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ALK360 12-29-2004 11:31 AM

what is the most user-friendly version of Linux?
i am an advanced windows user, however ive been hearing great things about Linux. what is the best system for a beginner (my mom)? if possible it should have free updates and be compatible w/ .doc, .txt, .ppt, e.t. in other words windows.
i would prefer purchasing a cd.
thank you for taking time to read this and if you have an idea please help.

XavierP 12-29-2004 11:42 AM

Welcome to LQ :D Newbie friendly distros are Ubuntu (Debian based), Mandrake (rpm based) and SuSE/Novell (also rpm based). Don't know your location, but you should be able to pick up a copy from either your local IT outlet, Amazon or the websites themselves.

As far as the office suite goes, you will probably be looking at (the name as well as the web address).

CluelessSteve 12-29-2004 12:12 PM

Just wanted to mention that I am a really unsophisticated (but want to learn) Linux newbie, and I chose Mandrake. which I think has been a good "user-friendly" choice. I was able to configure a working system with equivalents to all the software I normally use within a weekend, even though I truly didn't know what I was doing. It's nice to have a working system that you can use while you learn the command line and how to write scripts.

Also, the visual RPM tool (drakeRPM) supplied with Mandrake makes adding software really easy, a nice thing at the beginning stages.

I can't compare other distros except to note that I gave up on installing Fedora Core because of disk partition problems that were nonexistent when I installed Mandrake, which also comes with a very nice visual partitioning tool.

No matter which you choose, there's plenty of resources on the web (including here--people are very helpful).

Ace2005 12-29-2004 12:17 PM

Yes, mandrake is very easy to install

One thing you have to keep in mind is that even isn't 100% compatible with office. This drove me insane when i tried to take the work i do in linux into windows.

If she really needs to have 100% compatibility then you should consider getting CrossOver Office Standard for $39.95 and running microsoft office in linux, office 97,2000 and xp are supported.

The standard version is download only, you have to pay $74.95 for the Professional which has the option of a cd. I recommend downloading it because its only 11mb

There is also wine, a free emulator which also allows you to run windows apps in linux which are windows 98 compatible, believe me when i say not everything runs. I haven't tested this on any office apps.

Neither of these can install office 2003 because office 2003 is only compatible with w2k and win xp. Just remember that when you run any windows apps in linux it will run slower than in windows.

Ace2005 12-29-2004 12:30 PM

Its been a while since i've used and it may have changed quite a bit since then.

Triple5 12-29-2004 12:46 PM

I would say Mepis is more user friendly than Ubuntu, its been rated on the top major distros for Beginners


I would add PCLInuxOS (mandrake based)

CluelessSteve 12-29-2004 12:51 PM

So far, and keep in mind that I'm new at this and my experience is still evolving, I have not had any serious compatibility issues with Open Office. Right now, I am working on text files using Word compatability with only basic formatting, such as paragraphs and headers, and that has worked fine.

One thing I noticed last night--the Linux version of Adobe Acrobat Reader is pretty lame! It works, but it looks like software from the early 1980s. Just my opinion! LOL.

ALK360 12-29-2004 12:56 PM

what do u use w/ mandrake if u dont use open office?

ALK360 12-29-2004 12:58 PM

does anyone have any positive comments on SuSe? does open-office come w/ it?

maddoggames 12-29-2004 01:03 PM

I'm also a noob at Linux although i've been coding for over ten years.(on windows and other console platforms) Having tried Linux a couple times i've found SuSE and Fedora Core3 very good. I did try it a few years ago and I have to say driver support has moved on a long way, its getting close to windows ease on driver install.

One thing I was worried about was learning one variant of Linux only to find what I have learned was incompatible with other distros. This is not the case, I think all the distros to a noob give the impression of different OS's, they can look so different. But now I feel its more like the differences between XP and win98. Different versions but most of the things you learn are interchangeable.

bconsilvio 12-29-2004 01:07 PM

Best Linux for Beginner
I am also somewhat new to Linux, but not to PCs. I've tried Knoppix, Fedora Core 3, and Ubuntu recently.

