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I read this review which stated that Mepis and Xandros were the two best distros for newbies to jump right into without having to master lots of technicalities. Are there any significant issues with these two, such as limited connectivity capabilities and so forth?
There are no real technical limitations, Linux is Linux, still has the kernel etc., the distro just adds it's own things into the mix, and in these distros case it is things to make new users feel comfortable.
There may be some 'personal growth' limitations, wherby the distro does a lot of things automatically, without letting the user find out exactly what is happening and why. These is easily overcome by a curious mind and a look under the bonet though.
The great thing is, you can use these to get a grip on Linux, it's terminology, layout etc. then move onto another distro when you think it's time, you have total freedom to do as you want.
well mepis runs its own kernel not a stock debian kernel so some of the packages in the debian repositories dont work properly if they need to do things to the kernel. Im not sure if this will be the case with mepis 6.0 because Im not sure if that is using a custom ubuntu kernel or a stock ubuntu kernel.
Start with any free distro---then keep adding them and trying until you either settle on something or go crazy.....
So far, I have (on my home machine): Ubuntu, Arch, and Slackware. I did not have a good first impression of Mepis and Xandros--AFAIK--costs $$