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Which Linux?

In this section
Introduction | Definitions | Linux Survey&Recommendations – Live CDs – Single CDs – Multiple CDs. | Concluding Remarks

INTRODUCTION

By now you know there are many Linux’s out there. And there is a lot of information on the web about choosing a good Linux distribution. The only advantage I think I have in writing this article for new users is that I am a new user who wants to use Computers for what they “do” rather than for a deeper/philosophical motive of getting to the source (aka Matrix 2-3). Basically, I like computers, I’m willing to invest time to tweek them, shape them, reload them. Of course I hope all this will help me to better do what I want to do.

What led me to Linux was the promise of an “effective” virus free environment to work on the internet. I also had a small political motive… to embrace the philosophy of Free Software, read Anti Piracy without supporting the evil globalised Micro$oft regime! :) (The latter reason was not so important, but it still remains a significant incentive). At the time of starting, I didn’t know that I would be starting a long relationship with the Linux world. My desires and expectations of the Linux systems have grown. And more often than not, Linux has met my basic goals but is yet to meet my high goals. I still remain a basic user, ie. I don’t know any code… I can’t compile (whatever that means) Linux for myself.

I am using Linux on two computers; my home computer… which is a Desktop that runs on an AMD processor, Via Intergrated Graphics Chipset. Usually, Linux’s don’t work on my desktop because it’s not a popular computer choice in the first place, unlike Intel based nVidia/ATI computers. At my office I use a Lenovo Z60m Thinkpad, Pentium M 1.8Ghz, ATI integrated graphics. On both machines I have 512MB RAM. I’ve found that Linux works differently on different machines; ie. sometimes my Lenovo responds better to some distributions and my Desktop for others. So… any Linux help/recommendation must be taken with a pinch of salt and folded sleeves.

Before I make my recommendations, some defintions are in order

DEFINITIONS

Distro = Distributions = a short word for Linux Operating System (aka Windows XP Operating System can be called a Windows Distro)

Live CD = A Linux test CD that runs using the computer’s RAM and CD drive. It is basically a demo CD that shows how a particular Linux operation system (distro) works. Almost all functions are possible using a Live CD, even working on files etc (Though I don’t know where it saves). The cool thing about a Live CD is that you can run it without hurting/affecting your current Windows (or other) operating system. One problem with Live CDs is that they are quite slow. But many Live CDs allow the user to load the CD onto the harddisk and boot from there. Already, Ubuntu and many other distros (Mepis) use this method to install their main systems. Of course Windows has nothing like a Live CD… so it may be an entirely new concept for you. It was for me!

Partitioning = This is an important tool to understand before trying out Linux. It’s the process of dividing your computer’s harddisk in sections. Once this is done, it is possible to load Linux while still working with Windows XP etc. Usually for Windows user, Norton Partition Magic is the tool. However, most Linux distros have their own Partition tools, which are quite good (and FREE). The best one I’ve used is QParted.

Dual Boot = The process by which both Windows and Linux can be loaded onto the same machine. In effect, a dual boot system will allow a user to choose whether they want to enter Linux or Windows (you can even set Windows or Linux as default and your computer will boot automatically to your default choice). (In fact, if anyone feels that Linux installs are difficult, that’s probably because they are trying to dual boot with Windows or another operating system. Try installing Windows as a second operating system and see the difference… Windows doesn’t understand that language of dual boot with another operating system unless the other system is windows as well.)

Windows Manager = Briefly, the Windows Manager is a front-end of Linux. It’s what we see. And there are many Windows Managers to choose from in Linux. The most popular are KDE and GNOME. For sometime XFCE is for machines that have limited system resources and there is also a personal favourite ‘Enlightenment’ (just to name a few). I won’t overwhelm the reader more with this information here. But sometimes, while choosing a Linux distro, you must also eventually think what Windows Manager you like and choose a distro accordingly. If you look simplicity, GNOME. If you like a Windoweseque feel (though with much more control), then KDE. If you have old/slow Hardware… XFCE. And if you want to experiment… try Enlightenment (though the major distributions don’t fully support Enlightenment yet, but I think soon they will).

THE LINUX OS FIELD: BRIEF SURVEY and RECOMMENDATIONS

My review places distros in three categories. There is a fourth category of Commercial Distributions that I will not be covering in depth here (because I haven’t used any).

