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By Merlin Whitewolf at 2006-04-14 00:33
Choosing a Linux Distro
A Newbie's Guide for Newbies
One of the most often asked newbie questions about Linux is, “There are so many distros (distributions), which should I choose?” The simplest answer is that it is up to you. Just as there are differences between the distros, there are differences between users, even newbies. Each person comes with their own prior experiences, knowledge and personality, so each choice should be made by the individual user with those things in mind. I offer up two methods of choosing here, but there are probably dozens more that I've never thought of that would work. In the end, you must do your own thinking and choosing. Even asking a friend and simply going with their suggestion is a choice that 'you' think of and make.
A) (1)Start with a websearch. Type “Linux” in the search box and hit enter or click 'search' or 'go'. This will render a large amount of sites to choose from. To start your research, choose sites that are about different distros, preferably the distro sites themselves.
(2)After you have read them over, check related sites of at least five of them. You are wanting to increase your knowledge, so, check the reviews at Linux Questions, http://www.linuxquestions.org/reviews/index.php/cat/2 . Check out LQ's and other forums and reviews from around the web. Don't forget to check the forums and blogs of the distros themselves. You will want to narrow your choices down, so read carefully. Remember, you are looking for the distro that is right for you.
(3) After you have researched and narrowed your choices down to two or three, go back and reread what you have previously read. Look for anything about the distro that might make it better for you or harder for you to use. List these as pluses and minuses. Compare these to one another. Which distro has the most pluses and the least minuses? Spend a little more time researching that distro to be sure you haven't missed anything. You want a Linux distro that is right for you, so don't be afraid to change your mind.
(4)After you've made your choice, download and burn it to cd or dvd or have it mailed to you. Add it to your system as a second OS either on a partition or a second hard drive. Use it. This is the only way to familiarize yourself with its functionality and make the final determination if it is right for you.
(2)After you have used these tests, you should have gotten a list of distros recommended for you. If you've had only one recommended, follow steps 2 and 4 of method 'A' in your choosing. If the distro turns out to be wrong for you, don't be afraid to start over. Finding the best distro for you is what this is about after all, isn't it?
If you had more than one distro recommended, follow steps 2 through 4 of method 'A'. Research as much and as thoroughly as you can, before you make your choice.
In conclusion, this may sound like a lot of work, and you may wonder why you shouldn't just look at a couple of distro sites and download one. The answer is simple. Each distro is different and will fit different users. You want the one that fits you, so check them out.
Yes, it takes some time and effort, but it is worth every minute and every bit of the energy you put into it.
** After following the choosing methods above (yes, both of them), I had narrowed my choices to 2. To help me make the final determination, I asked an IT buddy of mine for his opinions. He gave them willingly (when he had a spare moment). After considering all I had learned in my research and what my friend had said, I made my choice. Choosing is a personal thing, after all.