How to choose the best Linux distro for you

Distros

At the time of writing, there are three hundred and twenty three distributions being tracked on distrowatch.com. There's one called Ehad. And another is called Estrella Roja. Many include the letter 'X' in their name, and many feature hand-drawn mascots and disparate communities. Not all are Linux-based, and not all are actively developed, but the overwhelming majority are. This is the world of choice, and it's a world made possible by free and open source software.

Choice is the best thing about Linux. Without choice, we may as well use an operating system where the developers make those choices for us. As we've covered in the past, anyone can create a Linux distribution. If it is different enough, it will survive, but most disappear without a trace. There is a flip side to all this choice however, and that's finding the time to find the perfect distribution for you. You really need to try several before setting on the one you prefer, and downloading, installing and testing a Linux distribution takes a lot of time.

Looking for a netbook distro?

If you're planning to run Linux on your netbook, start by reading our group test of the best netbook-optimised distros around. You might also enjoy our review of Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix.

The choice is yours

We're going to look at the most common usage scenarios and make our own recommendations based on our experience. Each scenario gets it own section, starting with casual users such as those new to Linux and migrants from other operating systems. We move on to more advanced users before ending with Linux distributions tailored for one specific task.

We've tried each and every one of the distributions listed, and it's a testament to the breadth and the quality of distributions available that we've not had to repeat a single recommendation once. Each distribution we've listed is unique, with its own strengths and weaknesses, and represents the best our community has to offer.

What kind of user are you?

Before you embark on a distro adventure, it's worth giving some thought to the kind of Linux user you are. The answer isn't as obvious as you might think, and which distribution you do choose will have an effect on that distribution's future, and indirectly, that of Linux.

You might have a preference for open source-only distributions, for example, or you may prefer proprietary drivers and codecs to be pre-installed. If you're choosing a Linux distribution for another person, or for a group of people, that decision is going to be even more important. A typical group of office workers are unlikely to have used Linux before, and your choice is going to affect their perception of the operating system. Those first impressions count.

Software not distributions

But there's only so much mileage you can get from ploughing through distribution lists and trying live CDs. If you're choosing a distribution for family or friends, it's the choice of easily accessible software that's likely to be the governing factor, and not necessarily the distribution's design or philosophy.

This is made tricky because most people are aware of the names of commercial applications for proprietary operating systems, but not their open source equivalents, and it's your job to make sure those applications are available. Your target might be a student, for example, and it's going to be absolutely essential that the applications and resources they require are available from the distribution you choose for them.

There are distributions tailored specifically for students, but these are nothing more than a clever bundle of relevant applications, rather than an overall design that makes a student's life any easier. In these cases, a student would be better off sticking with mainstream distribution, and making sure there are enough applications available for the tasks they want to achieve.

There are distros tailored specifically for students (Scibuntu, for example), but sometimes just finding the best desktop is more important.

There are distros tailored specifically for students (Scibuntu, for example), but sometimes just finding the best desktop is more important.

If your target is disabled, usability might be your biggest concern. Rather than choosing a distribution for accessibility, it makes more sense to choose the best desktop environment and find a distribution that's most effective at bundling that desktop environment.

If you're a KDE fan, for example, it's not going to matter how great the standard Ubuntu desktop is, you're going to want a KDE-based distribution, and that doesn't necessarily mean Kubuntu. You may find that Mandriva offers a better solution, and Xfce users may want to try Linux Mint for the same reason.

Over to you

When it comes to your personal experience, you need to make a note of those applications you rely on, and what you find most effective in your typical working environment. If any of those notes resonate with our own conclusions, you've found an improvement in your perfect Linux distribution, and you should give it a go.

Finding which distributions work and which don't is like mapping a sand dune. You don't see the movement, but this time next year your favourite distro might not be here. For that reason, it's always worth finding a couple of systems you like, and if the worst happens you can always jump ship.

Your choice: 64-bits or 32?

The number of bits your CPU has affects your system's performance and its capabilities. For many years we've been stuck with 32-bit CPUs and 32-bit distributions, but most recent processors from Intel and AMD have been capable of 64-bit operation for a while. AMD's 64-bit chip was released in April 2003, for example, and all of Intel's popular Core 2 Duo line of processors are capable of running in 64-bit mode.

The problem is that most of us have carried on running 32-bit distributions on those processors. To take advantage of 64-bit operation, you need a 64-bit specific version of your distribution. Most provide one, but until now there hasn't been a good enough reason to switch. Proprietary software, such as Adobe's Flash, can't simply be recompiled for 64 processors because they're closed source. Instead they run in some hideous compatibility mode, which isn't normally all that compatible.

Fortunately, things have moved on. Adobe released a native 64-bit version of Flash with version 10, and most other software is following suit. The result is that if your distro offers a 64-bit version, and you have the hardware to run it, we think it's time to switch.

Click here to read our benchmarks comparing 32-bit and 64-bit Ubuntu 9.04 - the difference can be quite large depending on what kind of work you do.

In the past, the biggest drawback to 64-bit Linux was the lack of a native Adobe Flash plugin.

In the past, the biggest drawback to 64-bit Linux was the lack of a native Adobe Flash plugin.

Casual users

Over the last few years, the common perception that Linux is an operating system for geeks and computing graduates has dimmed somewhat.Users trying Linux for the first time, or switching from more restrictive and costly operating system, are likely to provide a massive growth area for the Linux user base over the next few years, and many distributions that could be considered suitable.

New users need to have access to all the same applications they're used to, and that includes proprietary tools such as Adobe Flash and contentious codecs such as MP3. Without these simple concessions, users are likely to be less productive and less likely to stay. It also helps if some of the more esoteric features of the Linux desktop, such as virtual desktops, the command line and package management tools are kept under the radar to start with.

Features like these often cause confusion to new users who are mainly looking for an experience that's similar and compatible with the one they're used to.

» For newbies: Ubuntu

Despite some recent criticisms, there's no doubt that Ubuntu is an excellent Linux distribution. It also helps that Ubuntu has become widely recognised in the popular media, sometimes being used synonymously with the term Linux. There's a good reason why it has garnered all this attention. It sets out to pull Linux into a shape that ordinary computer users can recognise, and doesn't require any assumed knowledge.

Thanks to an array of official derivatives Ubuntu has become one of the most widely used distros available, but its real strength, and the place where Ubuntu has had the most impact, is in being the most user-friendly Linux desktop available. It takes an uncompromising approach to usability, even if that means risking the wrath of the open source community by including proprietary drivers.

And hardware compatibility in Ubuntu is exceptional. You can install Ubuntu on to most machines without any difficulty, and there's a good chance your monitor will be optimally configured and your wireless access point will be discovered. This is where many previous new users may have stumbled, and Ubuntu has raised the bar when it comes to hardware compatibility.

There's very little about Ubuntu's Gnome desktop for the new user to be confused by.

There's very little about Ubuntu's Gnome desktop for the new user to be confused by.

Ubuntu is also consistent. Each year, there's both a vernal and an autumnal release, bound to a single CD that boots into a workable desktop environment, and each release is supported for either eighteen months or three/five years, depending on whether it qualifies as a 'long term support (LTS)' version and whether it's the desktop or server version.

