ALT Linux is a set of RPM-based operating systems built on top of the Linux kernel and Sisyphus packages repository. ALT Linux is developed jointly by ALT Linux Team developers community and ALT Linux Ltd.
ALT Linux Team arose from the merger of IPLabs Linux Team and the Linux community of the Institute of Logic, Cognitive Science and Development of Personality. The latter cooperated with Mandrake Linux and SUSE teams to improve localization (specifically Cyrillic), producing a Linux-Mandrake Russian Edition (RE).
At some point, Mandrake and Mandrake RE became different distributions and thus the decision was made to create a separate project. The name ALT was coined, which is a recursive acronym meaning "ALT Linux Team".
The split led to the creation of the Sisyphus package repository, which is an unstable branch of the ALT Linux development. In 2007, the Sisyphus repository won a prestigious CNews award in nomination for Information Security.
Linux-Mandrake 7.0 Russian Edition, released in the beginning of 2000, was the first de facto independent distribution of IPLabs Linux Team. It kept the name Mandrake with permission from Mandrake developers.
Spring 2001 was the second IPLabs Linux team release, released several months later.
Since the summer of 2001, ALT Linux Team has been formed and the ALT Linux name has been established.
The first ALT Linux release was ALT Linux Junior 1.0, released in summer of 2001, followed by the updated ALT Linux Junior 1.1 in autumn of 2001.
Junior distributions were 1CD releases.
ALT Linux Master 2.0, released in May 2002, was the 4CD all-purpose Linux distribution targeted for software developers and system administrators.
ALT Linux Junior 2.0 was released in summer of 2002, as a 1CD desktop/workstation-oriented release.
ALT Linux Compact 3.0 was released during autumn 2005, and consisted of 1CD/1DVD installable versions along with LiveCD (TravelCD 3.0). There were several subsequent OEM updates counting up to 3.0.5.
These series changed the official naming somewhat to be «ALT Linux 4.0 $flavour».Server was released in June 2007 (1CD+1DVD per platform; i586 and x86_64);
Office Server quickly followed (1CD; i586 and x86_64);
Desktop Personal in August 2007 (1DVD, LiveCD, Rescue CD; i586; KDE3);
Lite in December 2007 (installation CD, live CD and 2CD with addons; i586; Xfce4);
Terminal in December 2007 (joint release with Media Magic Ltd, 1DVD; i586; KDE3, low client RAM requirements).
There was also a more conservative «school 4.0 branch» maintained for the Russian schools pilot project, and several distributions specifically tailored for schools released using that as a base.Desktop was released in October 2008 (1CD/1DVD; i586 and x86_64; KDE3);
Children in December 2008 (LiveCD; i586);
Skif in December 2008 (1CD; x86_64; HPC);
School Server in February 2009 (1CD; i586).
5.0 branch was canceled mainly due to stormy X.org conditions (and subsequently archived); 5.1 community branch was created along with p5 «conservative» branch later in 2009. Somewhat confusingly, distributions based on p5/branch were numbered as ALT Linux 5.0:Ark (client+server suite, 1DVD+1CD per platform; i586 and x86_64);
School Suite — mostly i586, also including docs, video lessons and free software for Windows (3DVD):
Server (1DVD; i586 and x86_64);
Terminal (1DVD; KDE3);
Master (1DVD/flash; KDE4);
Junior (1DVD/flash; GNOME2);
Lite (2CD; Xfce4);
New Lite (1CD/1DVD/flash; LXDE);
KDesktop (1DVD; i586 and x86_64; KDE4);
Simply Linux 5.0 (1CD/flash/LiveCD; i586; Xfce4).
A small single CD distribution for older/low-memory computers, with Xfce as default desktop. Available in normal and Live CD versions. Rather superseded by LXDE-based New Lite.
Compact is a series of ALT Linux distributions tailored for beginner users. It is mostly used on workstations, home computers, and notebooks. It includes additional means for easy configuration, lots of office and multimedia applications, some games. Compact was also popular choice for OEM whitelabeling, i.e. creating a specific edition for various hardware vendors to bundle with their hardware.
ALT Linux Server is a hardened server single CD distribution. It is certified by Federal department of technical and expert control of Russia in the following categories:by the level of monitoring for non-declared features — level 4
class of protection from unauthorized access to information — class 5
ALT Linux Terminal is a terminal server distribution based on ALT Linux Desktop and ALTSP5: a friendly/merging fork of LTSP which is usable on older hardware acting as thin/diskless clients (16 MB RAM is enough, while stock LTSP5 usually requires ≥ 64 MB RAM). It was also adapted for Russian School Education National Project free software package.