Sticky Linux Distro Advice For New Users

Discussion in 'Linux OS and Software Assistance' started by rightcoast, Sep 15, 2005.

  1. rightcoast

    rightcoast

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    I wrote a paper that I have cut and pasted here, as it's up on a site that has a few articles that could be considered against forum rules. I know this will help some users, so I figure I should share it here as well.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    //Starting Out With a Linux Distro
    //
    //by Rightcoast
    //
    [email protected]
    //Under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA
    //http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

    I have written this as a short helpful guide for people who want to use a Linux distro, but aren't sure which one to choose. It is neither all encompassing, or completely unbiased. I have taken pains to show a few distros strengths and weaknesses, not just my recommended newb distro. this way, you can choose, and no one shouts "Rightcoast is a walking Debian billboard".

    I think there are probably a dozen distros I can think of that would work well for a new user. I am going to stick with the few I think would best serve newbs though. What distro you want, even with all the advice in the world, comes down to what you need it for, and personal taste. I have ranked these in order from lowest to highest, using my judgement and weighing things like ease of use vs. power vs. long term benefits like general *nix education.

    5. Mandriva: Formerly known as Mandrake, this is one of the first distros that stressed ease of use. It is one of the top two or three in ease of use. That's also it's biggest drawback. You can't learn anything when you are clicking a button to administer every aspect of the machine. Believe it or not, when you get used to a couple commands, it is faster than a lot of GUI tools anyway. It's package management tool is urpmi. It uses rpm's, being based on Red-Hat and all.

    New users will find it easiest to configure urpmi with easy urpmi:
    http://easyurpmi.zarb.org/

    Mandriva homepage
    http://www.mandriva.com/en/

    Mandriva forums
    http://mandrivausers.org/

    Mandriva community wiki
    http://wiki.mandriva.com/en/

    Main Wiki
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandriva_Linux

    4. Debian: It has a graphical installer that is easy to use now, and apt-get, it's package manager. While ease of package management is this distro's primary strength IMO, it also makes an excellent server OS as well. Debian is not entirely suited to the new user, so Ubuntu gets the #1 spot.

    The Debian homepage
    http://www.debian.org/

    Offical Documentation:
    http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/installmanual
    http://www.debian.org/doc/

    This is a site with extensive Debian guides, install walkthroughs, and how-to's. You can use this page alone and get up and running with any type of machine you want, from plain regular desktop, to networked fileserver or webserver.
    http://www.aboutdebian.com/
    A more technical, but essential page for some more
    intermediate/advanced Debian topics:
    http://qref.sourceforge.net/

    News for Debian smile.gif
    http://www.debian-news.net/

    Wiki page
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debian

    3. Slackware: A very powerful Linux distro. Many experienced users will even call it the *most* powerful. Combine that with the fact a new user can actually pull off an install, unlike other very powerful distros like Gentoo and Linux From Scratch (which isn't really a distro at all, just some docs, but that's another discussion), and you see the main reasons Slackware gets a number three on my list. I would be remiss without noting it's package management will be tricky for someone completely new to Linux.

    It will require you read documentation, and have previous computer experience. At least be able to read and understand technical documentation and you will be fine.
    http://www.slackware.com/

    3b. Salix OS: Salix is a linux distribution based on Slackware that is simple, fast and easy to use. Salix is also fully backwards compatible with Slackware, so Slackware users can benefit from Salix repositories, which they can use as an "extra" quality source of software for their favorite distribution. Like a bonsai, Salix is small, light & the product of infinite care. Very simple installation with the power and stability of Slackware.
    http://www.salixos.org/wiki/index.php/Home

    2. Knoppix: Awesome hardware detection. What this means for you is that in almost every case, you put the disk in, and everything runs. Ubuntu has worked better for some Wi-Fi equipment for me in the past, but knoppix is at least it's equal in hardware detection anyway. It's good, it's powerful, and if it weren't for Ubuntu, it's waht you would want. smile.gif

    http://www.knoppix.net/
    http://www.knoppix.net/forum

    1. Ubuntu: It is as powerful as any other distro, it's fast and it's clean. It is also nearly idiot proof (not saying anything bad at all, it's just made to be idiot proof). Easy hardware detection and configuration (#1 on any newbs list), and a top notch support community. This is the ultimate balanced distro.

