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Old 08-24-2005, 06:25 PM   #1
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Best desktop distro

I am looking for a good distro for a stand alone desktop. I was fairly competent with DOS an somewhat so with windows 3.1, but I refuse to stay on the microsoft band wagon. I realize that I will probably need to have a dual boot setup with a min. install of windows 98 in order to run some programs but I wish to have Linux as my primary operating system. Any help in picking a Linux that will be reasonable easy to setup and still be flexible would be appreciated. Maybe this Ol' dig can learn new tricks
Old 08-24-2005, 06:35 PM   #2
tricky disko
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same here, the Linspire OS sounds about the best distro to start with, but i think you need to pay brass for that, there is a free version called freespire if that is right, not read about that one though!

i really hear you because of the fact there is so many distro's and each one is different from the last.

in the end it may come down to how much experience you have had with linux.
Old 08-24-2005, 06:39 PM   #3
Registered: Dec 2004
Location: Washington State, USA
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Well, asking which is the best desktop distribution is similar to asking which car company makes the best cars for driving on the freeway :P

I think the best way is to look around at some of the more popular ones, and see which one more fits your style. Do you like working with the command line for some things, or do you hope to configure everything through the GUI? Do you like a distribution that constantly keeps up to date if you let it, or one that is on a release cycle, and stays mostly the same until you download a new set of CD's and install the latest version?

I use Debian, although I'm a programmer and like fiddling with the command line sometimes. This may not be the distribution for everyone. I would recommend Ubuntu, it's one of the most popular distributions, and it's based on Debian so you get Debian's excellent package manager (I think it's possibly the best). I'm biased though, as I use Debian myself :P I'd also check out "Fedora Core", "MEPIS", or just go to distrowatch and look at the overviews of some of the more popular ones.

Almost all of these distributions have liveCD's that let you try them out - if you have a fast internet connection, maybe you should give a few a shot!

If you're feeling more hardcore (you don't mind working with the command line), you could try Debian, Slackware, or even Gentoo (which is probably the most hardcore of the ones I've mentioned). Debian doesn't technically have a liveCD, but slackware and gentoo do. Knoppix is based on Debian though, but it doesn't look much like Debian.

In short, read up on 'em at the link I provided, and if you're not sure, try out Ubuntu! :P
Old 08-24-2005, 07:03 PM   #4
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I personally started with Red Hat 9; I thought it was a good distro to start with. Unfortunately, Red Hat has since branched off to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (non-free; fairly expensive, as I recall) and Fedora Core (a good distro, but in my experience, less stable than Red Hat was).

Fedora still wouldn't be a bad choice. I've also heard good things about Mandriva or SuSE (both available in free and non-free versions).

It's not uncommon for a person who's not at all familiar with UNIX/Linux to start with a somewhat commercialized, "newbie-friendly" version of Linux, like Fedora / Mandriva / SuSE, and then switch to a more complex (and, arguably, more flexible) distro like Debian, Ubuntu, or Gentoo (or even Linux from Scratch). If you aren't at least capable with the Linux command-line interface, I'd encourage you to stick to Linuxes with nice, simple, GUI-based installers (see the first 3 above, among others); otherwise, it's just too much to take in at once.

Live CDs are nice if you want to learn Linux in your free time. However, since Linux isn't actually installed on your machine, you don't really *have* to use it, so (if you're like most people) you won't. This means you'll take a lot longer to get past the point where Linux is a pain because you don't know how to do things in it yet.

Anyone else reading this thread, have any suggestions for other Linux distros that have really nice GUI installers and come out-of-the-box with an easy-to-use GUI preconfigured and a decent selection of apps preinstalled? I've lost track lately; I'd be curious myself.
Old 08-24-2005, 08:01 PM   #5
Registered: Jul 2005
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Ive been using linux 6mos or so. Like the thread starter, i used only windows,
but had experience from the old DOS days with command line.

I've installed several distributions, including Fedora Core, Redhat, Knoppix,

Not knowing your hardware (mine's fast and new) , i cant be more helpful than to
say that the slickest install, GUI and all that, was SUSE 9.2 (this is free, via DVD ISO).

But after trying all of the above-mentioned distros, I have ended up using Debian
since they finally updated to 2.6 kernel recently. Why? Well i've been able to very easily understand how the Debian distribution is laid out in terms of the boot process, the configuration files, etc. And as mentioned before, the package installation manager 'apt-get' and/or 'synaptic' (both front-ends) is absolutly the best ive tried. Also, there's simply LOADS of resources for the newbie online for debian..!

I can tell you also that a GUI installer
is soooo over-rated. If you have a fast and reliable internet connection, you can install Debian over the internet no problem, it asks you maybe a dozen questions during the process. You'll need to know a few things about your system, and your internet connection. You may also have problems getting X windows system to work, that's the only problem i've come across with debian. Anyway, you'll get thru any probs...

I run a dual-boot machine as well. If you plan to do that, be carefull with any intallation when it comes to questions about boot-loaders and especially partitioning before you press that 'final' button to begin loading the OS. If you don't know about either of these things already, then please google for installation howtos on your planned distribution; you can also search the forums here.

Old 08-26-2005, 11:37 PM   #6
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Lightbulb One to look at....

If you are thinking something like Linspire but not wishing to fork over the cash look no further than PC Linux OS. The development team for this distro have put together a very polished KDE desktop that includes just about anything you will ever need software-wise. And Texstar and team are regularly offering upgrade to either the distro or the software repositories. PCLOS was originally based on Mandrake back in '03 but is now mostly its own distro with only hints of its parentage. You might note that this distro is still in beta .91..... but I have yet to see a distro that is as well put together and just work for almost everything as this one is. It also starts as a Live-CD so you can try before you use the great graphical installer to load it to your HD.

Well, that is my 2 cents on your question. Hope you think PCLOS is worth a look because it really is. Otherwise good luck on your search for your favorite/best desktop distro.
Old 08-26-2005, 11:57 PM   #7
Registered: May 2005
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Another vote here for PClinuxOS. I cannot think of a better distro for a newcomer to linux to experience. Mepis would be my second choice.
Old 08-27-2005, 12:06 AM   #8
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Everyone has their favorite.

Easy ones to start with are
Old 08-27-2005, 12:11 AM   #9
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I know some people on these forums aren't big fans of quizzes, but you may want to at least know the option is out there:
Old 08-27-2005, 12:52 AM   #10
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I started out usingn Knoppix (a live-CD version of Linux. Just burn the ISO image to a CD and boot off of it). Then I tried out Fedora 4, and quickly switched to SuSE.

I'm still a supreme noob when it comes to linux, but so far for me (like yourself, a fairly competent DOS user), the learning curve with SuSE has been easy enough, but at the same time I am learning at a pretty good pace.
Old 08-27-2005, 01:13 AM   #11
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Again one word........SusE You'll thank me later
Old 08-27-2005, 04:05 PM   #12
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Check out for a whole list of distro's, also has a lot of distros' with descriptions.


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