Just born into the Linux community.......blimey! which OS to choose?

Hi Forum users!

after using the Windows platform for all my life, ive decided to make a small skip, hopefully leap into the Linux world. i’m purchasing a desktop soon and need to decide on what Linux OS i should use. i will be using it on my laptop first just to check out its features. any hints tips guidance for this newbie would be appreciated.


Hi Kash, and welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

This question gets asked a LOT, so I’m going to keep it simple … and remember these are just My opinions.

Ubuntu or Linux Mint - if you want feature rich, and ease of use.
PeppermintOS (Two) - if running on older, slower, or limited hardware.

Out of the three I’d suggest Ubuntu … for no other reason than you’ll find more tutorials and help available.

Exactly the same reasons as Mark, I’d suggest either PeppermintOS or Ubuntu. You’ll find a lot of support for both, but Ubuntu is definitely the more feature OS.

I’m new to this too but once you get over the initial alien environment and have time to get used to t it actualy makes more sense than windows.

You’ll notice that Ubuntu has it’s own section on this website so is probably the safest option and many of the others are built around it anyway.

I personaly like Peppermint as it seems better laid out but give either a fair crack of the whip. Once you get past the initial learning curve and as you get it set up you’ll start to marvel at how light it is compared to stodgy windows and no blumin anti-virus software interfering with everything. You’ll never have to buy a software licence again!

eaxctly what i needed to make a start into what i am hoping will be my new found love. cheers guys!

Good luck (not that you’ll need it) … and if you run into any problems, you’ll find the people here (or anywhere else in the Linux community) more than willing to assist.

My suggestion would be to pick up a linux magazine (or two) from WHSmith for a few quid
and you will find at least three or four different flavour of live bootable Linux distributions on the DVD.
This will allow for test driving different versions without actually installing them.
Also this way you would get some indication of the diversity of the Linux ecosystem not to mention
that it will show which would run on your hardware without problems.

If you’re thinking of the same UK based magazine as I am … they tend to only do 32bit distro’s on their coverdisks which can be a pain if you have more than 3.7GB(ish) RAM.

I suppose it would let you test drive the 32bit version, then if you like it, you can download/burn the 64bit version … but then again, unless your broadband is capped, why not just download a few and test drive them from a USB stick.

Also, a coverdisk will only have what they are choosing that month … which may or may not be what you’re after … coverdisks are certainly an option, but IHMO less relevant in these days of broadband.

Yes, they are mainly 32bit distros, but some of the time they include 64 bit versions too :slight_smile:
In my opinion they are good enough to get the feel for the distro or even the DE
I only tend to download the ones I want to install proper

Yeh, that makes sense :slight_smile: … and coverdisks can be a godsend for people with limited connectivity.

But I think coverdisks are better for a non-beginner than a beginner … I mean, lets say they are doing some kind of redhat articles that month, the coverdisk may have RH, Cent, Scientific, and little else … so wouldn’t give a representative sample of available distro’s… and if you knew no better, you’d think Linux distro’s were all the same … OK, unlikely they’d have RH on a coverdisk, but you get my meaning :wink:

Personally I think the OP is going about it the right way … asking others, then making up his own mind based on feedback.

I’d certainly agree that it’s probably best to test drive a few before finally settling on one though :slight_smile:

But I think coverdisks are better for a non-beginner than a beginner ..

Hmm… That is how I started out with linux.
I think it was this http://www.linuxformat.com/archives?issue=83 LXF cover disk.
There is no problem with asking and then taking on board the suggestions from this forum (which are by the way valid),
however also there is no harm in exploring other possibilities as everybody’s choice is very subjective

Agreed … there are no “wrong” ways to go about it :slight_smile:

For my part … My first attempt at Linux was from a coverdisk as well, but it happened to be Redhat 4 IIRC, which sent me running for cover, and right back to Windows for a while :o

my current reccomendation to noobs is mint…

If you can follow directions, I’d say install Fedora 14 and follow the directions at mjmwired (google it). The results will be a desktop that you won’t let anyone take away from you. Most of the issues with other distros just don’t exist in Fedora, and haven’t for a long time - well, untill they rolled out 15. I’ve been meaning to look at the BlueBubble project, which aims to bring a Gnome 2 desktop back to Fedora, but until such time as that becomes just as usable as my Feodra 14/Gnome 2 desktop, it’ll have to wait.

