Originally Posted by Makio9
I thought all of Linux was free to be honest. It is an open source operating system
Open source does not mean free binaries nor free distributions.
Several distributions, such as RHEL, are not free. Modifications to Linux source code made by Red Hat in producing RHEL are still open source. So others can (and do) recompile that source code into equivalent binaries and distribute those binaries for free.
Most distributions are free. Some are not.
Originally Posted by nonamedotc
I would also suggest Linux Mint initially for getting a feel of linux. Once you gain a little more experience, you can move to more 'advanced' user distributions like Arch or Slackware.
I think that gives a misleading view of beginner vs. advanced distributions.
A beginner distribution, such as Ubuntu is not missing the advanced features. Whatever advanced thing you want to do in Linux is possible in Ubuntu.
The default and documented way to do something in Ubuntu might be ultimately less flexible as a consequence of having been made more beginner friendly. But the expert way to do the same thing is also available. You don't need to switch to an expert distribution in order to switch to doing any specific task in a more difficult to learn way (that in some cases is more flexible or faster than the easy to learn way).
I do such a wide variety of tasks on a computer, that I almost never want the hard to learn method for anything, even if it is a little better than the newbie method. I would likely forget it again anyway before the next time I needed it. I want anything I do rarely to be so obvious that I can do it the first time with no learning.
An 'advanced' distribution tends to be missing newbie features. But a newbie distribution does not tend to be missing advanced features.
An 'advanced' distribution tends to be easier to strip down to essentials (if you wanted to run it on severely limited hardware). A newbie distribution tends to have lots of interdependencies hiding inside, so that it is easier to use but harder to figure out which parts you really depend on. Hard drive space is cheap, so I don't care if I have a few hundred MB of software installed that I shouldn't really need.
If you want to use a harder distribution so you can feel proud that you are smarter than ordinary Linux users, have fun. But don't expect me to copy you. If you want to use a harder distribution to force
yourself to learn something, that might be valid. You could learn the exact same thing on a newbie distribution, but you would need to make the choice to skip the easy way each time you want to do something. If you prefer to make that choice once when you dump the easy distribution, so you have no choice later, that may be the best learning method for you (not for me).