Every time there is a new Linux distro that is making a lot of noise in the Linux community, it is just waiting to be forked by someone. Most of these forks are cosmetic in nature and are generally design improvements of user interface and sometimes adding packages not installed by default or removing few not used by many. Some go as far as bundling them with custom kernel or using a different package manager. Ubuntu – being the most widely used Linux distribution – is also not immune to the clone/forks attacks. Today, we will look at some of the well-received Ubuntu based forks out there, which are not supported by Canonical.
Linux Mint is the most popular Ubuntu forks out there – most Ubuntu users who have switched to Mint are generally very satisfied with their experience. The main elements that distinguish Mint from Ubuntu are:
A custom collection of system management tools (Mint Tools)
A Unique user interface with custom theme – a lot better than the brownish theme you get with Ubuntu.
Default installations of plugin so that you can play most common media files out of the box. Unlike Ubuntu.
While Mint uses Ubuntu repositories for all software updates, it relies on its own repository for Mint specific packages.
Ultimate Edition (NOT Ubuntu Ultimate Edition) follows the tradition of Linux forks by having codecs of popular media files easily accessible by default for a better media experience. But unlike Mint, it is up-to-date with the latest Ubuntu build and has its own repositories for restricted drivers and repositories. UE is installed with large number of packages and Desktop Environments by default, hence the ISO is only available in large DVD formats. The author of the project also maintains Ultimate Gamers Edition for game addicts.
Based on Ubuntu 7.10, gOS (good OS) is an excellent example of what you can do with Linux and open source software. The whole distro is designed to work with mostly Google Apps and other online applications (Web 2.0 Apps). Though the design could use some work but IMHO it looks a lot better than Ubuntu default theme. The earlier releases were based on E17 desktop environment – the latest release has moved to Gnome as its interface of choice. You can think of gOS as an improvement of Ubuntu the same way Flock is an improvement on Firefox.
CrunchBang is a lightweight Linux distro with openbox as the default Desktop Environment. It was built with speed, usability and configurability in mind. It comes pre-installed with some popular applications not available in Ubuntu by default including restrictive drivers and codecs.
While there are many Ubutu forks out there, these four are the most interesting ones that caught my eye. It is important to note that, contrary to popular belief, Ubuntu Studio is not a fork but has the blessings of Canonical.