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I have used just about every distro there is now. Personaly I am fond of slack, but wouldn't recomend it to a newbie unless you had lots of time on your hands, and a spare computer you could keep up for linuxquestions.org quickrefrences while you learn/config.
Having used SO DAMN MANY, I would say for the newbie who wasn't sure if he/she was ready to commit, Slax. Definately.
If you do want to move completely to the good side of the force for good, I would say Xandros. They have a free desktop version you can download for free. I have it now so I can teach my children. When they say four click install, their not kidding. It's just like windows in it's use, and you dont have to understand how to partition your hard drive to install it. four clicks and your rockin'. If my five year old can use linux, you can too.
no, not knoppix. the installer is text based and it completly turned me off. use mepis instead. however, i agree with most people here that a debian-based distro is hte way to go. mepis grows with you and you can be hardcore or hard noob.
just so you know, mepis and knoppix are essentially the same thing, except mepis has a much much better installer and better hardware detection.
You might want to look around at DistroWatch and especially this page to get an overview of some distributions.
I started with Mandrake.. went from Mandrake > SuSE > Slackware > Arch > Fedora > Gentoo.
Mandrake is better than Suse I think.. but it's been awhile, I can't quite remember. Fedora seems good for newbies, but I can't look at it from a newbie perspective, like I did Mandrake.
Mandrake was pretty easy for me, I got it set up without many problems, and if I would have read documentation it would have been perfect. I had, from what I can tell, around the same experience as you.
It has a great partitioning tool (on CD1) which I keep around for resizing NTFS and stuff, I just used it last week infact!
I think it is overall a great way to get started with Linux, a bridge between Windows and Linux. Sometimes I consider using it again, for that matter, when I get sick of manually configuring stuff.
I've been using it for a while, and now that I've my external modem, I can easily say it's the best distribution for a newbie. It's easy to use, easy to install things, easy to work on things, it's pretty fast and full of features.
It's the most graphical distro out of Fedora and Mandrake I've been told.
Thanks to ppuru, 2damncommon, masand, FrostBot, minm, cybrnetico, minm, cppKid, rm6990, mjolnir, cyusko, Eagel-Seven, gkneller, for the input. As fortuine has it, I have several boxes layin around, ready to accept a LInux flavor. Think the best thing to do is to have three to four up and running at a time to see how they compare. As I do not get into gaming, watching dvd, listening to mpegs, some of the distros have been eliminated. My first introduction to Linux was Linux Server Lite 6.0, then LibraNet, both of which I was LOST to...(although , on my PII (III?) 500Mhz Celeron, 64 mb ram, 6 gb hdd laptop, I got Lilo to boot when GRUB wouldnt. Still, had no idea about mounting volumes, etc. My interest is really piqued over Lycoris, as I do like networking PCs.
I would still solicit any input on flavors that would answer the call for things like: file server, email, firewalls, basically networking issues. Thanks again, Officers, from this Linux Private First Class.
Thanks mjolnir. Must say that Lycoris sounds like it has enough weight for desktops without being too heavy for laptops, supportive to networking......this is definitely going on that ole doorstop of a laptop! Do we keep beatin the horse, or do I call the ref and throw in the towel on this one?
Linux is all about networking. All the distributions that people have advocated here will have masses of tools for all sorts of networking tasks, including those that you mention. It's worth bearing in mind that the smaller distros tend not to include things like web and database servers if you want to do stuff like that, but seriously, they're all great for networking. Definitely check out distrowatch for specifics.
My tale is thus...a month ago I was given a copy of Xandros 2.0 and installed it under a dual boot schema with Windows XP (it did all the work...all I did was put the CD in the drive and reboot.
I haven't booted XP in 10 days.
While there is a free distribution of Xandros, the really neat thing that made my migration possible comes from the pay-only 2.5 Deluxe Desktop version...it comes with Codeweaver's Crossover Office that lets you use Microsoft Office 2000/XP applications as if they were native to Xandros, including Internet Exploder 6 if that is really necessary (as it is in my case). Xandros also has a feature called "Xandros Network" that works just like Windows Update...makes updates a snap.
Xandros is not a state-of-the-art, bleeding edge distribution. The kernel is a generation old (2.4.24) and most of the applications and utilities available through Xandros Network are about a version behind as well. OTOH, everything I've tried through them just works...I have yet to experience a configuration problem or error.
I started learning with RH 8 a few months ago and found that there is a ton of documentaion on red hat and such. But this is not saying that you have to use RH, in my opinion its easy to start off with.
As for a HUGE suggestion, i would recommend that you surf these and other forms like this and look for common problems that many new users encouner. One person already listed a few of these in an above post. If you can spare the paper, print a few threads dealing with these problems and their solutions. Belive me when I say that this will save you quite a few headaches, and will stop you from running back to windows.
I also recommend getting a good linux starter BOOK. I started learning my Red Hat distro with the "Learning Red Hat Linux" book. Its a good book for newbies and equally explains the console (which ur gonna have to use no matter how much u like point and click) as well as the Red Hat gui. After that I would recommend the book "Running Linux", this is an awesome tutorial and will allow you to further explore linux (plus its not disto specific).
One final thing is you must have patience. I was installing timidity, a midi player (very simple software), the other day and it took me 3 hours to do so. The installation was easy, but getting it running and downloading all the other things that the program needed took a bit of research and time. Before you do something in linux, always look into it. These threads are great for learning what kind of problems people have had when doing something. There is also a great amount of documentation that was written for a great deal of things. Chances are if it exists, theres a howto
And remember, even the gurus were newbies at some point. You and I and all other people are lucky enough to live in an age where we can get solutions very rapidly when we need it. Keep a positive attitude, never give up, and youll be a guru yet.
Good luck and enjoy your linux experience (i know you will, just make sure to take a few hours out of each day to do some "real world" stuff ;^) )