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Appendix B. Linux Distribution Competitive Analysis

Appendix B. Linux Distribution Competitive Analysis

As a Windows desktop user the decision of what version of Microsoft Windows to use was probably a relatively easy decision. In today’s desktop PC landscape, the decision mostly lies in which version of Windows XP to use (typically preinstalled by your hardware manufacturer). In contrast, desktop Linux offers you a variety of choices that extends into the hundreds. These different presentations of Linux are called distributions, or distros for short on the discussion boards. Desktop Linux choices are provided by Novell and small companies you have probably never heard of like MEPIS and Xandros, or even by community groups like Debian or Gentoo that lack any formal corporate backing. These distributions have a lot in common; they all use the same kernels though they may be patched differently. They probably have many of the same applications, though they may be offered in variety of configurations. That’s why you should consider your needs and find the one that best meets your requirements. This is the real contrast to Windows or even Apple operating systems; with Linux you can make a list of your needs then you pick which distribution is right for you. You may pay for support only if you need it, once you have found a distribution with your desired feature set you pay only for the media (CD or DVD) and then if there is no seat licensing (per seat subscription options are frequently available depending on the distribution), use that media to install the operating system on many machines without fear of being out of licensing compliance. This idea may be considerably different to those who are used to the one-size-fits-all Windows operating system. To make some basic assumptions on how to proceed with your desktop Linux evaluation, the discussion in this appendix has been broken down into the following groups of Linux:

Enterprise: These types of Linux distributions are provided by companies with established track records and publicly available financial information. CIOs and IT Directors can then make judgments about the vendors’ financial health and ability to provide future services.

Small and Medium Business (SMB): The SMB Linux distributions are those that have the capability to serve a fairly substantial enterprise though they might be considered more of a risk as a result of coming from a relatively small company or one not proven in its ability to provide enterprise-grade solutions. These companies may not have the financial means or track record of one of the large enterprise players, but that is not to say that these solutions are without merit. The distributions are mentioned because they hold some of the most innovative features in desktop Linux or provide exceptional value. They also may be of value when paired with a blue chip services organization like IBM Global Services or other consulting firms.

Notables: The distributions in this category are listed because they could be used in the enterprise or the SMB but have a limited or unverifiable track record or lack a formal corporate backer. Often, despite this, they might serve your desktop computing needs or provide some novelty that would be more advantageous than others.


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