Pictured above is the Alpha 5 of SolusOS 2 with the KDE 4.8.4 desktop installed and a few cosmetic tweaks. While there are differences in the various Linux operating systems as I have noted on this blog, it is also true that Linux is Linux.
The great thing about Linux is the ability to configure the operating system to your liking. Just as in the screenshot above, let's say you like SolusOS Linux but want the KDE desktop or the Xfce desktop instead of Gnome, you just have to install it from the software center or synaptic package manager or right from the terminal.
Linux offers choice and freedom for the user. If you like a certain operating system but the developer disappears, you can easily switch to another operating system within Linux and still feel reasonably at home.
Let's say you like Linux Mint Debian but do not like sticking to the Latest software source repository, but would rather have Debian Testing or Sid Debian sources instead. You just change repositories and can get updates as often, and from whichever sources you wish.
Package management is one of the biggest differences in Linux operating systems, but even it is no huge obstacle, but rather learning a few different commands if you decide to do updates from the terminal. Such as using yum in Fedora instead of apt-get in Debian. Yet if you do all your updates and application downloads from a GUI you need not even worry about the command difference.
Desktop interface choice is becoming the biggest difference you will come across in Linux, and quite often you can use your favorite desktop across just about any Linux operating system.
I find myself sometimes astounded at the vitriol on certain Linux message boards, fans of one Linux distribution bashing other Linux distributions. In fairness, we all have our favorites, some have easier installers, better package management, some come with useful codecs and a good selection of software out of the box. There are differences and it is good to compare and decide which appeals most to our wants and needs. But you would think from reading some of the bitter posts about certain Linux distributions that these hated distros were from some other hemisphere and are the first cousin's to Microsoft Windows.
If they have so much in common, then why so many different Linux distributions? Choice is both the blessing and curse of Linux. Unlike Windows, there is not a uniform desktop with mostly uniform applications that places all users into the same operating system box. This can give the appearance of a fragmented user base. Anyone who wants to create their own Linux operating system can do so. This gives us many versions and numerous Linux forks. The great thing about this is that the user has tools and options to configure and personalize their operating system in ways Microsoft users can only dream of. The down side is that with so many configurations on so much different hardware unique bugs and problems can arise, and their is no sense of uniformity among users. I think having the choice and options is worth losing the uniformity among users, but some may consider this the Linux weakness.
I have tried most of the major Linux operating system distributions, and no few forks. I have my favorites, and yet realize that sometimes a certain operating system that is not in my top tier of choices may work better on certain hardware. This is why I never quite drink the Kool-Aide of any particular operating system. To be sure I have my favorites, but if they won't work on some particular hardware, I will use a different Linux distribution that will work well on the hardware in an instant. This is one reason why it is handy to not only have a variety of Linux distributions around on CDs, but also to be familiar with the major Linux distributions.
Linux is all about choice, and in the final analysis comes down to whichever Linux distribution works best for you. There is nothing wrong with having a favorite, or several favorite Linux distributions, but when all is said and done: They are all Linux, with the Linux advantages and tools and freedom that Linux offers to those wise enough to use it. Yes, it's all Linux to me.