If you're running a server version of an LTS release, you can expect a total of five years of security updates. Keeping your system up to date with these updates is easy, and ensures your system is always protected from the latest security exploits and bugs.

In theory, your installation can also be updated from one release to the next, but we've had only limited success with this procedure. The update will work if you've kept to the official packages and reconfigured very little of your desktop. But if you opt to install packages from the internet, or from the unsupported Universe and Multiverse package repositories, it's usually easier to go for a new installation rather than an upgrade.

After you get the installation out of the way, it's the choice of the default applications that counts. The standards are included - OpenOffice.org and Firefox - and the file management aspects of the default Gnome desktop are very much toned down when compared with Ubuntu's forerunners. Ubuntu's configuration panels keep options to a minimum, and the developers spend a great deal of time getting features such as Gnome's Network Manager running on a standard installation.

The latest release, 9.04, keeps Ubuntu ahead of the curve, adding super-fast booting and usual selection of package upgrades, including OOo 3.0. As has been proven time and time again, the range, diversity and stability of Ubuntu's packages are outstanding. Put all of this together and Ubuntu becomes the perfect Linux distribution for converting people who would normally pass on the idea of Linux, which is why it's our newbie distro of choice.

Also consider: Mepis.

Ubuntu: Don't miss...

Easy install

Easy install: Almost anyone can install Ubuntu on their machine and get a up and running with Linux.

Community

Community: If you run into problems, there's a good chance that a fellow user has already solved them.

» For OS migrants: Linux Mint

There are many computer users that are moving to Linux because they are becoming dissatisfied with the cost and the lack of freedom in proprietary operating systems. Over the last few years, thanks to the graphical frippery introduced into both Apple's OS 10.5 and Windows Vista, computer desktops have gone through a visual makeover.

And it's for this reason that eye candy and a fine attention to detail have governed our choice of migrant Linux distribution, and the winner is Linux Mint. Mint is another distribution built on the strong foundations of Ubuntu. It takes the good points, such as the excellent hardware compatibility and easy installation, and performs a facelift on the weakest points, which is the muddy ambience of the Ubuntu desktop.

Usability has been enhanced by removing the top menu bar and replacing the themes and palette of the original distribution with a tub of choco-mint ice cream. But what makes Mint most effective for a recent convert to Linux is its excellent support for codecs. Most music and video will play without any further requirements, and Adobe Flash and Sun's Java are installed by default.

Mint has quite a light-hearted approach to Linux, which is welcome and fun.

Mint has quite a light-hearted approach to Linux, which is welcome and fun.

Another neat addition is the Mint-only package installer, which sits alongside Ubuntu's Synaptic. The Mint installer is better, though, as it embeds screenshot, ratings and and user reviews directly into the package list, turning package installation into an adventure. If you have no other option than to run the original Windows application, the Windows emulation layer, Wine, can be installed with simple wave of the installer's wand.

All this creates a perfect 'out-of-the-box' experience. The launch menu has been configured so that the variety of tools and applications on offer, and the way they're organised into the menu, should feel very familiar. The default desktop doesn't include any virtual screens, which can confuse the newcomer, and it's this refined design and attention to detail that makes Mint the perfect candidate for all Linux converts.

Also consider: PCLinuxOS.

» Family friendly: Qimo

When you want to run Linux on the main family computer, there are two important points to consider. The first is that your chosen distribution needs to be easy to use. Most people want to browse the web, chat on instant messenger, listen to some music and type a few simple documents.

If Linux gets in the way of performing those simple tasks, your family are going to ask for XP back. The second point is that your family's access to the internet needs to be secure, and you need to have some control over what can and can't be accessed from the computer.

The first point can be addressed by using a distribution specifically designed for younger people, and the best that we've recently come across is called 'Qimo'. It's a distribution with a focus on young children, with a friendly oversized desktop and colourful engaging artwork. A small toolbar of educational games sits at the bottom of the screen, and children can use these to quickly launch a selection of open source games and educational resources.

The idea behind Qimo is that a friendly desktop with a good selection of software will help your children learn.

The idea behind Qimo is that a friendly desktop with a good selection of software will help your children learn.

Addressing the second point is a little harder. That's because content filtering is a tricky and technical subject, and not at all in-line with an open, family friendly distribution. You could take any distribution, for example, and use a carefully configured OpenDNS or DansGuardian server to filter contents to the sites that you don't want your family to have access to.

But there is a distribution that includes this functionality while at the same time remaining open enough for anyone to use, and that's Ubuntu Christian Edition. Alongside the Bible study aids is a pre-configuration of DansGuardian that will block most offending sites out of the box. It features a graphical interface with parental controls that changes the local proxy and Firefox configurations as well as keeping a log of what's been read and when. This is exactly what you need for younger members of your family, and thanks to the Christian Edition being built on Ubuntu, you can easily install any other packages you may require.

Also consider: Ubuntu Christian Edition.

Everyday desktops

People get used to working in a certain way and Linux users are often happy to fight tooth-and-nail for the advantages they've found in their own working environments. This is why there's so much choice in desktop Linux distributions, and why even the smallest distributions enjoy significant community support.

Before you choose the perfect distribution, you need to make a list of what you require from that distribution. Stability might be top of your list, for example. Or you may want to forgo that stability for a distro that bundles cutting-edge features and fresh packages.

The breadth of available packages is also important, as is the update schedule for the distribution, and how often you're going to have to install the newest version. The 6 months release cycle of Ubuntu and Fedora might be too short, for instance, but the 18 months of Debian might be too long.

» Everyday Linux: Fedora

There are some great aspects to Debian - its packages are very stable, the desktop is fine-tuned and familiar, and the breadth of software available in its repositories is second to none. But there are certain aspect to Debian that we feel Fedora does better.

Firstly, Fedora just looks better, despite being built around the same Gnome desktop as Debian. The astronomical theme that accompanies you while you launch the operating system is carried on to the blue desktop, and there's a distinct feeling that a lot of love has gone into Fedora's default theme. Secondly, Fedora manages to include OpenOffice.org 3, while Debian is still a revision behind, and Fedora's version of Firefox keeps the original branding, rather than the confusing rebranding of all things Mozilla insisted on by the Debian developers.

Both desktops take a hard line against including non-free open source software, and we greatly admire this stance. Both desktops prove that a purely open source desktop is just as functional as a hybrid desktop, even if you do have to make certain compromises. We feel that Debian's compromise of using the vaguely Adobe Flash-compatible Gnash, though admirable, confuses things slightly.

It's difficult to tell when you go to YouTube, for instance, that the poor performance isn't a network problem rather than a Gnash problem. Fedora doesn't even try, but if you do want to install Adobe's Flash, you only need to download the RPM and click on this file once. A browser restart later, and you're ready for YouTube.

