Ot - Help Choosing Linux Distro


Pinballwzd

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(Mods, please move this if not in the appropriate place.)

I am deciding to make the switch to Linux on one of my PC's but I have never really used Linux before.
For the most part, I am quite good on the computer and can figure things out quickly. That being said, I would appreciate some feedback on which distro you would recommend.

The computer is for home, internet, games, e-mail use. Mostly for use by my kids who have only used Windows XP/Vista in the past. I need it to be user friendly but not without features.

I will also want to run some PC games on it so I will install Wine or something similar..

Some people I work with suggested the following:

Open Suse
Mandriva
Kubuntu
Ubuntu
or
Linux Mint

I would apprecate and info you would can provide that might make my choice a bit easier. I trust the experience that you all have and value your opinions.

Dave...
 
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JayFoxRox

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I used Fedora for some time but then switched to Arch-linux for better performance.
XFCE and Arch do the perfect job for me. With a new PC I might use the Gnome-Desktop, XFCE windows and another audio lib instead of Alsa probably - but Arch is just great.
Some people say its not too good for beginners, but I think its very userfriendly because you are forced to look into the issues which gives you a good feeling once you mastered the problems :p
 
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lingenfr

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I have tried all of the ones you mentioned recently. My recommendation would be ubuntu. Stuff just works. It is a solid distro with a very solid forum where folks answers questions. With the move to KDE4, the KDE gang has so lost touch with their userbase that KDE4 is somewhere between annoying and dysfunctional. The Mint forums were not too helpful. They do annoying crap like put advertisements in your google searches, etc that have to be unwound. The packaging system is very poorly integrated. But I digress... I got the live CDs and actually attempted to install each of them on my computer and run for a few days. I had been using Kubuntu for years (having switched from MEPIS) and just got tired of KDE when most of the apps I really cared about were Gnome apps. Some of the distros wouldn't work out of the box with my hardware. I fooled with them for a bit and if they wouldn't go, I moved on to the next one. That approach may work for you if you have a weekend to spare. If not, just go with Ubuntu. Good luck.
 
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conso

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Using Archlinux + Xfce4 here, too. I think it's possible for a beginner to use it, but you will really need to read the installation-wiki while first installing it. So, if you can place a second computer next to the one that you install archlinux on, that will be a big help.
 
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dflemstr

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Hey, I started with Slackware (when I made the switch from Windows) and continued with FreeBSD; beleive me, its NOT fun to start with a CLI-based or intensive distro (such as Arch) that also has a huge learning curve.

I'd recommend Ubuntu for the first month or so to get used to the environment.
Then I'd switch to Fedora (make sure that you put your /home on a separaet partition, then you don't lose any files when reinstalling)...
I am currently using Fedora; mainly because you don't have to care about compiling your own stuff etc; you can install an application you want in seconds, you almost never have to touch the console (this isn't a big deal for me but it could be for newbies), and Fedora has very many innovative things such as automatically installing codecs and applications for your files when you need them, or using the new "Plymouth" technology (and then there's PackageKit, PolicyKit etc that only a few other distros really have incorporated)...

Main flaw that Fedora has, however, is that it only comes with "Free" software, so you for example need to install extra software repositories to get commercial or licenced software.
(Look at rpmfusion.org for example)

That's why I'd start with Ubuntu: get used to the environment, the fact that you have to install packages to install software etc, and how to deal with drivers, your settigns, getting used to GNOME/KDE etc. In Ubuntu everythign just "works" but is very non-intuitive and hackish after a while, when you start digging deeper (Ubuntu isn't very well-structured in my opinion).

After you feel confident enough, you could switch to Arch (I use it on some other machines) but Arch requires alot of experience with Linux to use properly.

EDIT: I prefer KDE4 over Gnome. Reason? Because Gnome hides alot of what happens under the hood, and doesn't enable you to tweak settings in a way that you want sometimes. Then, GNOME sacrifices good design for performance. Look at the gnome panel for instance. It supports 3D-accelerated applets and launchers, but doesn't offer true transparency etc.
And as a whole, Qt is so much more well-designed than GTK+. Everyone agrees with me on this one.
 

Skofo

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Why do so many people advise newbies to "switch" after they get the hang of Ubuntu? I say start with Ubuntu, then stick with Ubuntu. Their community, support, professionalism and (most importantly) ease of use is unmatched by any other Linux distro. As a poster above has said, stuff on Ubuntu just works. In Arch (which I started with and used for half a year), you'll spend many hours fiddling around with drivers and settings to get everything to function as well as Ubuntu does out of the box, which is time and energy you could have spent on things that actually matter to you.

Most people who recommend distros like Arch, Fedora, Slackware, Debian, etc. in these types of threads seem to be people who don't treat Linux as just an operating system, but as a hobby and sometimes even a lifestyle.

I am by no means calling Arch a bad distro. It just takes time and energy to get it to work as a desktop environment. I recommend Arch for Linux [to-be-]hobbyists, people who get hard-ons when they read "bleeding edge" and/or people with very old computers. I especially recommend it to people who want to learn about Linux at a low level. It has an awesomely helpful wiki and forums.

I am also not telling anyone that they shouldn't try any distro that is interesting to them. After all, almost all of them are free.
 
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Username

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Ubuntu is great, not too hard to use, but why switch? Why not just dual boot? I think it's stupid to "switch", if you like it you should use both.
 
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Pinballwzd

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'Skofo' said:
Why do so many people advise newbies to "switch" after they get the hang of Ubuntu? I say start with Ubuntu, then stick with Ubuntu. Their community, support, professionalism and (most importantly) ease of use is unmatched by any other Linux distro. As a poster above has said, stuff on Ubuntu just works. In Arch (which I started with and used for half a year), you'll spend many hours fiddling around with drivers and settings to get everything to function as well as Ubuntu does out of the box, which is time and energy you could have spent on things that actually matter to you.

