Choosing a Linux Distribution

Updated by Linode Written by Ryan Syracuse

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What is a Distribution?

Distributions or “distros” can be described as different operating system versions built on top of the underlying Linux Kernel to support a variety of use-cases and preferences. Since all distributions are built on Linux, most are similar and can be used interchangeably. Ubuntu, for example, is the most popular for it’s ease of use and the ability to abstract smaller configuration tasks for you by default. Arch Linux on the other hand does not provide this simplicity in favor of more control, so that you can fine tune the way that your system functions.

Below is a full list of distributions that we provide, and a brief description of each:

Distribution Description
Alpine Lightweight distribution popular with Docker and security minded users.
Arch Powerful and detail oriented, empowers more advanced users to fine tune their configuration.
CentOS Widely popular in professional and business settings while still being accessible to the average user.
CoreOS Container-focused distribution, designed for clustered deployments
Debian One of the oldest distributions in use, popular, steady, and reliable. Regularly updated and maintained.
Fedora Implements bleeding edge software. Fedora is similar though more advanced than CentOS and great for users who want to use the newest of the new and don’t mind an added layer of complexity.
Gentoo Advanced distribution designed for power users who want more control over their configuration and are comfortable compiling everything from source.
Slackware The oldest actively maintained distribution. One of the most UNIX-like Linux distributions available.
Ubuntu Arguably the most popular Linux distribution, widely regarded for it’s ease of use.
OpenSUSE Provides powerful tools specific to system administration tasks.
Note
Though this list covers most popular distributions, creating a Linode using a distribution that we do not provide is possible. Feel free to follow our Custom Distribution Guide for more information.

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This guide is published under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license.