You'll find packages split by category, and installation is easy, with the industry-standard RPM format handles dependencies without difficulty. As you would imagine from a distribution that's so closely related to Red Hat, updates and patches are taken very seriously. A feature we particularly like is that the update system will inform you about the nature of each update, whether it's a bugfix, a security update or a feature enhancement. The makes you more inclined to allow the updates to proceed, as well as keeping you on top of what is changing in your system.

As with Red Hat Enterprise and Centos 5.2, Fedora includes some bulletproof security packages. It has a firewall enabled by default, and includes a sensible set of rules that you can enable or disable using a firewall configuration window. If you're particularly worried about security, SELinux can be enabled to lock down any wayward applications.

Package management and security updates for Fedora set a very high standard.

Package management and security updates for Fedora set a very high standard.

For every day desktop use, Fedora can't be beaten. The choice of software is excellent, and we can't think of anything that's missing. Fedora's stance on freedom is a little painful if you need proprietary drivers or MP3 support, but these issues can be worked around. Both the Gnome and KDE desktops look and feel brilliant, and the performance of our Fedora installation is as good as any other tuned Linux distribution.

It's also a distribution that will have users of other operating systems looking over your shoulder. Fedora might not be the easiest distribution to use, or the one with the largest package repository, but we feel it represents the very best that open source software has to offer.

Also consider: Debian.

Fedora: Don't miss

Updates

Updates: Patches and fixes are released quickly and are categorised so you know where you stand.

Security

Security: Thanks to the firewall and SELinux, Fedora is one of the toughest distributions to crack.

» Business: OpenSUSE

If you're responsible for choosing a Linux distribution to use in an office environment, there are likely to be a few absolute requirements. The first is the inclusion of an office suite and a standard personal information manager, while the second is going to be good security, with interoperability and professional support also high on the wish list.

OpenSUSE offers all four of these. It's a distribution that's very close to the development of OpenOffice.org, and it scales extremely well. If you need professional support and training, you can get it from Novell as well as a number of third-party providers.

At the heart of OpenSUSE 11.1 is the word processor, and Novell does an excellent job of integrating OpenOffice.org into whichever desktop you choose (Gnome and KDE are available). Themes and icons look fantastic, and OOo loads quickly and is configured for compatibility with Microsoft Office documents.

A to-do tasks manager is bundled alongside the office suite, and this can be synchronised with Evolution, the standard email application. Pervasive desktop searching is enabled as standard, and Wine is a click away for running any remaining Windows applications you may need to run from the Linux desktop.

OpenSUSE even has support for various docking stations, and fingerprint recognition works with certain laptops.

OpenSUSE even has support for various docking stations, and fingerprint recognition works with certain laptops.

As with most modern Linux desktops, anyone who's used a computer in the last 10 years should feel right at home. OpenSUSE does particularly well by placing the launch menu in the bottom-left of the screen, and not resorting to the top-bar panel of other Gnome desktops. The menu itself is similar to that of Windows Vista, showing recent documents and network places.

As with Fedora, it's thanks to a related enterprise version of the distribution (SLES) that there are plenty of vendors willing to supply professional applications to the SUSE desktop. This means you shouldn't have any problems purchasing commercial Exchange server connectivity, for instance, and an upgrade to SLES is available if you need it. Yast, OpenSUSE's configuration tool, is a sprawling web of windows, but it does enable the beleaguered system administrator to lock down the system for normal users as well as accomplish tasks like remote administration and security updates.

Also consider: gOS.

» Light and fast: Puppy Linux

After you've used the diminutive Puppy Linux OS, you quickly realise that all that graphical frippery that accompanies most Linux distributions doesn't make you any more productive. They make things slightly easier, and slightly prettier, but the cut-down approach taken by Puppy can be just as functional. It's a tiny distribution, fitting into a tiny 100MB ISO image. This means it can be installed on any cheap old USB disk and used on an old computer.

But unlike many other lightweight distributions, the Puppy desktop covers almost every task you'll ever need. Photo editing, document writing, listening to music and watching videos can all be accomplished using a low-fat application listed in the main menu, or from the icon on the desktop.

These applications may not be quite as user-friendly, or quite as capable, but they can accomplish 90% of the tasks most people need. And they'll do it quickly. There's even wireless networking support, so you can quickly shoe-horn a laptop into providing a quick Linux fix, or maybe squeeze Puppy alongside a standard install on a netbook computer to give yourself a breath of fresh air once in a while.

Puppy includes AbiWord, Gnumeric, SeaMonkey, Inklite, MTPaint and GXine, as well as heaps more.

Puppy includes AbiWord, Gnumeric, SeaMonkey, Inklite, MTPaint and GXine, as well as heaps more.

There are dozens of apps available from the the desktop quick links and the launch menu, and there's even space for a few games. And because the installation is so small, and the desktop has such modest memory requirements, everything loads almost immediately and is a joy to use. It certainly makes you wonder what all those processor cycles are doing in KDE and Gnome.

While you might enjoy the refinement and eye candy in those desktops, there's very little you can't do with Puppy Linux. This is primarily thanks to its use of JWM - Joe's Window Manager, which is the same window manager used by other lightweight distributions such as Damn Small Linux. Even if you don't make Puppy your main distribution, it's the perfect distro for a USB stick install, or to keep handy on an emergency boot disc.

Also consider: Damn Small Linux.

Power users

You can spot a power user by the amount of system configurations they make. It's the difference between accepting a default, pre-built distribution, adding packages and re-installing with a new release, and building your own working environment that takes you through successive distribution upgrades. Power users know what they need, and they know how to get it.

System administrators, for example, will need a specific suite of tools to help them do their job, and they'll need those tools without any of the distractions that normally accompany a modern Linux distribution. Programmers and coders will need a fast and streamlined system that provides all the development libraries they need, and keeps them up to date. And if you're going to use Linux as a server, stability and security are the two main factors determining what you should use.

» Sysadmin: Arch Linux

In the 21st century, there can't be many Linux distributions left that drop the user into a command line prompt rather than a Gnome or KDE graphical login screen. But this is the approach taken by Arch Linux, a distribution that's unashamedly built for reconfigurability and gaining geek credentials. It's a distro for experienced Linux users who aren't afraid of getting their hands dirty.

Yep, there really is nothing to see. The whole point of Arch is that you only add what you need, and many sysadmins only need the command line.

Yep, there really is nothing to see. The whole point of Arch is that you only add what you need, and many sysadmins only need the command line.

That's because you're not going to get a workable configuration out of Arch without editing configuration files and adding the packages you need by hand. This is a good thing, especially for system administrators, as it means that Arch features none of the distractions you'd find on a standard distribution. But that doesn't mean you're stuck with the command line either. Thanks to an exceptional package repository, you can quickly build exactly the system you need - even if that means installing KDE 4.2.

Arch doesn't make any assumptions about what packages you might want to install. Logging into live CD-based system, you're invited to run the install script from a specific directory, and installing Arch is like stepping back into 1999. It feels a little like playing an interactive adventure game, and you need to be proficient at both Linux and the command line to make sense of most options.

The base install is a frugal 160MB file that becomes a 390MB installation after you've been through the download and configuration process. An optional FTP-based installer is tiny, and offers all the base packages through an FTP server. This is a great option if you need to install Arch on several machines at once, but either way, after installation you're still going to need to construct your own working environment.

