A free software distribution (often called distro for short) consist of a large collection of software applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, media players, and database applications, provided along with the base free operative system.
The freedom for modifying and redistribute the free software code makes possible to create custom solutions for specific needs. That is why beginning with GNU/Linux and FreeBSD systems, today we can find hundreds of different ready-to-install free software distributions.
Of course you can also explore the web by yourself and visit wikipedia topics about free software!
Extracted from Wikipedia: DistroWatch is a website which provides news, popularity rankings, and other general information about various Linux distributions as well as other free software/open-source Unix-like operating systems such as OpenSolaris, MINIX and BSD. It now contains information on several hundred distributions.
The creator, Ladislav Bodnar, started in 2001 with a table comprising of 5 major distributions and a chart comparing price, version, release date and a few package versions (Kernel, KDE, Gnome, XFree86, Apache). Since then he kept adding more distributions, features and packages and decided to share the table with the Linux community worldwide, moving the information into an HTML document.
Nowadays in www.distrowatch.com you can find reviews of your favorite distribution. Every review contain a summary describing the distribution special features, screenshots so you can learn how it looks like, links to the main page, forums, downloads and so, recent news about the distribution, and many other interesting information.
The site includes an advanced search page with package searchs and criteria filters, for example in Category filter you can search Educational distributions or distributions for old computers, or you can use other filters as “desktop used”, “based on”, or status (active, discontinued…)
GNU/Linux Distro Time Line
In futurist.se/gldt you can download a cladogram (diagram representing tree of life) of GNU/Linux distributions, placed on a timeline. The main branches are Debian, Slackware and RedHat. You can contribute to the project sending corrections or distributions to include. They also began another tree for BSD that you can improve by your own. The program used for create the trees is gnuclad.
Linux Distribution Chooser
In www.zegeniestudios.net/ldc you can make a test (in your favorite language) to help yourself to decide which linux distribution install on your computer.
The test includes simple questions about your level of computer knowledge, the type of computer where are you going to put the software, the level of linux knowledge and desktop preferences, if you prefer stable and tested or new and experimental software, and other particular things as include Live-CDs or not.
The results brings a list of linux distributions ordered by “percentage matching” showing a summary explaining the distributions, links to main page, screenshots and downloads, and if the matching is not 100%, it explains the potential problems that you can find.
FreeBSD Flavours and projects
In www.freebsdnews.net/systems you can find short reviews about desktop systems, firewalls, network attached storage, live CDs, pocket size systems based on FreeBSD. There are a few comments about discontinued systems too.