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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
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The distributions that are generally considered the most newbie-friendly are Mandrake, Redhat and Xandros. Linspire (formerly Lindows) also does a good job of covering up the technicalities with wizards (no, I don't mean that's bad).
Mandrake 9.1 I've been using it since it was released, 9.2 was alright but 10 is deffinetly going to be the one that destroys Microsoft or we should only hope. Redhat is no longer around now its Fedora. I would find the distro that match's what your looking for I've tried Slack, Redhat, Debian, Knoppix and Mandrake and Mandrake in my opinion ROCKS. So read through the forum and see what others say and make your own decision. Don't just try one though thats the best part about linux you have so many to choose from.
I'm probably setting myself up as flamebait (and no, I am not a Mandrake employee or shill), but I have nothing but good things to say about Mandrake 9.2 PowerPack edition.
I wasn't much of a Windows guru to start with; much less so where Linux is concerned. But I've been with Mandrake since 8.2 and can say that, in my experience, it's near-perfect in terms of replacing Windows on a total newbie's machine.
Mandrake has worked with every piece of hardware I've thrown at it, and the PowerPack set gave me all the tools I needed to pick up where Windows left off, and near-infinitely more. Installation and setup were a breeze.
It's a good choice if you're looking to replace Windows-- and going for the PowerPack boxed set will help the good folks at Mandrakesoft to keep the ball rolling as they emerge from bankruptcy. I don't have any experience with Mandrake 10 (personally, I'm waiting for a .1 or .2 Official release), and I understand that there are still a few kinks. It might be worth taking a look at 10.0 Official, though. I'm considering installing it on a secondary machine, just for kicks.
Just my US$0.02-- Your Mileage May Vary. There's no such thing as the "best" Linux distribution.
SuSE is good in the beginning, when you're content with your system. When you want to roll up your sleeves, however, It can get a little dirty. Unfortunately, I think that the further you put yourself from difficulties in the beginning, the more you'll face them later on. Distros like lindows hold your hand, which is not what you need. Mandrake is a good option, as is RH. (Mandrake is based off of RH) If your willing to learn alot, I'd honestly suggest Slackware. Its not the easiest, because it doesnt hold your hand, but when you figure out how stuff works, EVERYTHING will make sense.
I have two hd's: Windows XP Pro on one and Fedora Core 1 on the other...boots into Grub with the option to choose. I'm happy with Fedora so far, havent tried Mandrake. I guess you can say to each his own. Everyone's experience will be different, its almost like saying "hey we're new to fast food do you recommend McDonalds, Burger King or Wendy's?"
Go with Knoppix. Info can be found at http://www.knoppix.net/ and you should read here a bit. If you don't know how to download it and burn it to a cd, you can always buy a copy cheap or take a little extra time and work with their forums and this one to learn the necessary steps. That way, you'll have a little experience with burning a Linux distribution to a CD.
Why Knoppix? There are actually many versions of Linux now that run from CD but I have used and lie Knoppix. Remember, the entire operating system runs from the CD. Nothing has to be burned to your harddrive. So you can put it in your player, boot to it, play with all the programs and parts, then when you're done, simply take it out and go back to whatever you were doing. Since it doesn't write to your harddrive, you won't break anything. Pretty safe way to learn Linux, actually.
Here's another site for you if you feel adventurous...
which will tell you miles of information about every Linux distribution imaginable.
Distribution: Red Hat 9.0 - Suse 8.0 - Slackware 7.0 - Fedora Core 2 test 3
my first hand experience of linux was slackware 7.0 well, it's not a bad experience, then, now, i switched to red hat... and i'm a bit disgusted because i had problems with it... though it's good for newbies, i think slackware will make you a bit industrious...