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Based on the Linux kernel, Google's mobile operating system is gaining market share against Apple's iOS. With market share nearing 50 percent, IT staff are probably already supporting Android phones and tablets within the enterprise.

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Chrome OS

With Chromebooks publicly available, IT administrators have to think about how to support Google's Web-centric operating system. Chrome OS focuses on keeping all the data in cloud-based applications and uses a plug-in architecture for individual apps.

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CrunchBang is a lightweight Debian-based operating system. IT departments are likely to see CrunchBang on hardware with limited resources. The Linux OS is designed to be fast and has a bare-bones desktop interface which makes it a viable alternative to running Ubuntu on netbooks.

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Like CrunchBang, Lubuntu has low-resource system requirements and is designed primarily for netbooks, mobile devices and older PCs. Lubuntu is a variant of Canonical's Ubuntu operating system and uses the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) desktop interface. Many users unhappy with the increasingly high system requirements in Ubuntu are switching to Lubuntu.

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Based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, this popular community distribution is often used by administrators and developers who need to work with Red Hat, but don't need (or can't afford) the support contract. CentOS is close enough to be almost 100 percent compatible with third-party RHEL applications and has more in common with RHEL than Fedora, Red Hat's other community distribution. IT administrators may encounter CentOS running on servers within business units.

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Linux Mint

Linux Mint is picking up a lot of users disgruntled about Ubuntu's switch to the Unity desktop interface. Linux Mint is built around the familiar Gnome 2 desktop environment, with a few modifications to the launch menu and the software manager. Linux Mint uses both Ubuntu's package repository as well as its own. Administrators familiar with Gnome will have no trouble getting around Linux Mint.

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While Red Hat still sponsors this distribution, Fedora has diverged from RHEL in that it focuses on cutting-edge software and technologies. Fedora was among the first to incorporate SELinux, PulseAudio, PackageKit, GRUB 2, Gnome 3 before other distributions and is popular among users and administrators who want to use the latest tools as soon as they are released.

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A community version of SUSE, this is a popular distribution using the KDE desktop environment. It feels the most familiar to Windows users, especially now that GNOME and Ubuntu have shifted away from the desktop look and has strong Microsoft Office support. It also uses YaST, an entirely different package manager from Red Hat-based distributions which use yumand Debian/Ubuntu-based managers, which use apt to install new applications and libraries.

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One of the older distributions available, it is still popular as a server distribution among users who don't want to deal with all the extra features in Ubuntu Server. Debian requires administrators to be experienced with Linux and able to dig into the guts of the operating system.

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Oracle Linux

Organizations heavily invested in Oracle may choose to use Oracle Linux instead of RHEL in their environment. The "unbreakable" Linux distribution is essentially a re-skinned version of RHEL with a hardened kernel, with the only difference being its price tag.

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