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Linux - Newbie This Linux forum is for members that are new to Linux.
Just starting out and have a question? If it is not in the man pages or the how-to's this is the place!


View Poll Results: What do you recommend for Noobs and why.
Mandrake 12 35.29%
Fedora Core 3 3 8.82%
Xandros 2 5.88%
Debian 2 5.88%
Ubuntu 3 8.82%
Other 12 35.29%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-25-2005, 03:05 PM   #1
Registered: Feb 2005
Distribution: Slackware 10.2
Posts: 121

Rep: Reputation: 15
Exclamation Vote: Distro. for Newbs to Linux

I just thought that this may help some noobs to Linux decide on a Distro, AND cut down on the smae old questions. (Yes, I'm one of those noobs).

If you could state in a reply:

1. What you voted for and maybe a breif explanation why.

2. What you actually started with and why.

3. What you currently use and why.

4. What you use your computer for from day to day.

5. What you don't like about what you voted for.

I think all of these would be hepful, as the biggest reason noobs posting that same old subject, at least for me, is the other similar posts may not help me in my decision based upon needs and experience.

Also, Could we JUST keep this as a helpful post and NOT a debate.


Old 02-25-2005, 03:18 PM   #2
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Small Town USA
Distribution: slamd64 2.6.12 Slackware 2.4.32 Windows XP x64 pro
Posts: 383

Rep: Reputation: 30
I voted other. I started with slackware and FC2. Installed both and ended up with Slack. FC comes stripped down(ie java mp3 etc), and uses like 7gig of space. Slack came playing mp3 and java installed, and under 3gig.Plus helps you learn real quick.

I currently use slack 10.1. I use my computer for office type stuff, internet, server admin, and website admin. I use Linux and am currently 100% windows free. No more viruses for me.

Last edited by tormented_one; 02-25-2005 at 03:21 PM.
Old 02-25-2005, 03:49 PM   #3
LQ Newbie
Registered: Feb 2005
Posts: 19

Rep: Reputation: 0
I started out on Suse 9.2 pro. It was kinda slow and I had alot of problems with it. I did some research and alot of people say ubuntu is a good system to start out with. I just downloaded it last night and plan on installing later on today. Also check out this website they have excellent reviews on all the distros. It helped me out alot. A great website! I am a noobie my self and still have alot to learn. Hope this helped!

Good luck to you!
Old 02-25-2005, 03:54 PM   #4
Registered: Nov 2004
Posts: 65

Rep: Reputation: 15
It's been said enough

I think it's been said a few times... I guess not clearly enough.

First of all, a few of the most recommended have been left out of the poll. Here my favourite newbie distros:

For newbies wanting to see what Linux can do and to start using it quickly...
- Knoppix: For the user who wants to get a real load of what Linux can offer, and wants everything pre-installed and configured. Also it has a LiveCD which is great b|c it lets unsure newbies try risk-free. Easy to install. Plus the many Knoppix variants...
- Mepis: Very much like Knoppix, it has a LiveCD, easy to install, just different software, and I think it claims to be good to Windows converters, i.e. I know the included smb4k is very easy to use to network with Windows computers (although if you know how, you don't need it)
- add the rest of them, those are just the most famous...
- what is BAD about them: a lot of software you don't need, and needs ~2.5GB hard drive space

For newbies wanting to get an easy distro but not with all the pre-installed software...
- Xandros: No LiveCD, but otherwise very, very, very easy to use for Windows users, and doesn't come with huge amounts of software, just KDE, OpenOffice, etc.., (more than Windows comes with, though!!!) you just one-click-install things with the easy Xandros Networks update utility, you can add the huge Debian software repository...
- all of the above use the easy-to-use apt-get package manager, which handles dependencies.
- Mandrake: Also supposed to be easy to use.

For those wanting to build their own system, take Debian and start apt-getting from the huge online software repository. Or, if they want to do so but have their hardware configured for them, a minimal install of Libranet, and then on with the apt-getting. If they want to really really learn everything do everything set everything up, go with Slackware, but there are people often complaining of dependencies, they can use slapt-get or similar if this is a problem... also Slackware can be run from an existing Windows drive, using ZipSlack (see

I personally started with bare Debian because I was using a limited spare PC... but I've tries pretty much all of the above...

I'm sure I left out everyone's favourite, but I hope this helps...
Old 02-25-2005, 04:37 PM   #5
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Omaha, NE, USA
Distribution: PCLinuxOS 2007
Posts: 808

Rep: Reputation: 30
1) I voted Mandrake, because I think it is the easiest distro for a new user to install and use. It has excellent hardware detection, and a huge selection of software available through urpmi. It has a very solid community of users who are willing to help newcomers learn how to use Linux and configure their systems.

2) The very first Linux distro I tried was Mandrake 4.0. (That was a *long* time ago!) It was the first distro I ever heard of, and I picked it up on a whim.

3) I currently run Mandrake 10.1 Official, because on my system it is rock-solid stable.

4) I use my computer primarily for email, web-surfing, and online chatting. I also do some game-playing, listen to music, watch movies, etc.

