You may already know that a Linux "distro" is a careful selection of software packages running on top of the Linux kernel. Each distro is maintained by a group of software developers, with each developer focused on different software packages that go to make up that distro. These individuals make sure the software they're responsible for is up-to-date and doesn't conflict with other software included in that distro.
The latest Debian Linux 10, for example, has more than 13,370 new software packages, with a total of over 57,703 software packages available in Debian's "repositories".
A software "repository" is an online directory filled with software packages. Debian Linux sorts its packages according to their state of development. Their primary repository is named "Stable". It contains current releases of stable software packages. Debian also has repositories named "Testing" and "Unstable", reflecting the state of development the software in those directories is classified as.
A typical Linux distro consists of, among other things, the Linux kernel, a boot loader, various tools and required libraries, a graphical desktop environment (DE), a windows manager, a web browser, an email client, databases and essential documentation.
Depending on the focus of a particular Linux distro, it may contain software packages for network administration, desktop applications, forensic tools, scientific and research software, educational software, multimedia applications, server software, etc.
Linux started some 25 years ago, initially focused on server systems. Today it's in use world wide powering web servers, file servers, mail and news servers, internet gateways, wireless routers and firewalls. Likewise it powers all of the world's 'Super Computers', plus it's now widely used for desktop computing as well.
Linux powers the software that renders the CGI video we enjoy in movies these days, and has processed entire movies beginning as far back as Titanic, Toy Story and Shrek.
Linux powers automotive applications, on-board computers, NASA's space related projects, military, governments, logistics and engineering environments at every level. Linux servers run the world’s stock exchanges as well as its internet search engines.
This past decade has seen Linux move forcefully into personal computing, challenging the 'big boys' who for so long a time felt they exclusively 'owned' that market, treating their users as simply cogs in their corporate wheels. However, with its unmatched flexibility and rock solid stability, desktop Linux has become a highly favored platform for text processing, graphic design, desktop publishing, spreadsheet calculations, email, web surfing, audio, chat and video. Additionally Linux powers multiple billions of Android phones, countless Smart TVs, plus the fastest growing segment of today's PC market in Google's Chrome OS powered computers.
Distrowatch lists hundreds of Linux distros in various stages of development and use. Major desktop distros include, among others, Debian Linux, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Fedora, CentOS, openSUSE and Arch Linux.
People interested in Linux often ask which distro they should begin with? My suggestion, based on years of experience with Linux on the desktop, would have Linux Mint, MX Linux and Ubuntu at the top of that list, in that order. Each of these distros is highly stable, regularly updated, freely available to download, install and share with others, and flexible enough to fit virtually any purpose a desktop computer can be used for.
If as a Windows 7 user you'd like to quit worrying what the next 'curve ball' Microsoft is preparing to throw at you will mean, or how much it will cost to stay somewhat ahead of the Windows 'curve balls' you know are coming, and you're feeling the heat as Microsoft winds up to deliver its final "end of life curve ball" pitch for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020, then consider this - with winter's ice and snow in the northern hemisphere beginning to take hold, and bikes being put away till spring, take some time and give Linux on the desktop a go for yourself!
Put the fun back in personal computing for a change! Don't simply settle for what Microsoft wants to saddle you with in Windows 10 and beyond with their 'strike three end of life curve ball' for Windows 7 coming your way the 14th of January.
There are outstanding desktop OS options, modern, secure, easy to use, flexible, fully capable operating systems available with Linux Mint
, MX Linux
, or Ubuntu
. As you prepare for the inevitable "end of life" for Windows 7 that you know is coming, these freely available desktop Linux OS options will open a whole new personal computing door to you that you previously may not have even imagined existing!..