Top 3 Linux Distributions of Sri Lanka in 2015

At the beginning of this year, I started a small survey to find out what are the most popular Linux distributions of Sri Lanka. I posted a poll in the OMG Linux group and received a lot of responses. So, today I thought about publishing the results! The winners of 2015 Distribution Elections are…


#1 Ubuntu

As you can see Ubuntu is the clear winner here. It received close to 50% of total votes. Why? Many people think it’s only because it’s for beginners and most of the users are newbies. Yes, in one way it is true. But we can’t say all Ubuntu users are like that.

  • Some use it because of Unity. I know for some Unity is a nightmare but there are some people who love it.
  • Some use it because of the app support. If some company needs to release a Linux version of their app, most likely they will release a version for Ubuntu first. And PPA’s will make sure everything stays up-to-date.
  • Some use it because of the ease of use. Most of the stuff are pre-configured and it work out of the box. Some people like to use a distribution which can be deployed easily and start working without much effort.
  • Some use it because of the great community support. Because many people use Ubuntu, if you have a problem, you might be able to find the solution easily.

People who say no to Ubuntu claim that it’s unstable and slow. Yes, Unity can be a bit slow. If you don’t have a powerful system or an SSD you might feel it. When talking about stability, I find it a bit more stable. There were crappy versions which did nothing but crashing. But the recent releases have most of the issues fixed. I don’t know about others but for me it’s very stable.

Normally a Linux distribution allows us to use any desktop environment we need. Ubuntu have Unity by default, but there are other versions coming with other DEs like GNOME, KDE, MATE, etc. I don’t know about others, but many GNOME fans seek to use the latest stuff. But unfortunately Ubuntu usually don’t release the latest stuff. They do a lot of testings and then only release a new version. Some say Ubuntu have old versions but trust me when I say this… Ubuntu has a good balance between bleeding edge and stability. If you want to make a bleeding edge distro, you might have to say no to stability. If you want to make it stable you might have to say no to bleeding-edge stuff. Look at Debian, it focuses on stability. The package versions you find there are extremely outdated. In that case, Ubuntu is better! If you are new to Linux or need something stable and something that work out of the box, use Ubuntu.

#2 Fedora

I saw Fedora as one of the first choices people try if they want to give up Ubuntu. Fedora is a very good Linux distribution derived from Red Hat. The main reasons why (I saw) people choose Fedora…

  • It is focused on developers so you will find most of the tools you need in here.
  • It tries it’s best not to modify its software. For example, many others customize desktop environments before adding them to their system. OpenSUSE, OzonOS, etc modify Gnome to fit their systems. People like Ubuntu build completely different apps based on the originals like they have built Unity based on GNOME. But, many people like vanilla versions of software!
  • People claim Fedora is reliable and work the way they want.
  • Fedora is considered as the best GNOME distribution. Fedora/Red Hat are the largest contributors to the GNOME project. That means they know very well how to tie it with their system. If I’m correct, GNOME uses Fedora to preview their latest releases.

Most of the Fedora community have developers. Not many beginners. But it’s even easy to use. The right tools are already there. Like Ubuntu, people also consider about Fedora when releasing their apps to Linux. But that support is a bit less than Ubuntu. I found some of my necessary apps unsupported in Fedora, and they don’t have a system like Ubuntu PPAs yet. But still there’s the option of installing from the source which might not give you updates! If you need a reliable, distribution for some serious work, use Fedora.

#3 Arch Linux

Coming at number three and the personal favorite of people who like action and adventure is… The Arch Linux! This distribution is for experienced people only! People like it because:

  • It is extremely customizable. When I say customizable, I mean it! What they give is just a basic Linux system with only the core Linux packages. Don’t even have a desktop. We have to install everything by ourselves. So, we only install what we want. In other distributions, they come with a bunch of apps pre-installed. Most we won’t use. But in here, we choose what to install.
  • Bleeding edge. They have the latest stuff. They release new versions of software faster than others.
  • Have many apps. Arch’s main repositories have many apps and if what you are looking for does not exist in the main repos, you can always check in the Arch User Repository which is full of community maintained apps. I’m not sure whether it have app support like Ubuntu but I think it has better app support than Fedora.
  • Good community support and better support from official Wiki. If you face a problem, most probably you’ll get an answer from the community and even though you have to do stuff yourself, you’ll find very good, detailed guides on official Arch Wiki to do most of the work.
  • No, bloat. Of-course you install only what you need.
  • Also many use it because they agree to The Arch Way.

People who need to be like hackers use Arch. You need to have some skills in order to use it. But if you need to learn the real Linux way, you better try Arch. It’s not easy but if you manage to set-up a working system, then you have started to learn some advanced Linux stuff. You will start to feel the power of Linux. You will start to see the real core of Linux. Most of the beginner-friendly systems cover this. But in Arch, thing’s are open. You have the freedom to do anything.

In the open source world, the term Free Software doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a price tag. There can be free software which have a price. The meaning of free means, the user have the freedom to do anything he want. And the software won’t do anything without the user’s consent. When Ubuntu introduced online search which send out search data to Amazon without our consent, Richard Stallman (The founder of Free Software and also the first father of GNU/Linux) called Ubuntu a Spyware.

When we look at the definitions it is true! Distributions like Fedora try to minimize these behaviors and Arch try their best to stay clean. That’s why people go for Arch. If you have good Linux experience, try it in a virtual environment and see.

Final Thoughts

These results represent the Linux use of one small country. But for most of the other’s the results are similar. These three Linux distributions are one of the top choices you have. And it’s in the perfect order.

  • Enter into the realm of Linux through the gates of Ubuntu.
  • Get to know some advanced stuff in Fedora.
  • And finally step into the high council of elders inside the great hall of Arch.

One final advice… If you want to pick a distribution to use, don’t use only these three choices. There’s a huge list of choices for you and remember, what’s best for me can become the worst for you. It depends on your personal tastes and your needs! So, choose wisely!