1. Live CDs

The two hands down winners in the Live CD (free) market are the diverse yet equally impressive Knoppix and DamnSmallLinux (DSL). And after trying it out only a few days ago, even MCNLive is an excellent Live CD to show cool linux capabilities… but I think I freaked out when something went wrong. Usually LiveCDs should not harm any system, however it’s just human nature to blame the new. It’s probably a much better Live Distro than I projected it to be.

Knoppix is the distribution that seemed to have started the Linux Live CD craze and is reputed for excellent hardware recognition.

The unique point of DSL however is that it is only 50MB in size. Which means that it fits onto a USB stick, and is still quite powerful to do many of the things that Linux is good for. I was particularly impressed by DSL’s ability to recognise my Windows partitions and allow me to backup data.

Usage: One great value for Live CDs are Windows error manangement. Ie. If your windows gets corrupted, you can probably load a LiveCD, access your harddisk and backup your data. Of course Live CDs make good introductions to Linux, especially if you want to just check it out. Only understand that Linux is a little faster than the Live CD version.

A true life story: I was introduced to Linux using a Live CD. I first used DSL and Linspire 5.0 Live CD. I must admit that Linspire made quite an excellent first impressions, even as an introduction to Linux as a whole. It was too slow though, and that time I wanted to load a Linux Distro onto my system, so I rejected Linspire. But my memories are good. Only later did I get to use Knoppix, and it was through Knoppix that I partitioned my Lenovo. More details here

I would recommend every Linux User to have at least one copy of Knoppix at home, just in case. Something like an aspirin, that’s good to have around.

2. SINGLE CD DISTRIBUTIONS

A single CD distribution is a Linux Distro that loads entirely within 700MB (enough to fit within a normal writeable CD).

If you haven’t heard it already, the unofficial verdict is that PCLinuxOS is king. Which is to say, according to Distrowatch.com, more people check out information about PCLinux than any other Distro. Of course while official figures are scanty, Ubuntu is still probably more popular than PCLinuxOS, but I have used PCLinuxOS, and I feel comforted by its usability and stability so far.

The options for Ubuntu and its many derivatives are immense. Ubuntu is based on the GNOME windows manager, while Kubuntu using another “windows manager” KDE, there Xubuntu that uses a “windows manager” that I like XFCE. These I have tried and found reasonably ok. I somehow feel, though I may be wrong, that Ubuntu still remains the stronger distro of the distros, even though somehow they share the same base.

Then there are further extended Ubuntu’s… like XFLD 0.3 which I was very impressed by until a minor error emerged in boot and shut-down which I still can’t fix (I have to press CTRL D everytime I enter or exit XFLD).

There is also Linux Mint, for now that distro which is gaining in popularlity basically upgrades Ubuntu to be more multimedia friendly. Ie. it has things that Windows users take for granted… mp3, DVD support. I’ve tried version 2 and 3 and it must be said that Linux Mint is getting better. Currently, Linux Mint 3.1 is up and running, but as with all Ubuntu derivatives, it is best to wait for the Ubuntu 7.10 implementation of Linux Mint, coming soon.

Another distro to try (and don’t get me wrong here), is Ubuntu Christian Edition (CE). The advantages of Ubuntu Christian Edition are that it already has Automatix (with the graphical interface) and so you just need to select the programmes that you want and it will automatically download them for you. Plus, (and therefore more particularly Christian)… is a very sturdy Internet Parent-Control (dansguardian I think) and a strong firewall. This is really one of the few Linux distro’s which such strong protection against contraband surfing. And thus, for ‘home’ evironments or even educational institutions, this distro could be helpful. I would add that the “Christian” branding in Ubuntu CE is not oppressive and can be configured off quite easily. (Except the parent-control, which is tougher to remove).

But life is more than Ubuntu. There’s Mandriva One, which I recently tried (it’s the spin-off from Mandriva 2007). It was an interesting Live CD… with really funky 3D effects… but somehow it lacked the power of Linux… and of course it because it is ultimately a paid edition, it didn’t allow me to add too much more.

