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I think this is the appropriate forum for this question, correct me if I'm wrong. I tried the Linux Distros forum, but since this question is more generic than a specific distro, I landed here.
I'm trying to find a Linux distribution that's right for me. I'm a veteran Windows user (and VB.NET Programmer) looking to make the switch to Linux for 99% of my daily tasks... I've been reluctant because I'm a hard-core gamer, but with advances in WINE and similar projects, I've decided what the hell... at the very least, I can dual-boot to get the best of both worlds.
I'm looking for a Linux distro that's geared towards a friendly, GUI Desktop environment. I'm still very new to Linux commands, but I'm hoping today's advances in Linux GUI's will help me transition all the more smooth. A big turn off for me is having to make file changes/setting changes just to get a Linux install to happen, or to get very basic services like sound, video, and printing to work. It's actually kind of funny because the OS's I've tried thus far (below) make Windows Vista feel very smooth and flawless in comparison.
I've tried Mandriva One and Debian. I couldn't even get Debian to install correctly. The Resolution would constantly try to display past my monitor's supported resolution despite me forcing max resolutions.
Mandriva One has worked almost acceptable for me... except there are certain annoying bugs I can't figure out. When the OS launches or shuts down, I hear the appropriate sounds, but sound piped from applications don't work no matter how I change the settings. Also the OS takes longer than Vista to load on a fresh install, and frequently hangs up during log offs and restarts. Certain prompts (like activating the 3D Desktop features) will tell I have to log off to commit changes, and upon following said instructions, nothing changes or happens. I had to install a slew of RPMs just to configure printers appropriately and in the end, the printer doesn't receive print jobs. The OS in general runs "sluggish" compared to Vista... applications will become unresponsive when "thinking", trying to configure basic settings like printers requires me to install additional RPMs that (of course) require five or six more RPMs of their own which snow-ball the system into hell...
I'm convinced there has to be a better solution out there. I want an OS that just plain works out of the box, supports RPMs, and has no trouble working expediently with KDE/Gnome or similar using an AMD Athlon 3.2 GHz dual-core, with 2 GB of RAM and an NVidia GeForce 8600 GTS video card on a mainstream mid-range NVidia motherboard. And it should be able to launch and shutdown without throwing up over itself, either. Is there such a thing in this world? It may sounds like a lot to ask for on the server, but I keep hearing about how Linux is becoming a bigger and better competitor to Windows and quite frankly, I assumed these "Desktop" Linux distros would have the very basics covered!
Distribution: Mandriva 2009 X86_64 suse 11.3 X86_64 Centos X86_64 Debian X86_64 Linux MInt 86_64 OS X
Both Mandriva 2008 spring and Opensuse 11 has a Live Cd version
So you can try it before installing .
For me both all my hardware was detected out of the box.
Both has a GUI and easy to use and install
Both has a lot addition software
But there are a lot of distros out there
I have found PC Linux, an off shoot of Mandriva, to be the most GUI oriented distro. It packs most of the required apps onboard, so additional installations should be minimised. I mention this because, in my case, over repeated installation on different system hardware, the application management failed - though it does support RPMs.
The other distro I would recommend highly is Opensuse. Great stability and overall performance. The drawback is that after trying out PC Linux, Opensuse looks crippled out of the box, and even playing ordinary MP3 files will require additional download and install.
If you are not too keen to get full blown distros, give Puppy linux a spin. Excellent distro considering that it weighs in at under 100 MB. Specifically the NOP offshoot of Puppy is better, since it has openoffice. Despite it's size it could get my printer installed, and plays most media files right away. It will run happily out of a USB stick and I recommned using this option, rather than installing on the hard disk, since that would obviate the need for a dual boot setup.
I personally use Ubuntu as my primary. I believe the Kubuntu interface is more "Windows-user"-friendly, but I have found lots of bugs opening tring to browse the filesystem in the 8.04 release.
I'm going to recommend trying Linux Mint, a derivative of Ubuntu. It has all "common" tidbits - media codecs, Wi-Fi drivers, et cetera - preinstalled. I have heard many good things about it. Check out their site at: http://www.linuxmint.com/about.php (This links to the "About" page.)
I'm also going to offer another few thoughts. Here are my views (some of which are based on what I have read repeatedly) on some popular Linux operating systems:
Fedora Core: Okay distro, based on Red Hat which I believe (someone correctly if I'm wrong) has proprietary code. However, since it uses RPMs, it is suceptible to "RPM Hell", the snowballing effect which you mentioned in your post.
Ubuntu: Great distro for most users. Very customizeable via extra packages. Uses Aptitude-based package management, so not suceptible to "RPM Hell"; it almost always is able to resolve dependencies automatically. Bluetooth support as of 8.04.1 (current) release is broken/malfunctioning.
Slackware: More than likely not the distribution for those new to Linux - but excellent for the experienced/enthusiastic Linux user.
Debian: Great for stability, not so great for out-of-the-box with new hardware. I experienced this the hard way.
I really don't know much about the other OSes, such as Mandriva, OpenSUSE, Linspire/Freespire, or Xandros.
