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Old 10-14-2011, 04:39 AM   #1
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Registered: May 2007
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Looking for the right Distro

Hi All,

Was hoping someone can give me advice on the distro that will be the best choice for me. I have tried distros like Ubuntu and SuSE and although they were user friendly, i did not like them very much because random bugs kept cropping up with every update or distro release. Random strange things which in the end put me off using them.

I really want to make a go of Linux as I feel learning it gives me a closer understanding with my computer.

I am willing to read up and educate myself where required. I am looking for a distro that is stable and fast, I quite like the minimalistic approach. I hate having tons of pre-installed apps, I would rather build my distro up to only include the features I want, including the desktop manager and all that but I also want to try avoiding a distro that is overly complicated to setup. I feel that when I install a pre-built OS like Ubuntu, I do not understand whats going on in the background with Linux, what makes it work, what processes and services are running in the background to serve basic functions, I feel I will learn more by doing some of this myself.

I am not against learning how to compile things from source but I don't want to spend days and days trying to compile things and then figuring out what went wrong and trying it again, I am trying to kind of balance this so that it's not all dumbed down and automated but not too extreme either.

Am I asking too much or does anyone have a distro they could recommend for that?

It will be used more as a multimedia type desktop so I will be streaming music/video and doing some gaming on it too(probably through wine).

Last edited by Dead_$partan; 10-14-2011 at 04:44 AM.
Old 10-14-2011, 04:53 AM   #2
Registered: Apr 2009
Location: Melbourne
Distribution: Fedora & CentOS
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IMHO CentOS is bulletproof.

Although, i havent spent much time using it as in a desktop environment, so im not sure about the media side of things, you will probably want to look into "rpm fusion" to enable all the media stuff, im not sure if it is in the default repo's. If you use the net install image, you will get a bare system, from which you can add packages you want, without the bloat you get with distro's such as ubuntu.

if you arent already aware of it, have a look at, it has a lot of info on most distro's large and small..

My $.02 worth.
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Old 10-14-2011, 04:55 AM   #3
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Debian is quite user friendly. You can learn, quite a bit, depending on your hardware you may have to do some compiling.
To me, Slackware is a little bit harder & you will learn quite a bit more than in your Debian install & I believe everything is built from source.
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Old 10-14-2011, 09:17 PM   #4
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Location: Virginia, USA
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I agree with Eddy1: Slackware or Debian. They are both rock solid stable.

Slackware boots to the command line by default. Debian does not, but can be configured to do so. I used sysv-rc-conf to disable the GDM (Gnome Display Manager) in run level 3 and then modified /etc/inittab to boot to run level 3 by default. I did have to create an .xinitrc file in my home directory.

(I included all the links because I realize that a lot of this would gibberish to someone new to Linux--it would have been gibberish to me six years ago. The links should explain it.)
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Old 10-15-2011, 12:08 AM   #5
Registered: Apr 2011
Location: Washington State
Distribution: Zorin5-(Ubuntu 11.04) // Backtrack 5-(Ubuntu 10.04) // Dreamlinux 3.5-(Debian)
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Firstly, Kudos on specifying your wants from your distro.

Secondly, and to answer your question ... As a beginner of linux I first used a debian system (I'm still a beginner, just now I have a little practice) ... What I liked from Debian was you still get a GUI that is easy to use, But they keep it basic.
Also as well as keeping it simple to look at, they made it relativity lighter as compared to other fairly well packed distros.
The way it was setup I could easily hop on my wi-fi, browse with Mozilla, and complete daily tasks with little or no setup. But I still had to learn some of the command line (apt-get and it's options or how to unpack and install .deb packages without a manager for example) and how to interact with the system.

The drawback was debian was not too friendly with some of my hardware. I couldn't use my SD (with debian -OR- distros built on it), got a couple of sound errors, etc. ... But these where nothing but experiences ... I learned how to blacklist (and got no more SD errors) and how to configure my sound settings and properly get/install drivers ... Which brings me to Thirdly (and lastly);
those bugs and things that don't work the same as before an update that you mentioned. With distros like Ubuntu you have people who are working hard to try and fix errors from the old one, and to make a newer more compatible system for people. When you work hard on fixing something you are bound to skip something, and with the way technology advances you are missing a lot more then fixing. 95% of the time a fix (usually simple-ish) is found by users and fixed by ubuntu in the next release ... it's one of the things I like about using linux, people who are devoted to making it easy for ALL of us.

So, Long speech aside, I recommend Debian. it's a user friendly, decent looking desktop; That still offers a chance to learn the basic use of command line, and setup of a system ... Without leaving you feeling like a 2nd grader taking a calculus test.

Good luck and enjoy the search it's half the fun.

Last edited by Hevithan; 10-15-2011 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:53 AM   #6
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If you use CentOS, you will need two extra repositories for the home-user type software: RPMfusion and EPEL. Luckily, it's all explained on the CentOS website.

Slackware is just as stable as CentOS, but a bit of a bother to set-up. The answer is Salix, that takes Slackware and provides friendly "housekeeping tools" (and a lot of extra programs).

Debian is quite good; not as much work to set up as Slackware or CentOS, but more than Salix.

For example, to play media formats like mp4 or wmv, for Debian or Slackware you need to find the codecs on-line; for CentOS, they're downloadable from RPM fusion; for Salix, there's an "install codecs" option listed in the menu.
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Old 10-16-2011, 09:53 AM   #7
Registered: Nov 2010
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Old 10-16-2011, 05:40 PM   #8
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Registered: May 2007
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Thanks for the feedback so far everyone. I will try downloading and playing around with some of the distros mentioned here and see what ones feel right for me. I am in the middle of trying Arch atm, felt a little overwhelming at first but once you get the hang of pacman(which feels quite easy to use) and spend some time reading the documentation, it's not bad. Not sure if it is the one for me though.

Thanks again, I am really grateful for the feedback.
Old 10-19-2011, 03:12 AM   #9
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Hi Everyone,

Many thanks again for all the advice. I am currently posting this from an Arch 64bit install, seems pretty sweet so far, the config isnt much hassle when you kinda read the docs a few times. Pacman is brilliant, but a bit more playing around before I make up my mind.

Old 10-19-2011, 08:07 AM   #10
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Distribution: Ubuntu
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If you are looking, you might like to try Linux Mint LXDE edition.

I'm using it on a Dual-Core Toshiba Satellite laptop. Fast and stable.


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