Have you heard of Ubuntu? Of course you have. It's the top Linux distribution worldwide. Ubuntu is the first project that made it easy for regular users to really run Linux on the desktop. Ubuntu uses GNOME as it's preferred desktop solution. GNOME is a desktop environment package that allows a single software package to take care of just about everything your GUI hands could ever desire. The GNOME Project recently announced a major version overhaul. This is like the Linux equivalent of a jump from XP to Windows 7.
Many people think of Linux as if it's an operating system in competition with Windows. This isn't really the case. There are some vocal users among the community that live to fight against the corporate machine, but most of us, we just like choices. Linux itself isn't an operating system in the strictest sense of the word. Linux is just an idea about how an operating system works. The easiest way to think about it is as if every individual installation of Linux is it's own operating system. That's the principal difference between Windows and Linux. With Microsoft in your corner, you are playing their game. You're in their Twilight Zone. Linux on the other hand... it's all you baby.
With a little bit of effort the user can customise anything. Enterprising and generous hackers package their customized systems into distributions, each with a distinctive flavor. In fact, we love to call the various distributions different flavors of Linux. That's a key term. There won't be a quiz. Linux comes in as many flavors as there are programmers with a desire for something different from what's out there. That's it's strength. Look up any of these to see some of the different possibilities; Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Crunchbang, E-Live, Debian, Red Hat, SUSE.
GNOME isn't a distribution. It isn't a flavor. So what is it?
GNOME is a lot of things really. It's an expansive project that aims to provide a wide array of software tools. It's meant to be an all-in-one automagic software package that you can install on any Linux system to get a functional and diverse desktop environment. The 3.0 Release changed a lot of the look and feel of the GNOME system. GNOME The new release is designed with the cloud in mind. It took them five years, and here it is.
Right now the new version of GNOME is supported by the openSUSE and Fedora projects. Those are Linux distributions, or distros for the cool kids. You can browse to here to try it out on a USB stick or a LiveCD.
[via Linux Journal]