros, there is one specific point where all packages are stored waiting to be installed by 2-3 simple lines through Bash. All are categorised properly into stable, testing or bleeding edge. Some even categorise them into software types.

I want to make note of something: people think Linux is:
  • unstable: Debian and Linux Mint are solid ones
  • ugly (the command line): Linux Mint, Zorin OS, Ubuntu and Elementary OS is what you should look for
  • cannot play many games:  While it seems to be true, the scenario is changing with Android implementations for desktops (Android x86 and Remix OS) and the SteamOS.

The stars of the Linux world

Debian

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It is the mother of most Linux distros (~70%). It is the top Linux distro used. It is also the mother of Ubuntu, of which I don't know how many distros are based on. It is the perfect choice for servers and workstations. Extremely stable, and perfect by all means. Only that it is slightly complicated to use, as are many (not most) Linux distros. Ticks all boxes. Just you need to be bit proficient at using Linux.

Uses DEB package format.

Ubuntu

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The child of Debian, now under Canonical Ltd. It uses Unity interface right now, and has just ditched the obsolete Ubuntu Software Center and ads. Since it is part of a commercial company, the privacy concerns have increased. It's popularity knows no bounds. Second to Debian only. Point and click... dead simple to use.

Uses DEB package format.

NOTE: Nearly 20% Debian packages DO NOT WORK in Ubuntu, even though it is a child of Debian.

Linux Mint

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It is identical to Ubuntu in every way. It's just that it is more user friendly and more refined Ubuntu. That means stability at the cost of bleeding edge updates.

Uses DEB package format.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

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It is a mother of many distros just like Debian (though lesser). It was born end-1994. It is targeted at enterprises, workstations and commercial users, hence a less common one amongst ordinary users.

Uses RPM package format.

Fedora

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It is the child of Red Hat distro. A popular distro, it is used on all computers of the Linux creator Linus Torvalds himself. Offers many desktop environments, depending on scientific, gaming or other use.

Uses RPM package format.

Slackware

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One of the three biggies, just like Debian and Red Hat. Though it is important to mention that it is a child of SLS (1992), bit older than Debian (1993). Provides simplicity, while being powerful enough for the likes of workstations and servers. Targeted at servers I guess. Does not come in GNOME flavour, but in KDE and Xfce flavours.

Uses TGZ (TAR.GZ) and TXZ (TAR.XZ) package formats.

openSUSE

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Born out of SUSE in end-2004, it is often touted as one of the best distros for mature Linux users. It is targeted at server and workstation use. A fierce competitor to Debian and Ubuntu.

Uses RPM package format.

SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE)

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This is a child of SUSE which was based on Slackware down the timeline. Top-class distro for enterprises.

Uses RPM package format.

Arch Linux

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One distro that holds its own against the competition. It seems to keep its edge over the others in all terms. Except that it uses a different package manager that goes by the name "pacman" and does not use the traditional DEB or RPM formats. It is tougher to use than the ones known for being difficult to use. You must be a pro at Linux to squeeze the potential out of it.

It is basically a barebones setup which you will transform into something you want. No presets.. sorry! For preset distros, others like Mint look upon you.

Uses "pacman" package manager.

CentOS

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It is basically a free RHEL clone. Being a community-based distro, it gives a tough fight to Debian but eventually falls out. Depends whether user prioritises Debian or Red Hat.

Uses RPM package format.

Zorin OS

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It is a Ubuntu-based distro made to help users switch from Windows XP to Linux, since some users did not want to upgrade their hardware. Certainly a huge step forward to making users comfortable with Linux, especially when you see options to have Windows XP or Vista or 7 layouts for the OS.

Uses DEB package format.

SteamOS

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Valve Corporation really wants to help change the stereotype image of Linux, an OS that is supposed to be boring, dull and not for games. And they have got some success for sure. Boasts of over 1000 game titles in the Steam library and uses very less resources that Windows. A ray of hope for gamers in the near future (especially school and college students).

NOTE: The good thing is... it is Debian-based and has GNOME environment. Also, the Steam client in it is proprietary. Rest is open-source.

Uses DEB package format.

Android

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Do I need to say anything? Really? Okay.. well.. 82% share of the smartphone market. Android is not based on any major distro. It itself is a major one. It has really helped explode Linux into the world. And I really mean "explode". It has Google's proprietary components though. Not in the AOSP.

NOTE: There are hints of it not being privacy-centric.. all your data linked to the NS_ and it is not secure against malware.. the only selling point that iOS really uses till date.

Uses APK package format.

ChromeOS

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The cloud OS. Not available for seperate download, though can be compiled from code. It has made a small dent to the Windows market, though Mac OS X (7% - all versions) is still more significant in the desktop market. Since it is Google's creation, it is not privacy-centric. And the real market that developing nations are, house the adequate internet bandwidth problem.

It is kinda Google Chrome browser acting as the OS itself with its Apps and Extensions increasing its usefulness. Depends on internet connectivity for everything. Sad. Holds back its potential... seriously!

Tails

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NS_ has declared Tor as the threat to spying. Its networking is entirely based on Tor. Plus many tools to to private stuff. It is the easy way to complete anonymity. Trust me on this... hardly better tools to achieve this. Though it has also helped boom cyber crime like easy weapon and drug dealings.

OTHER IMPORTANT ONES

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Kali Linux (forensics), Elementary OS (easy to use), Puppy Linux (lightweight), Ubuntu Studio (media production), Mageia, Manjaro, PCLinuxOS, Lubuntu (lighter Ubuntu), Kubuntu (KDE-based Ubuntu), LXLE (lightweight), Tiny Core Linux (small distro), Bodhi Linux etc. are also minor ones but they hold their own significance.



CONCLUSION

I am sure this will help a lot in enlightening ordinary users about the crazy messy confusing world of Linux, and that it will help users transition into the Linux distros more easily.