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Which Linux Distro Can I

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r_widell

Which Desktop environment to use.

Unlike Windows or Mac, where the UI is defined by Microsoft or Apple, there are a number of different user interfaces (Desktops) in the linux world. The biggies are Gnome & KDE, but you also have XFCE, LXDE, Unity, Cinnamon, etc. It can all get very confusing for a new user. My personal preference for a new user is KDE because:
A) It has a little more familiar feel for someone coming from a "traditional" Windows environment.
B) The Help system is IMHO better than the others, especially when you discover that Konqueror (a Gecko-based web browser) is also great for perusing the resident documentation.

If you want to read a man (manual) page, you simply enter "man:<command>" in the address bar to see the man page for whatever command you're interested in. Similarly for info pages, enter "info:<command" into the address bar and read the relevant documentation. The nice thing about using Konqueror for this is the ability to open related docs in a new window or tab, thus being able to quickly switch back and forth to gain better insight.

BTW, almost all of the traditional unix commands in any linux distro were re-written by the GNU project, hence you will see many references to GNU/Linux (Linux being merely the kernel). The folks at GNU decided (for whatever reason) to provide documentation in "info" format, rather than create traditional "man" pages. IMO "info" pages are an abomination, and the only way to make them useable is to open them in Konqueror.

I also agree wholeheartedly that a LiveCD is the way to get your feet wet.

Keep in mind that another fundamental difference between the various distros is the "Package Management" system. Package Management is a technique to help ensure that a piece of software that you intend to install will actually work when installed by confirming that all prerequisite software (dependencies) is also (or already) installed. The biggies are APT (Debian and derivatives) and RPM (Red Hat and derivatives). Other techniques are used by Slackware, Gentoo and others.

My personal preference in distros tends towards openSUSE. That's the distro that best (IMO) conforms to the AT&T Unix concept of runlevels while simultaneously supporting KDE for the longest time. I've also had the best luck finding answers to my questions in their forums, blogs and other online support systems. YMMV

Best of luck in your endeavors and have fun.

ron