Newbie - advice please

Hi, I’m a newbie to Linux. I’ve heard about Linux for years, especially Ubuntu, but I’ve never really thought about using it before, I assumed it was a corporate thing. I’ve been brainwashed by MS but, I have had enough of their greed.
I really need some advice as to which system to use. I’m not a techie and I’m not a beginner either but, I have only ever known Windows.
I would really appreciate some kind advice please.

Sony Vaio laptop VGN-NS30E_S.
Intel Pentium T2400 @ 2.00GHz (x2)

Hi Tanya, and welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

Can I ask if you plan on getting rid of Windows altogether, or setting up a dual boot system ?

In either case I’d suggest either Ubuntu 12.04 or Linux Mint 13 (Cinnamon edition), for no other reason that you’ll find help/suport easier to come by for Ubuntu 12.04 (so therefore Mint, as it’s based on Ubuntu 12.04) … beginners tend to find this route a fairly easy transition.


if (on that page) you look below the “Download It Now” button, you’ll see a link to a “Tour” which shows you what the default Ubuntu desktop looks like … Ubuntu have recently changed their desktop to having a “launcher bar” down the left side of the screen (it5’s become a lot like the Mac OS X desktop interface … OK their launcher is at the bottom, but you get my meaning)… which some people don’t like but others do.
You can see some Ubuntu 12.04 screenshots here:

Linux Mint:

Linux Mint 13 (Maya) Cinnamon edition, is based on Ubuntu 12.04, so has access to all the same software, 99.9% of the Ubuntu help/support also directly translates to Mint, yet it has a more familiar desktop interface (very similar to the Windows layout)
You can see some Mint 13 Cinnamon screenshots here:

To tell the truth it doesn’t really matter which of those you choose, they are both pretty easy to get the hang of :slight_smile:

There are MANY other Linux distributions, so you’re not limited to those if you don’t like either … and by far the majority of Linux distributions are available as a “LiveCD” (LiveDVD/LiveUSB).

Now for the explanation of what that means … A LiveCD allows you to boot to the CD and have a fully working desktop running from the CDROM without making any changes to your hard drive … ideal for test driving distributions before deciding on one, a LiveDVD is the same thing for distributions too large for a CD, a LiveUSB is the same thing but running from a USB stick … be aware, LiveCD/LiveDVDs won’t allow you to save any changes as the CD/DVD s nonwritable, but a LiveUSB can be created with a persistence file that allows you to save stuff … also be aware Linux will be a lot slower running from a LiveCD/DVD/USB, but it does give you the opportunity to test drive before installing.

My suggestion would be to create a LiveUSB of Ubuntu 12.04 and/or Mint 13 Cinnamon, and take them for a spin … see which (if either) suits your needs.

If you require further info on anything, including how to create a LiveUSB … just ask :slight_smile:

If you have broadband - download a few live cd’s (live meaning that the OS runs from the cd and as such allows you to try out the OS without installing anything. The disadvantage to this is that everything runs slowly, far slower than when installed to the hard drive, but, it allows you to get a feel for the layout).

Fedora Linux
Pros - well supported, widely used, lots of help available
Cons - new version released every 6 months or so and support is removed after around 12-18 months meaning a new install is required.

openSuSE openSUSE Leap - Get openSUSE
Pros - well established, good support, not quite such a frantic release schedule as Fedora
Cons - hideous icon set, I mean really, really hideous.

Mandriva Captcha
Pros - lovely installer, easy to use, good support
Cons - it’s French (no really, but I’m joking when I say that’s a con), not as cutting edge as others - meaning some multimedia types can cause issues

There are lots of different versions. I would not recommend Ubuntu because they are diverging from mainstream Linux and you’ll end up with some non-transferable skills (others will disagree with this). Stick to one of the main distros and you can always switch to Ubuntu later.
Sites that will help (other than this one). - THE linux support site

Hope that helps some.

@ salparadise

I would not recommend Ubuntu because they are diverging from mainstream Linux and you'll end up with some non-transferable skills

Seriously ? … such as ? … Ubuntut/Debian ARE the mainstream … the desktop interface is only superficial, and the skill set is MUCH deeper than that … att the end of the day even Unity is still mouse/directory/click driven, it’s only a layout change. ???

