This blog post is part of a series of blog posts summarizing our November 2012 meeting electing the best GNU/Linux distribution.
OK, good question. Before diving into a discussion of the various distributions, it makes sense to define what we mean by distribution.
(If you already know what a distribution is and the distinction between a distribution and window manager, you may want to skip this section and read about the first distribution presented at our meeting).
GNU/Linux operating system is free software, and as such, users are
free to take the source code behind the operating system and do whatever
they'd like with it, including "forking" the code to make their own
versions of the OS. This leads to various flavors or distributions of
GNU/Linux which are freely available for people to download, use, and
The end result is a diverse set of
choices for users, each addressing different needs, while at the same
time generally inter-operating with the other distributions or flavors
of GNU/Linux. This kind of diversity and collaborative competition is
at the spirit of free software.
Often people confuse a distribution with, or judge a distribution by, it's default window manager. The window manager
component of the distribution is the part of the operating system that
controls the look & feel of interacting with the operating system.
Currently, the default window manager for Ubuntu is Unity. For Fedora,
it's Gnome 3.
The good news is that for just about any
GNU/Linux distribution, you don't have to use the default Window
Manager. You can usually switch to a different manager and often, can
even decide to use a different Window Manager each time you log in.
This is free software after all, so it respects your freedom to user
your computer the way you want to.