The following compilation of different linux distributions is a list of my top 5 linux distros for this year. It is based on usage/target of each specific distro and the of course development itself.
Are you a hardcore linux fan? Of course you are, if you want this piece of the most barebones OS where you need to do pretty much everything yourself. You can get neat autoupdates beacuse it uses rolling releases principle, which is continues updates not every x amount of months like some other distros(Ubuntu etc…). There are also 2 very good reasons why people like it (if we exempt the extra setup you need for this distro) and they are it’s lightweight ( cca 150-180 mb for a normal OS and 400 mb RAM for full server with LAMP or XAMMP for example) and its stability, which are important reasons if you want to use it as a server or on a weak hardware.
But the system itself is fully in your control which also means you will need to tweak it a lot to suit your specific needs ( but the existing community and great documentation can make things a lot easier ).
Dear ol Ubuntu, everybody knows you! You are the classic that is evolving through ages of time. You have arrived to us from ages of old to Gnome desktop 3 all the way to Unity interface with a Linux for every device you have, be it either server, desktop or mobile(Well maybe not mobile yet, at least not for the biggest ease of use yet). So what is Ubuntu? It is a distribution of linux maintained and developed by Canonical for mostly laptop, desktop and server use. The system distro itself is one of the most popular in use for normal PC use and has been used by many others as for example Linux Mint ( personally I find classic Mint most appropriate for older people migrating from Windows XP, 7 and on). It has a nice amount of apps already preinstalled and canonical provides good long term support. One of the features some people like (and other don’t) is a Unity interface with very useful search functionality which aggregates data from your machine and many other online sources.
I know it may not be best representation of a unique system by itself, but keep in mind it is meant for a different use as well. Basically Kodi or formerly known as XBMC is a very good open source video player for big screen like TV or PC if you wish. they offer multitude of download formats from a separate app for pretty much every system like Windows, Android, OSX, iOS etc. but you can also get it on its own as a XBMC flavoured Ubuntu. So basically just a glorified media player, but it does it’s job very well and it’s of great use on mini set top boxes next to your TV.
The installation is quite simple and straightforward and of great use if you just want to use it as a movie/music storage container and player of media files.
Privacy,Anonymity,Individuality… Privacy from your favourite big brother (Multiple options to choose from, of course).
The system itself is meant to be used on USB stick as a live operating system to carry around where needed. Main features and reasons why people like this system is because it is a relatively simple way of using the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship. Instead of normal network for accesing internet, the whole system is oriented into using the Tor network . If you want to use Tails you would know this already since it really is meant for security of a person from governments censorship and quite popular with activists for human rights. I would personally suggest investigating more in possible software stack to be used in conjunction with it like: OTR, Cspace, RedPhone, and TrueCrypt(May not be most up to date, so it would be worth a check what to use instead of TrueCrypt).