The illustrated Linux distro newbie guide

Updated: December 4, 2013

Several weeks back, I wrote and posted my 'So I heard you want to try Linux' article in the Netrunner Magazine. In that piece, I highlighted the serious problem clueless users face when switching from the one-dimensional world of Windows to Linux. With so many distributions, package management systems and graphical environments, it becomes incredibly difficult to navigate the hypercube called Linux. So let's make it simple.

Similar to my somewhat humorous Linux World Map, and I still owe you version 2.0 for that one, I have decided to create the illustrated Linux distro newbie guide, which is a lovely, lovely dependency graph, created in Graphviz, showing the family relations for the top thirteen operating systems, as listed by DistroWatch. To wit, I proudly present this work.

The illustrated guide

Now, I have omitted many obscure and geeky options like 32-bit and 64-bit, live and installable CD/DVD versus installable-only media, or the finest nuances between the command line and graphical versions of different software managers. You only get the names of the popular distributions, what they're based upon, their basic package formats, and the desktop environment they use. That's all. Just four options. Sounds simple, no. Well, let's see.

Linux distro dependency graph

As you can see, it's a beautiful, colorful mess. No wonder Windows converts have such a hard time figuring out what they should be using. What is based on what, why and when, why so many different desktops. Shall we talk about kernel versions? Oh, my.

That's it. I hope you like this work. As always, suggestions are most welcome. I will add more options should the popular demand arise. So this is a good opportunity for you to voice your love, grudge and recommendations. Lastly, I used a color scheme that is somewhat similar to the supposedly prevalent hues used in distro logos and their desktop sessions, but don't blame me if my RGB accuracy is off by a few points. Anyhow, I hope you like this. And be shy not showing it to your hesitant, Linux-curious friends!

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