Moving up from last year's No. 10 spot, Puppy Linux is now ninth in popularity on DistroWatch, presumably on the strength of its compact stature and ability to run beautifully even on older or slow hardware. Not only is Puppy "extraordinarily small," as its makers note, but it also loads into RAM, making it extraordinarily fast. On most systems, in fact, boot time is just 30 to 40 seconds.
Last but not least we have Mandriva in this year's tenth spot, down from No. 7 last year. Though it offers some very nice features, Mandriva has suffered from leadership problems, as I noted last year. Still, it rolled out an attractive new release in August, complete with the KDE desktop and a raft of new features for flexibility and ease of use.