That includes manually partitioning your drive and assigning those partitions to points on your filesystem, configuring the network interface and selecting which standard packages to install, as well as editing the Grub boot menu and making sure it's placed on your disk's MBR.

The default installation includes no X Window System package, so while the command-line is supremely capable, most users will want to install a graphical environment of some sort. This brings us to the best thing about Arch, and the reason why it's so suitable as an administrators - a tool called Pacman. Rather than being an insanely addictive gobbling game, Pacman is Arch's package manager, and was developed by the the creator of Arch Linux.

Pacman can resolve dependencies automatically, and install packages with a single command. You can install just about anything using just a few key strokes. X is a single line away, as are both Gnome and KDE, and any number of other window managers, and another command will keep all packages synchronised with those on the server, updating those that are necessary.

From the solid foundation of Arch's base installation, you can build an administrator's toolkit that will only include the applications and the tools for your working environment. This will save system resources on the machine, and your mental resources when you need to get a job done quickly. Arch includes all the packages you'll ever need, especially when it comes to useful command line tools you'll find more effective at system administration.

Also consider: Slackware.

Arch Linux: Don't miss

DIY distro

DIY distro: The frugal installer will create a very basic working installation - everything else is up to you.

Pacman

Pacman: Arch's package manager makes light work of creating the system and environment you need.

» Coder: Mandriva

Finding a distro to fit your programming requirements is one of the toughest challenges for a Linux user. That's because there are so many ways to code. Developing websites using PHP and MySQL might be a task suited to a server-orientated distribution, for example.

If you prefer scripting languages like Perl or Python you're better off using your standard desktop, as these languages are now so common that any one distribution is as good as another, while professional developers using an IDE like JBuilder will find that Red Hat Enterprise Linux is often the only distribution supported by the vendor.

If you favour development for one desktop over another, it obviously makes sense to choose a distribution that caters specifically for that desktop. Pre-release versions of Ubuntu and Kubuntu are typically excellent at adding the latest untested releases into their working branches, and you can always upgrade from one version to the next.

This might be the best way to get hold of what could soon be considered the best integrated development environment on a Linux platform: the just-released Qt Creator application (you can read our Qt Creator review here), which is part of the new LGPL Qt 4.5. It can be downloaded and installed on a Linux desktop without too much difficulty, but there's no doubt that new distributions will start to include Qt Creator packages by default.

Mandriva is one of the few distributions that defaults to a KDE desktop, which means it's perfect for Qt development.

Mandriva is one of the few distributions that defaults to a KDE desktop, which means it's perfect for Qt development.

In the past, distributions like Gentoo have been a good choice for software developers. As part of the installation, the user builds everything from the source code, and as a result, the header files and development libraries required for programming are already installed on the system. But Gentoo has had a couple of turbulent years, and this means that now isn't the ideal time to embark on an adventure with Gentoo.

Instead, you need to find a distribution that makes getting hold of those development libraries as easy as possible. Which is why we've gone for Mandriva. Not only does it include a working development environment from the first boot, the development libraries themselves are easy to find and install through the package manager. Gnome, KDE and Xfce developers are well catered for, and the distribution includes Java.

Also consider: Gentoo.

» Server: CentOS

Linux is one of the best choices of operating system when it comes to running a server, and it's use in this field is a runaway success. But not all Linuxes are built equally. Applications and packages running on desktop-based distributions don't have the same level of scrutiny you find with a distribution built for a server room, which in many cases won't even include a desktop environment in an effort to reduce potential problems.

For this reason, large-scale, commercially driven distributions sold with comprehensive support packages - such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) - are the ideal solution for businesses that can afford the support packages and are large enough to benefit from them. But thanks to the nature of open source, those paid-for distributions need to release the source code to their binary packages.

Despite being ideally suited to running a server, CentOS bundles a GUI to handle most administrative tasks.

Despite being ideally suited to running a server, CentOS bundles a GUI to handle most administrative tasks.

And that means anyone can pick up the source code and build themselves an enterprise-ready distribution. That's exactly what the CentOS project does. It takes the source code from each RHEL release, and builds this into a freely redistributable Linux distribution that aims to be 100% binary compatible with the RHEL release.

That means you can install and use commercial packages designed for RHEL, but it also means you get the same high level of security and integrity that Red Hat's direct customers enjoy. This makes CentOS the perfect choice of operating system for running a server on a restrictive budget.

Like RHEL, CentOS is based on a Gnome desktop, and includes access to many of the same applications, servers and utilities you can find with any standard distribution. If you've used a recent Fedora release, you'll feel right at home. Security features include an excellent firewall and SELinux, a policy enforcement mechanism that prevents wayward applications from ever causing security problems, even if they do happen to be compromised or broken. There are also plenty of updates, and there's a large community who are willing to help. If you ever do need professional-level support, the transition from CentOS to RHEL is seamless.

Also consider: Ubuntu Server Edition.

Lifestyle

When a distribution needs to be very specific, it will only attract a specific group of users with a specific requirement. If that requirement is too narrow, it's likely that the distribution won't be of much use to other people without the same interest.

Music production is a good example. Audio processing on the Linux platform requires several kernel modifications that can compromise its usefulness as a general desktop. These modifications are required to keep the system responsive and audio latency low, but they can add to the CPU overhead of your system, and in some cases, make it unstable. They benefit from specifically tailored Linux distributions, as can gamers or anybody with specific needs. The way distributions can be remixed and re-spun like this means that whatever trends emerge, Linux will be able to adapt and quickly take advantage.

» Music Production: 64 Studio

Open source software development has created some of the best music production software available. The only real difference between this software and the commercial packages available for OS X and Windows is that open source music software can be harder to install and use. The main problem is something called audio latency. This is the delay between a sound entering your computer (or being generated in software), and the time it takes for the sound to appear in your headphones or speakers.

Getting this latency as low as possible is the key to a finely tuned recording system, and it's what most music-based Linux distributions spend most of the time getting right. And the distribution that gets this more right than the competition is 64 Studio.

64 Studio provides a complete audio production environment, as well as all the kernel and system tweaks to optimise your hardware. It has been designed to create a professional setup that's capable of recording, mixing and mastering many simultaneous tracks of audio.

Installation is straightforward, but you don't get any help after you first see the mostly blank Gnome desktop. Fortunately, 64 Studio has already configured the trickiest part of the system, and that's the Jack audio layer that's already running in the background. Jack is the reason why Linux audio is so powerful, but it's also half the reason why it appears so complicated.

Jack sits between your audio driver and any Jack-compatible music applications. It handles audio routing and could be considered analogous with a large, infinitely expandable mixing console. Jack can be a complete pain to get running, but if you click on the launch menu and select 'Jack Control' from the Sound & Video menu, the small window that appears will include the word 'Active' in its pretend LCD status panel. That means that Jack is working, and you can look at the current connections by clicking on the 'Connect' button.