5) I wish Mandrake would publicize the URPMI sources better. Too many newbies try to download tarballs, or *strange* rpms from "The Wild" of the internet, and they either don't install correctly, or they break their system, so they quit using Mandrake, or Linux altogether. (I realize it is probably a "business decision": they would rather people buy Club memberships to get the support they need.)

I have also run RedHat 7, Fedora Core 2/3, Gentoo, and Ubuntu. I just keep coming back to Mandrake.
Old 02-25-2005, 05:20 PM   #6
Senior Member
Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Distribution: Debian Stable
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I voted for "Other", meaning Mepis--for essentially the same reasons as dyw.

Even having knocked around a number of Knoppix variants, I had never actually run across smb4k until Mepis. This should be included by default in every KDE based Linux distribution! A newbie should be able to simply connect to his existing Windows network and for it to WORK. Not fumble around with Konqueror or Nautilus browsing Windows shares at a snails pace and for it to sort of sometimes be able to access the files.

Mepis's Control and Installation Centers are also some of the best I've seen for configuring stuff which newbies will want to configure but which can be rather difficult otherwise (like wireless networking).

I passed over Xandros and Ubuntu because the install CDs aren't liveCDs. Knoppix variants like Mepis are good for the newbie because:

1. They can check out how things will work before installing.

2. Only one CD iso to download/write (you'll want a liveCD regardless).

3. The "emergency recovery" CD has a familiar layout and familiar software installed.

4. You can actually use the system while installing. Yeah, yeah, this isn't such a big deal. At first I thought it was a silly advantage to point out. Then, during a Mepis install, I got bored and started playing Frozen really makes the installation time breeze on by!


What I started with was Mandrake 8, and then Mandrake 9. This lasted until my old PII died and I no longer had a spare computer (and I didn't have enough hard drive space to afford dual booting). Then, after a hiatus of about a year Knoppix got me back into Linux. It was a MUCH better experience! Plus, I didn't have to worry all the time that my OS would break and I'd have no way to access my data--I could always just pop the Knoppix CD in when I needed to.


What I personally use is Debian Sarge. Mepis is very frustrating for an EXPERIENCED user because by default it creates a gazillion pointless directories in your home directory, and because it doesn't quite cleanly apt-get dist-upgrade. Mepis is good for a newbie, but Sarge is better for someone who has played around in Linux enough to know what applications he likes using. Sarge can dist-upgrade without cracking, of course.


There are a number of things which annoy me about Mepis:

By default, it creates a gazillion directories in your home, which is just excessive clutter.

Unlike Knoppix, there's no "noswap" boot option which can make newbie partitioning a frustrating learning experience (crude solution--don't create swap until last).

It uses Grub instead of LILO. For a newbie, Grub's ability to get to a command line when things go wrong is nowhere near as useful as Lilo's ability to work right in the first place.

By default, Konqueror's icons are locked at super-tiny. Due to the way Konqueror works, this makes all but the shortest of filenames wrap in an unreadable fashion.

By default, the volume is turned off. Well, at least the mixer is prominently visible, so there's a pretty obvious way to deal with it.

There are a number of other things which bug me about Mepis. The use of GRUB is the biggie, though. It's the one which will bite the greatest number of newbies the hardest. Should the first thing a newbie experiences with his brand new hard drive install of Linux be an unhelpful "GRUB: Error 17"?

Last edited by IsaacKuo; 02-25-2005 at 05:33 PM.
Old 02-26-2005, 07:51 AM   #7
Registered: Oct 2002
Location: Stoughton, MA
Distribution: Gentoo x86_64 & PPC
Posts: 949

Rep: Reputation: 30
Where's Gentoo at? OK, so it's not what usually comes to mind when thinking of a good newb distro but...

1. What you voted for and maybe a breif explanation why.

Gentoo: Because the documentation is excellent! After building a system from stage 1 you will have a good understanding of the inner workings of Linux and a better ability to troubleshoot problems, get exotic hardware working, and build your own kernel. Just take your time and follow the instructions through the first few builds. Make use of the #gentoo IRC channels,, and the members here at LQ After getting comfortable they have advanced docs for some trickier system administration and Gentoo development.

Because when you want a piece of software, 98% of the time it is as simple as typing 'emerge packagename' without the dependancy hell of most distro's You can run absolute bleeding edge software or stay with more stable packages. A complete software update looks like: 'emerge -uDtv world'

2. What you actually started with and why.

I started with Mandrake 8.1 because everyone I know said it's what I should start with. I really didn't like it or Linux until I tried Slackware shortly after that (which I ran for a year or so and is also a good distro).

3. What you currently use and why.

I run Gentoo on PowerPC, x86 (and have for a year now), and sometime next week I'll be building it on an AMD64. I use it because it offers tremendous flexibility (Gentoo is only what you make of it and nothing more) and because of the tight Gentoo community - both dev's and user's. It is truely a community distro thats does as well as it does because of regular users contributing to the project by testing ebuilds, writing ebuilds, reporting bugs, etc. Another plus is since it's compiled from source, my OS is the same regardless of the architecture I am running it on.

