Six Top Linux Distributions

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You want distros, you got 'em. In fact, you've got more than you can possibly handle.

Ultimately, you'll stick with only one, but while you're figuring out which one that is you have nothing to lose.

Do yourself a favor and install only one at a time, unless you have a good third-party boot manager and you know how to use it.

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Ubuntu ( Our recommendation for beginners, this extremely popular distro has a default GNOME front end, installs quickly and easily and comes with reliable partitioning software. It's also available as Kubuntu if you prefer working in KDE. Available as a single-CD installation.

Mandriva ( Available as a single-CD installation called Mandriva One, Mandriva (formerly Mandrake) can also be obtained as a commercial release if you want full tech support. Of particular interest to newcomers is Mandrive Flash (about $120), a 4GB USB key that runs the OS through a USB port.

Fedora Core ( Fedora is the free version of Red Hat Linux (, and was once offered in free and supported versions by Red Hat. Now it's a free download and a continuingly popular one, a kind of ongoing research lab for Red Hat's paid products.

Slackware ( If you want to see what -pretty much all Linux download and installation routines were like eight or nine years ago, head for the Slackware site. Slackware aspires to be Unix, not Windows -- which is a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your needs.

Freespire ( This is the free version of the well-known Linspire, which was known as Lindows until Microsoft's lawyers stomped all over it. Easy to install and work with, Freespire and Linspire are designed specifically for Linux newcomers. For $49.95, you might appreciate the support you get with Linspire.

OpenSUSE ( This distro is the free version of SUSE, Novell's enterprise Linux version. It has a well-written installation routine and a strong collection of included software.

And on and on ...

For lists of the vast array of distros out there, see the following sites: DistroMania (, and If you want to buy affordable CDs or DVDs rather than download, try, or

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