The Sound & Video menu is crammed full synths, an oscilloscope, guitar and studio effects, an audio sampler, a turntable emulator and several methods for monitoring audio. But the two most important entries are Rosegarden and Ardour. These are the open source equivalents of Cubase and Pro Tools in the commercial world, and they're both exceptional applications for composing and recording music.

Ardour is a flagship application for audio production, and the project benefits from commercial sponsorship.

Ardour is a flagship application for audio production, and the project benefits from commercial sponsorship.

Rosegarden is great for working with MIDI and composition with real and virtual synthesizers, while Ardour lacks the MIDI support but allows for multi-track recording, mixing and mastering, making it a better choice for recording a band or a podcast, for example. When you've created your masterpiece, maximise its sound and volume using the Jamin application, trim the final audio files using the Audacity wave editor, and drop the resulting WAV files it creates into the Gnome CD Master application from the Sound & Video menu.

All of these applications are part of the default 64 Studio desktop, and you can see that this distribution covers everything from the recording, and sound generation part of a project, through the editing and mastering to the final CD burning. We can't think of any other system that provides anywhere near the same amount of functionality for the zero cost.

Also consider: Ubuntu Studio.

64 Studio: Don't miss...

Jack is running!

Jack is running! This can be a nightmare, but 64 Studio is optimised for Jack usage, and runs it automatically at boot time.

Choice

Choice: Almost every audio-related application we can think of is installed and ready to run.

» Gamers: Live.linux-gamers

If you live for gaming, Linux isn't the best choice of platform. Most of the major releases don't offer Linux versions, and there's little third-party hardware support for controllers. But most of us love playing games, and switching to Linux doesn't mean you have to abandon this wonderful time waster. From first-rate first-person shooters to brain games and real-time strategy, there's an open source game for every mindset.

Many of these games are free, but there are also a few independent games developers releasing some excellent paid-for titles. See our World of Goo review and look some titles from Introversion for some idea of what's out there.

Most distributions will include a few games in a standard installation, and most will let you install any number of other games using the package manager. But most games are quite large, and you'll find your hard drive quickly filling up. We've found that the best solution is to boot into a live distribution specifically tailored for games, and the best we've come across is called Live.linux-gamers.net. It contains a DVD's worth of data and includes almost anything worth playing, along with the proprietary graphics cards drivers to ensure maximum performance from your hardware.

Relive the golden age of gaming thanks to a friendly Linux distribution that focuses on games.

Relive the golden age of gaming thanks to a friendly Linux distribution that focuses on games.

Our favourite titles include Termulous and Nexuiz, which are FPSes built in the style of Quake III Arena. Astro-Menace is our favourite shooter, and Neverball seems to improve on the timeless gameplay from Marble Madness. Strategists will enjoy Glest and Bos Wars, and there really is something for everyone. If you really must have the latest games releases on your Linux desktop, then there is another option - or rather two.

There are two companies that sell a commercial version of Wine, the Windows compatibility layer, specifically tweaked for running the latest Windows games. These two applications are called CrossOver Games and Cedega, and both claim to run titles such as Spore, World of Warcraft and many Steam titles. Packages are available for most popular distributions, and in our experience they work quite well.

Even without those commercial alternatives, you may find that a vanilla Wine installation works well for older games, as its compatibility has been going from strength to strength thanks to the company behind CrossOver farming its fixes back into the main development tree.

Also consider: Ultimate Edition.

» Multimedia: Mythbuntu

We've written about MythTV before, such as our guide to MythTV for people who want to get started with Mythbuntu. It can play your music and movies, as well as letting you browse your photos and the internet. It can be a pain to install, and it requires complete control of a machine. But Mythbuntu, a heavily customised version of Ubuntu, goes a long way to making this as easy as possible. It features its own installation routine, and a customised configuration tool that steps you through the difficult MythTV configuration.

The end result is that you have a working system within an hour or so, rather than the weekend of work it would have taken before Mythbuntu. The installation includes everything you need to get started, and bundles the most common MythTV plugins for media playback. You can even use the installation disc as a live CD in a spare machine, turning it into a MythTV client on the network for ad-hoc TV and movie watching. Even without a MythTV system on the network, you can still use the disc for basic multimedia playback, as it operates as a standard Ubuntu disc with a few additional packages.

Turn your television into a cutting-edge media centre with Mythbuntu.

Turn your television into a cutting-edge media centre with Mythbuntu.

An alternative to Mythbuntu is LinuxMCE, which attempts to provide for Linux what the Multimedia edition of Windows has done for Microsoft - a standard and visible platform for connecting to a television and music system. LinuxMCE has the advantage of not being built on MythTV, immediately halving its complexity.

Using custom-built and standalone open source packages, LinuxMCE looks much better on the average television. The GUI is accelerated through OpenGL, and there are transitions between each playback mode. It all looks much better than Mythbuntu. But the reason why we can't fully recommend this distribution is that updates have been quiet, and while a new beta was released at the end of last year, it's unclear when a new version might appear.

Until then, we think it's easier to stick with Mythbuntu if you're after a multimedia distribution for your home entertainment system. But if you want a slick user interface without the hassle of configuring MythTV, LinuxMCE is worth a look.

Also consider: LinuxMCE.

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Your comments

Linux Toys

The reason most distros or flavors as they used to be called - are toys is that -- Have you ever noticed that every 3, 6 or 12 months you have to completely reload your flavor for the really bleeding edge stuff the hackers want you to try? Upgrades like Microsoft does would be nice to have from all the distros - but, I don't think that's going to happen with over 323 variously carved Linux distros being worked on and marketed in today's market. Like Steve Balmer has said many times - Linux is but a toy to experiment with and play with but, when you need serious work to be done - well, that's when Microsoft of Apple comes in. Maybe in 2010 or 2012 there will be a Linux distro that will finally fit the bill of being able to "Just Work" out of the box and have all that is needed and "NOT BROKEN" GNOME or KDE GUI's or their updates. So far - OpenSuSE 10.3 is the ONLY flavor that "Just Works" right out of the box...and that's still limited to "Not having all kinds of video and sound codecs because of patents." You can buy them from Fluendo - so after you buy them - OpenSuSE 10.3 is the best of the best on the market...and if you want OpenOffice 3.0x you can offload 2.0x and load 3.0x yourself. As a developer environment - it's also the best and with the updates - you can always have the latest that you need for Mono, C++ or QT3/QT4. Of course emacs are emacs and bash is bash - so those never change. Hugin, Ink, Dia, Etherape, Wireshark and a few other very useful programs are kept up to date so basically - you get a really full experience with OpenSuSE 10.3 and one that you will appreciate what Linux was supposed to be about. Then again - Linux was never intended to be a Game Platform or this 3D-Cube stuff. Linux was intended to be Server and Desktop for the industry or corporate world and that is what is has become. All these variations of Linux is just a plus plus and good luck with all that you try. If you need a OS platform for your business and/or office environment - combinations of Microsoft Servers 2000/2003/2008 and XP Desktops along with Novell/SuSE Enterprise Servers and OpenSuSE 10.3 is the working blend that is tried and proven. All others -- still are projects in the works. Don't kid yourselves into thinking anything different. Even Ubuntu is still just toy in the works trying to prove it belongs in the market...but, its updates are still breaking and GUI still looks ugly. I like being happy at work - I am not going to put that hunk of ugly brown crap on my screen. LOL - have lots of fun with your toy distros...use them at work and lose lots of money...

