Operating Systems and Distributions













There are two main versions of UNIX-like desktop operating systems: GNU/Linux and FreeBSD.

One of the most popular and well known free, open-source projects is Linux, more properly termed GNU/Linux. This section will introduce the major GNU/Linux versions, called distributions or distros, as well as those distributions configured specifically for educational settings.

Here is the main Web site for Edubuntu - the version of GNU/Linux mentioned in the workshop.

Edubuntu is based on Ubuntu, a distribution of GNU/Linux. Other popular distributions include: Debian, Red Hat Fedora, Slackware, openSuSEPCLinuxOS, MEPIS, Mandriva, Gentoo, and KNOPPIX. A popular site for finding distributions and news about them is DistroWatch.com, which lists and ranks the top 300 distros. Another listing of distributions is maintained at LWN.net.

There are many alternatives to Edubuntu, here is a list of some of them: openSUSE, EDU-Nix, and Debian Jr. Musix is a popular multimedia distro from Argentina. Ubuntu Studio is another popular distro designed for the audio, video, and graphics enthusiast.

The Linux Foundation supports the ongoing development of Linux and offers the latest industry news about Linux usage.

The K12Linux Project focuses on helping educators understand the details of using Linux in an educational setting.

The K12 Linux Terminal Server Project provides a server-based solution that allows labs of thin-client computers to run centrally stored and maintained software applications. Running labs using low-cost, thin clients that boot from the server and have no local hard drives saves both time and money. If configured correctly, students can log on to any client and access the same set of programs and personal data files, which are all stored on the server.

Suggested Activities:
  1. Read about the various versions of GNU/Linux and the distros that are derived from them.

  2. Consider downloading and burning live CDs of these distros and exploring their features, similarities, and differences.