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I have been running a custom-built desktop with WinXP for the past 4 years and have over time become sick and tired of the viruses, spyware etc slowing everything down. A recent enforced full reinstall of ALL my programmes was the last straw - when I upgrade next year I'm going to forget about Vista and migrate to Linux.
I've been researching the Wiki entries on this site, as well as the various distributions on Distrowatch and reviews on other sites, but the range is so dazzling I just feel lost! I'll try and describe what my needs on my new computer will be in the hope that someone might be able to offer some advice:
Multi-language capability. I use my computer to do stuff in Italian, Chinese (simplified) and Korean, apart from English. I thus need to be able to input and display text, view websites etc in these languages as well as possible.
Entertainment. I plan on using my computer as my primary entertainment device (DVDs, music, TV), so preferably I'd like the distribution to have as much support as is practical.
Hardware support. I was planning on getting a laptop, but I have recently seen some apparently excellent desktops that seem to do what I want. If I were to get a laptop, it would definitely be a brand-name computer like Asus or something, but if I got a desktop it'd probably be custom-built again. As a result hardware support will be something important. I've also noticed that often Linux distributions have problems detecting some laptop-specific items (wireless cards etc). Is this something that is such a drastic problem that I should opt for the desktop on the grounds of a better chance of hardware support? Or does it really make no difference and I'm going to have initial hardware teething problems whichever way I go?
While I'd still call myself a newb to Linux, I have had some exposure to it and programming in general through university, so I would consider myself relatively technologically competent
I realise this is a long post, so I thank you for your patience in reading to this point. I would be most appreciative of any suggestions or advice you might be able to pass on.
Stickied at the to of the "Distributions" forum is the SuperMegaThread where all queries of this nature are merged. This one has benn reported for inclusion. Most of the major Distros will fill you needs.
Start with any of the free distros that appear in the top 5-10 listed at Distrowatch. I doubt if ANYONE stays with the first one they try. When you see what one will/won't do, then you'll know better what to look for.
Just went thru the drill of getting Linux on my compaq nc8000 laptop. Ubuntu 6.06 worked 100% out of the box. Demo version of Xandros also worked.
My current favorite is Mepis 6, but it did not work on the laptop. Another very good choice is PCLinuxOS
Use Ubuntu if you're a novice to beginner ... the package manager's it comes with by default are superb (apt-get, synaptic) and hardware compatible is excellent. I only had to install one package on my new dell laptop to get it to recognize 1280x800 resolution.
This is the distro I use and recommend, Why because it works right out of the box. No need to configure Everything, everything just works. It also comes as a 1 CD install that is a live CD that you can install later if you wish.
I'm just a little bit worried about the foreign languages issue. Very few of the distributions (according to DistroWatch) have foreign language support, and even fewer have both foreign and Asian language support. Also, having read some of the distributions' user forums, people seem to be finding it difficult to get (especially Asian) language support to work. Is this a very difficult/finicky thing to do? How do distributions get non-English language support to work in general?