I would also suggest trying Freespire - it too is based off of Ubuntu, hence it has Aptitude-based package management.
Note 1: Ubuntu is based off of Debian, Aptitude is Debian's main package management software. This is why Ubuntu (and its derivatives) use the Aptitude-based package management.
Note 2: I know that Ubuntu and Kubuntu (as well as many others) are "Live CD" capable.
Note 3: A "Live CD" means you can run the system from CD without installing anything on your hard drive, which can be a very nice feature when deciding between multiple distributions.
I hope that this helps and that it's not too confusing.
Last edited by computer_freak_8; 09-23-2008 at 08:26 PM.
Reason: Make corrections
Re Fedora remarks:
RH has a commercial Linux (RHEL), which you pay for, but that's really for support. Has a few 'proprietary' logos etc. If you want same code for free (no support) go to Centos.
Fedora is the totally free bleeding edge distro whose community is backed by RH, and eventually Fedora stuff ends up in RHEL (& Centos).
'RPM hell': obsolete description. Basically, all OS/Sw (not just Linux) have dependency issues. In the early days RH was very popular, but didn't have a good pkg mgr, so people used to try and install rpms individually, by hand ---> dependency hell.
These days most distros rely on one of 2 pkg mgrs to handle that; rpm systems use yum/yumex, apt-get (Debian based) use apt-get. FYI, there is also Alien/apt-getrpm if you look for it.
Distribution: Fedora 22, Debian 8, Centos 6/7 for servers
For what you are saying I think you would like OpenSuSe with KDE.
You sound like you know your way around Windows PC pretty well, so you will like using YaST (Like control panel) and other suse tools. Its all there really. If you want the phat edition download the DVDiso and do the install that way you'll get more apps by default.
Thanks for the all the great suggestions, I'm definitely going to check them all out!
Right now I'm downloading Fedora Core... I remember trying this a few years back but I'm hoping it will be better than it was back then. I had no sound, and even though I had basic servers running in the background (SSH, etc...) I could not find a way to control them from a GUI simply to get my bearings straight.
I like the idea of Live CDs... I used to use them all the time, but I find that (especially with Mandriva) it's just better to go through the painful install and then see how it works because the performance changes drastically for me. On my hardware, the Live Mandriva CD was pretty choppy, but performed faster once on my machine. And that doesn't even include the RPMs I had to install to get basic essentials working. But I should be greatful... I tried Linux a few years back (without package management software) and THAT was dependency hell... I am glad that at least the RPMs that did install knew exactly what they needed to get and did so automatically.
As for choosing a minimalist ISO over a full-blown ISO... I think I'm going to opt for the full-blown stuff. "What can I do in Windows that I can now do after a clean install of Linux?" is a great way of explaining my goals right now. I love how many of these distros have small little tools you can't find it Windows: A more robust network packet monitor, a more customizable GUI, a terminal for doing quick and dirty tasks, etc...
Unfortunately, what I've tried so far leaves glaring issues to be considered. Every OS has bugs and issues, but my basic expectation is a basic OS-install wizard that doesn't require messing with individual files, to have the OS detect and configure DHCP automatically and just plain "work", and have sound/video work or at least give me plenty of options to tinker with the control panel until I can fix what's wrong.
You know what I really love about Mandriva (even as I'm ready to blow it away with a Fedora Core install)? It detected my NVidia video card and loaded a nice video card driver for me. Right from the get-go, Xorg was using my video card to draw a 3D desktop... In the end I turned it off for better performance, but it's nice to see that included so I know it's available if I opt for it.
read this http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm
get an idea of what to expect from linux
the first thing to understand is linux is not windows
try some live CDs
IF you want to know linux in detail install slackware come here and ask questions
be prepared to reinstall (you WILL muck up the system learning with what ever distro )
People usually recommend OpenSuse or Ubuntu for beginners.
They also recommend Mandriva which I saw you tried and is the most similar to Windows including bugs and annoyances, or recommend Debain because of all the packages so you won't need to compile but you tried that as well.
As far as GUI people usually recommend Ubuntu so give it a try.
Will you please be so kind to mention the bugs ?
So I also become aware of this bugs ,because in my case it works fine,
anyhow as far as I can discover
Well everyone may experience different things, but after reinstalling Mandriva three times over, I still experienced the following:
Extreme slowness and unresponsiveness in the GUI.
The login window would seldom hang (I would get a blank screen with no input fields for my login.)
The reboot/shutdown would hang similar to the login (above) and I would have to do a hard shutdown.
There were more but those are the ones that stick out in my head. While everyone is different, my personal expectation is that any OS out-of-the-box should be able to start up, login, and shutdown without hanging up. And with Linux being known for stability and "lean" resource management (especially when compared to Windows or Mac OS X) it's a bit of a shock.
I understand these bugs could just be my hardware, but who knows? I think I have a very popular/common spec:
nVidia nForce Mobo (mid-range, I can't remember the exact number...)
AMD Athlon X64 3.2 GHz Dual Core
nVidia GeForce 6800
So far I've only tried X86 OS's on my X64 processor... I doubt that could be a problem but if you think it is, please let me know.