You might not have noticed, but there's more than one Linux distribution out there. In fact, there are hundreds, and the list is growing weekly.
Okay, you probably did notice, but the fact remains that the free software world is, primarily, one of choice, and that means developers can - and often do - scratch their own itches.
When the people behind the Ubuntu-derived Mint distribution decided they didn't like the direction the Ubuntu desktop was taking, its developers created their own desktop environment.
When Red Hat started to charge lots of money for its enterprise distribution, the CentOS project took the source code to those Red Hat packages and re-built versions that were binary compatible for free. There are countless similar stories, and all of them help to make the Linux landscape such a fertile one.
This also means that you don't have to settle on a one-size-fits all distribution. There are ones for fun, for productivity and for online privacy, and there are no rules to say you can't install more than one at once, and use different ones on different machines.
If you want to play with a distribution, many will boot from a live CD, or you can use VirtualBox to create a virtual version, neither of which requires much effort.
But before you get to that stage, you need to know which distributions are the best distributions, and for which occasions. That's exactly what we're going to cover now.
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