My Raspberry Pi adventures have allowed me to interact with a lot of new techies, all very well versed in the hardware department, but lacking when it comes to hands on Linux skills. The Pi’s choice of Linux distro is Debian, chosen probably because of the ARM support but I like to think because it really does hold up the free software ethos more than most (ironic since Pi hasn’t released its firmware code yet!).
So now we’re faced with many techies exposed to Linux and wanting to learn more, but instantly becoming disheartened by the sheer choice of distro’s out there. My advice? Stick with Debian.
Because Debian really is the daddy of many distributions, it’s not only spawned its own child distro’s, but they’ve spawned children too. Ubuntu and BackTrack directly derive from Debian, with LinuxMint and Kubuntu deriving from Ubuntu.
Of course you have a couple of other big players who have spawned their own child distro’s. SuSE has both enterprise\free versions, and Red Hat also having Fedora and CentOS behind it. Adding these two daddy distro’s to your list will give you an almost complete Linux understanding.
There are those specialist distro’s such as FreeBSD which will be a slight learning curve even for most seasons Linux guru’s, but these rarely come up unless absolutely required (or inherited).
So where can you get excellent help when it comes to Debian? Today’s shameless plug is for the great folk over at The Debian Administrators Handbook project (http://debian-handbook.info). Not only have they done a fantastic job of keeping the document up to date with the latest changes in major Debian releases, but the chapters are laid out clearly, with “Back to Basics” sections to remind you of the fundamental Linux lessons you’ve surely forgotten by now.
So if you’re struggling to settle on a distro – Debian is my recommendation, you’ll soon find all the other distributions falling into place.