But it gets even more interesting. The all time BEST one CD distro in terms of interoperability between Windows and Linux was Xandros 3.0 OCE. All I had to do was install the disto and it recognised all networks instantly. I only had to select a printer, I think, but basically, it was amazing. It did a better job than Windows even. So why am I not working with Xandros today? Well, it is a paid distro (OCE is just a limited edition, and hence very restricting). Also, once you load Xandros, it won’t recognise any other Linux you may have (or will have) stored. But perhaps more importantly, it looked pretty ugly. Compared to other Linux distros, Xandros felt like a tin-box. I know taste is personal, so that’s only MY personal opinion.

I must also mention Freespire 2.0, a distro that is an offshoot of Linspire. It’s supposed to be easy to install and use, and it actually is. But when I installed it onto my computer (and it recorded one of the fastest installs ever… 12 minutes! amazing!)… it just wouldn’t connect to the internet. I tried and tried… but just couldn’t get it to do it. It would connect only for a few milli-seconds and shut off again for a while. And because it feels like a limited distro, there was very little I could do to fix it… or even change it (for instance, I couldn’t find out how to make Windows default in boot loading sequences.) If you’re looking for an easy to use Distro, try this out. And I hope it works for you.

Now to the main recommendation: PCLinuxOS 2007. The hype about this distro is quite high and yes it lives up to most of it. I now regularly use PCLinuxOS 2007 and I must say it is an excellent distribution. It really is. It looks beautiful, it is simple to install, and everything works out of the box. A brief installation review here.

In conclusion… Earlier I had recommended the latest Ubuntu as the best 1-CD distro, but now I must say that depending on what you feel about ‘out-of-the-box’ functionality, PCLinuxOS is a very very good option (esp. if you want multimedia support). However, if you like control over what you want to install, with the promise of good support, then Ubuntu (or a related derivative) is a better option. 3/4ths of the beginners Linux world has been choosing Ubuntu, and it really is a good distro. But now, the wind is changing and it’s harder to identify the ‘best’ distro and personal choice is going to tilt the balance in your own favour. My recommendation is PCLinuxOS 2007.

3. MULTIPLE CD DISTRIBUTIONS (the big guns)

When I first wrote this section (before updating it), it sounded strange because I really liked openSUSE (or SUSE) but it had behaved badly on my computers. I didn’t really like Mandriva, but it was best for my Desktop computer. And I had never used Fedora even once, but I was recommending that too. You see what I mean? But all that has changed. Since I last wrote this I’ve changed my views considerable and below is the result.

About openSUSE (SUSE)-currently version 10.2… I’ve said a lot on openSUSE on this site. But I’ve realised, it’s a really impressive distribution. In fact, according to me, it is one of the best, if not the best Linux distributions around. It’s got plenty of power (read programs and possibilities), and it’s really stable and exciting to work on. My problem has been that I hadn’t figured out how to get it to work best on my desktop, since it hadn’t recognised my VIA graphics driver. However, I was really having a great time with openSUSE 10.2 on my Lenovo Thinkpad. And I’ve been using it almost exclusively (even more than Windows XP). However, the latest update is that I downloaded the SUSE VIA drivers and got openSUSE 10.2 to work on my Desktop. This has been totally amazing, and whether I have Ubuntu or any other distro… it’s hard for me to see me removing openSUSE. I’ve really enjoyed working on it, and it helps that it now works on my desktop too. I wonder what they’ll do in openSUSE 10.3 which is coming soon.

It was SUSE 9.3 that had made me fall in love with Linux. And I’ve been looking for a stable distro that makes my heart beat faster. I think, after configuring openSUSE 10.2 to my taste (it’s powerful to configure, but you need to know what you’re doing… ie. do research on the web)… it is becoming pretty much the distro that I want. See screenshots here. For the next few seasons I will keep checking out openSUSE. My openSUSE 10.2 installation story is found here. Early reports are good. However, I feel like a novice using it… because when you’re using it, many of the settings are a bit above my league. I don’t know how to configure or setup, which I’m sure is possible for more advanced users. (unlike Ubuntu which is a bit simpler in my experience). Still, I’ve enjoyed having this distro, and it’s worth a try, at least once. (However, I’ve benefited from my Ubuntu experience to become more comfortable with openSUSE).

About Mandriva… I’ve already said something briefly about Mandriva One… and though I haven’t really used Mandriva 2007, my experiences with Mandriva 2006 were quite good. Most importantly it was the only distro that recognised the drivers on my VIA-AMD desktop computer. However, it also had limitations. Because it is front-end of the paid version, it is locked so that you cannot load all the software you want. that’s really irritating, especially since in Linux one of the fun things is to load/uninstall software. Mandriva 2007 is worse. It doesn’t have any multimedia capability, and my guess is, it still locks you out (ie. you can’t install anything else). Mandriva 2007 Free is therefore just a demo of their paid version. Which is a shame, because Mandriva showed me enough to raise my expectations of what I need to expect a Linux distro to do… at least for my computer.