    http://ubuntulinux.org/

    http://ubuntuforums.org/

    And... for a new user, this guide is a very easy to navigate guide to using your new ubuntu system. All you old pros, if you haven't seen this, read it. Hopefully learn from it, and carry it's greatness over your distro's docs. This is what gives it the one up on any distro for a new user. Chua Wen Kiat is an open source hero...this guide is assisting the transfer to a Linux OS for many, many, many, many^ users. Kudos!

    http://ubuntuguide.org/

    On a final note, I think that Ubuntu is the only distro that will mail you free CD's via USPS. This makes Ubuntu Linux free-as-in-beer for dial up users as well. My buddy droops runs the Free Linux CD Project over at his site. If you have dial-up and want a different distro, this may be the way to go. Googling "Infonomicon Free Linux CD Project" will get you to the page.

    Of course, when at all possible try to test a distro out with a LiveCD version. You can run these directly from the CD drive and not have to install a single thing on your hard drive. This means you can try different Linux versions at no risk to your computer.

    2. Linux Mint: Linux Mint 11 “Katya” .One click install for multimedia codecs and extra applications The Software Manager UI improvements New splash screen Fonts category More accurate package information More application icons by default More accurate search by default. Very stable and excellent hardware recognition.
    http://www.linuxmint.com/

    Here's a complete comparison of distros you can look at as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Linux_distributions

    Bring your questions on linux over to the guys and girls at Linux Questions. This should be in every new users bookmarks. You can get help with pretty much anything there. Just find your distro's form, and ask away!
    http://www.linuxquestions.org
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2011
  2. Statica

    Statica

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    Good info there! Thanx for sharing it on here.
     
  3. Winnipesaukee

    Winnipesaukee

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    Excellent!!!

    Ill condense it. :D

    IF YOU ARE A NEW LINUX USER:
    Install:
    <a href=www.ubuntu.com>Ubuntu</a>
    <a href=www.mandriva.org>Mandriva, formerly known as Mandrake</a>
    <a href=www.xandros.com>Xandros</a>
    <a href=www.linspire.com>Linspire, formerly known as Lindows</s>

    LiveCDs
    <a href=www.damnsmalllinux.org>Damn Small Linux</a>
    <a href=www.slax.org>Slax</a>
    <a href=www.knoppix.org>Knoppix</a>
     
  4. rightcoast

    rightcoast

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    Ehh, not really to start a disro comparison thing. My advice is avoid linspire though. Having a distro that runs as root all day defeats one of the main things that makes Linux so secure.
     
  5. Winnipesaukee

    Winnipesaukee

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    Linspire...

    I have never used Linspire, I have just heard its good for newbies. I agree, running Root is BAD, I know first hand.
     
  6. MrAustin

    MrAustin

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    I've run the new Linspire Five-O, and as a newb I can say that it is HORRIBLE. Compared to Ubuntu it is a nightmare. And don't even get me started on the crappy hardware detection and setup.
     
  7. Ind-PC_student

    Ind-PC_student

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    Very good advice why not make it a stiky? mod?
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2005
  8. old dog 2

    old dog 2

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    SuSe

    Where do ypu rate SuSe 10??
     
  9. Ind-PC_student

    Ind-PC_student

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    Actually very nice as well
     
  10. Redo40

    Redo40

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    For a newbie to linux, I think PCLinuxOS is a good choice. It comes on a livecd and has a graphical interface that makes it easier for new users. For those that don't like using command lines, this is a good option.
     
  11. ghost2003

    ghost2003 Lest we forget

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    Just thought I would add my 2 cents (this post is just IMHO, if you dont feel the same way, im open to opinions):
    First of all, a gentoo install is very easy...if you read the documentation (which is excellent, btw), its just very long.
    Redo, there is no good linux option for people who dont like command lines. They should stick to mac or windows.
    As for distros, I like *BSD's much more than linux but here are my thought for anyone new to linux. Avoid "user friendly" (that means ubuntu, mandriva, etc.). Why? Because you wont learn a thing. Sure, its easy at first but as soon as something goes wrong or you dont have a litte configuration app to do what you want you'll be lost and end up waiting for someone on a forum to help you. And you will never be able to use a real linux OS. They are nothing but trouble.
    So, my recommendation for newbies is to take the time to learn, again if you cant do that then linux isint for you. You should not have X installed when you start (thats how I started and even now I only use X for web browsing with wmii-3 as my wm). You will be amazed how much you can learn in 1 hour playing arround with command lines. When you get good with them you will never want to see another GUI again.
    Geento
    Slackware
    Debian
    Are the top 3 on my list. They are easy to use, you just need to read a bit of documentation (dont worry, reading wont kill you). Gentoo also uses the "portage" which is kinda like the ports system used in the *BSD's (except not as good) so that makes it very easy to install software.
     