In all honesty I’d still suggest an Ubuntu based distro … if you don’t like the Unity desktop … either go with Mint, or change to “Gnome Classic” in Ubuntu … purely for the available help/support/documentation (not to mention PPA’s, Launchpad, etc. which can all ease the transition from Windows) but then thats just my opinion :slight_smile:

Though I DO agree, there’s no harm test driving other disto’s and finding the one that suits you best … and the great thing is, LiveCD/LiveUSB’s make that a doddle.

Here’s my take on distro choice for a beginner -

I’d agree, for the time being stick to the main distro’s …

RPM’s suck … so that’s Fedora out of the running straight away :wink:

Mandriva … are they still considered a “main” distro, I’d be hard pushed to slag it off, but nor have I anything to offer as a reason to use it. (and as you say it’s French :wink: ) … Mageia on the other hand, maybe, but is yet unproven how easy beginners will find it, there’s certainly less online resources than Ubuntu based distros.

openSUSE … YaST is the worst piece of software I’ve ever come across, and HUGELY confusing for a beginner … I should know, it was what I first tried.

Debian … now that’s more like it, solid distro, easy to use/understand tools, great support … BUT their insistence of “no proprietary inclusions” makes it harder for a beginner than …

Ubuntu (and its derivatives, such as Mint) … Debian without the insistence on OSS, and with more polish, more help, more online resources … though as it’s used by a lot of beginners, you have to be careful where you get that help and vet it to a degree.

I’m Debian (based) all the way … but Ubuntu just take Debian and make it (arguably) better … certainly “easier” for a beginner.

That’s my 2 cents … for what it’s worth

Debian is Mama. She has had some fine children, but Ubuntu is going off the rails. Unfortunately early brilliance went to its head.

And yes, I am serious when I say it’s diverging from mainstream Linux. The only question is, how long will it be before the terminal is removed completely?
Perhaps I’m looking too far ahead.
I embraced Ubuntu. I used every release from the first Beta up to when Unity appeared. I was on the forums when there were a few hundred users only. I advocated it a lot. But it changed and not for the better.

I don’t use Linux because it gives me free access to dev tools that I would otherwise have to pay for. I use it because I’m passionately anti-Corporation, anti-dumbing-down and anti-profiteering. I see Canonical going down all three of those roads.

Herein lies a problem with Linux.
A new user asks for help only to find her question turning into a conflicting series of opinions between people with 20 years of experience between them.
I shall retire from this thread as my opinion is not helpful to noobs and I do not wish to be the author of confusion.

And I wouldn’t argue with any of those points … I’m no fan of Canonical … yet I still see (at least for the time being) Ubuntu and derivatives as the easiest route into Linux for most Windows converts … not because I agree with the politics and/or daft decisions Canonical have made of late, but because there is just so many more available resources for the Ubuntu family.

An awful lot of people (me included) find/found those resoures invaluable whilst learning … once you’ve grasped the basics though, there’s nothing stopping you changing distro … and a lot do.

If/when another distro manages to take over from Ubuntu as far as online resources goes, I’ll probably be recommending that … after all, and IMHO, Linux under the hood is Linux, the distro choice isn’t as important as the available help, specially for a beginner.

Retire if you wish … but your opinions are as valid as mine :slight_smile:

I do agree though that distro choice can be the single most confusing point for beginners … but we all went through it … and survived :wink:

I don’t regard my opinion as less valid than anyone else’s, it’s just context.
The OP is not going to be aided by you and I disagreeing over whether RPM’s or DEB’s are best (they’re the same. RPM hell ceased long, long ago). Mint is a fine place to start for a new user. I think we might agree on that.

Agreed … Linux Mint is a great choice :slight_smile:

Though sometimes confusing, I’m a great believer in getting lots of opinions, then making up my own mind … so see differing opinions as informative rather than necessarily confusing.

Without having seen similar friendly disagreements when I first asked the same question as the OP, I wouldn’t have known there were rpm’s and deb’s … so I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to research them :wink:

But I get your point … that’s not for everyone.