Use them at work...

and out of 6.6 billion people on the planet - 30 people are going to swear how they use Linux at work to "Make" money so I am happy for them. When 10 million Microsoft employees write and say how using Microsoft platform programs make them money at work - I rest my case. If KDE and GNOME are such advanced GUI's -- then why aren't they overtaking Microsoft? I'll tell you why - because they aren't as good. They will never be better because they are not tied to the kernel and to the CPU which means they have to sit outside their memory space before being allowed to be a synergistic part of the kernel in some respect is good - but, in others - not so good...it takes us back to the times of Windows 3.1 and therefore not as good. So - for all those who are successful at using Linux at work - good for you. Now fix Linux and all the things that are broken with the GUI's as well as the hacker bad attitudes of not helping the persons using or "buying" whatever Linux flavor - count the number of Windows users in the world and then come back and brag when there are as many Linux users.

Mandriva Control Center

Mandriva Control Center (MCC) is the best there is. Everything is at your fingertip. From authentication to LDAP or Windows domain to start and stop services. ALL Hardware configure a breeze.

Like the other poster said..."Mandriva Rocks!!!"

This is great!

Thank you for a wonderful article!

I keep coming back to

I keep coming back to Debian, although ArchLinux is on a constant second place :-)

Why would you infer that using KDE would be needed to develop Qt applications?

cheers!

CAPTCHA: bestiary :-)

Useful Article.

Thanks for the wonderful read. This is bookmarked on my browser. Been using Ubuntu as a second OS, and it runs great on my netbook.

nice article

I'm currently using Wolvix which that Im very pleased with. Its a slackware/slax based live distro that easily can be installed unto the computer. I find it more stable and more "snappy" than any other distro ive tried so far. It has all of the multimedia codecs installed, and I have not found any flaws on it yet. I use my computer mainly for surfing, multimedia use, writing and downloading movies etc.. and wolvix works like a charm. It used xfce which is fast.

OpenSolaris is also nice, but I find it hard to install new software on it.

CrunchBang is nice, lightweight and nice to work with. Very customizable and it is based on ubuntu 9.04, so it has fast booting time.

Xubuntu is also O.K.

No way there is only one Distro

Look around and all you see are distro's bulding on a different distro...look at ubuntu nice how the put linux in the media...but a little Linux fan knows that he must take Debian...en make his own distro on his own machine..

What i mean....take Debian...the best there is out there...take some time to install all the thinks you like..and you build the best distro youreself

So for me it is Dabian all the way

To the 10 million + 1

(see: a few comments above or below the ----)

Poor dick. You don't even make the difference between a configurable tool (linux) and a bloated marketing cow milk product for dicks. No wonder, you have chosen the right camp.

Enjoy the company of your 10 million dickhead brothers of yours.

Left double-click wanker!

-------------------------
Use them at work...

@Anonymous Penguin (not verified) - June 11, 2009 @ 9:17pm

and out of 6.6 billion people on the planet - 30 people are going to swear how they use Linux at work to "Make" money so I am happy for them. When 10 million Microsoft employees write and say how using Microsoft platform programs make them money at work - I rest my case. If KDE and GNOME are such advanced GUI's -- then why aren't they overtaking Microsoft?

Mandriva for windows converts

I have installed Mandriva for windows converts. They almost always prefer KDE over GNOME since it looks closer to Windows. The Mandriva control center is the best and is great for windows users looking for the control panel.

Mandriva always works supporting all the recent hardware out there. If its a laptop user I would highly recommend it since it has ndiswrapper out of the box unlike Ubuntu.

Suggest a distro

Hi,

You guide is really good one for some one new to linux. But I couldnt find what I need. I need a linux which should be able to run Adobe AIR and should be small in size. I dont need anything else, just Adobe AIR. Please help me. Thanks in advance.

Thank you

This is a great article.

It really helped me make the right choice.

Thank you so much!

What a wonderfully well thought out, planned, and written article! Thank you so much! Your article made me feel a lot more comfortable about my impending shift from stupid XP to Linux!

So far Puppy is champion to me in old pc.

I have tried a few, puppy is the one that is easier to use if you have pent 3 computer. However, I am still looking for some other altenatives.

The major things I need is speed, printing, networking windows files, wireless adaptor.

Puppy - easy, but not great about networking or mapping drive, pnetneighboor is good though

Xubuntu - working good also, but I had problem with the sound card drive with my old compaq, I had to put a pci card to make sound works, however, for my 400 mhz pent 3 pc, it is a little bit slow (using wireless)

Slax - live cd, don't like this one, it claims it can change configuration, my wireless does not work, I can't change gateway info, it just won't save

VectorLinux - not so great about mapping or seeing network files. I just couldn't find one program to do.

PclinuxOs - good, but it needs 5 gig diskspace. some of my old pcs may not work

DSL - bad in printer configuration.

So far, puppy is winner, but i am still searching for alternative

ANyone know of Xandros

Hi Folks

Little late to the comments. I do have a question and hope someone may be able to assist. What is the known position on Xandros as a Linux implementation compared to those mentioned apbove? Any ideas / feedback appreciated

Newbee has problems with installing programmes on Linus OS

Being a newbee to linux I find that I have the most trouble installing software. Is there a standard operating proceedure for this. I am sorry that this my be too basic or simple for this group but I said I was a newbee and if I can't get linux to work for me than there is no hope.

I find the problems is that there are too many flavors.

hard to please everyone..

very nice article, well put together. Nowadayz.. it don't matter what distro i use, because the beauty of linux is that you can pretty much customize the whole thing, if you have the time and patience. So all this bullshit chatter about this distro is better than this and yadda dadda da ... im jus glad we gots linux no matter wat distro :-) .. death to micro$hit!!!

Hmm

Backtrack 4 = love

you gotta be kidding me..

well yeah the article was ok, but r u kidding? you put all of this crap in the article and you didnt include slackware?

THE MOTHER OF ALL GODS?

same on you...

Slackware,Gentoo,CentOS,Ubuntu/Debian,SuSe

I would still choose Slackware for majority of my custom built servers, and Gentoo as an alternative. I might use CentOS/RHEL for some of my web servers. And would choose either Ubuntu or SuSe for a workstation. I've never come across needing any other distributions based on what I need done. However, I have to admit that I'm so spoiled after getting used to the conveniences of apt-get.

