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Top 7 Linux Distributions in 2014

I wonder if you would like to know best Linux distributions. Here they are.

Best Desktop Distribution

Before we get started. I want you to know that the idea of ‘the best Linux distribution’ is a loaded question. This is like asking what is the best brand of car. Obviously, answers will vary place-to-place and person-to-person. Picking the right Linux distribution is all about what you are looking for, what matters to you and what meets your needs. Understand that I may need a whole host of applications that are useless to you and vice versa. Yes, there are Linux distributions that are/were rough around the edges. With so many excellent contenders for desktop Linux this year that it’s becoming a more difficult task of choosing.

Note, I am a little biased and not a fan of Canonical’s Ubuntu. Canonical has made great strides in advancing Linux’s visibility, brand and image in the public eye, of course, while Linux Mint and Fedora are both also very strong choices. Regarding Ubuntu, however, a number of issues have come up over the past year or so, including the inclusion of online shopping results in searches – an addition Richard Stallman and the EFF have called “spyware.” Quite honestly, I came back to using Linux because of the strides made by Canonical in making the Linux desktop, a user friendly and press and play OS.

At the same time, the upheaval caused by the introduction of mobile-inspired desktops such as Unity and GNOME 3 continues unabated, spurring the launch of more classically minded new desktops such as MATE and Cinnamon along with brand-new distributions. Check out our post on MATE vs Cinnamon.

For best desktop Linux distributions, I have to go with Fuduntu, one of this new breed of up-and-comers. Originally based on Fedora but later forked, Fuduntu offers a classic GNOME 2 interface – developed for the desktop, not for mobile devices — and generally seems to get everything right.

Besides delivering the classic desktop so many Linux users have made clear that they prefer, Fuduntu enjoys all the advantages of being a rolling release distribution, and its repository includes key packages such as Netflix and Steam. I’ve been using it for months now and haven’t seen a single reason to switch.

Best Laptop Distribution

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I have to go with Fuduntu for best Linux distro as well. In fact, the distro is optimized for mobile computing on laptops and netbooks, including tools to help achieve maximum battery life when untethered. Users can see battery life improvements of 30 percent or more over other Linux distributions, the distro’s developers say.

Such optimizations combined with this solid and classic distro make for a winner on portable devices as well.

Best Enterprise Desktop Linux

Red-Hat-logo-smThe enterprise is one context in which I have to agree with recent years’ evaluations, and that includes the enterprise desktop.

While SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is surely RHEL’s primary competitor, I think Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the clear leader in this area, with just the right combination of security, interoperability, productivity applications and management features.

Best Enterprise Server Linux

It’s a similar situation on the server. While there’s no denying SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has its advantages, Red Hat is pushing ahead in exciting new ways. Particularly notable about Red Hat this year, for example, is its new focus on Big Data and the hybrid cloud, bringing a fresh new world of possibilities to its customers.

BackTrack logoBest Security-Enhanced Distribution

Security, of course, is one of the areas in which Linux really stands out from its proprietary competitors, due not just to the nature of Linux itself but also to the availability of several security-focused Linux distributions.

Lightweight Portable Security is one relatively new contender that emerged back in 2011, and BackBox is another popular Ubuntu-based contender, but I still have to give my vote to BackTrack Linux, the heavyweight in this area whose penetration testing framework is used by the security community all over the world. Others surely have their advantages, but BackTrack is still the one to beat.

archlinux logoBest Multimedia Distribution

Ubuntu Studio has often been named the best distro for multimedia purposes in Linux.com’s lists, but it’s by no means the only contender. ZevenOS, for instance, is an interesting BeOS-flavored contender that came out with a major update last year.

For sheer power and nimble performance, though, this year’s nod goes to Arch Linux. With an active community and thousands of software packages available in its repositories, Arch stays out of the way so your PC can focus on the CPU-intensive tasks at hand.

Best Gaming Distribution

UbuntuLogoLast but certainly not least is the gaming category, which surely represents one of the biggest developments in the Linux world over this past year. While it may not be relevant for enterprise audiences, gaming has long been held up as a key reason many users have stayed with Windows, so Valve’s decision to bring its Steam gaming platform to Linux is nothing if not significant.

The Linux distro choice here? That would have to beUbuntu, which is specifically promoted by the Valve team itself. “Best experienced on Ubuntu” reads the tag line that accompanied the Steam for Linux release last month, in fact. Bottom line: If you’re into gaming, Ubuntu Linux is the way to go.

Have a different view on any of these categories? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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