@ Tanya

LiveUSB’s with persistence are probably the key … allowing you to test drive a few different Linux distributions long enough to find the one you like … then once you’re happy with your choice, install it to the hard drive using the LiveUSB as the installation media.

You may even decide Linux isn’t for you at all … in which case, no harm done :slight_smile:

Thanks to both of you for replying to me. I shall take your advice and try some LiveUSB’s.

I did find your discussion amusing and in parts informative. :wink:

Many thanks.

You’re most welcome :slight_smile:

If you need help in creating the LiveUSB’s (or anything else), please feel free to ask … we don’t always argue like this, and it’s all in a “friendly rivalry fun” kinda way.

You just managed to ask the one question that nearly always provokes a friendly “mines better than yours” response :wink:

As far as distro choice goes, we can be a very opinionated bunch … an inevitable consequence of having (too much ?) choice, but choice is a good thing right ? … though we may disagree on a few things you’ll find the Linux community friendly, and willing to help wherever they can :slight_smile:

I apologise for not answering your first question…I got carried away with the argument :smiley:

I was planning on getting rid of Windows. I’m stuck with Vista now…groan…having been on Win7 until my laptop crashed >:( (long story!), it’s driving me mad and I’m desperate to find a decent OS.

I did read on another forum…US based I think…that it may be better to keep windows on until I decide which distro to use.

Also I’m wondering if my HP PSC would be happy with the change? It’s rather old…10 years?..and I am reluctant to change it because it works so well.


What size USB would be needed?

Many thanks

For testing purposes I’d suggest anything 2GB or larger … but if you plan on adding lots of software the bigger the better :slight_smile:

Ubuntu will easily fit on a 1GB, but that won’t leave much for added stuff … Mint (at least the DVD edition may require 2GB or larger.

Either of those I’d expect to perform similarly to say Windows XP … and will likely be quite happy on your older hardware, but if you want “performance” there are other “lighter/quicker” options … such as Peppermint … but some things, such as networking (sharing directories between computers on your local network) may be a little harder to configure out-of-the-box.
(but then we’re here to help if you need it :wink: )

Peppermint 3 is also based on Ubuntu 12.04 (so most of the available online resources for Ubuntu are applicable to it), but it uses the lighter LXDE desktop environment, which is quicker but lacks some of the graphical tools for configuration.
(Peppermint is a “cloud” type distribution, so tends to use online applications by default … Google docs etc. … but there is nothing stopping you from installing “local” applications as well/instead … it has access to all the same software as Ubuntu does, as it uses the same software repositories)

Peppermint might be another one to test drive … or am I just muddying the waters further ?

As previously mentioned, don’t draw any “speed” or indeed “stability” conclusions from a LiveUSB … they don’t perform as well as a proper installation … but are ideal for getting a general “feel” for the distro.

Can I ask what you generally use your PC for ?


If by HP PSC you mean a Printer/Scanner (HP All-In-One) then you’re probably in a better position than most … HP AIO’s tend to be supported “out-of-the-box” in most Linux distributions … historically HP printers have tended to have better support in Linux than most others, though the other are catching up quickly.

If you can give us the exact model number of your HP Printer/Scanner we can check for you, if you’d like.

It’s a HP PSC 750

Yes the HP PSC 750 has been included in hplip (HP Linux Imaging and Printing driver/software) since version 0.9.5

Which means it should work out-of-the-box with all major Linux distributions :slight_smile:

It may be easier to configure if you install hplip-gui, but we can get round to that once you have a LiveUSB created.


Be aware, the list of supported Linux distros at that link is NOT comprehensive … hplip can be installed on most if not all distros, and will already be installed on most :slight_smile:

That’s great. Many thanks Mark :slight_smile:

You’re welcome :slight_smile:

@ Tanya

Ubuntu 12.10 is out later today, but if you’re going to take Ubuntu for a test drive, can I suggest you stick to 12.04 … I’m reading that 12.10 no longer directly supports PCs that don’t have 3D graphic acceleration … so 12.10 may be quite a bit slower on older hardware.

Not to mention 12.04 is an LTS (Long Term Support) release, so will be fully supported for 5 years … whereas 12.10 will only receive updates for 18 months.