About Fedora… One of the more popular distributions around, if you are a Fedora fan, then you probably don’t need to be reading my guide here in the first place… because you’re probably as or even more enlightened than me! :) However the question for this section would be, should a beginner (first time user) use Fedora as their distro. And the answer? Only if you’re extremely adventerous and like the command line approach. This distro is for the adventurous and courageous. It’s primary goal is not stability but a desire to be cutting edge, it’s meant for experimentation and pushing the Linux bar higher. In that sense it’s touted as the an exciting distro around, but I’ve as I’ve begun to use it, I’ve not seen anything significantly different from other distro’s around (of course I have an untrained eye, but still, that is my perspective). (I have been desperately been trying to instlal Fedora on my computer by everytime I get an iso image it is corrupted. See sample reports here.) And in effect, Fedora became the first distro I actually paid money to buy (from a CD downloading place). But I think Fedora Core 6 DVD is not a mass-beginning user oriented distro… so try it only if you’re ok with jumping into the fire of Linux. I guess, if you do, then all the best to you… more power to you.

Other popular distros making the rounds called Dreamlinux Multimedia Edition 2.2. My report of it is here. It is easy to use, and allows for quick on-the-fly multimedia capabilities. Something like Linux Mint for the DVD segment. But I’m not using it anymore because while it is good (and I even gave it to a friend), it’s still not great.

In conclusion… my recommendation, however, is more conservative. I will blindly recommend openSUSE 10.2 to any beginner who wants to commit to Linux as his/her eventual operating system. If you don’t invest time to make it work, you’ll probably give up. But if you do invest time, and are patient with openSUSE, this distro will make you wonder why you didn’t try Linux sooner.

4. COMMERCIAL OPTIONS

I haven’t tried any commercial options for Linux, but the landscape as I see it is this.

1. Novell (the company that sponsers openSUSE) has SLED (SUSE Enterprise Linux Desktop) 10, which people say is one of the best Linux distributions currently available.

2. Then there’s Mandriva 2007’s PowerDesktop and other spinoffs..

3. Of course there’s Xandros 4, and as I said earlier, it’s one of the easiest Linux’s out there.

There may be others, but I would think the above would be the best in that order.

And what about Red Hat? In my understanding, Red Hat is a commercial distribution that focuses primarily on servers. And if you are into servers, then you probably won’t be reading my humble “first-time” recommendations. Of course I’ve never seen, nor used Red Hat.

5. IN CONCLUSION

The choices are immense. You may have also heard of other distributions like Slackware (the oldest? surviving Linux around) which is renowned for its simplicity, flexibility, stability… etc. Actually, almost all linux’ are known for their stability/flexibility… especially in comparison with Windows. But Slackware is a good look-in, though I think you need to be a little more adventurous. There is also Debian, which is the mother of the modern Linux hero Ubuntu. Ubuntu has been based on Debian Linux and has started moving away from it. Some linux gurus will swear only by Debian, but again, it’s an excellent distro for the brave and courageous. The most scary and perhaps the most powerful/flexibile of all Linux’ is Gentoo (so I’m told). But it’s all about code. People say it takes days to install. I know I will never be proficient enough to try it, perhaps some day you may. For those looking for an easier root into Gentoo, it seems Sabayon offers a better look in. It’s a live DVD that can be installed onto the hardisk. There are also other popular choices that I’ve missed, like SimplyMepis 6.0, PCLinuxOS, Zenwalk, CentOS… as you can see the list goes on and on. For more details do check out the linux-distro bible: DistroWatch.com

There’s another name, BSD… but it’s actually not Linux, but some UNIX based something. More details can obviously be found on Google. But sources say it’s equally excellent to anything in Linux and also compatible with Linux.

So… what is my final recommendation. As I said earlier, make sure you have a Knoppix liveCD handy, just in case. Then, if you are looking of a short term try-out to see if you are ready for a relationship with Linux, try out PCLinuxOS 2007 or Ubuntu 7.10. If you’re looking to go completely alternative, ie. you’re looking for a Linux for life, go for openSUSE 10.2.

