6 Linux Distros That Changed Everything

6 Linux Distros That Changed Everything

Linux is all around us. From phones to firewalls, from Macs to PCs, it’s getting hard to find electronics that don’t run Linux. Over the years, there have been many distributions (normally called distros) of Linux. Some are full-featured, others are very small, some are general purpose, and others are designed for specific tasks. Love it or hate it, Linux is here to stay.

Below is a list of 6 distros that were milestones for Linux adoption. Enjoy.

1. Debian (1993-present): Back in 1993, only hardcore IT geeks knew what Linux was or where to find it. Released alongside distros like Slackware and SuSE, Debian introduced a new concept… a universal OS that YOU customize. The user would install the Debian core OS and then have access to thousands of repositories containing software installation files. Debian is still available today, in fact… there are many other popular distributions which are based on it.

2. Red Hat (1995-2004): Nowadays, the term Red Hat refers to one of two distributions, Fedora or RHEL.Years ago however, the distribution was simply called Red Hat. This was the first distro to have massive adoption on both the enterprise and hobbyist fronts. Marking a major milestone, Red Hat has become almost as iconic as Linux itself. Even Windows System Administrators have heard of it… and most of them have probably used it. Red Hat is everywhere!

3. Yellow Dog (1999-present): As Red Hat gained popularity, more and more people started to notice Linux. There were several distros available, but almost all were written for X86 architecture, leaving Mac users out in the cold. Along came Yellow Dog (YDL), and PowerPC users could finally get a taste of the Linux experience. Ironically… just a few years later, Apple released Free-BSD based Mac OS X, and YDL became scarce. Still, it was an important milestone.

4. SmoothWall GPL (2000-present, now distributed as SmoothWall Express): From its inception, Linux was praised for its security features. It wasn’t long until people started using Linux as a firewall/router. SmoothWall GPL was not the only Linux-based firewall distro, but it was certainly one of the most popular. It introduced many people to the idea of using a Linux server as a network appliance, another important milestone. SmoothWall GPL became SmoothWall Express in 2002. This distro is still quite popular and distributed worldwide.

5. Ubuntu (2004-present): During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Linux became widely adopted by server administrators and uber geeks. Linux was seen as a capable server OS, but had much slower adoption as a desktop operating system. Distros like Linux Mandrake (now called Mandriva) were marketed as “Linux for everyday people”, but it was Ubuntu that really brought user-friendly Linux to the desktop. Ubuntu proved Linux was a viable option to Windows.

6. Android (2008-present): In 2005, Google purchased a start-up called Android. The firm was busy creating a mobile OS based on Linux to battle the ever-popular Symbian OS used on most phones. At the time, nobody had heard of Android or knew what it was capable of. Today, Android has become the most popular mobile OS in circulation. It is offered on phones by every major carrier, and has even had limited netbook adoption. It has become the Linux distro of the mobile age.

About the Author

avatar KALE: A geek who works in the IT field and lives in Dallas, TX. He is also a music geek who has played in several local bands. Previous to his IT career, Kale worked as a photojournalist. He brings technical advice and artistic counterpoint to the podcast.