Which Linux Distribution?

One of the most asked questions is which Linux distribution should I use. Every time it is asked, we explain that there is no one correct answer. That is, what is best for one type of computer, one type of user, one set of uses and such is not necessarily the right answer for another.

The obvious questions are:

  • Which desktop environment do you want to use?
  • What type of computer do you have?
  • What is your knowledge of computers in general?
  • What is your knowledge of LInux?

There are, however, many additional considerations. No matter how long the answer, there will always be something you missed.

That's the bad news. The good news is that I just tripped on a web page that goes well beyond the four questions I asked above. It poses a set of questions that you answer with mouse clicks and then offers you the best choices. It won't be perfect but it is a lot more fun than reading 50 pages of dry text and will at least get you close.

It is available here. Have fun.

fyl - Mon, 2007-01-15 14:47.

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Which Linux Distribution?

Which distribution is best for which purpose?
Crikey! You can reinstall the same distribution a dozen-times and will still get a different experience and functionality every time that you load it!

The same goes for applications and suites. The overall thing is going to look the same until you have to actually use it, where you will find that - for example - Gimp will load up a different set of functions every time you install/uninstall it, and don't expect the same Gimp (or any other application for that matter) to behave upon KDE the same as it does on Gnome.

And then one comes to the VERSION of the distribution or application one is interested in. As a long-term follower of the Mandrake/Mandriva experience, I can tell you about purchased distribution versions that have not been able to use my standard optical Microsoft Intellimouse, and DO expect to have to go search for your application PPD for your particular printer, as it is odds-on that the number of PPD-drivers included in your distribution's copy of the CUPS printer utility included in your distribution, won't include your printer's PPD. Did you just purchase a LightScribe-enabled DVD/CD labeling/burner? No problem, but you will have to download and install the labeling-application from LaCie's website, and maybe upgrade your burner software,

BUT having showered you with doom and gloom in the foregoing commentary, the fact is - that you can have every thing that your little heart desires for free upon a Linux-system, without being required to make expensive financial contributions only to discover it doesn't work as expected (though that is not to say that you won't be asked for pecuniary contributions. Nothing is lost by trying it on, right?),
Yes, you can get into some muddles, but in Linux, it is the work of a moment to get rid of the entire crap distribution and reload any one of the alternatives (or even the same distribution again - it is odds on that it won't do the same thing again). You are not forced to find non-existent system-discs, nor difficult to get permissions to reinstall. There are an infinite number of varieties of distribution and application-for-purpose that you should hammer into submission to your heart's content - for free! It is all yours, and both the beneficial results and the crash-in-flames losses are yours! No other entity has any say whatsoever, save you alone!

Linux won't run as smoothly and as disciplined as Microsoft, but then freedom has never been equatable to dictatorship either. You are the passenger in Microsoft so keep your arms inside the vehicle at all times, but under Linux, you are the driver, so you vary the speed and direction according to how well you think you tied the load down. If you like hammering the throttle and the load falls off, you will have to go back and reload the vehicle . You may learn how to tie down the load tighter and stronger, or you may just decide to drive a little slower next-time.. Either way, it is your choice, and not the choice of the kid supposedly running the thing on your behalf.

Linux is you, so it goes where you drive it, and at the pace you command it to, but you will experience a hell of a lot more, a hell of a lot better, under your own impetus, than on the guided-tour type of alternative. Oh yeah! You may even pick up a few new tricks along the way.
Barry.

barrygil (not verified) - Tue, 2007-02-06 00:41.

Tip of the iceberg

I find it interesting that one comment basically says DEB packages are "the answer" and another says RPM packages are the answer. It just helps illustrate that there is no one correct answer.

The DEB vs. RPM debate has been going on for over 12 years. The initial design of DEB was clearly better than the initial design of RPM with regard to handling dependencies. Over the 12 years both have grown up. In addition, package management tools (adept, synaptic, YAST and oh so many more) have tended to abstract the actually package structure as much as possible.

Thus, you have a lot of choices and while none will be a bad choice, the best for you may not be immediately obvious.

fyl - Wed, 2007-01-31 11:22.

results of quiz

When I saw that the quiz didn't consider the more obscure distributions I have recently been choosing between, I filled it out based on my perspective a few months ago, when I was a near-total n00b.

What surprised me, is that it suggested Mandriva, Ubuntu, and Kubuntu first and Mepis only as an alternative -- "may require Linux knowledge". My perspective from my own installations and that of the friend who got me interested in the first place, is that Mepis has been easier to install, use, maintain, and configure than Kubuntu, even on an older machine and for an inexperienced user.

I wonder why the quiz author thinks you need Linux knowledge for Mepis?

amateurviola (not verified) - Tue, 2007-01-16 09:57.

choosing a distro

Well, if you're interested. The following article offers a help for first time users. http://alternativenayk.wordpress.com/choosing-a-linux-distro/

However, I would say straight out that if a beginner is looking for a stable, simple release. Then the latest Ubuntu or Kubuntu is a good bet. However, if a beginner is looking to go the long-haul... move entirely to Linux in the near future, then moving with openSUSE 10.2 would be my obvious choice.

If however you just want to experiment and get your hands messy... with Linux... (and are willing to put in some hard work)... then the choices are limitless. Start with LiveCDs and let the fun begin.

NAyK (not verified) - M - , 2007-01-15 23:25.

Why are all your links

Why are all your links causing a pop-up window to appear for Microsoft Windows Live?

An - ymous (not verified) - M - , 2007-01-15 21:42.

Mepis is best

I found mepis the best distro for someone to use comming from using windows. I was nearly put off using linux when trying some of the other distro's, especially when trying to install other software and the "RPM" dependency hell you get with their software installers. Then I discovered mepis linux and 2 years later I am still using mepis. Its software installer, apt-get/synaptic, is much better than the "RPM" type installers and handles everything for you. Since then I have learnt a lot about linux and love experimenting with other distro's, but still find mepis more suited as a distro for home use.

roadrash (not verified) - Sat, 2007-01-27 09:48.

Is it now...

Gotta say I have nothing but praise for the RPM system. I find it easy to query, easy to access, ie; I can use rpm or urpmi to install, remove or upgrade packages. I use the Mandriva distribution.

I definitely won't go back to Windoze having used Linux since 1992, there is nothing I cannot do on Linux that I didn't previously do on Windows, except that Linux is, of course, faster, more stable, meatier, more secure and far more feature rich than it's closed source competitor.

:-) Peter

Peterlowrie (not verified) - Sun, 2007-01-28 13:45.

Which Distro for the newbie

ALL of them!

I was a newbie just one month ago. Ive tried Fedora 6, Ubuntu, PCLos, Mandriva, MEPIS, and stopped at Sabayon. For the newbie I would say PCLinuxOS and Sabayon are the absolute Kings with Sabayon leading the pack because of its sheer bleeding edge functionality and built-in compatibility with Beryl. Sabayon is basicly in bed with Beryl and has been since the start, so that is the Distro to use if you like 3D desktops.

However, although these things are really nice, and absolutely prove just how much more superior Linux is over M$ as an OS, the real test of a distro is its community and support system. Without these critical elements, a distro simply cannot survive and will quickly fade away and die. This IMO is the only thing Ubuntu has going for it, as it is inferior to Sabayon and PCLos when it comes to built in functionality. Dont get me wrong -- Any flavor of Linux is still Linux, but if your an ex Windows junkie shopping around for a distro, you'll want something that can at least match or exceed the best that M$ has to offer in all area's, out of the box, and with little to no fuxing around by the user required.

Davemc (not verified) - Thu, 2007-02-08 12:18.