Linux Distributions

There are many Linux distributions or distros.

Linux Distribution Families

Linux Distribution families featured on this post:

  • Debian-based
  • RPM-based
  • Pacman-based


Debian was released in 1993.

Debian was very close to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) during the 90s.

Debian-based distros:

  • MX Linux
  • Ubuntu

Ubuntu was released in 2004, based on Debian.

In Ubuntu family we can find, among others:

  • Ubuntu and derived flavours (Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, etc.)
  • Linux Mint


Red Hat is the name of the company that develop Linux operating systems, being Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) its flagship. RHEL requires a paid license.

RPM-based are known like this because of .rpm packages.

Red Hat released also CentOS, that was the free rebuild of RHEL. Nevertheless, it was discontinued in 2021. CentOS project was forked into other projects like Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux.

Among the Red Hat-based OS, we can find:

  • Fedora
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)
  • Rocky Linux
  • AlmaLinux

SUSE was released in 2000.

OS within SUSE family:

  • openSUSE
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise

Mandriva also belongs to RPM-based.


Arch Linux was released in 2002.

Pacman-based OS:

  • Arch Linux
  • Manjaro

Non-GNU/Linux distributions

There are some distributions that do not use GNU project utilities. Then, they cannot be called GNU/Linux.

Chimera Linux

Chimera Linux replaces GNU with BSD utilities. It could be considered a BSD/Linux OS.

Official web

Alpine Linux

Alpine Linux is a minimalist distribution that replaces GNU with other FOSS libraries.

Official web

Distributions approved by Free Software Foundation (FSF)

Free Software Foundation (FSF) disapproves any Linux (or, as it suggests to call, GNU/Linux) distributions that is not considered free based on the free system distribution guidelines. The main reason to disapprove a Linux distro is that it contains any sort of proprietary software, including firmware drivers. If this proprietary software is installed only by user’s choice (e.g., when user marks an optional checkbox), it is disapproved. Holding proprietary software on one of the distro servers or providing official instructions about how to install proprietary software also disqualifies the distro.

Because of these strong requirements, most (if not all) the distributions on this post are disapproved by FSF. You can find a list of Linux (or GNU/Linux) distributions disapproved by FSF with the corresponding explanation on this external link.

FSF maintains a list of Linux (GNU/Linux) distributions that are considered free on this external link.

Defunct Linux Distributions

Relevant defunct Linux distributions:

  • Caldera OpenLinux
  • Turbolinux

External references

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