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The six most peculiar Linux distributions of 2020

Within the great (enormous) variety of the Linux ecosystem, with their multiple distributions derived from each other, the truth is that most of them (especially the most popular ones) offer a series of common characteristics in regards to its operation basic.

Some, however, have notable peculiarities in this field. To help users get to know them (and who knows, maybe this way he'll discover his new favorite distribution) we have selected the most noteworthy of those that are still active projects.


Own file hierarchy and default tiled window manager


As you know, Linux is characterized by having a more or less standardized and Unix-based file hierarchy, with recognizable directories like / bin, / mnt, / usr / local, / var or /home.

However, in the case of GoboLinux this is not the case: although it uses symbolic links to maintain its compatibility with other Linux, the directories of this distribution are more reminiscent of Windows: / Programs, / Users, / System / Kernel, / Mount, / Files...

According to its creators, in GoboLinux we don't need a package database because "the file system IS that database". By dedicating its own directory to each program, GoboLinux also allows the user to keep installed (and run) different versions of it simultaneously.

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But that not the only quirk of GoboLinuxIt is also one of the few distributions that offers, by default, a desktop based on a 'tiling window manager' or mosaic window manager (something like the hypervitamin version of Power Toys' Fancy Zones).

That is, after installing it we can forget about finding a desktop environment like KDE, Gnome or XFCE: instead we will find Awesome WM, a window manager that automatically spreads screen real estate between open windows and that is fundamentally managed using key combinations.

Fedora Silverblue

The 'immutable' operating system that we can change without fear constantly


Based on the popular Fedora Workstation and born as Fedora Atomic Workstation, the now renamed Fedora Silverblue distribution allows us to have an 'immutable' operating system.

Let's explain this: compared to traditional update systems based on successive versions (like Ubuntu, for example) or continuous update systems (like Arch Linux), Silverblue uses Flatpack and OSTree technologies (a kind of 'Git for binary files') that allows adding layers to an unalterable and identical base system for all distribution facilities.

Thus, where an installation in Ubuntu would be like changing apartments to move into a better one, and in Arch it would be like living in an apartment eternally undergoing renovations, Silverblue offers us to live always in a flat that never changes but in which we can always add new rooms.

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And not only add: we can also remove them, which is equivalent to having a system of restore points (like Windows) but in which we can go back and forth as many times as we want.

Furthermore, thanks to the use of the Toolbox tool, programmers will be able to test their applications using different 'environments' (combinations of tools and libraries, often incompatible with each other).

Qubes OS

Multiple virtual machines on the most secure OS on the market


Once called the "most secure operating system" on the market by Edward Snowden, Qubes OS has a unique approach to maximizing security minimizing the amount of data that is shared between system components... using Xen virtualization technology to simultaneously run multiple virtual machines for each application or set of applications.

Also, while much of Qubes OS is based on Fedora, each of those virtual machines can be based on a different Linux distribution (and even Windows 7). Further, the border color of each application varies depending on the virtual machine it is running one, so that we can see your security level at a glance.


Interestingly, Qubes OS also has limitations unrelated to the average Linux (or the average operating system, as we are), based on security reasons, such as the fact that not being a multi-user operating system or not being able to work in 'live' mode (from a USB or DVD).

Bedrock Linux

Playing at Linux's Dr. Frankestein


Bedrock Linux is, broadly speaking, a 'metadistribution' that allows us to create our own custom Linux distribution.

That is, thanks to its particular package manager, we can mix and match components from other Linux distributions as we wish. Thus, we could create a custom Linux that has (for example):

  • A stable base system based on Debian.

  • A kernel equipped with the latest patches provided by Arch.

  • An automated package build system like Gentoo's.

  • The Void Linux boot system.

  • Games that are run using Ubuntu libraries.

The complete list of distributions that we can use to compose ours can be found here, although we must warn of something obvious: Bedrock Linux has been in beta for years, and no system built with it is suitable for production environments.


When we can mount a whole system by editing a file


Image | @davidak on chaos.social

NixOS is another quite peculiar distribution that includes features already mentioned in others on this list.

Like GloboLinux, NixOS ignores the traditional file hierarchy to host all programs and configuration files in their own folders inside the directory / nix / store, which allows to eliminate dependency problems between packages and install several versions of the same program.

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If we choose to uninstall any of these packages, its content is not erased from the hard drive if we do not force it manually said erased. The objective of this is to be able to count, as in Fedora Silverblue, with the option of using 'restore points' to reverse and forward in the software installation.

But the really defining thing about this distribution makes use of a 'declarative configuration' model: the installation of the system, or of new individual packages once that one is installed, is carried out by editing a configuration file in which it is specified exactly which services or programs we want to have on our system.

The same file (configuration.nix) will be used to configure other aspects, such as the default shell or the users with access to the equipment. All this facilitates that, just by copying said file, we can exactly replicate said system on other computers.


An innovative Linux in honor of a youtuber


RebeccaBlackOS was the first distribution that included the Wayland graphical server by default (a promising software and eternal aspirant to the throne of the much more popular X11 / X.org) and even today it remains one of the few that allows it to be run from a 'live' session.

In fact, for the last 7 years, this distribution, based on Debian and maintained by a single developer, has become a reference for all those who wanted to take a look at said software and test various desktop environments on it, from KDE or Gnome to more unknown ones such as Hawaii, Sway or Papyros.

Perhaps that is why it is so shocking to discover that is named after a singer and youtuber named Rebecca Black, who rose to fame in 2011 as a teenager for a meme-song called 'Friday'.