Originally Posted by rblampain
I'd like to have the views of the experts, what would you suggest if I want a stable OS and available technical support online or printed but I am not prepared to google all day to solve a problem.
Unfortunately, thats about the best way to go. Sure I've had mountains of help, from here and other forums. Most distros are "stable" though you can often choose different versions of them for development/testing/etc etc.
For online docs, the best I've come across thus far, has been gentoo - their online resources are extensive. Though if/when you experience problems, then it still equates to one hell of a lot of reading.
So it either means something like gentoo (which can be a bugger to install, even to those with experience, but which is generally pretty easy to manage) or something like mandriva, which installs pretty easily due to it's excellent installer and GUI facilities and is also reasonably easy to manage - but also has an immense amount of support due to it's popularity i.e. theres plenty of assistance here at LQ, theres also the mandrivausers forums
which are distro specific or theres also the official site and the "club".
Personally, unless you're getting really adventurous and want to go piling in and do loads of "high level" type stuff straight away, then I'd suggest that you set your system up so that for the linux install, you have /boot, /swap, / and /home partitions. Then install mandriva - sure you should make sure that you tell the installer that you have the 4 partitions, but when you want to try something different, you just install it to the / and /boot partition (making sure that the /swap and /home have entries in the /etc/fstab). Then anything that you want to keep, you would have put into the /home partition and the system should reboot and not have touched the /home stuff at all. Provided you have the same apps/packages installed any icons/shortcuts etc in /home just work and you haven't lost any data/files/addressbooks/etc - any customisations ? well the bits that support backgrounds/buttons/iconsets etc live in the / anyway, so initially you would just have the new distro default set/background - but changing that is a basic thing to do.
Spending half your time in google it part of the learning curve - and you'll still find that lots of the online resources is very poorly written (worse for me, I don't have the technical mindset either).
Hence, in the short term, I'd suggest Mandriva, SuSE, Fedora - hell, if you think that debian is the way to go, then get a kanotix disc and install that to your hard drive (it's based on knoppix, but uses debian mirrors/repositories and is apparently a little more "polished" than knoppix).