4. What you use your computer for from day to day.

Programming, web development, music listening, web surfing, games, communication.

5. What you don't like about what you voted for.

Nothing. However there is a few reasons you might not like Gentoo: if you have no desire to learn Linux beyond the GUI and tinker deeply with it (and once in awhile spend a few hours getting something to work), then by all means go with something that works out of the box.

Last edited by Scruff; 02-28-2005 at 06:08 AM.
Old 02-26-2005, 01:29 PM   #8
Registered: Sep 2003
Distribution: Ubuntu 5.10
Posts: 56

Rep: Reputation: 15
I voted Ubuntu
I started off with Red Hat 7.2, and I really didn't use linux until I updated to 8.0. I think that Fedora Core might be ok for newbies (I still think I'm a little bit of a newbie myself) but I think that debian's package managment is easier than the rpm system. Debian installation is not fun in my opinion. Ubuntu has an easy installation and has the packages you need, and nothing more. This is good because it prompts the newbie to look around on the internet to find any additional package that he or she wants.

Last edited by kevinlyfellow; 02-26-2005 at 01:30 PM.
Old 02-26-2005, 01:52 PM   #9
Registered: Feb 2005
Distribution: Slack
Posts: 122

Rep: Reputation: 19
1) Voted for mandrake. I think it was the easiest to use. I've used them all.

2) Started with Red Hat becuase it's so popular, who hasn't heard of Red Hat. Say Suse to someone who never used linux, they say huh.

3) Slackware baby. Why? I like the simple package management system and the FreeBSD style init scripts. Also, Patrick the mainter really tests the system and doesn't include "betaware". It's the fastest distro and most stable I've used. One could building their own system from scratch and get the same result, which I've done, but it's a headache (of what patches and packages to include) is just not worth it. And then you have to worry about stability yourself, Patrick has been producing slack for over 10 years and it's all worked out.

4) anything you could think off.

5) I don't like the Mandrake package system the V style init scripts. The fact that so many services start at boot, which you have to turn them all off (most anyway). Also don't like that they use gpg to verify there packages, annoying. Have to wait for mandrake to release new kernel source and can't use the unmodified one at Can but will cause problems. Building packages fails much more frequently than slack. All the scipts are so generic. It's like microsoft, they want to make it so user friendly that they just turn everything on by default, security problem and it hogs your system.
Old 02-26-2005, 02:21 PM   #10
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Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Fort Lauderdale FL.
Distribution: Gentoo
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Other=Mepis Should be on the top of the list?
Old 02-26-2005, 02:26 PM   #11
Registered: Feb 2005
Posts: 69

Rep: Reputation: 18
I would have to agree with MEPIS, I can safely say i've tried all the major distros SuSE, Mandrake, Slackware, Gentoo (who in their right mind would recommend gentoo to a newbie !!!!), ect but by far MEPIS is the best, newest kernel best installer and packager, best software, and the list goes on, what makes it better is if you get SimplyMEPIS you can try it without installing anything and if you like it, click the install icon on the desktop, couldnt be easier. And as much as people don't like to admit it MEPIS has the best hardware support (way better than mandrake) heck, it even installs the NVIDIA driver which mandrake is afraid to include because its not GNU licensed.
Old 02-26-2005, 02:45 PM   #12
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Between the chair and the desk
Distribution: Debian Sarge, kernel 2.6.13
Posts: 666

Rep: Reputation: 30
I voted for Debian. That's what I started with (after mangling with Knoppix for 1 week), and even though the netinstaller isn't the friendliest application, I worked it out. Debian is not as scary as it's said to be and I think it's the (almost) perfect balance between a distro that is stable and one that is easy enough to handle and manage. It was kinda' "love at first sight" and I'm still using it, I managed to compile (and install sucesfully) the 2.6.10 kernel at only 3 weeks after I started using Sarge.
What I don't like about printer doesn't work as it's supposed to be but I hope I'll fix that soon.
Old 02-26-2005, 03:02 PM   #13
Registered: Oct 2002
Location: Stoughton, MA
Distribution: Gentoo x86_64 & PPC
Posts: 949

Rep: Reputation: 30
Originally posted by KommanderKaos
...who in their right mind would recommend gentoo to a newbie !!!!
I would. I have started many of my friends brand new to linux on Gentoo and they did just fine with little help from me, AND due to the crash course they already understand how things work.
Old 02-26-2005, 03:49 PM   #14
Registered: Feb 2005
Distribution: Slackware 10.2
Posts: 121

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
I went with Debian. It wasn't the easiest install as the "walkthroughs" to the install seem to skip over some things. If you are unsure what to enter, leave it blank and hit enter. Really wasn't that bad, plus I learned quite a bit and have only been working for a couple days.
Old 02-26-2005, 04:36 PM   #15
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Location: Lee, NH
Distribution: OpenSUSE, CentOS, RHEL
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Good freaking grief. Do we really need a new thread on this tired old topic every day?

Here is how to choose a distribution: try a few, and pick the one you like.

Case closed.


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