November 22, 2010, 9:44 AM — It's no secret that Ubuntu 10.10, or Maverick Meerkat, is one of the most user-friendly Linux distributions of all time for business and home users.
What many people don't realize, however, is that there are several other Linux distributions out there that are also based on Ubuntu and offer many of the same advantages. Some are focused on a specific niche; others are simply variations on the same general theme.
[ See also: ITworld review: Ubuntu 10.10 scores close to a ten ]
If you're already a fan of Ubuntu or simply want to experience what the excitement is all about, consider the following alternatives for what just may be an even more perfect match with your business's needs.
For Linux Beginners: Linux Mint and Pinguy OS
With version 10, or "Julia," hot off the presses, Linux Mint is the third most popular Linux distribution, behind only Ubuntu itself and Fedora. Many people find Mint even easier to use than Ubuntu, at least in part because it's designed to provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including browser plugins, media codecs, support for DVD playback, Java and other components.
Though less well-known, Pinguy is also another very nice Ubuntu-based distribution for Linux beginners. It features numerous user-friendly enhancements, out-of-the-box support for multimedia codecs and browser plugins, a heavily tweaked GNOME user interface and a careful selection of popular desktop applications for many common computing tasks.
Similar to Windows: Zorin OS
Zorin OS is a Linux distribution designed especially for newcomers who have come to Linux from Windows. Based on the GNOME desktop, it has a Windows-like graphical user interface and many programs similar to those found in Windows. Zorin OS also comes with an application that lets users run many Windows programs.
Lightweight Versions: Lubuntu, Xubuntu and CrunchBang
Lubuntu is a fast, lightweight and energy-saving variant of Ubuntu that uses the XDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) desktop. It is intended to have low-resource system requirements and is designed primarily for netbooks, mobile devices and older PCs.
Also optimized for lower-end machines, Xubuntu uses the lightweight Xfce desktop environment instead. It also includes only GTK+ applications where possible. CrunchBang Linux, meanwhile, features the lightweight Openbox window manager along with GTK+ applications.
For Cloud-Based Netbooks: Jolicloud