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You mean the best distribution i guess?? It depends how much you want to get to know Linux. If you want the real inner workings you need Slackware, that will teach you everything (but it will be extremely difficult for a newbie with no prior experience. You might want to try something a little easier first, such as Fedora or Debian. They will teach you the basics and you wont be using a 'hold your hand' distro like ubuntu or mint. If you have absolutely no experience with Linux and dont know any basic commands, id push you towards Mint. If you want a more 'linux like experience' try fedora or debian. Once you are comfortable with basic administration/networking/security you can move on to Slack,Debian,Gentoo,Arch.
Good Luck and welcome to Linux!
Btw : Go Debian :P its a little harder but it'll be worth the work !
Edit: Just saw your post a couple of lines down in the same forum. Well Debian is currently at Debian Squeeze so get that one.
I second/third the "try a few & have a play" approach.
I was an absolute tart when it came to Linux distributions until I finally settled on Debian after about a year.
The experiences I had with other distributions were not wasted, however, as underneath it all it's still Linux. Alright, so some of the graphic elements vary here & there & installers/application managers vary, but when you get right down to it, the command line remains a pretty consistent element.
One advantage to trying different distributions is that you will find out if one works better with your particular hardware or not. Most distributions offer a live cd, which you can download for free and run from the CD to get a feel for what the distribution is like and whether or not it works well with your system. For someone new to Linux, the differences are likely to be more cosmetic than anything else. Don't get me wrong here, there are fundamental differences and the sort of thing that 'shootin feuds' are made of.
There are a few major things that I think will matter to you at this point:
1 - Desktop: Gnome versus KDE, versus other
2 - Package management: deb, versus rpm, versus software based
3 - availability of software from the repositories.
Generally speaking each of these is a matter of choice. No one is better than an other. Initially, I would recommend a package management system that handles dependencies for you, which most of the major systems will. Check out Distrowatch (website) for comparisons. Typically Ubuntu and its variants, such as Mint are easy to learn, yet still provide the flexibility to learn and grow as your experience increases. These also have the advantage of being very popular with excellent community support. In the end, though, there are no right or wrong answers.
I have recently installed both Debian (6.0.1) and Ubuntu (10.10) Gnome. It seems to me the major difference is that the Ubuntu people have made a lot of decisions before burning the CDs. During the install, you are asked only one or two questions, such as what time zone you are in. Everything else is "preordained". Debian, like most other distributions lets you make those decisions at install time. This is good if you want to make different decisions than the Ubuntu people made. One of the first things I ran into is that Ubuntu does not install a floppy drive. It can be added later, if you're willing to dig out the details.
What's the best Linux for a complete nubie with a Toshiba N205--and wny?
What is your background: experience in operating systems?
What is your target: learn linux or receive it ready to use? buy a cheaper computer without OS or kicking Microsoft out of your live?
Easy way: Ubuntu or Mint (nearly ready to use; but fat and slow because with a lot of things and services started)
Radical way: TinyCoreLinux (if you want to spend time and are interested in operating system).
Advantages with the radical way: your PC will boot within 2 seconds but you will have to think how to configure and spend time.
The is no solution: only a decision from your side.
1. A quick search shows no-one is complaining about Linux problems with the Toshiba, and it's certainly powerful enough to run any distro happily.
2. Contrary to what some people say, you can learn Linux from any distro. But you are more likely to learn from one that gives you a helping hand at the start: you don't teach someone to swim by throwing them off a cliff!
3. Provided that the distro you have is reasonably friendly (and also not stuffed full of bleeding-edge, beta-test software aimed at hobbyists), the most important thing is to get a user interface that you like. One of the great things with Linux is that you get to choose your 'desktop'. So you might like to try the following (don't forget you can try them by running the 'live disk' before actually having to install):
PCLinuxOS, with the KDE desktop
Mint, with Gnome
Salix, with Xfce
One more take on this old question, though I agree with the above.
If you have some particular application or thing you want to do with the computer, you might need to pick a particular distro to make your life quite a bit easier, unless you like spending all your time hacking/fixing/posting questions on fora.
For example, LinuxMCE is based on Ubuntu, specifically Ubuntu 8.04 and below, though of course this is a moving target. So media center interests... dedicated MCE?
Similarly for other specific applications or hardware you want to support; there might only be packages built for a particular distro or release, and while that isn't a absolute barrier (Slackware users might actually regard that as part of the fun ! ), it isn't typically what the newcomer wants.