Originally Posted by tired_of_microshaft
I’m looking for a distro that:
- can created/modify partitions pre-installation
- has systems tools similar to control panel and device manager from Windows
- can access NTFS partitions
- run Windows games (I realize I’ll need WINE for this, I want a distro that has or can easily have WINE added to it)
- has an application equivalent to “Windows Media Center” or can have 1 easily added
- can easily switch between different desktop environments (because some desktop environments are better than others)
- has security suites available (yes I know there aren’t as many viruses for Linux)
(see what I did there?)
1 - AFAIK, all of them. Some of them are perhaps less flexible than you'd like, or a bit uncomfortable, but a quick run with, eg, Partedmagic (or a number of others) can sort this out, so it is really a bit of a non-problem.
2 - I'd agree with the OpenSUSE suggestion, but most GUIs have some kind of tool set to do everything that you'd want. Many aren't integrated into one place, and you have to use a different util for, say, newtworking from the one you use for disk management. For me, this is a non-problem (the using different utils bit, not necessarily, say, networking) but YMMV.
3 NTFS should not be a problem, but you may have to add something to do it, on some of the smaller distros
4 - This is going to be limited. Wine runs some
but not all
windows games adequately. You may be able to get better advice if you ask about specific games (but not from me, its not something I do). In any case, if Wine runs it, the chances are strong of running it (whatever it is) on all distros. The one warning is that there can be struggles getting proprietary video card drivers working (eg, nVidia, ATI) and although it can probably always be done, some distros may make that easier than others. And you'll probably need to go into the somewhat messy world of proprietary video drivers if you want to run the latest generation of first person shooter type games.
5 - media center: you might be as well looking at a distro that is specifically intended for media centre applications. In particular, the media center versions are usually offshoots of standard distros, and if a distro in which you are interested has such an offshoot, look at that more closely.
6 - Desktop environments. Again, pretty much all of them can, some are going to be more work than others. Normally, for a windows-refugee, I would advise looking at KDE, as it is probably, philosophically, easier to get your head around than Gnome (both on the heavy side, neither are cut down, no frills, but that's where you should probably start), but KDE has recently been through a big change with KDE 4. Now I would say, either go initially for the lowish-eye-candy, but as stable-as-a-very-stable-thing KDE3 or get the latest KDE4 than you can (a late KDE 4.3.x at a minimum). Earlier KDE 4s were an exercise in frustration, and that's the very last thing you want as a new user.
In general, the 'big' distros (big reputations, 'do anything' outlook...big downloads) tend to have repos (repositories) better stocked with alternative GUIs and you can install quite a number.
7 - Hmmm. not a big concern for most people, but... It is largely a question of how unsafe you make your Linux install. If you are a carefull person and you don't make big holes in security, you'll probably never need a security suite (btw, a firewalling system is built in, but its more like a firewall programming language, which you can use directly or use a graphical front end to program...for that reason, it doesn't really feature in the 'security suite').
I realize Linux is some assembly required, I guess I just want to know where to find the good parts and what the quickest way to assemble them is.
An ambiguous statement. I assume you mean that, to a certain extent, you'll have to put it together yourself (correctimundo) rather than 'I'll have to program in assembly language (false, false, false).
Here is a diversion from anything that you have asked (but I think may be helpful):
Use the package manager.
Linux distros come with some package management system. the distro itself maintains a repository (a collection) of software, and, courtesy of a 'net connection, you can just tick the software that you want and it sorts out the details.
build packages from scratch (get '.tar.gz'/'tarballs') and build them in situ, but for a beginner it should be your last resort.
An implication of this is that a distro with extensive repositories is going to be better, if you have wide and varied software interests (...again the big distros are bigger...).
Some distros push more packages off into 'community supported' or other similarly named repos; you should prefer to get everything that you want from the distros own repos (more likely to get updated quickly, better chance of long-term continuity), but be prepared to add community supported repos when necessary.
I just want something that’s functional, fast, efficient, secure & reliable.
That's fine, but be prepared to learn new stuff and unlearn old stuff.
...the funds to buy a copy all the various commercial distros, so I’m just trying to narrow my search some.
Forget spending big money on commercial (at least for the moment): there are advantages in the commercial distros for 'enterprise' applications, but you haven't mentioned any need for that.
I’m just asking what distros would work well for said purposes because, I simply don’t have the time to download and burn the hundreds of different distros to Live CDs
It doesn't matter if you don't initially choose 'the one'. You just have to choose something 'good enough'. Any at the top of the list at distrowatch
will do, but think about, in particular:
- Ubuntu (the kde version is kubuntu, but you can add kde to ubuntu from the package manager and still keep gnome...kde is not as well integrated in Ubuntu as Gnome, though; both still tolerable)
- Mepis (ok, this is probably not one of the biggest, but, historically, their kde has been better integrated than Kubuntu's)
In six months, you'll know a lot more, and will have the knowledge to fine-tune your decision. Coincidentally (or otherwise) many distros have ~6 monthly release cycles.