ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Choose a Linux Distribution for First Time Users

Updated on May 29, 2013
Beginners guide to choosing a Linux Distribution
Beginners guide to choosing a Linux Distribution | Source

There are an unbelievably large amount of linux distributions out there, especially from the standpoint of someone coming from Windows or Mac. For me, Linux was always the little guy in terms of operating systems. Both in terms of number of users, and the sophistication of the operating system. When I started to use Linux, I discovered that I was definitely wrong on the sophistication part, and the numbers have been growing in leaps and bounds in recent years.

Linux Kernel vs Linux Distribution

The first thing you notice about Linux is that there isn’t a single operating system. However, all of the operating systems are based on the Linux Kernel. A Kernel is just an instruction set to allow programs to communicate with the various components of your computer. A Linux distribution uses the Linux Kernel and supplies you with a number of initial programs. Distributions can vary widely, from first-time user friendliness to advanced users only.

More About the Various Linux Distributions

The various linux distributions derive from several ideals: open source, ease of use, minimalistic, etc... There are a number of main distributions in which the majority of the other distributions are based upon and source their applications from. These include: Debian, Gentoo, Fedora, OpenSUSE, ArchLinux, Slackware, Ubuntu.

Many, many more distros (short for distributions) are based upon the main ones but offer different initial packages or even packages that are not normally available.

Where to Start When Choosing a Linux Distribution

Currently, one of the more popular packages is Ubuntu. Ubuntu is based upon Debian, but with its own software set. It is considered to be one of the most complete and ready to use distros available out of the “box”, and I would highly recommend it to users just starting out. Within it you will find the greatest compatibility with programs and games. If you are unhappy with the graphical user interface however, you could always switch it to another. The beauty with Linux is that you can change pretty much anything, including how your computer interacts with the various components.

Most distros are free, so you may want to switch between various distributions at the beginning, until you find the one that you like the most. Another good start might be Debian, which has the largest repository of applications you can find in Linux; 29,000 packages.

What Will You Choose?

Which version of Linux do you plan on trying?

See results

Personal Experience With Linux Distribution

I have personally tried:

  • Debian
  • Ubuntu
  • Linux Mint
  • ArchLinux
  • Archbang
  • Fedora
  • Mageia
  • Crunchbang

My favorite has been Crunchbang, mostly due to the minimalist interface and ease of use. If you want information on how to install new packages in either Crunchbang or Debian, you can check out my tutorial on how to Install Software in Debian Linux. Ubuntu uses much the same system to install packages, except you also have the option to use a package manager instead of the command line interface (CLI).

Live CD/USB

The beauty of many of these distros is that you can create a live CD. A live CD (either on an actual CD or on a USB) is the distribution run completely without the need of the hard drive. The implication is that you don’t need to install it to give it a try, just keep in mind that it will be slower to use.

Which Linux Distribution Should You Choose?

The best distribution for a first time user will be one of the main distributions, and you can then decide on another distro later on. Ubuntu would be the easiest move from Windows for most users, and so I would recommend starting there. Good luck and welcome to the world of Linux!

Thanks for stopping by

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      4 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      The only Linux distros I've tried are Ubuntu and its little brother, Lubuntu. Honestly, I'm still mostly a Windows person, though I'm trying to wean myself away. I have both Ubuntu and Lubuntu on surplus computers I'm using only to check them out. So far, Lubuntu seems to require the least readjustment from Windows.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)