A blog about computers and me (and then some)

Which Linux Distro Should a Newbie Choose?

“There are currently over six hundred Linux distributions. Over three hundred of those are in active development, constantly being revised and improved.” – Wikipedia

To a Windows user this number must (definitely) sound ridiculous. Why the hell are there so many Linux-based OSes?? Well, that’s because Linux is all about choice. Anyone can use, modify and distribute it, thus making his own Linux distro. Distrowatch does a good job of providing information about many of these distros. However, a Linux newbie doesn’t want to ‘make’ his own OS. He just wants to choose a good general-purpose Linux distro and hope it suits him. Luckily there are a few distributions that do just that. The five most popular distros according to distrowatch (currently) are

1. Ubuntu

Ubuntu Logo

Ubuntu is based on Debian, which in itself is a great distro. It is binary compatible with Debian, meaning that any software that works on Debian should work on Ubuntu. It is designed to be simple and intuitive, making it easier for new users to adjust to. Many of the complexities of using Linux have been ironed out in Ubuntu and yet it retains the power of Linux. The biggest point in favour of Ubuntu, however, is the large community base that it enjoys. The Ubuntu forums are very active, so if you ever run into a problem, someone probably has already written a solution to it. If not, you could ask a question and rest assured that someone will answer it. Ubuntu follows a bi-yearly release schedule, meaning that a new version is released every 6 months. It usually has all the new softwares and offers a coherent desktop experience. To know more, click here – Ubuntu

Fedora Logo

2. Fedora

Fedora is a Red Hat Linux sponsored community project to build a free and open source Operating System that has the latest of all the softwares. Fedora enjoys a large community base as well. It is a secure distro suited for newbies and Free software advocates. Although it is said that getting non-free software in Fedora is tad difficult. To know more, click here – Fedora

Linux Mint Logo3. Mint

Mint is a Ubuntu based distro that works on Ubuntu to make it even more user-friendly. Mint comes with some softwares (notably the support for mp3 and flash) pre-installed so that it does more out of the box. A new user does not need to bother about installing software to play his mp3 music or watch YouTube. However this means that it has some non-free software installed by default. The installation is easy. To know more, click here – Mint

OpenSuse Logo

4. OpenSuse

OpenSuse is actively developed by the OpenSuse community project and is sponsored by Novell. It is a stable usable distro that looks great. It uses the KDE desktop environment by default, thus very pleasing to the eyes. The Gnome version too can be installed just as easily. It comes with YaST2 which is an easy way of installing software and managing your computer in general. To know more, click here – OpenSuse

Debian Logo
5. Debian
Debian has the largest number of distributions based on it, which tells something about the quality of this Operating System. Debian is made by the Debian project. It has over 25,000 packages maintained by 3000+ volunteers, which is the largest for any distro. It has a very large and knowledgeable community. The goal of Debian is to make a free operating system, but adding non-free software is very easy as well. A Debian release is thoroughly tested and very stable. Debian comes with the legendary APT package management system that makes installing and upgrading software a breeze. It is probably the most versatile distro. However, for a newbie it’d be a little difficult to get used to Debian. But if you want to get the real taste of Linux and what it stands for, check out Debian

There are some great distributions other than these, but these distros have the largest communities around them, so if you ever run into a problem finding help would be a lot easier than if you were using an obscure distro. The final decision lies with you. Because Linux is all about choice. 😀

(Once you figure out which one to use, you might want to know the things every new linux user should know)

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