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Old 08-02-2005, 03:11 PM   #1
cmhall
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Registered: Aug 2005
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Best distribution for someone unfamiliar with Linux


I'm interested in making the switch from Windows to some distribution of Linux.

I want something that I can get up and running easily, and can stick with for a long time without feeling handicapped by it's noob-friendliness.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by cmhall; 08-02-2005 at 03:24 PM.
 
Old 08-02-2005, 03:15 PM   #2
namish
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There are so many posts about this. But anyway, I liked SuSE when I started out... You'll probably change distributions eventually. Not that SuSE is bad, but it's just curiosity that makes you change distros.
 
Old 08-02-2005, 04:14 PM   #3
jollyjoice
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Try this:
http://www.zegeniestudios.net/ldc/in...5d7c7e24addf90
 
Old 08-02-2005, 04:26 PM   #4
sundialsvcs
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Registered: Feb 2004
Location: SE Tennessee, USA
Distribution: Gentoo, LFS
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My suggestion is simply... get a spare computer that you can trash (I literally bought one at a Goodwill store, and it turned out to be a very decent unit!) pick some distribution, and plunge in.

You're going to feel like your head just exploded.

... ... ... ... ... <repeat>

Don't worry about it; it happens to everyone. (Periodically!) You're running into a completely different operating-system environment, and it will seem to have a lot of rough edges to it. But this is the learning-curve. There is simply no way to "sit on the edge of the pool and read a book about swimming," although of course O'Reilley sells quite a few good ones.

I strongly advise also that you keep a diary. As in, a paper notebook or loose-leaf binder. Write down what you did each day. When you have a question, write it down so that you don't lose it, then leave some space for the answer when you find it, and keep moving. Pace yourself: Rome wasn't built in a day. And never really let yourself feel "dumb." All of this stuff is extremely new to you and extremely different, and when you're thoroughly accustomed to something else, you really don't appreciate just how much you knew about the "other" environment. It's quite disorienting, like feeling lost at sea. Expect it.

If you do all of the learning on a computer that has nothing to do with the "main machine" that you use every day, you can safely do anything you wish to it, without harm. You don't have to futz with dual-booting. You can take out your frustrations at any time on Minesweeper. You can try two or three different distributions.

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 08-02-2005 at 04:28 PM.
 
Old 08-02-2005, 04:46 PM   #5
IsaacKuo
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Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Distribution: Debian 8 Jessie
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I recommend Mepis. It's a liveCD with a fully capably software suite, so you can try out a fully functional Linux system on your best computer without installing ANYTHING. It's also an install CD, so you can install it without downloading/burning a second CD. In fact, you can use Mepis from the liveCD during the ~15minutes it takes to install!

Mepis has excellent automatic hardware detection/configuration, but you still have full control using Linux's more traditional tools if you want to learn them.

When doing a hard drive install, Mepis essentially becomes a Debian install with extra software preconfigured. Debian is renouned for its maintainability, efficiency, flexibility, and expandability. In particular, Debian's package management system makes "it just works" installation of software a breeze. It's also easy to keep up-to-date with the latest versions of all of your software, or just keep up-to-date with the latest security updates.

I recommend starting off with dual-booting--keeping your existing Windows setup while creating new partitions for Linux.
 
Old 08-02-2005, 04:57 PM   #6
samael26
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Registered: Oct 2004
Location: France, Provence
Distribution: Debian
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Quote:
Originally posted by sundialsvcs
My suggestion is simply... get a spare computer that you can trash (I literally bought one at a Goodwill store, and it turned out to be a very decent unit!) pick some distribution, and plunge in.

You're going to feel like your head just exploded.

... ... ... ... ... <repeat>

Don't worry about it; it happens to everyone. (Periodically!) You're running into a completely different operating-system environment, and it will seem to have a lot of rough edges to it. But this is the learning-curve. There is simply no way to "sit on the edge of the pool and read a book about swimming," although of course O'Reilley sells quite a few good ones.

I strongly advise also that you keep a diary. As in, a paper notebook or loose-leaf binder. Write down what you did each day. When you have a question, write it down so that you don't lose it, then leave some space for the answer when you find it, and keep moving. Pace yourself: Rome wasn't built in a day. And never really let yourself feel "dumb." All of this stuff is extremely new to you and extremely different, and when you're thoroughly accustomed to something else, you really don't appreciate just how much you knew about the "other" environment. It's quite disorienting, like feeling lost at sea. Expect it.

If you do all of the learning on a computer that has nothing to do with the "main machine" that you use every day, you can safely do anything you wish to it, without harm. You don't have to futz with dual-booting. You can take out your frustrations at any time on Minesweeper. You can try two or three different distributions.
These are the best advice you can get, especially, the trash computer and the diary. Very useful. Dual-booting is a bore.
 
Old 08-02-2005, 05:19 PM   #7
IsaacKuo
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I strongly disagree. IMHO, running Linux on older slower hardware is a bore. When I wanted to get into Linux, I just wanted everything to work, with minimum fuss.

I did well with Knoppix, but Mepis would have been better.
 
Old 08-02-2005, 07:43 PM   #8
PusterRacing
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Registered: Aug 2005
Distribution: Currently: Linspire 5.0, SUSE 9.3. Testbed: PCLinuxOS, FC4, Ubuntu, Freeduc, Turkix
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My three suggested Distros for the Linux "newb" would be these.....

1) Linspire Download the LiveCD and give it a whirl
They've really made using Linux and getting aquainted with Linux very intuitive and easy. Very good, IMHO, home desktop distro though somewhat more limited than other distros. GREAT hardware detection and GREAT 1st Linux distro.

2) PCLinuxOS
They too have made getting to know Linux Easy. This is a LiveCD that is installable. Once again, very good home desktop distro.