For more information (details) about the distros, check on this article on Distrowatch.com: http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major

Comments»

1. Raymond B. - January 22, 2007

There’s nothin more refreshing than a “newb” guide for newbs by a newb. Excellent entry.

2. Raymond B. - January 22, 2007

Also: how did you get the SUSE taskbar to look like that (not the transperancy, but the Work/Browse/etc. application drawers)?

3. NAyK - January 22, 2007

Hi Raymond: Thanks for your comments. The Work/Browse/Media look are not application drawers but the Linux Desktop space manager, also called “pager” It helps me organise my work. I have given my three Pagers names , and configured it to display names rather than numbers.
So, If I was browsing, like I’m doing right now, I’ll be working in the pager “Browse”. If I was listening to music, all my media etc would be open in “Media”.
To configure your own pager, your pager and you’ll get options to play around with. It’s quite flexible and fun.

4. matereo - January 23, 2007

Ive been using most of the major distros out there and have finally settled with PcLinux its just so much easier to work around and hilariously stable… the program repsitories + the community are packed with what a new user need.

5. NAyK - January 23, 2007

PCLinux? Though I’ve never tried it, I am looking forward to PCLinuxOS when it moves out of its experimental build to the stable release later this month(?). First reports certainly make it worth waiting for!

6. Gurpinder Singh - February 8, 2007

i need free k3b software for linux

7. NAyK - February 8, 2007

to gurpinder: usually any linux distribution that uses KDE as its desktop manager will automatically have k3b as the burning software. However, if you’re using a GNOME based distro, then you can install k3b through the package installation. In synaptic (Ubunutu) just search for k3b and you’ll find it.

8. mike - April 22, 2007

It’s interesting to read another persons taste and experience. My first attempt to move to Linux (not including tasting each distro) was using OpenSuSE 10.2 I believe it was. It was terrible that I had to download and burn 4 Cd’s, 3 if i’m lucky. Installation was incredibly long, however, it gave a lot of customization options which I liked. I think it also had solitare to play during installation which eased the boredom. After installation I was welcomed by a beautiful K desktop manager with nice colors. However, for me I was unable to connect to the internet. I also found little support when searching for solutions. There were many other little things that annoyed me and I ditched it. A year later or so later, I installed Ubuntu, a Distro that I had over-looked on purpose because the screen shots looked terribly dull and the color combination was not attractive at all. However, it fit on one cd. Installation was through LIVE which had some hitches and glitches but it installed perfectly. It even recognized my NTFS partitions which it didn’t touch and added Windows to grub for dual boot. Great! Hardware support was fantastic everything was recognized and usable. The only driver I had to install was the ATI driver because it is proprietary. Ubuntu was the distro for me that got me hooked and deleted my dual boot. Now I continue to learn using Ubuntu and have been having a great time at it.

9. NAyK - April 22, 2007

to mike: ya, I know what you mean about multiple CD installs. I’ve sworn NEVER to install using multiple CD’s. It’s too much of a pain, and too man things can go wrong. Personally, I had a very good time installing and using openSUSE 10.2. I installed using the DVD that I downloaded over the net. However, I know that Linux distros are still very unpredictable across computers; you never know how the next computer will respond.
I’m looking forward to try the new Fiesty-Fawn Ubuntu, maybe you should try that too (or is that the one you are already using?).

10. coRDuroy - May 1, 2007

I agree with your last comment NAyK. I’ve tried numerous distros and the only one that I have gotten to work to my satisfaction was Mandrake, and is now Mandriva 2007.

I don’t have problems with the software issues you had because there are alternatives to the “official” servers. Many programs have rpms for mandriva…just not where you’d think you find them. Also, as for resources, the community that uses the “free” editions is probably just as deep as those that pay for mandriva. I’m happy with it for what I do for everything from simple office apps to multitrack recording and mixing.

11. Dirk Gently - May 29, 2007

Nice overview, My first look at Linux was Mandrake 9.1, I’ve seen lots of training vids about RedHat and now use Ubuntu 7.04. So many different Linux camps have their devoted followers and purposes, of which many ignored the “new user friendly” factor in favor of the text options which turn many off. I want to learn the command line, but don’t want to be forced to use it all the time.

I found my USB DSL modem was causing problems with every Linux apart from Mandriva 2007.1 Spring One (which is buggy as hell) and after working out how to flash the firmware, now works fine in Ubuntu.

I guess it comes down to what you want your Linux for. Some experienced users want a cutting edge PC and Fedora suits them fine..they don’t have a prob with package crashes. Some (like me) want stability and security above everything else….the way I look at it is that any errors that pop up I want to know that I caused them so I can learn not to do that again…..this is hard to pin down when you have errors happening at random.

I am tempted to try Debian or openSUSE now I’ve been using Ubuntu for a few weeks and am reasonably comfy with it. I suppose it helps being an MCP beforehand though.

FreeBSD is a UNIX…ALL Linux are UNIX clones or called UNIX-like. They mimic UNIX, FreeBSD is a pure thorobred UNIX but is often placed in the same category as it’s more popular Linux cousins. My first choice of long term OS is FreeBSD, my training ground is Linux.

FreeBSD has a different and more open license, as well as being a lot more complicated to (text only with LOTS of unusual questions) install. It’s considered by many as more stable than most Linux but further back in the development rush. The file tree is slightly different, and it has many more compilers for different languages……as well as almost all Linux packages working fine on it, it as it’s own set of packages.

I saw some people were trying to put together a Live version of FreeBSD, but I don’t know how thats going. It’s kinda seen as an experts OS, they kinda frown on making it too easy without some work lol. It is however reputed to be very resource efficient when you know what you’re doing.

12. Dirk Gently - May 29, 2007

Another factor that many distributions tend to overlook is the “cherry” factor. Every experience is compared to your first. In my case it was Mandrake 9.1 which means that subconsciously I compare all Linux to that, and still have affection for it, even though I hate the path it’s decided to evolve down.

If your first experience of Linux was a buggy Fedora where things crashed etc will that not taint you against Fedora and possibly Linux in general? On the other hand if your first was an old but solid Debian your impressions may be that Linux in general is kinda dated looking. If you’re on your own (in physical terms) for Linux tuition and support it makes it even harder to narrow down and a tougher prospect to risk trying one.

If you have a friend or two who use Gentoo Linux which one do you think you’ll go for? Wouldn’t be the same one as your mates would it? If you have that network to get you hooked in, chances are you’re going to stick with that distribution over others, even if it is not considered the best by others.

It comes down to experiences, if you have fond experiences of one distribution (or it’s extended family….Ubuntu to Debian etc) it may have you for life, if you have bad experiences of one it may put you off Linux or at best have you as a wandering user seeking the right patch of desktop to lay down your home.

13. NAyK - May 29, 2007

To DirkGently: Hey thanks for your comments.

The “cherry” factor is an interesting thing… My first exposure to Linux was a shotgun blast… ie. my first exposure was of multiple distro’s all at once. I tried, Linspire 5, Ubuntu (i think it was the 05 stage then), Xandros, Mandriva and SUSE 9.3 in the two machines accessible to me.

I actually entered Linux with low expectations… ie. just to browse internet in a virus free environment, and perhaps see what else is out there. Little did I know the depth of the OS I was getting into.

All the above distros I tried raised my expectations concerning Linux. With Mandriva and Xandros, I got distros that JUST WORKED. It was an amazing feeling. In SUSE 9.3 I got a really really beautiful machine. And suddenly I wanted that too.

Like you, today, I’m not averse to the code-line, but I do wish that I didn’t need it as much. But I’m currently enjoying openSUSE and PCLinuxOS.

openSUSE I had to work hard to make it work for me… (partly because of proprietary drivers.) And PCLinuxOS has won me over quicker than I expected.

14. Dirk Gently - May 29, 2007

Just a technical point, although I can’t quite get my head around what difference it makes to most people. Linux is not an OS as such…it’s a kernel with modules plugged in. UNIX IS a proper OS along with Windows and Apple (Mac’s are custom UNIX built on Darwin which is a derivative from FreeBSD).

Linux does the job of being an OS for most users so I don’t really understand why this makes a difference (if it does).

Even the desktop environment has a “cherry” factor. If your first Linux was KDE, then your impressions are quite likely “oh, this silver looks a lot like Windows, only a bit more rounded.” If you get used to that, then switching to another desktop environment later seems like another upheaval.

Some packages work reasonably OK on other environments, some don’t which means getting used to a new look as well as new packages to do the same thing. The screen is our visual interaction with our PC and it’s abilities. We use that feedback and interact via our peripherals like the keyboard and mouse…..for that we get used to the screen layout. A new desktop environment can throw some people into confusion while others adapt easily.

Part of the Linux simplicity is the start menu, you don’t need to remember it’s Firefox for surfing the web…..it’s marked out as INTERNET >> WEB BROWSER. A new desktop environment may confuse that by having different packages opening on those commands.

After reading a few of your blogs I decided to have another look at distrowatch for other reviews of both PCLinuxOS and openSUSE as a contrast. Seems that several have issues with openSUSE being a resource hog, and the future business ethic of the Novell ownership.

I still haven’t found the perfect Linux for me yet, Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn is the closest so far but it not perfect. I will give PCLinuxOS a go in live mode, although I detested the blue M$ feel when I was stuck with XP and always used skins then, so some customization would likely be required post install. I am reluctant to go to KDE but it does look like a very nice implementation of KDE. I always preferred KDE over Gnome until Ubuntu, then things kinda flipped upside down.

15. NAyK - May 29, 2007

To DirkGently:

The thing that I personally like about openSUSE is its configurability, options and just basic power. In fact it was Ubuntu that drew me towards openSUSE.

I ran an experiment where I only used Ubuntu for almost a month, and that was probably the best linux learning experience of my life. I used the packages, I struggled with the wi-fi… AND got it to work!!! And also, used OpenOffice, everything.

The next distro in line for testing, for me, was Fedora 6. I was pretty sick of openSUSE 10.1 which just did not work on any of my systems (so I didn’t even try downloading it). But the company I was buying Fedora from, messed up, and delayed my order. Here I was itching to try a new distro and so I just decided to install openSUSE 10.2 (DVD) just like that.

When I did, I was very pleasantly surprised about how powerful it was. And because I was coming to it with Ubuntu work experience, I even understood a lot more of what was going on. openSUSE in effect is not a distro for beginners, but for people who know what they are doing… because then then can use it to the maximum.

The clincher for openSUSE 10.2 for me was eventually the wi-fi and networking (with my office LAN). Both were easier to set-up on openSUSE than on Ubuntu. And then I started also seeing the power of KDE above GNOME. I had begun to like GNOME and even installed the GNOME manager in openSUSE but when I started using KDE… it was just that much more powerful and user-friendly. I know Linus Trovald has something to say about this, but it did seem true. There were so many little things, here and there, that I really really liked about KDE. I could make my computer look that much better using openSUSE than with Ubuntu. (a small note… I tried installing KUBUNTU twice, but the file had an error during partition and I wasn’t able to move forward. Very frustrating).

So eventually, I switched to openSUSE and KDE, leaving Ubuntu behind. And since then openSUSE has been my primary linux distro.

So, when PCLOS came along, I didn’t really mind getting rid of Ubuntu, because I wasn’t using it much anyway.

Now, PCLOS is fun, but at the cost of rushing in my judgement, I certainly prefer it to Ubuntu or any Ubuntu derivative, including Linux Mint. But I still prefer openSUSE because it feels more comfortable and more powerful.

The only thing I find against openSUSE is its login speed… and package installer (YAST). That takes so long… SYNAPTIC is just so much better and efficient, both in Ubuntu and PCLOS.

Anyway… I’ve rambled enough. But I would stand by what I said in my post. For long-term (ie. Linux for Life) I would recommend openSUSE (regardless of the M$ deal). But for an affair with a cool Linux distro, I’d suggest PCLOS above Ubuntu.

16. dnacodes - June 12, 2007

Pardus Linux is the one of latest linux distro. It comes with an original packet management system called as “pisi”. Default window type is KDE. Available languages are Turkish, English, Italian, Brazil, Nederland. I used it for 1 year and my system work well on my notebook, my home pc and work pc. I advice for all beginners and professionals.

17. Tom - August 24, 2007

A great round-up! Thanks. Looking to take the plunge into the world of Linux and this has really helped me sort it out. Had openSUSE 10.2 on my machine for a while, both KDE and GNOME but can’t work out which is better for me. KDE seems to swing the side maybe.
Ubuntu was what drew me into Linux, but the threw me onto openSUSE when it didn’t/couldnt do what I wanted it to, like boot the Live CD!

Thanks!

18. NAyK - August 24, 2007

To Tom: I’m growing in my appreciation of PCLinuxOS 2007. Have you tried that yet? It’s worthy of a look-in; especially for its KDE implementation as well.

19. Alan - October 13, 2007

Hi everyone, a very interesting discussion indeed – I don’t consider myself an out and out expert, but I have been using Linux for 11 years now as the OS of choice for servers and my own PCs/Laptops.

I think that the problem we have all faced when first using and getting to know Linux revolve around the uncertainty of what yuo are doing. When I think of the thousands of computers onto which I have installed Linux (servers and workstations) the older distributions all presented a challenge of some sort, and this in turn led to many hours of hunting information down on the internet. Witht he advent of modern distributions, the jardware issues have almost disappeared, the few that we do get are easily solved but only because I know where to go to get answers to questions.

The big issue here is knowing how to ask the question – that takes experience which as newbs you wouldn’t have.

My preference is for SuSE distributions – the open suse project now has a wealth of information all in one place (www.opensuse.org) so finding answers is even easier – plus the experineced hacks are there too, and we all like to help each other.

Don’t get frustrated if you can’t get something to work on any distribution of Linux – just work out how to ask the question and then google it or find good forum/wiki. If you let people know your new to Linux, they might even give you an explanation in English.

Remember, we all have to start with no knowledge at all, so don’t feel intimidated by people whose only difference to yourslef is that they have had a chance to get the experience you haven’t.

Thought for the day:
“It said on the box – ‘install Windows 2000 or better’, so I installed Linux”.

Happy times to you all.

20. johanes iwan - October 23, 2007

is slackware pclinuxos?

21. Ghebos - March 17, 2008

Hi every one,

I worked with with many distributions and I must say Debian is the greatest of them all.Why? Because it is the only distribution who has no problems installing packages related to kernel or important servers,daemons.
Open Suse crashed when I wanted to install a highly paid toolkit(software was made for Suse),Slackware realised at 12.0 version that he needed pam(great disatvantege to try installing from source and then rebuild kernel in older version)

Maybe I’m wrong but when you install a big gun Linux distribution you want to have 100% flexibility in whitout errors and brain damage for trying to configure from scratch.

It is like Ghandi old,ugly but wise .

Long live Debian

22. Matthew - March 29, 2008

Hello, I have tried linux, but had trouble with it. I mean, it was stunning, the move from windows was almost seemless, except for one problem…. My wireless card. I am a noob at linux, and i had trouble using hte terminal or console, I was Ubuntu..I was getting used to using the terminal. MY question is, Does opensuse support many wireless cards? If not, Will it be easy to trouble shoot it, and get the drivers for my wrieless card?

If you hace the time, please email me, (or respond here).
@ crowman25ATgmailDOTcom
Thanks for your time.
-matt

23. Jacob - May 10, 2008

My Favorite Distro is ubuntu!

24. mnikhil - January 11, 2009

I really liked your interest towards Linux and your passion and enthusiasm are really infectious I guess more than a virus :-)

Keep up the good work. Please do get in touch with me for any regards to the Linux Projects incase you are interested.

Good luck!

25. Zlatko Nikolic - February 26, 2009

Thanks for the blog its help me a lot, I will bookmark this blog, best regards.

26. Zlatko Nikolic - February 26, 2009

Friends my distro is Ubuntu 8.10 64-bit, work very well, on my Pentium 915dual-core 2.8GHz its run 20-35 percent faster then on Windows XP 32-bit, or Ubuntu 32-bit. I have use Blender 3D for rendering, and Inkscape for vector graphics and in both case 64-bit version wins. Im work in PC store in service so I mostly use XP but I find very interesting Live CD G-Parted, its very good like partition editor or like file menager when windows dont like to boot and I have to save some data files for customes, its work very well if HDD is not death. So if you like you can try G-Parted. When I read this blog I started to download MINT Linux when I try it will send you feedback, regards.

27. Vinayak .verma - May 8, 2009

Hello Sir

I am new to linux . I want to install linux but my problem is thta my PC is bit old . Can u refer any good distro that gives 1024*768 resolution on
AMD 3000+ 2.1 Ghz
Gigabyte kvm800M via based chipset
512MB DDR RAM
160GB. Plz also tell the complete installation procedure.

28. Anonymous - November 11, 2009

Any.


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