Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Different Are Linux Distributions from One Another?

While different Linux systems will add different logos, choose some different software components to include, and have different ways of installing and configuring Linux, most people who become used to Linux can move pretty easily from one Linux to another. There are a few reasons for this:

Linux Standard Base—There is an effort called the Linux Standard Base (www.linuxbase.org) to which most major Linux systems subscribe. The Linux Standard Base Specification (available from this site) has as one of its primary goals to ensure that applications written for one Linux system will work on other systems. To that end, the LSB will define what libraries need to be available, how software packages can be formatted, commands and utilities that must be available, and, to some extent, how the file system should be arranged. In other words, you can rely on many components of Linux being in the same place on LSB-certified Linux systems.

Open source projects—Many Linux distributions include the same open source projects. So, for example, the most basic command and configuration files for an Apache Web server, Samba file/print server, and sendmail mail server will be the same whether you use Red Hat, Debian, or many other Linux systems. And although they can change backgrounds, colors, and other elements of your desktop, most of the ways of navigating a KDE or GNOME desktop stay the same, regardless of which Linux you use.

A shell is a shell—Although you can put different pretty faces on it, once you open a shell command-line interpreter (such as bash or sh) in Linux, most experienced Linux or UNIX users find it pretty easy to get around on most any Linux system. For that reason, I recommend that if you are serious about using Linux, you take some time to try the shell. Additionally, focus on command-line and configuration file interfaces for setting up servers, because learning those ways of configuring servers will make your skills most portable across different Linux systems.

Some of the ways that Linux distributions distinguish themselves, however, are with the installers they use, their package management tools, and system administration tools. Also, distributions such as those sponsored by Red Hat will include new features developed by its sponsors to meet its commercial needs. For example, Red Hat has done a lot of work that is useful for enterprise computing environments, such as virtualization, global file systems, and software distribution tools.

Source of Information : Linux Bible 2008 Edition

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