Vista/Windows7 vs Ubuntu Compiz

After fine tuning Compiz and the Widgets on Ubuntu, Vista and Windows 7 cannot impress me much despite the facts of their fancy GUIs. But Windows 7 does improve a lot comparing to previous microsoft generations. But still lacking the major taste of open-source in it ;-)

windows is the best (ha ha ha ha ha)

All these comments on the different distro's is like comparing all the different DOS machines of the 80's by the applications each one had on their machine, what really matters is that LINUX just rocks.
My laptop broke and I bought a new one, the win xp hard disk took over an hour of mouse clicking before the internet/printer etc worked.
The debian 'etch' hardrive just booted as normal, I was so gobsmacked I am now migrating all my tools and files over to linux and will never again use windows and see the long string of putrid lists of petty excuses as to why windows has yet again screwed up hours of my hard work....

god bless Linus Torvalds and all of his deciples !!!!

people only use windows because they don't know any better. It does everything for you, takes your control away and becomes a virtual parent which is a role play that most ludites easily fall into, as our children become accustomed to the digital era more people will migrate to linux as they understand the technology behind it.

The whole purpose of a computer is that it performs a deterministic process (you can predict what happens next because of what is happening now) this is true with an OS like linux, but what of windows, does windows always do the same thing in a deterministic way ? I think not.
windows is a chaotic system

the GNU way of life is so far ahead of it's time, but people are catching on quick and linux will one day be as big as microsoft and owned by every one of us.

Graham Medland

graham@dakoder.co.uk

Heres 2 more cents

April 2009 I Tripled booted windows 7, Ubuntu, & Mint. Frustrated by not being able to work Ubuntu {Straight Newb}, Mint helped solved that. Now Ubuntu is #1 because of Conky (I LUV CONKY). Aptitude, Apt-Get, & Debian Based. Can't go wrong with the largest oldest most well known Distro. Even if they are bit Eccentric, but read "The Realm of Debian" @ the SIDUX website and it will become crystal clear. Sidux is like Debian on Steroids; & alot like Arch. I've tried alot in my 9 months, now it's time for birth.

I will always have a windows flavor on something because of Nero Recode, iTunes, Simcity4, All The Sims2 & 3, All the Empire Earth's, both Homeworlds, & the Jupiter Incident. I need AVC video, AAC Audio (EASSYY) - NOT MP3(OLLLLd), (applelossless to me is better then flac $) & the games I like to F'N play the way they were F'N meant to be played... X-Squeeze me ;|~ . When they get over these obstacles no matter what the reasons may be. Then I can truly convert. But 2 machines are already there, a desktop and a laptop, and I have brought a few more people over to the Free Side....

Linux has made me realize a few things. "The OS is Mine". To me Ubuntu just works. Gentoo then LFS is the only way to really gain any true insight into the world of linux.. Slackware & BSD's I could never get'em off the ground.. So to any other Newbs are Gurus out there I'de liked to say. The philosophy of Ubuntu is what kept me from given up & given in. Even if I can't get 9.10 to load on my NVIDIA GeeForce. The upgrade wen't off without a hitch. Just always remember.
sudo aptitude update | upgrade | autoremove | (autoremove --purge) | clean & if aptitude say's it doesn't have super cow powers "apt-get" it. I keep those in my documents section and run them in terminal using gedit. Nautilus still draws to the background but I prefer Dolphin in gnome as a file manager. I wish I could use KDE kicker panel with the gnome clock. I can not stand XFCE or LXDE. See what's happening to me? I'm TURNING INTO ONE OF THEM!!! HAHAHA HAHAHA!.

TuxRadar I appreciate the article. I read one at least twice a week or more seems like. The good ones like this one keep tell'n me that no matter what. I will never be completely satisfied til I make my own. From the good of all others, "My Perfect One Shall Arise up out of the Ashes".
So Much To Do So Little Time. So to Every One. Keep Linuxing

2 More Cents

Dy 4 Day. My Linux Journey has been exactly 9 Months! DAMMNN

Title: IS MICROSOFT SECRETLY USING OPEN SOURCE?

Comment: *

im using RH since 2k (RH 9),
this OS is worst categorize for home users
RHEL 4 doesnt have mp3 player, video player, games AND almost application made for server works.
No games
RH is the only 1 who has cmd interface & gui, not like other (ubuntu server, suse server, etc) you cant see your porn photo :P.
Cant share files.
Commercial version is not cheap even you sold your self (in my office im using registered version, but for my experience in my home im using illegal version, so i can install / testing another os while no 1 scream ... :P).
Cant read/write FAT32/NTFS1/NTFS2 (only detected).
I cant clone disk in newer version (for backup uses).
REMEBER : Powerful application only made for powerful OS.
Like : Autodesk Inferno, Autodesk Flame.

Mandrake
I've used mandrake version xx (2 cds)
Can read FAT32/NTFS
Can write FAT32
Office applications included.
Multimedia player included.
Sorry am loosing my cds.

UBuntu ?
In my language buntu is the meaning of dead end.
Yeah ... if error found it doesnt warning the user (no sound).
I cant clone disc/partition(s)(for backup uses).

,

Mon, 18 Jun 2001 17:13:23 -0700 (PDT)
IS MICROSOFT SECRETLY USING OPEN SOURCE?

,

Im using norton ghost for backup my serverz.
Any 1 can CLONE newer linux partion like ext 4 ?
PLEASE tell me -> deviant_two@yahoo.com

ty

Themes/Games Rant

Why does everyone bash on the main theme of a linux distro? there are MANY websites that you can use to download alot of different themes. I have customized ubuntu and linux mint to the point where you can't tell what distro it is off the bat, but it looks really nice and functional. I usually go with a windows style setup- panel at the bottom with gnomenu and other apps for the panel but sometimes, I use cairo dock and go for a more OSX setup or even go crazy and do something no one else would do and make it completely my own which is one of the many many reasons I love linux! but sadly gaming is still hell in a handbasket and yeah i know some games can run in wine or cedega, but it's just not the same as native support at all and yes there are games native to linux but they are few and far between compared to the vast majority made for windows. But as for the article I would say Linux Mint is my favorite but im downloading Debian, gOS and Opensuse as I type this

Real Linux Wizardry

Sorcerer, SourceMage, Lunar, Exherbo, Gentoo, and Funtoo.. Let the real wizardry begin

LFS Wins

Naw, I honestly think Arch has the best design since it's like BSD.. "Base System", "Ports", and "Packages" good init system.. The problem is Arch's peeps are a little to gung hoa about bleeding edge.. that being said, test new releases longer, port to more architectures, and focus on security.. It really could be the greatest OS.

I use Ubuntu at the moment BTW

Scoring a Century In Linux

No article would cover everything what Linux has to offer.

I have downloaded over 150 distributions and tested all and found only three that did not boot (out of over 200 hundred distributions).

That is the beauty of Linux.

I started with Redhat (did not have K3B for CD / DVD writing) and changed to Mandrake when Fedora was a disaster.

Then Mandrike became Mandrive and left us high and dry with some commercial twist.

Then I switched to DVD version of SuSe which is nice but heavy and slow to function and sometimes unable to store heavy luggage (downloads).

Then I happened to lay hands on SAM (the mouse), the Live CD which changed my outlook and changed to live CDs instantaneously which never stays static and lead one to Live and Dynamic Linux.

There is not a day I download one for testing. I open a download file and go to sleep and the next morning when I get up there is one for me to test.

I go for the light and versatile distributions.

There are many and I am never bored.

