The rankings for Linux distros have seen some constant upheavals over the years. This has been more apparent in the last two years when the rankings showed startling differences when compared to those of preceding years. DistroWatch, which compiles these rankings, has come up with its list of ten best Linux distros for the year that just ended.
1) Linux Mint – The number one slot has gone this year to Linux Mint, which also won the top position last year. The distro is currently in its 14th version named ‘Nadia’. Mint is based on Ubuntu and has seen the introduction of quite a few improvements in the last year. Two notable examples are the release of Linux Mint Store and mintBox.
2) Mageia – Although it branched out from Mandriva in 2010, Mageia today has managed to take over the number two position on the list. This is all the more astonishing considering that it did not even make it to the list in the last two years. However, it’s another story altogether that Mandriva finds itself eliminated from the list this year.
3) Ubuntu – Although holding only the 3rd position, Ubuntu continues to be the face of Linux for many. Its credentials as a worthy alternative to Windows have only got stronger with the launch of version 12.10. However, many of its features have generated heated debate all around. The Unity interface is a fine example.
4) Fedora – Red Hat Enterprise’s free and community Linux version, Fedora has fallen one rung below from its 4th position in last year’s list. The distro is currently available in its 17th version and counts among its strengths cloud capability, good security and usability etc.
5) openSUSE – Another distro that fell down one place compared to last year, openSUSE is now available in its latest version (12.2) with an improved set of advanced features and related infrastructure.
6) Debian – Debian has constantly occupied the middle level in the list over the last two years as it juggles between positions 5 & 6. Hailed as the Linux distro’s granddaddy, Debian continues to win laurels in contests where popularity is the sole criteria.
7) Arch Linux – Yet another distro that has moved down a notch compared to last year, Arch Linux continues to be one of the most popular distros out there. The newest version includes the Cinnamon desktop too.
8) PCLinuxOS – Replete with a lighter ‘MiniMe’ version and KDE desktop, PCLinuxOS continues to remain a popular distro occupying the 8th spot.
9) Zorin OS – With version 6.1 available now, Zorin OS continues to be hailed by many for the seamless transition it offers to Windows users. Here again, Ubuntu serves as the base.
10) CentOS – Ranked number 8 last year, CentOS rounds up the top ten distros list for 2012.