That said, most “new” Linux users seem to have the least amount of transitional pain if they (and this really hurts to actually put to words) install Ubuntu or one of it’s offshoots like mint. Ubuntu and it’s downstream distros do however have some hardware compatibility issues as well as some other problems not found in Fedora, but the community forums seem to do pretty well at either fixing these or telling people flat out that whatever it is isn’t going to work.

My own first distro was this Slackware and was given to me by a coworker. Like Mark, this sent me running back to the safety of SunOS until, ironically enough, I took a look at RedHat 4.2 a couple years later and found it to actually be usable (to me anyway). Nowadays, no matter the purpose of the system I’m installing, if it’s for myself or one of the networks under my control, I will always install one of Fedora (desktops), CentOS (servers) or Gentoo (highly efficient systems).

Jeez this213, did you really just bring Gentoo to the table in a topic about suggestions for a beginner :wink:

More to the point… Did he just bring RedHat distros to the table? :o

I mentioned Gentoo because it’s one of the few that I myself use - of course, if the OP is something of a sadist - hey, my first distro was Slackware, and that was “before” it got to be so user friendly, it took me almost a week to get to a usable prompt AND I had to compile my own kernel too. I have also been known to make new techs working for me install fully functional Gentoo desktops just to plunge them into the deep end right away to see if they’ll either actually do it or quit. I don’t give them any help other than to tell them to use Google either. I know, I know, I’m mean as all get out.

As far as RedHat distros: If you follow the instructions on mjmwired, Fedora is quite painless and the instructions are pretty much copy and paste. Plus, like I said, what you’re left with is a desktop that’s second to none where everything works the way it’s expected. There’s also the bonus that it’s not Ubuntu, which in my view is like… http://www.mslinux.org/

CentOS is also quite painless, it’s just not something I would call a desktop distro.

I’m not sure what the detraction is from RedHat. Some people complain about RPMs and dependency hell, but 1) most people never even see this and the ones who do are those building RPMs and 2) dependency hell just means you have to declare the packages your own package depends on and it’s when people get sloppy and don’t do this that it becomes an issue and 3) there’s no room for sloppy in code. I think it’s just the term has the word “Hell” in it so people automatically assume it’s the very worst thing about Linux - but I’d rather deal with RPMs than DEBs any day.

If I were running a server, then yes, CentOS would most definitely be my choice of distro for that, but beginners especially ones coming from Windows, aren’t used to the whole “command line” thing.

Although it’s mostly cliché, the command line, I’ve found anyway, is the most efficient way of dealing things. I’ve always said I’d try a RedHat distro, which one I’d choose I wouldn’t know, haha.

I’ve nothing against Redhat, Fedora, CentOS, etc. … all perfectly good distros (even openSUSE to a lesser extent) … for me it’s just a preference for Debain package management and the apt tools … I’ve just never felt quite as “at home” with .RPM
(and for me at least YaST/2 just blows chunks)

I would agree that throwing a “tech” in the Gentoo deep end may be a good idea (certainly a good way to learn a lot in a short time) though slightly sadistic … but it’s not something I’d recommend to someone voluntarily changing from Windows … unless i were in a particularly bad mood that day :wink:

Nor have I got anything against Ubuntu, which in my opinion took a great base distro (Debian) and polished it up nicely … “Canonical” on the other hand, I’d agree are making some stupid decisions of late and are on the verge of ruining Ubuntu.

But whether you like Ubuntu or not, it has done a lot to raise awareness of Linux, and I’m still of the opinion that because of the wealth of help available is still one of, if not “the” best “beginner” distro.

It IS possible to like/admire Ubuntu without liking/admiring Canonical and Shuttleworth :o

As an addendum to your mslinux pun … Microsoft’s first OS was a UNIX alike … Xenix … pity they didn’t stick with it.


If I were running a server, then yes, CentOS would most definitely be my choice of distro for that

It wouldn’t be for me … :wink: … in most cases, that would be Debian (or Ubuntu), but again that’s just a personal preference, and what I’m most used to … unless you’re studying for RH certification why CentOS ?

but beginners especially ones coming from Windows, aren't used to the whole "command line" thing.

What makes you think CentOS (or any other server targeted distro for that matter) is or has to be CLI only ?

Why CentOS? I don’t know. Just seems like the most logical option tbh. Not that I wouldn’t rule out, other distros like, Ubuntu Server.

Read the paragraph after that statement, I said I’ve found that the command line is the most efficient way of doing things. It wasn’t really a statement suggesting that a server targeted distro was CLI only. Just look at Windows 2003/8 or OS X Server (In fact don’t, those would make you sick…) :stuck_out_tongue: