Which Linux Distro Can I

By Warwick05 ·
Hie TechRepublic

I have been using Windows for a decade now but recently have an interest in Linux, but the problem Is that I have no idea on where to begin, I mean which of the Linux distros is good for a complete novice like me.

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I would suggest to start with one of the "live" CDvor USB thumb drive

by wizard57m-cnet Moderator In reply to Which Linux Distro Can I

versions first. I've been using Slax ( and the author has been actively
working on a new version. I've read good reports about Porteus (
which started as a branch of Slax. Another I've used is Salix (,
which offers an installer if you find you like it. Slax is primarily meant to run as a
live distribution. There are others, such as Puppy, that I haven't used.
I keep a couple of versions of Slax on USB thumb drives, carried around in my
pocket, as it can be quite handy!

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Different linux distros for different tastes

by B.Kaatz In reply to Which Linux Distro Can I


Well, I agree with wizard57 above about *first* using a LiveCD/LiveDVD/LiveUSB for the different ones you want to take a good look at and try booting and just running them first from the CD/DVD/USB and see if you like the feel of the particular distro.

As far as which ones to take a look at first? Well, let's go over what is popular amongst linux users as it stands. From the 2012 Member's Choice Awards, the top 5 Linux Distributions for the Desktop (voted by those that use them regularly) are:

1. Slackware
2. Ubuntu
3. Linux Mint
4. Debian
5. Fedora

And, as a last note, for those just getting started in linux, I found a particular distro that really impressed me with it's ease of use and functionality; Sabayon. ( )

Hope that helps and welcome to the community.

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I like Puppy Linux

by Rick429CJ In reply to Which Linux Distro Can I

There is a version for 64 bit machines called FatDog 64 and Puppy Linux for regular machines. Both versions are small enough to fit on a cd. The desktop is similar enough to windoze so adapting will not be a big problem. Go to for links to download these.

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The more important question is...

by r_widell In reply to Which Linux Distro Can I

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.


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Reponse To Answer

by Warwick05 In reply to The more important questi ...

Thank you very much to you r_widell you have shed some light, will keep coming for more help

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by BoDiddley2013 In reply to Which Linux Distro Can I

You should try no less than 4 or 5 LiveCD Distro's before choosing one. A lot will depend on interaction with your systems specific hardware. This will become clear while booting from LiveCD as opposed to loading it on your system, until sure.

After that it depends on what you want. I ultimately chose Debian with LXDE (Lightweight Desktop Environment) because I simply did not want all of the clutter, and junk which allows for a Windows like environment. I wanted to learn command line, and my system agrees with the scaled-down approach. The other desktop environment choices for Debian would be KDE, and Gnome.

People complain because Debian/Stable does so few updates. I prefer this because oftentimes updates break your system, regardless which distro.

Also, if you need gaming or graphics be sure to put each livecd to that test.

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Try the linux distro chooser quizzes

by balaknair In reply to Which Linux Distro Can I

They can help narrow down your options based on your requirements.

There's two fairly good ones that I know of

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A great second step...

by r_widell In reply to Which Linux Distro Can I

I should have mentioned that after trying LiveCD or USB sticks to choose the most comfortable desktop, I recommend that your first installation should be a Virtual Machine. VirtualBox works great for this in a Windows environment.

Assuming you have adequate disk space for the VM, this will allow to to actually use the package management system, do system configuration and maintenance, and other tasks in addition to just using the applications without fear of "hosing things up". It IS possible to hose your system if you do the wrong thing when logged in as root, but in a VM you can just revert to an earlier snapshot for a quick restore.

It also frees you from any concerns about HW compatibility. I haven't encountered any issues like this for a few years, but it CAN happen. And it's not something you want to deal with when first trying to learn how to use a new OS.

After confirming which desktop and distro best suits you, then installing that combo on real hardware will be much easier and feel much more normal. If you do encounter any problems, you'll be much better prepared to deal with them.


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Try One of These

by a.portman In reply to Which Linux Distro Can I

Ubuntu, Mint, or Peppermint. Go to the respective site, and download and burn the LiveCD. Then boot your existing computer to the LiveCD. Linux will start. You can get a feel for it, but it will be a little slow. Also, no changes you make will exist after you shut down the computer, as everything is running on the CD or in memory.

If you have access to an old computer, you can install either of these in less than 20 minutes. You may be surprised at how easy it is and how nicely it works with your printer and so fourth.

The next step would be to install one of these as a dual boot on your windows computer. Boot to the LiveCD. Click on install Linux. The installer will find your Windows partition and ask if you want to keep it. Make sure to read about how dual boot works with your chosen distribution first.

Mint and Peppermint are two of the Ubuntu based distributions. I like Peppermint, it loads fast and works with older equipment. My Peppermint machine is a Dell 610 that is almost 7 years old with 1Gb of ram.

Mint will provide you with a full fledged desktop experience. Ubuntu will as well. For all three, "Ubuntu how do I ____" in Google is about as far as you have to go for help. The Ubuntu help forums are great.

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Depends on you situation

by robdogj In reply to Which Linux Distro Can I

Linux Mint has everything
Peppermint is small & very configurable
You have Fedora, Red Hat or CentOS
The World is your oyster - pick & choose what you like

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