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Distrowatch is a pretty good list if you were looking for a top 10 most used (of course, I'm not sure how they're measuring -- downloads, page hits, etc).
But many a flamewar has been started with this very question because in the end, the best one is the one YOU like the best. That's why there are so many. It ends up being that I'm not like you and you're not like Joe Blow...
The right hand side of Distowatch is the top 100 chart.
The popularity chart I believe is a measure how many users want them. It may not be a measure of its ability but it won't be too far off. Friendliness and ease of operation also have something to do the popularity.
This is a bit like trying to catalog all the brands of tires. There are a few well-known brands, plus a VERY long list of lesser-known, or unknown, brands---including the tires made by the big makers and then sold under different labels.
After you dig to a certain depth, you will find that you are not discovering anything new---ie you will find a distro with a different NAME. but which lacks any new defining attributes.
Not that this is not maybe a good academic project---it certainly illustrates one of the real strengths of Linux---ie it's diversity and availability.
The distros I have installed were contributions from 28 countries. There is another diversity by the different implementations from different countries. If I have to guess one may get Linux distributions possibly from 50 countries from Distowatch.
I have just installed Pardus 1.0 from Turkey and put in a reply to a thread in LQ in which I provided
The 98 distros installed in my box originated from 28 countries and 3 different regions. The contributions are from Argentina(1), Asia(1), Australia(4), Austria(1), Belgium(1), Brazil(1), Canada(6), China(2), Czech(1), Europe(1), France(5), Germany(10), Global(3), Hungary(2), Isle of Man(4), Israel(2), Italy(1), Japan(3), Netherland(2), New Zealand(1), Norway(3), Poland(1), Puerto Rico(1), S Korea(1), Sweden(1), Switzerland(1), Syria(1), Taiwan(1), UK(3), USA(32), Turkey(1)
I haven't even got 4 of the systems listed in Post #1.