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In general in the projects I've been on, the system components were already setup or picked before I started, so I never really saw the process of why people chose say, Ubuntu over Centos, or vice-versa, why would one pick OpenSuse etc.

So, I want to learn more about the history of the various distros out there and why people pick one over the other.

The first part seems ok (as history questions seem on topic), but asking what the specific advantages of certain distros over others seems like it's probably a too opionated answer.

Should I just leave out the bit about advantages?

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You probably should leave out that bit, yes. Basically, the various Linux distributions are all as good as each other. Which one you prefer will depend on

  1. Personal preference
  2. Your objective. Whether you choose distro X or Y will depend on whether you're setting up a personal computer, a web server, a number cruncher, a laptop, a media studio etc. There are distributions tweaked to each of these functions and more.
  3. Personal preference.

The problem with such questions is that points 1 and 3 are the most important. In most cases, you will choose X over Y because you like X better. This is not really something you can defend with arguments but a question of what you happen to like and such questions would be considered "opinion-based".

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    This is so true! There is no objective answer about which one is better, is just personal/enterprise choice. For example, some companies choose RHEL because have a good support, or CentOS because people they hired are experts in RHEL and they don't want the commercial support. Same happens with Ubuntu and Debian, normally enterprises choose ubuntu because it has the name "Canonical" in the stamp, while Debian is community maintained. – X3MBoy Oct 21 '14 at 8:25

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