  12. old dog 2

    old dog 2

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    Distro Advice For New Users

    I agree completly!! I have been using PCLinuxOS for more than three months now. I think the O/S is great and find the forum great also.
     
  13. 2GNUBY

    2GNUBY

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    Using SimplyMEPIS since Dec 2004 presently version 3.4.3 which is pure Debian; there is/are newer Mepis/Ubuntu also. I prefer MEPIS to all I've tried. Download it here... ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/mepis/ It is a live cd with install option. :) 2GNUBY
     
  14. moejoe125

    moejoe125

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    how wud u guys rate Fedora 6? (and is 6 the latest version?)
    apparently its one of the best distros...is this true?
     
  15. jglen490

    jglen490

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    Great info rightcoast!! Everybody has their own favorites when it comes to distros, but for new users, I would agree with your premises and with your choices.

    There are distros that are very easy to manage, and there are distros that require a great deal of fundamental understanding of Unix-like commands, substantial user generated configuration, and extensive compiling from source. I've tried Slack, I haven't tried Gentoo, I have compiled programs with success, and have installed from the command line. I now use one of the easy-to-use distros (Kubuntu 6.06) with great pleasure and with marvelous ease. I also have a console window open at all times on my KDE desktop.

    It's a mistake to equate power with memorizing a bunch of oddly named, esoteric command line inputs. It's also a mistake to forget that a lot of GUI based apps are entirely based on those very same command line executables. A lot of people equate "learning" with command line expertise - it ain't necessarily so ;) !!

    In terms of a user-friendly, home use OS, Linux cannot be beat. In terms of home use, the easy-to-use distros are, hands down, the best - unless you want to spend a lot of time in slavery to your machine rather than having your machine helping you doing your tasks. There is in fact only one home-based task that I cannot easily do on Linux. That's dealing with Uncle Sam's annual income and tax reporting work. There have been attempts at Linux solutions, but none come close to Taxcut or Turbotax. The biggest fault there is the complexity of, and yearly changes to, the U.S. tax code. Beyond that, nothing happens that cannot be done in a Linux environment.
     
  16. atatassault

    atatassault

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    Is that with or without documentation. I had to use the command line a multitude of times with ubuntu (installed on a comp that was not connected to the net, and therefore could not use the package manager to install stuff). I messed with it for a couple of days, looked at the documentation files, and didnt learn much. That's my one major complaint about open source, documentation often is very hard digest, and when its easy to digest, it often isnt very well organized.

    Perhaps you know something that I didnt?
     
  17. sbailey12

    sbailey12

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    Here is another vote for PCLinuxOS 2007. This is by far the best Linux distro I've used. That is going back about 5 years or so. I've used Debian testing, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Mandriva and countless other distros throughout the years and this one is by far the most ready to use right after install (java, flash, all media plugins etc... are installed by default). It uses apt/synaptic for its package manager with just about every package you could want included by default. It has a nice professional look and feel to it. The control center is great, you can enable Beryl right from it by just check marking a box. My nvidia driver was also correctly installed by just check marking the appropriate package in synaptic.
     
  18. old dog 2

    old dog 2

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    Right on!! I have been using it for better then a year and love it.
     
  19. MichaelG653

    MichaelG653

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    PCLinuxOS is the easiest distro I have come across and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to try out linux, ubuntu is another excellent distro for someone new to linux.
     
  20. Negeva

    Negeva

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    A month or two back someone introduced me to Wubi which allows you to install Ubuntu on a Windows machine without the need to create any partitions - it creates a virtual one for you and deals with the dual booting.

    Wubi was the easiest thing to use - follow the instructions, download Ubuntu, re-boot and you're done. I was so impressed with Ubuntu that I made a permanent dual-boot on my work laptop - GNUCash has made my life so much easier.

    If I could only get ATi and Beryl to work properly I'd be even happier than I am now.
     

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