Most people who recommend distros like Arch, Fedora, Slackware, Debian, etc. in these types of threads seem to be people who don't treat Linux as just an operating system, but as a hobby and sometimes even a lifestyle.

I am by no means calling Arch a bad distro. It just takes time and energy to get it to work as a desktop environment. I recommend Arch for Linux [to-be-]hobbyists, people who get hard-ons when they read "bleeding edge" and/or people with very old computers. I especially recommend it to people who want to learn about Linux at a low level. It has an awesomely helpful wiki and forums.

I am also not telling anyone that they shouldn't try any distro that is interesting to them. After all, almost all of them are free.



Thanks everyone, I will try Ubuntu and let you know how it goes... I do appreciate the input, really !

David...
 
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Klepto

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Good luck, I think you have made the right decision. Personally I prefer Kubuntu but Ubuntu is probably more popular, and while Arch is great it's really not for beginners. It would be cool if you let us know how you get on :)
 
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dflemstr

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Skofo said:
Why do so many people advise newbies to "switch" after they get the hang of Ubuntu?
Because Ubuntu has a lot of very weird design choices. You know that section in the Ubuntu Forums, where there's a list of 'tweaks' to make this and that work?
That whole list is there because Ubuntu has very many design flaws that make the distro behavior unreliable.
For example:
Ubuntu switched to PulseAudio a long time ago. But, the settings weren't changed correctly so that all apps use PulseAudio instead of ALSA/OSS etc. The GNOME event sounds stop working sometimes. WINE doesnt even have sound at all when you have PA enabled (to clarify: it doesn't work when you are using another app simultaneously, since WINE uses ALSA and other apps use PA). So now, there are tutorials everywhere on how to fix PulseAudio, or to even disable it.
Meanwhile, PA on Fedora works perfectly; there's even 3D Positional Event Sounds for GNOME, and sensible PA plugins. And PA has never crashed for me on Fedora, but it crashes everytime you try to use some ALSA-app in Ubuntu. Fedora has a PulseAudio-plugin for whine, so that works perfectly too.

Another example:
Apt (the DEB package management system) hasn't got support for multiple architectures simultaneously. So, you can't have a 32-bit library and a 64-bit library installed in perfect synchronization and there will always be dependency issues.
Guess how it is on Fedora.

Otherwise: The Fedora community is only 25% as big as Ubuntu's (maybe) but you can still get support if you need it. But you almost never have to. The installation from live-cd is as easy as Ubuntu's and the installation from DVD is even easier, enablig you to chose what applications to install in the installer itself.

If Ubuntu becomes the perfect distribution, then I, too, will switch to it (so will everyone else). At the moment, however, it just isn't mature and well-structured enough.
 
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Pickle

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Ive always liked opensuse, I run suse as a mythtv server/frontend and also on my home laptop.

It has yast which a nice gui setup control panel if you dont want to go command line. You can setup/control just about anything with it.
You can choose from KDE/gnome/xfce and more for your window manager. There a good amount of documentation and support on the web.
One click install's

Basically it does everything ive expected it to do and has been easy to learn on over the years. Just find something you can be comfortable with and use it. Even its some Ubuntu variant.
 

lingenfr

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'dflemstr' said:
Ubuntu switched to PulseAudio a long time ago. But, the settings weren't changed correctly...

dflemstr is probably right about this. When I play games (UT2004, OpenArena, etc.) on occassion my sound goes wacky and a restart is the only way I can fix it. If this NEVER happens in Fedora and you are going to be playing these type of games, you might give Fedora a try. I run a ridiculous variety of hardware on my many machines and I have nearly always be able to find information that tells me how to get the hw working on Ubuntu. If the same can be said for Fedora, yeah.
 
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Capn_Fish

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I generally get people set up with Ubuntu. I know it tends to work with little trouble, is fairly user-friendly, and has a large range of software.

I recommend Gentoo for people who know their way around Linux, though (customization and speed!).
 

todd

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I've been running Gnu/Linux for years -- since the days I had to buy a couple boxes of floppies for the download & install on my fancy new 486. Once I found Debian that became my distro of choice. In recent years I've been using Ubuntu at home & at work. It's Debian with a pretty reasonable set of packages installed by default. I recommend it. Also, it should be surprisingly comfortable to someone coming from the MS world.

BTW, at work I installed 32-bit compatibility libraries in addition to the default 64-bit. I can run either variant of Java (sometimes it makes a difference: yuck!).

Be patient with yourself and enjoy! Make sure you check out the Ubuntu pages on non-free multimedia codecs.

--Todd
 
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lizard808uk

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LINUX MINT! (Its based off Ubuntu)

All the media codecs are pre-canned with the distro so no 4rseing about going to the wrong repositories and dl'ing stuff that breaks your system. Also stuff like DVD playback and its ability to run alongside Windows if needed is good too.

I would only go with Ubuntu if you need a localised language version. Fedora is more of a learning experience if you want to go through the hassle of installing all your codecs and working out dependencies etc..
 
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gruso

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I made the switch last week. Vista to Mint (dual boot, but so far, no desire to boot into Vista again). I can't believe how smoothly it's gone. A few strands of hair pulled out, but so many nice surprises when things just worked. Little things, like plugging in a BenQ E2200HD, and Mint setting the resolution automatically (1920x1080).

I've done a little Linux fiddling in the past. XP/Ubuntu dual boot, didn't last long. Several distros on the Eee until I folded and put a stripped down version of XP on it. Each time I've ended up running away from Linux screaming. But this time it's all good. Calm, warm, and fuzzy. My computer likes me again. :wub:
 
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