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Top 5 Linux Distros for beginners - 2014
UPDATED - 11/30/2014 (rev.13)
There are plenty of Linux Distros out there but there's only very few that is truly for beginners. So I have picked 5 distros that suit the category. You might be curious about the factors that I considered when picking the Top 5. Well, out of the box support is very important in picking beginner distros. Other factors include: User friendly UI, easy installation and great online support. The Distros below are well-known for excelling in those areas.
1. Linux Mint 17
Linux Mint is known as the second most popular linux distribution simply because of its user friendliness It comes with loads of software carefully picked by the team, media codecs and drivers. The distro works so well out of the box you will not be spending any time trouble shooting. Mint focuses on what is best for its users and provides what the mainstream linux users demand (most of the time). Linux Mint 15 comes in 2 editions. The Cinnamon edition includes a modern Gnome 3 desktop with a familiar and traditional layout. The MATE edition comes with a Gnome 2 desktop. Compared to the cinnamon edition, the MATE edition is more stable but is outdated and quite boring. After years of development, Cinnamon has become one of the best DEs that are available for linux user who prefer a traditional desktop based on Gnome 3. Cinnamon has plenty of cool little features that are definitely worth checking out and you simply cannot go wrong with mint.
Linux mint is based on Canonical's Ubuntu.
2. Ubuntu 14.10
Ubuntu is the #1 and the most popular distro out there. Even though Linux Mint appeals more to users who prefer a traditional desktop experience, Ubuntu has a rigorous release cycle and tends to have more bleeding edge features implemented in each release. Ubuntu does not come with a load of software and codecs pre installed like Linux Mint. So new users may have trouble playing certain media formats and may require a few command line installations. But due to the excellent community support they can be sorted out within minutes.
Ubuntu comes with its own user interface called "unity". The unity desktop interface has come a long way and comes with tons of unique features that cannot be found on other desktops. But it may be not for everyone as it has a few quirks that some some users may find annoying. Good news is that it is configurable and certain features that you dislike can be disabled. Ubuntu 14.10 adds even more user friendly features to unity and is simply the best distribution for the average linux user. This latest release also adds Netflix support so you can start watching movies without relying on any workarounds.
3. Zorin OS 8
Zorin OS is optimized for users who are transitioning From windows. It looks quite similar to Windows 7 and comes with "zorin look changer" that can make your desktop look similar to older Windows versions and Mac OS X. Zorin OS also offers four premium versions (Ultimate, Business, Multimedia, Gaming) which are available upon donating. There is also a free version that does not come with as much software preinstalled. If you prefer a distro that works and functions similar to windows 7, Zoris OS provides the best out-of-the box experience. (even though other distros can be configured with a bit of effort)
4. Pinguy OS 14.04 LTS
Pinguy OS is an Ubuntu based distribution that comes with A LOT of software preinstalled. It is great for users who want to explore the extensive software that Linux has to offer. It is also very convenient because it includes almost all the software that a user may require. Pinguy OS is a fairly new distro but it is gaining popularity quickly. Pinguy OS includes two Docks by default and the overall look of the desktop leans toward OS X. Pinguy OS 14.04 includes a customized gnome-shell. Pinguy download images are quite huge since it packs a lot of software in it and the OS itself is a bit resource hungry(understandably). If you have a modern computer pinguy should run smoothly but if you have an older and limited PC, you may want to look at a lighter-weight distro.
5. Peppermint OS 5
Peppermint OS a very light distro that comes with LXDE desktop environment. LXDE is very simple to use and many will find it to be a straightforward DE. The OS boots up quite fast which makes it ideal for older computers or netbooks. Peppermint OS 5 is based on Lubuntu 14.04. It includes an elegant theme by default and includes media-codecs out of the box. If you require a feature-rich and light-weight distro, peppermint is the way to go. Peppermint also promotes the use of cloud based apps and services. However, you are free to install any application using the included mint software center.
What is your favorite beginner friendly Linux distribution?
If you don't see a distro that you believe should be a part of this list leave a comment. I would love to see more suggestions.
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