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Interesting Linux Distros

July 1, 2010
Technology Editor Bill Wong takes a look at some interesting Linux distributions

http://www.flickr.com/photos/frenchy/ (Creative Commons)

I recently ran across 12 of the most interesting, unusual and useful Linux distros on the Austrailian site, goodgearguide.com.au.

No usually standard distributions are ones I often use such as Fedora, Centos and Ubuntu but these tend to be for desktop or server use. I am using Fedora right now and my servers run Centos along with a number of KVM virtual machines running everything from Windows to Ubuntu.

Still, the article highlights a number of Linux disributions embedde developers may find handy such as Damn Vulnerable Linux. This is actually used as a target for security testing and teaching users about vulnerabilities. CAELinux could be handy for those needing Computer Aided Engineering support where your company has not provided the funds for commercial packages. Then again, it might be what you need as is. Parted Magic is a quick way to manipulate disk partitions although I tend to just use GParted on Ubuntu.

Zeroshell Linux is not a surprise to most embedded developers that deal with headless Linux systems. On the other hand, having a preconfigured Web administration interface along with load balancing, support for 3G mobile broadband connections plus RADIUS support can be a handy starting point or used as an example on how to incorporate these features in your own target platform.

Damn Small Linux (DSL) is for those wanting a compact starting point. Likewise Tiny Core Linux comes in just under 10 Mbytes or 6 Mbytes without a GUI. That's not bad. The article also mentions MenuetOS, a non-Linux OS written entirely in assembly language.

The original article has cropped up on a number of sites like Slashdot. One of the more  interesting comments by JW Smythe that breaks down the base distributions for those in the article.

Of course these are not the only Linux distributions out there that might interest developers. There are a host of vendors like Wind River, Lynuxworks, MontaVista, TimeSys, and the list goes on that have their own embedded Linux flavors for you to choose from. This includes specialized platforms like Tonido's Tonido Plug and other plug oriented NAS platforms I have covered that use Marvell's Armada SoC.

There are many other Linux distributions that embedded developers are involved with that you might want to check out such as Arch Linux. It targets i686 and x86-64 architectures but it also runs on a host of other platforms like PowerPC. There are also platform specific Linux distributions like one for the popular BeagleBoard. It has a Texas Instruments OMAP 3530 and can drive an HDMI display.

So what is your favorite distribution? Add a comment below.

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