Exhaustive and up to date lists of distributions are available from distrowatch.com
Here is a shortlist of our preferred distributions:
- Ubuntu: Distribution targetted at new users, with a focus on ease of use.
- RedHat: One of the most widely used distributions, mainly used on corporate servers. Does not have a direct free download, instead they support Fedora, but you can also get a free clone called CentOS.
- Debian: The most "free" / ethical distribution, see the debian social contract
- Suse: Very good hardware detection and input support
- Mandrake: User friendly desktop, used to be the best distribution for first time Linux users and desktops.
- Slackware: Lightweight, no complicated tools or configuration, simple installation, ideal for servers when you want to know exactly what is going on.
- Gentoo: Meta distribution where all the software is built from source using automated tools. Useful for making sure that the exact source code and build environment are controlled and readily available.
- YellowDog: for Power Mac
- TurboLinux: was once the leader in Asia
- Knoppix: Live Linux CD, with gigabytes of software ready to use without installation, great hardware detection