The differences in performance, per se, are negligible. The differences are in management style, how and where files are stored, kernel optimizations. RedHat (speaking of RH Enterprise Linux) is designed for business usage. The programs used are older, the kernel is older, but very stable and mature (current RHEL kernel is based on 2.6.9). The benefit of this is that programs such as oracle can be certified to run on a specific version, because they know *exactly* what versions of various programs will be on that machine by default. RedHat's kernel is also optimized for this purpose. Slackware is based on the unix-style of doing things, so people coming from a solaris or BSD background will feel comfortable in slackware. It's management tools are different, but there's not a lot of bloat included with slackware, so less space is used in an install. I have no experience with turbo linux, so I won't comment on that. Debian has the goal of being entirely free (including not distributing non-free software or those where there are possible copyright infringements). In addition, it's APT package manager is one of the easiest to use. For a more business-like version, look to Ubuntu. There are a large number of spinoffs of debian, such as Xandros, Ubuntu, and so forth. The biggest difference is what you need to do. If you're running oracle, use RedHat (or the new Oracle version of RedHat). If you need a box to run at home, go with debian - installing a new program is as easy as apt-get install (program). If you want to learn the differences more in-depth, pick one, install it, learn it, and then go to the next one.
The Linux kernel which forms the base of Linux started to be developed in 1991 It wasn't until late 1993 when Slackware first appeared that it was in any kind of usable form though - unless you were an uber geek that is. Red Hat Linux 1 appeared in mid 1994 and Debian 1 was released a year later The first Ubuntu (a clone of Debian) didn't get released till 2004
Slackware is the _most_ stable version of Linux. It is also (perhaps) the fastest version of Linux, and because Slackware relies _heavily_ on the usage of the Command Line, Slackware basically forces you to actually _learn_ how to (properly) use Linux. However, if you feel you may be dependent on GUI's (graphic user interfaces) such as how things are done in Windows, Mac & Android, then Slackware is definitely not for you. In short, if you really wish to learn Linux and/or you need rock solid stability - for use as a server, for example - then Slackware is the best choice.
Slackware is one of the original Linux distributions. Unlike many newer distros, such as Ubuntu or Fedora, it does not have a simple program to fetch and install software. Software must be installed manually. This makes customization easier, but complicates updating and maintenance. Slackware is a good way to learn about how Linux works, but it isn't ideal for most new users of Linux.
A Linux Distribution (distro) is lika a flavour. For example: You can go to a dairy bar and ask for ice cream, but you need to specify which kind of ice cream. Chocolate ice cream, strawberry, bubble gum, etc... You can run Linux, but you need to pick a specific type of Linux such as Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Fedora Core, Gentoo, Debian, Slackware, etc.. Different distros are generally suited for different things. There are desktop distros like Ubuntu and Mint, that are focused on end users and doing your day to day stuff like browsing the internet, writing a report for work or school or MSNing your friends. Some Linux distros are meant for running servers. These would be things like RedHat, Debian and Slackware. These will run your company website or an email server.
This is a question without a simple answer. If by "Linux", you mean the Linux kernel, then yes. The source code is available free of cost, and you are free to modify it with only a few restrictions. If you meant "a Linux distro", then maybe. Most Linux distros, such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and Slackware are available free of charge as well, and with similar rights to modify and redistribute. However, a few Linux distros, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Xandros use a lot of proprietary software, and are not made available free of charge.
UbuntuKubuntuXubuntuFedoraDebianSlackwareMandrivaPCLinuxOSDamn Small LinuxRed Hat Enterprise LinuxYellow Dog LinuxFreespireOpenSUSEXandrosGeexboXPuppy LinuxGentooBaltixArchieAustrumiBayanihanBerry Linuxdyne:bolicStudio 64dreamlinuxFluxbuntuGNewSenseFaunOSAntiXCrunchbanggOSDeLi LinuxKnoppixLinux XPVixtaMEPISMach BootMythbuntuSaxenOSSlaxParsixWolvixZenwalk
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