YOPER by the way, is the fastest version on this planet (if one ignores DSL and Puppy) but it has some problem with the boot file.

Mephis is good but for me PCLinux is outstanding by its compactness, utility and capabilities.

Debian is my Guru and its Ultimate boot CD is what I use when I am in trouble and Utilex has all the little utilities.

Knoppix and accelerated Knoppix are good as gold

Thanks to all the guys who are developing and improving Linux but unfortunately our little country (Sri-Lanka) has no Linux developers who are fit enough to develop a local version.

Our stupid politicians (no understanding in Linux and IT) are bought up by the giants (M!!)

Flash doesnt work properly in Linux !!!

I like to play online games and watch music videos that use Flash SO I have to use Windows because it is the only way that Flash will work !!!
I tried Ubuntu 9.04 with Firefox and Chrome and it was bloody hopeless, SO SLOW !

Now I can consider Mandriver or even Fedora

I am going to try Mandriver or even Fedora considering I now know their strong and weak points. I find personally that ubuntu is so safe for doing everything that I don't want to depart from it at all, but I will try Fedora simply because you gave it a good rap.

What about Gentoo

What about Gentoo distribution? I think that's cool too.

ADD Artist-X

ArtistX DVD - All you need for audio/video manipulation.

Have you tried Ubuntu S. E.?

Ubuntu S. E. Unique Eye candy. Give it a try.

Mandriva and PCLinuxOS

These are the easiest distros to install and configure. I have dual boot laptops with Windows XP on the other side.
Wireless cards are the most critical for me as if I have internet, I can load all the drivers I need!

Bloody have no idea

Still having trouble selecting an linux distro for a multiple site webserver, have tried Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian & now I am trying out OpenSuse, who knows...........I may be happy with a distro sooner or later.

The Best One

THEY FORGOT BACKTRACK 4!!! =(

Its all about Choice

Man i love this article and i have book marked it.
There are lots of distros tailored for specific problems.
A user needs to know what they are looking for then make a choice of a Distro.

I think this article needs

I think this article needs screenshots updates but otherwise it is well explained.

Quest for the grail

I've been using Mandrake back in the day when I started out w/ linux, probably 6 - 7 years ago, and loved it. I never managed to run it for a extensive period of time because my soul was aching for that trusted ol' environment I refered to as Windows.

As time progressed I've tried DSL and some other bootdisk distro's.

I have accepted that I will always have a non-linux OS on my computer as I am a settled Pro-Tools user. Yeah, musicians don't have too much options. Ardour and Rosegarden are nice and all, but all of my friends use commercial DAWs and let us be honest... it takes a whole lot of fussing and fighting if you want to get creative things done w/ tux. I didn't say it's impossible, it's just inconvenient. Easily exchanging projects, bringing arrangements to studios and using those top of the line plug-ins are no-go's if one want to stick w/ the penguin.

Two months ago I've decided to run Ubuntu for the third time (regular use, not music related). Yeah, I've been jumping on and off when it comes to using linux and at the point where I was almost ready to let go of Windows, my box started crashing on the regular. Adobe Flash issues on Firefox in Ubuntu... pain in the *. One of the few times I've had a tux rig frozen solid. Try whatchu want. It wouldn't buge. I wasn't ready to sacrifice my online videos so I have to find something else if I wanted to stick with linux.

I study engineering and find linux a convenient environment to work in. As I am a electrical engineering student I have the necessary tools at my disposal. Go Scilab and Eagle :).

Anyways, I'm over Ubuntu now. My playing around w/ different distros has introduced me to the nitty gritty of tux though. I work the command prompt like a boss now and I feel like I'm ready to move on to a somewhat more intimidating distro :P. So here goes... downloading Fedora, OpenSuse and, the one I was kinda scared of before, Debian for a try-out... Wondering if I'll ever make that permanent switch?!?

P.S.: Every OS has it's charms and wonders - Linux, Windows, MacOS and all the galaxies and black holes in between ;)

Debian?

So where is debian?

Need Desktop distro usage and advanced?

CHOOSE SABAYON LATEST EDITION!

but the only thing is that updates are HUGE.

Debian?

What does it mean "So where is debian?". Debian is everywhere.
Debian is Universal OS.

Just Use Linux or JuLinux

Came back to using linux after a few years hiatus and wanted to try Ubuntu but had a difficult time getting wireless to work on my Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop. Xubuntu and Linux Mint didn't play well either. Jolicloud works great but I found the interface limiting. I ran across Julinux because it had a skin to make it look like windows but was built on top of Ubuntu and the wireless worked right out of the box. My wife was used to windows and uses my laptop from time to time. Currently, I'm dual booting with Julinux/Vista. Now, I find that I spend about 90% in Julinux and 10% in Vista. Julinux is not that popular but it works for me and is a distro of Ubuntu.
Puppy Linux is great too. I installed that on a USB stick and play with it from time to time. The wireless worked right from the start as well.

Pardus 2011

I got Ubuntu 10.10 in one pc and it works fine. But my personal favourite as a single operating system installed in a computer must be Pardus 2011. I got it in my other pc.
All things "works out of the box" mp3, DVD movies etc.
Not necessay to install mediacodes as in Ubuntu.

But I suggest people to give it a try.
Download links and general information is here:

Pardus Worldforum

Back to SUSE

Used Suse for several years - then tried Ubuntu. It's more
a bit more "user-friendly" - however, there has always been
probelms with hardware compatibility. (10.4 did not install
on thnkipad, both 10.4 and 10.10 did not install on vaio,
plus other hardware issues after installation).

There is also a point where "user-friendliness" becomes a
problem when I could not figure out what went wrong (e.g.,
with mounting additional FAT partition) because technical
info was not provided - but only a generic "does not work"
error message.

So - I am back to SUSE and everything works just fine.

elive linux

what about elive linux distribution

Scrying Sprau

One big thing that is good for ANYONE that is going to use ANY distribution of Linux should know is how to use the command line and some kind of script editor. They say that Linux never crashes because you can go to the command line to stop and start the GUI to get it working again. If you get a blank screen or something like OS not found, it is most likely the boot loader has a problem. If you know how to use a live CD (and better if you can do it from the command line) you can replace the boot loader file to get it working again. If you learn to use VI you can use it on windows and Mac machines also. winblows you would have to download a tool to use vi (but still can fix the machine using a Linux live CD). Since Mac is using the same kernel, also open source but hidden, VI will work the same, if you know how to get to the command line.

The ultimately best distro is...

Latest desktop-packaged Windows is obviously the most preferable way to operate your shiny new game rig or office machine.

puppy

Puppy absolutely rocks. Very fast,
Very easy to install. Can install most apps and customize.

never anticipate an author to be foolish

I don't know why the author has not written in the top 'openSUSE'! That's amazing, no other distro of the world is as pretty as openSUSE is. It works from all levels - beginners to expert and works. It is good for both - tech-wizards and for those who are not from computers field and that is what its greatness lies in!! I never anticipated an author from technical field could ever miss the OS like openSUSE, it is amazing, awefull and really surprising.

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