Linux Format logo

Linux evolution

We’re picking our best Linux distributions for 2014. It’s always an odd task and this year we’ve decided to take the chance to delve into the genus behind the distros that we use every day. We’ve been inspired by the GNU/Linux Distribution Timeline at which we’ve mentioned before, and decided that we’d explore why the major families in the GNU/Linux world sprang up and how they’ve evolved over the years.

Thinking of them as part of a ‘Tree of GNU Life’ seems to make sense and perhaps the original branches even sprang into existence miraculously. Those original branches have then seen, thanks to their open source nature, a proliferation of mutations and specialisations. While the main trunk evolves over time adding to the entire tree’s abilities.

It’s the beauty of the open source nature of GNU/Linux that the OS can proliferate so readily and take on specialisations that ensure it fits beautifully into specific roles: from dedicated server of the Red Hat line to ideal desktop distros, such as Mint and Ubuntu, off Debian. Just as in nature, where the likes of Australian marsupials appear to exist on their own, Linux breeds one-off varieties like OpenELEC, webOS and Android in its own way. We hope you find this year’s Best Distro feature a fascinating delve into the evolution of GNU/Linux.

One distro that has spawned a phenomenal number of spin-offs is Ubuntu and that’s largely because when it first appeared ten years ago, Canonical went to huge lengths to make it easy to install and easy to use. Something the GNU world appeared to have a hard time getting its head around. Based on that ease of use Ubuntu has become the bedrock for a teeming number of popular spin-offs that specialise in all manner of areas, and as the distro hits it ten year anniversary we celebrate everything that’s great about it.

Alongside that we’ve got an amazing mix of tutorials and features for you to play with. From alternatives to the Raspberry Pi to coding in Gimp. We look at OwnCloud 7, start with Docker v1.0 and continue to advance the Nginx server. Dive in. The free and open water is lovely!