3) SUSE Pro 9.3
Another very good desktop linux, geared more toward business than home use. But still very good and comes with many packages Available for download on 5CDs from here

Anyway, those are my three recommendations for the "New Linux User" to get accustomed to a new OS. Try those three, but more than likley, once you are comfortable you will try any and every distro available for download....just the nature of the beast.
 
Old 08-02-2005, 08:05 PM   #9
J3N7iL
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Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Chicago
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Im really surprised that no one said Fedora.

My work uses Fedora because it's the closest to Windows. . .kinda.

It detects virtually all hardware, sets it up and your ready to go. It comes with all the software you'll need to work including open office and K3B (cd-dvd Burning software).

I have never had any troubles (except sound) with the Fedora Distro.
 
Old 08-02-2005, 09:11 PM   #10
EngLee
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Distribution: RedHat 9
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Yea.. go for Fedora!
 
Old 08-06-2005, 01:31 AM   #11
dtedrow
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Registered: Jul 2005
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Xandros

For reasons I have yet to discover, when the topic comes up of best distro, Xandros is rarely a top contender. When I first started with Linux I tried almost every distro listed in the top twenty on distrowatch. I always ran into countless problems with my hardware, or just wasn't able to figure out how to do what I wanted to do. That being said, I learned allot since I was on the various forums 24/7. Back to the point, When I finally started over and gave Xandros a try, I was very pleasantly surprised. Now if your looking for downright grandma Linux, go for Linspire, but thats Linux with training wheels. Xandros is definitely user friendly and may even be too much so for some users, but I personally found it the perfect mix of usability and expandability - it was easy as hell but it still had enough "Linux" in it to make it interesting. Anyway, to make a long story short, the issues listed below are specific problems I kept running into with other distributions and are also the issues that Xandros excels in.

- Root Access; not everyone agrees, but I despise having to type in my root password every 5 seconds. Xandros is one of the few that doesn't give you crap about logging in as root.
- Hardware Detection/Configuration; this is a biggie, could talk for hours bout it. The absolute ONLY distro that installed the correct drivers for my NVidia card, All-in-One printer, sound & tv card, and several other pieces of hardware that often causes problems. I remember struggling for hours trying to get SUSE, Mandrake, Ubuntu, you name it, to install the right drivers and properly configure everything - it was a nightmare. None of that here.
- Sharing/Networking; Xandros handles sharing, specifically SAMBA sharing differently that most other distros. It's quite nice really since it's completely integrated with all the other configurations. When I booted Xandros up for the first time it had already configured and was sharing both my printers and the default shared folders with my Windows laptop AND Mac - that was also a first and usually requires a hefty amount of fiddling.
- Quickness; not an essential attribute but still nice to have. For a full featured distro, I would say the boot up time kicks A hands down. Also the general responsiveness of Xandros, i.e. getting in and out of the configuration utility, package handler, etc. is way quicker than many others.
-one last thing... I have Xandros on dual boot with Windows XP at the moment, although on separate drives. I didn't understand why, but some distros like to make it real difficult for you to simply browse files on your WINDOWS file system (my other hard drive). I love that I can get to any part of my windows drive and transfer/open files without any hassle.

Well I'll get off my soap box, but I just felt compelled to post on the subject. Keep in mind that everyone has their own flavor, but this one definitely made me feel right at home. I do have to say to those "exceedingly experienced" Linux users who are turned on by spending countless hours at the command prompt, my best advice is to move right along...
 
Old 08-06-2005, 02:17 AM   #12
craigevil
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1) Xandros for all the reason "dtedrow" gave.
2) PCLinuxOS, because it is a LIveCD that you can play around with the install very simply if you like it. Uses Synaptic to install programs, very user friendly.
3) Ubuntu, the install is very simple and the Ubuntu community, plus the documentation available for it are great.
4) Knoppix/Kanotix LiveCds are great. The installer is not that diffficult and will give you a working Debian system.
 
Old 08-06-2005, 05:23 AM   #13
IsaacKuo
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I place Mepis above Xandros, because it's free and it also does excellent hardware detection--including nVidia and Ati drivers--and excellent Windows networking. It does so using free software, so it's pretty easy to set it up the same way with ANY Linux distribution later on (now that the newbie has been introduced to smb4k by Mepis). Plus, it's also a LiveCD and the install CD--and the user needs a LiveCD anyway so that's one less CD to burn, and one less default setup to become familiar with. And of course, Mepis is also Debian based.

Now, IMHO, it is a BAD idea for a newbie to ever log in graphically as root. It just builds bad habits that need to be unlearned later on, and makes it too easy to accidentally mess up complex software packages (like KDE, or Mozilla Firefox).
 
Old 08-06-2005, 11:35 AM   #14
tuxdev
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I've always felt limited by any newb-friendly distros until I tried the mythologically (not a real word?) newb-ufriendly distro Slackware. It is good if and only if you want to really learn and bang your head on the wall many, many, times. I used an old Pentium 166 MMX to learn, and it worked wonderfully.
 
Old 08-06-2005, 11:53 AM   #15
aysiu
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Quote:
Originally posted by IsaacKuo
Now, IMHO, it is a BAD idea for a newbie to ever log in graphically as root. It just builds bad habits that need to be unlearned later on, and makes it too easy to accidentally mess up complex software packages (like KDE, or Mozilla Firefox).
I agree, but I think the distro you recommended (Mepis) strikes a happy balance. You can still browse files graphically (by launching File Manager - Super User Mode), but it's only a temporary browsing within a regular user environment. Then you can close that folder window when you're done doing what you have to do. It also means you don't have to log out of user and log back in as root to do one thing graphically, then log out of root and log back in as user.
 
  


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