Understanding Linux Operating Systems

While there are many different versions of Linux available, it can be difficult to understand the differences between them. Depending on your individual preferences and system requirements, you may decide that one flavor of Linux operating system, also known as a distribution or distro, is best suited for your needs. In this article, we will assist in understanding the various Linux operating systems and how they differ from one another.

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Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, also known as Xenial Xerus, was released in April 2016. This version of Ubuntu differed from previous versions by adding support for Ceph and ZFS filesystems as well as an LXD hypervisor for OpenStack operations, which makes Ubuntu a useful operating system for those looking to automate their workflow. 

Ubuntu 18.04

Ubuntu 18.04, also known as Bionic Beaver, was released in April 2018. This version of Ubuntu introduced new features such as color emoticons and the ability to perform a “Minimal Install” of the software upon installation, which only includes a web browser and various system utilities. This lightweight version of Ubuntu may be preferable for users with limited system resources. 

Ubuntu 20.04

Ubuntu 20.04, also known as Focal Fossa, is the latest version of Ubuntu with Long Time Support (LTS) and was released in April 2020. As it is an LTS version of Ubuntu, the software will be maintained for 5 years with regular updates and bug fixes. This version of Ubuntu offers support for current-generation CPU hardware as well as an updated GNOME user interface that includes a revamped login screen. 

Xubuntu Desktop 16.04

Xubuntu is a version of Ubuntu that uses the XFCE user interface instead of the GNOME interface typically used by Ubuntu installations. The XFCE interface is designed to be more lightweight and less resource-intensive than GNOME, while still being easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. This operating system may be better suited for those with less powerful computers that are still looking to get the features and usability offered by standard Ubuntu installs.


Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is a subscription-based Linux operating system developed for commercial enterprises. While RHEL restricts re-distribution of the officially-supported versions, it freely offers the source code, making it possible for other organizations to create free versions that use the same source code. For this reason, RHEL has become a staple in the web hosting industry and has allowed for the development of free software such as CentOS. 


CentOS 7

CentOS 7, released in July of 2014, is a free Linux distribution with community-based support that uses RHEL as a source. While RHEL requires a subscription to use, CentOS 7 offers a free alternative that uses the same source code. Support for CentOS is mostly provided by members of the community in forums, mailing lists, and online chat rooms, as opposed to the support offered by the Red Hat organization when paying for a subscription to use RHEL. 

CentOS 8

CentOS 8, released in September 2019, is an updated version of CentOS that includes a wide variety of system improvements, ranging from network functionalities to package management utilities. This new version offers support for new versions of PHP and OpenSSL and adds additional security features. It also offers additional features for virtualization, making CentOS 8 the obvious choice for those looking to set up virtualized server environments using the latest software. 


Debian is one of the oldest operating systems that are based on the Linux kernel and provides a free, open-source solution for home desktop computers and web servers. It was first developed in June 1996 and has served as the basis for other Linux distributions such as Ubuntu. 

Debian 9

Debian 9, also called Stretch, was released in June 2017, was largely an improvement upon past versions of Debian, with an updated Linux kernel, updated GNOME user interface, as well as several other software updates. 

Debian 10 Stable

Debian 10, also called Buster, was released in July 2019 and improves on previous versions by including support for UEFI Secure Boot and AppArmor, making Debian 10 the obvious choice for users concerned with security.

Additional Operating Systems


OpenSUSE, first released in October 2005, is a Linux distribution that shares a code base with SUSE Linux Enterprise, providing a free alternative to the paid enterprise software. OpenSUSE was developed with software developers and system administrators in mind, while still providing a user-friendly interface and a variety of features available for use in software environments. OpenSUSE supports a wide variety of software packages, making it a highly customizable and dynamic solution for users looking to get the most out of their Linux workflows. This distribution is the obvious choice for system administrators and developers looking for an ideal desktop or server environment. 


CloudLinux is a Linux distribution designed with shared hosting providers in mind and is based on the CentOS operating system. The main feature that makes CloudLinux stand out is the Lightweight Virtual Environment, a self-contained server environment that uses all of its own resources, making it an ideal jumping-off point for users looking to set up a shared server environment. This makes CloudLinux the obvious choice for users looking to resell server hosting. 

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