Ubuntu, IMHO, was the easiest and simplest to install and use, and you can get a free CD mailed to you -- free as in no shipping charge, too. All are free OS, and most are available on CD from distro sites that charge a few bucks for copying and shipping. Knoppix and Ubuntu come in "run from CD" versions, so you can try and learn without commiting anything to the hard drive. Suggest you do that first, and try things out before deciding what's best for you. Someone else's favorite may not be your best fit. I installed Ubuntu for myself, for now. A Gentoo version may come later if performance becomes an issue.

vectordrake 12-29-2004 03:34 PM


Originally posted by ALK360
what do u use w/ mandrake if u dont use open office?
I'll answer this and your next question at the same time. Yes, it does come with both, but, forthose who are reading and don't know, you can get it from the Open Office website as well. Its about 1-1/2 hour download on dialup (56k), so its entirely grabbable(but its on the distro cd's too). The alternative to using Open Office would be Koffice (which has realy matured and is much smaller in size, including KDElibs) or perhaps Siag Office.

I'd agree pretty much with all the suggestions above as to what's friendliest. Its getting to the point that if you want a relative friendly Linux experience, you can get it from any distro, **especially if you read the install notes**

If you want to "try before you buy" and you have the bandwidth, I'd suggest that you download and burn Knoppix, Mepis, PCLinuxOS(my new favorite :newbie: recommendation), MandrakeMove, Suse Live eval, Gnoppix, or Slax (to name a few) and run them from the cd to see what a (slowed down) Linux desktop feels like. Most have hard drive installs now, so you can install the one you like the most with a few mouse clicks.

henryg 12-29-2004 05:22 PM

The truth :)
The truth is that the most user-friendly versions of Linux
are not in my opinion the best overall.

But being fair I will list them:

They are what I call the utterly-newbie-friendly distro.

After that - then the consensus varies


I can't list more since I either don't haven't had the priviledge of testing them (ie. Mempis)
or because I don't believe they are utterly friendly as they pose to be (ie Suse)

please don't confuse power with ease-of-use.
each distro find itself excelling at something in particular over another.

My list of easiest to hardest (0 easy .. 10 impossible)

Linspire (0.5)
Xandros (1)
Lycoris (1.5)
Kanotix (2)
Slax (2)
Knoppix (2.5)
Ubuntu (3)
Mandrake (3.5)
Suse (4)
Yoper (4)
Libranet (4.5)
Fedora (5)
Vector Linux (5.5)
Debian (6.5)
Slackware (7)
Gentoo (7.5)
PLD (8)
LFS (9.5)

Of course don't take this as gospel as distros preferences are an extremely subjective thing.
And quite rightly distro discussion attracts very passionate debates.

The list above I've based on my own experiences
from unfriendly installers (Vector)
to bad customer support (Suse).
Again extremely subjective.

Really wished I could put Mempis and Ark to the list but I have no experience of them yet.

Still would be interesting to compile a proper list like that above based on the opinion of most people and not just mine.

crithke 12-29-2004 05:31 PM

I would have her go with Mandrake. It's quite easy to install/use.
You can pick it up at

henryg 12-29-2004 05:37 PM

Mandrake is one of my favourite distributions
it readily install on many machines and has a wide range of hardware compatibility
(but by no means complete ie SENS LT56ADW internal modem)
still I wouldn't classify the free Mandrake as utterly-friendly

friendly yes but not utterly friendly - which is probably what the person wants.
The best choices are the 3 top I listed above.

if later you want more power, flexibility, freedom, one zillion free application
and low cost then yes you can try something classed as just "friendly"

try installing nvidia on the new mandrake 10 and 10.1
not that friendly ;)
try and click upgrade to the new KDE and see it crashing
again not that friendly

if you purchase the commercial version you may not get these problems..

i have my favourite distro - but am recommending that which i think is best
for the complete non-technical starter on their own.

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