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Old 12-16-2017, 04:47 PM   #1
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Picking a desktop distro to get started with on a laptop.

I'm not current on desktop Linux. I do have some old experience on Unix and Red Hat.

I'm looking to narrow down the huge field of distro's to 2 or 3 to try out. This is a bit long as I'll help you get to know me.

I have a HP 4530 laptop, 8gb, i7 CPU with an ATI video card.

Non-negotiable requirements: Not being spied on, not being constantly nagged to upload usage data to somewhere or having patches pushed to me without my consent.

My primary applications are IMAP email, web browsing, Skype, playing audio and video files. Apps currently favored by me are Firefox, Opera and VLC. I am looking for a replacement for Outlook 2012, maybe Thunderbird?

I tend to like simple packages that do one thing well and are stable. I guess that means I don't mind doing some tweaking and hunting down packages that meet my specific needs.

Conversely, I don't tend to like suites of applications, but if they do one thing well without getting too enthused about themselves, like Word and Excel used to, that's OK.

Thank you for your help.
Old 12-16-2017, 06:33 PM   #2
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Registered: Apr 2010
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Distribution: Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, RedHat, DSL, Puppy, CentOS, Knoppix, Mint-DE, Sparky, Vsido, tinycore, Q4OS
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I am currently running Q4OS Linux on an older and less powerful HP laptop than yours. I run everything you mentioned except SKYPE. (SKYPE on Linux is painful since Microsoft took it over!)
I have run SPARKY Linux, Mint-DE, Mint, and VSIDO in the past on my HP laptop and can recommend Mint for your purposes. (Mint-DE is a bit better for mine.) All of them are quite capable. I would not run Ubuntu, or anything very KDE based due to the slowdown in video that can result: the desktop software itself is fast enough but it comes with too much "baggage".

Elementary Linux might also serve you well.
There are Live-CD images available for ALL of these. I use Easy2Boot (E2B) to load them all up on a USB thumb drive that I can then boot into whatever I want to test this day without actually installing. Try before you jump in with both feet.
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Old 12-16-2017, 06:39 PM   #3
Mill J
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I second the Linux Mint Recommendation, it should run no problem on that hardware! I'd go with cinnamon Desktop as many people who are used to Windows find it easy to use.

The easiest way to find out which is for you just create a live usb or CD and boot.

Have Fun!
Old 12-16-2017, 09:34 PM   #4
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I quite like Mint, but I would suggest that you also look at Mageia and perhaps OpenSUSE. There is, of course, always Slackware--I always have at least one Slackware box.

You might try booting to Live CDs of the distros you're interested in after you've narrowed your search and taking them for test drives, then picking the one you are most comfortable with.
Old 12-16-2017, 09:49 PM   #5
Timothy Miller
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ANYTHING will run well on that machine form a cpu/memory perspective. The heaviest DE with the heaviest suites on it will still run great. So from a resources side, there's nothing that machine can't handle easily.

From a what delivers what you want, here's my take:

1. Slackware. NOt my favorite, I dislike using it. But it's one of the best for setting up EXACTLY the way you want with nothing extra, and it will do only what you tell it. There's a reason it's the oldest existing linux distribution. It follows that unix philosophy of keeping it simple.

2. Debian. There's a TON of distro's based on it. IT can be installed as a netinstall and built so only what you want is installed (this is the way I do my installs). It's got the largest repos so there's absolutely tons of software. It's well tested and exceedingly stable if you stay with the stable distribution. If you don't mind a little more installation time, I really prefer base Debian over all the "beginner" distro's (mint, ubuntu, Mageia) that install everything and the kitchen sink by default, even if they do install it with a lighter weight desktop for performance.

3. Arch. Bleeding edge (the bad), but AMAZING documentation (seriously, the Arch Wiki is often referenced even by OTHER distro's for how to get things to work, it's that good), can be installed to be exactly what you want, and if you add in the AUR (Arch User Repository) has repos that rival Debian for quantity of packages.

Side note: for email, if you're looking to replace outlook, Evolution is going to be much more what you're looking for than Thunderbird. Thunderbird works well, but development on it is basically nil at this point, and Evolution is capable of being much more advanced, although it is a bit more work to set up (I personally actually do use Thunderbird, but I only needed VERY basic functionality).
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Old 12-17-2017, 12:22 PM   #6
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My choice for email is Claws-mail; it's straight-forward but adaptable.

A lot depends on your choice of desktop. KDE may feel a bit over the top on eye-candy and Gnome makes your computer look as if it's turned into a phone.

Mint Mate is a good plain distro that no-one really dislikes. Also, I think you might like Salix. That's Slackware with lots more ready-to-run software and added user-friendliness. Look at the manuals and try the live media before you install.
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Old 12-18-2017, 08:24 AM   #7
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You may like to take a look at AntiX, (especially the 'base' version).
Old 12-19-2017, 12:55 AM   #8
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For a more Windows-like experience, and for the latest up-to-date video codecs (for watching movies), Mint Linux is the go-to desktop distribution.

Since you have some older UNIX and Linux experience, you also might want to try Slackware, as you might find some things about it more familiar to you. Slackware keeps its packages up-to-date, but doesn't hide the underlying system under menus and graphical wizards.

Linux in general has gotten a lot better than it was, in many ways (for instance, X11 and audio will JFW on most hardware, without any need for configuration). I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
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Old 12-30-2017, 11:49 AM   #9
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Thank you for your feedback. I have now have a different list to try than I'd developed from forum browsing. Thanks again.


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