( this node is closed-captioned for the metaphorically impaired. )
You can use any one distribution
you want, depending on which you think fits best, and if you don't like that you can just create your own distribution.
You are free to change or install or uninstall anything you want. Really, everything you deal with is extra packages
-- all you have
to have is the basic kernel
of ideas, and all of your tools
s are just replaceable, modular programs running on top of the kernel
. The GUI
isn't hardwired in or even terribly necessary. And the kernel never restrains you from doing anything except harming others.
You can even pull in parts of BSD or other OSes if you want to. You have an entire collection of UNIX-like operating systems to get utilities from, all of which function similar conceptually in many ways and have the same appeal for the same reasons but are at the core really deeply different and useful for different purposes. All of these systems are more or less compatible across each other, so that sectors of each can be interchanged, and users of these different OSes can network together transparently.
Since it has become in some contexts so "trendy" lately, a lot of script kiddies have been drawn to it even though they don't particularly understand or want to understand. These people use the system only on the surface, and use it because they think it makes them seem cool. Eventually, either they find understanding and come into the system deeply, they just give up abruptly, stop, and wander off, or they destroy themselves through their own blindness.
The best parts of the most useful applications have to do with networking and the internet.
The development tools, and indeed everything the creators of the product used step by step while making it, are free to all and distributed with the binaries in such a way that you can reconstruct it yourself from scratch. You are encouraged to change and adapt whatever you can, then distribute the changes. The community shares freely with anyone who is willing to understand, and incorporates anything given back into themselves. Basically it comes down to not a certain set operating system, but simply an adaptable concept that acts as whatever you need it to be, whatever feels right for you, whether that is a server or a workstation.
There are a few serious differences.
At no point is Linux really intuitive.
The documentation for Linux is awkward to use, and for many things grossly inadequate.
You don't dual boot Wicca to play games.
You don't generally use a penguin as your familiar.