8 Linux Distros You’ve Never Heard Of…

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Linux and Unix - Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Since DistroWatch was so nice to link to me last week, I figured I’d explore their site and see if I can find anything interesting to chat about. One thing that’s always been interesting is their distro popularity meter, which measures how many hits the index page of each distribution gets. It is not scientific by any means – it tells you nothing about whether people install the distro, merely that somebody clicked a link and visited that distro’s listing. Yet it is taken so seriously by some that there was a recent scandal about one distro rigging the chart by generating false hits. The less said about that, the better!

Near the bottom of this list lurks some Linux (and BSD?) distros that never seem to get any news, so why don’t we check them out? Some of these here sound fascinating; perhaps they are underdogs just because nobody bothers to look beyond the Top Ten?

OpenLX – A Linux distro from India based on Fedora core. India is one of the countries where Linux adoption is really going full-steam, so this is significant. It boasts complete multimedia capabilities, support for 6 Indian languages, Java SDK and an extra application CD.

Pingo – It’s a Slovenian Linux distribution based on Fedora Core. Nothing too special to say about it, except that it’s one letter off from the famous classic arcade game Pengo. Now, isn’t that something?

KnoSciences – A Knoppix-based live CD designed for educational usage. It has just about every science or math focused GNU program you could ask for. I’m all for these “classroom on a CD” projects because if people really want Linux adoption, they’ll expose the kids to Linux. Kids can take to Linux software more easily because they are without 20 years of Microsoft brainwashing.

Rails Live – This is a live CD with an instant Ruby-on-Rails development environment ready to go. Considering how unbearably hip the Ruby programming language is, I’d expect that this CD would be a must-have. Ruby fans probably stamp these out and flash them at exclusive rave parties to get dates or something.

BioBrew – A Linux distro just for biologists, enhanced for bioinformaticists and life scientists. It comes with a bunch of software I’ve never heard of and probably wouldn’t know how to use, but appears to be the kind of thing that DNA engineers and biological chemists would know about. Interesting because open source software itself is a kind of evolutionary phenomena. If we ever create artificial life forms like in Blade Runner, they’ll probably be invented using BioBrew Linux. Now where’s my flying car?

VoltaLinux – Linux and BSD – two great tastes that taste great together! For people who can’t make up their minds, this is a distro that blends equal parts of each; a Linux kernel and base system with the NetBSD ports system riding on top of it. Their logo expresses the concept perfectly: A penguin with daemon horns.

GNUStep – This is a GNU project which is a live CD that implements the OpenStep framework, which originally descended from the NeXTStep box, and the family of frameworks and platforms spawned from it and known mostly for CRAzy ranDOM CapITAlizaTION NaMEs. Also it was the foundation for Apple’s Cocoa framework in Mac OS X. Operating system hobbyists should love it.

FeatherWeight – A mini distro in the same spirit as Damn Small Linux and Puppy. Made to be minimalist and run on tiny boxes and old machines. Sometimes it’s the “microdistros” – as they’re called – that pack the best punch!

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One Response to “8 Linux Distros You’ve Never Heard Of…”

  1. Scriptor Says:

    I have tried RailsLive before, hoping for a nice Rails solution in Linux that has everything I needed. While it’s not terrible, juggling permissions and stuff like that can become a pain. For using RoR on Linux I’d suggest simply downloading the Linrails package.

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