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LPI Linux Essentials Exam 010-160 - Topic 1.1 - Distributions

A Linux distribution, often referred to as a "Linux distro," represents a comprehensive software package that combines the Linux kernel with a suite of applications. These distros are managed by either corporate entities or communities of dedicated users. The primary purpose of a distribution is to optimize both the Linux kernel and the bundled applications to cater to specific use cases or user demographics. Additionally, distributions often include specialized tools that simplify software installation and streamline system administration tasks. This diversity among distributions results in some being primarily focused on providing user-friendly desktop environments, while others are finely tuned for resource-efficient server deployments.

Distinct Distribution Families

Linux distributions can be broadly categorized into distinct distribution families, each characterized by its unique approach to software management and design philosophy. These distribution families serve as the foundation for various Linux distributions, shaping their core principles and methodologies.

Debian-Based Family

One major distribution family is the Debian-based family. This family is known for its utilization of the dpkg package manager and its strong commitment to open-source ideals. Distributions within this family, including Debian itself, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint, prioritize user-friendliness and maintain vast software repositories while adhering to free software principles.

Red Hat-Based Family

Another significant distribution family is the Red Hat-based family, exemplified by Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). These distributions employ the rpm package format and emphasize stability, making them favored choices in enterprise settings. Notable members of this family include CentOS, Fedora, and Oracle Linux.

SUSE-Based Family

Lastly, there's the SUSE-based family, represented by SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Like the Red Hat-based family, it utilizes the rpm package format and is recognized for its robust support and enterprise solutions. The open-source community-driven counterpart, openSUSE, offers a flexible platform suitable for both desktop and server environments. Understanding these distribution families can assist users in selecting the Linux distribution that aligns best with their specific needs and objectives.

Debian GNU/Linux

One prominent member of the Debian distribution family is Debian GNU/Linux, which originated in 1993 under the stewardship of Ian Murdock. The project presently enjoys contributions from thousands of volunteers. Debian GNU/Linux places a strong emphasis on reliability and aligns with Richard Stallman's vision of an operating system that upholds user freedoms related to running, studying, distributing, and improving software. Consequently, Debian GNU/Linux does not include any proprietary software by default.


Ubuntu, another Debian-based distribution, was founded by Mark Shuttleworth and his team in 2004. Its primary mission is to provide a user-friendly Linux desktop environment while offering free software to users worldwide, thereby reducing the cost of professional services. Ubuntu follows a regular release schedule every six months, with long-term support (LTS) releases occurring every two years.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is a user-friendly Linux distribution based on Ubuntu, which, in turn, derives its foundations from Debian. Linux Mint's primary objective is to deliver a simple and elegant desktop computing experience for users transitioning from other operating systems like Windows. It offers a variety of desktop environments, such as Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce, allowing users to select the one that aligns with their preferences. Linux Mint is known for its focus on out-of-the-box multimedia support and an extensive array of pre-installed applications, making it a favored choice for newcomers to the Linux ecosystem. Additionally, Linux Mint provides long-term support (LTS) releases, ensuring a stable and reliable operating system for an extended duration.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

Red Hat, a Linux distribution developed and maintained by the identically named software company (acquired by IBM in 2019), was initially introduced in 1994. It was later re-branded as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) in 2003. RHEL is tailored for enterprise solutions and is supported by Red Hat's professional services. Some components of RHEL necessitate fee-based subscriptions or licenses. RHEL is renowned for its stability, security, and long-term support, making it a preferred choice for businesses and organizations seeking a reliable and well-supported operating system for their critical infrastructure.

CentOS Stream

CentOS, an abbreviation for Community ENTerprise Operating System, is a Linux distribution that takes the freely available source code of RHEL and compiles it into a distribution that is entirely devoid of charges. CentOS is designed to offer a stable and highly compatible alternative to RHEL. It has garnered popularity in enterprise settings and among users seeking the reliability of RHEL without the associated costs. However, as of December 2020, CentOS announced a shift in its strategy, transitioning to CentOS Stream, which is a continuously delivered distro that tracks just ahead of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) development, positioned as a midstream between Fedora Linux and RHEL.


The Fedora project, established in 2003, concentrates on creating a Linux distribution primarily tailored for desktop computers. Red Hat drives the development of Fedora and frequently uses it as a testing ground for new technologies that may eventually be incorporated into RHEL. All Red Hat-based distributions employ the rpm package format.


SUSE, a company founded in Germany in 1992, initially provided Unix services. In 1994, SUSE released its first version of SUSE Linux, gaining recognition for its YaST configuration tool, which simplifies software and hardware installation, server setup, and network configuration. Similar to RHEL, SUSE offers SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as its commercial edition, suitable for enterprise and production deployments. SUSE also provides a desktop environment along with tailored packages.


OpenSUSE is the community-driven, open-source version of SUSE Linux. In 2004, SUSE introduced the openSUSE project, which allows developers and users to test and enhance the system. OpenSUSE is freely available for download and provides a platform for experimentation and collaboration. It offers various desktop environments and software choices, making it suitable for both desktop and server use. OpenSUSE is known for its active and vibrant user community.

Scientific Linux

Scientific Linux is a Linux distribution developed by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). It was specifically designed for scientific computing and research purposes, particularly in high-energy physics and related fields. However, it's important to note that as of 2021, Scientific Linux announced the discontinuation of its development, and users were encouraged to migrate to other distributions.

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