There are lots of Web pages comparing Linux to Windows and recommending you use Linux. They recommend a specific distribution of Linux, usually Ubuntu. Now read the comments. Every second comment says
Yes, use Linux but not that distribution! You then get a sales pitch for a Linux distribution no one has ever heard of. Why do people recommend these weird Linux distributions for first time Linux users?
Linux is good. Ubuntu is the most successful distribution for people converting from Windows to Linux. Ubuntu offers good conversion tools, good hardware compatibility, and good support forums for those times when something goes wrong. There are several other well known Linux distributions offering support that is almost as good.
Then there are the specialist distributions built for specific projects. Usually they offer light weight or configuration for a special application but rarely good support. Why do people recommend the niche specials for first time Linux use?
Some distributions are for specific countries or language groups. Why do people recommend the less popular distributions when major distributions are available in many languages? The Linux community would benefit more if people with lesser known languages contributed their translations to a major distribution.
You see people saying stupid things along the following Windows/Linux line. Some will insert a specific distribution of Linux and claim it is safer.
Windows viruses cannot infect Linux.
True, Windows based viruses rarely infect other operating systems but:
- There are viruses attacking every operating system including all the different operating systems Apple tried on their Mac.
- Many viruses attack an application, not an operating system, and some of those applications run on many different operating systems.
- Your primary line of defence is usually your email client or Web browser, not your operating system.
Virus safety is a reason to select Firefox over Internet Explorer or Thunderbird over Outlook Express but is not an argument to select a distribution of Linux.
You rarely hear anyone mention CentOS unless they are Web site administrators. The most popular Linux distribution for Web sites is Debian followed closely by CentOS. CentOS is the free open version of Red Hat offered by most Web site hosting companies. You would not use CentOS on your desktop or netbook or anywhere else except a machine used as a test Web server.
easypeasy is the new name for Ubuntu eee, a special distribution of Ubuntu built for Eee PCs. easypeasy has a horrible annoying Web site with one of those awful animations that will not let up so I jumped out of there as quickly as possible. Leave easypeasy on the anonymous scrap heap. Save yourself the pain by going to Ubuntu instead.
easypeasy appear to be aimed at the general netbook market instead of the Eee PC market. There might be an excuse for using easypeasy if you have a brand new netbook containing a brand new hardware device.
Most netbooks actually contain old hardware designs that have devolved to low power use. You are unlikely to need something special. Try Ubuntu first then easypeasy.
Fedora is based on Red Hat, is sponsored by Red hat, and is the way Red Hat experiment with new drivers and features. Fedora is sometimes ahead of Ubuntu on specific hardware drivers. Overall Ubuntu tends to win. If Ubuntu fails to install on a brand new computer because of a hardware driver, try Fedora.
You can test some Linux distributions using their
live editions, where you boot Linux from the CD or USB stick instead of installing Linux on disk. Val Paliy recommends Fedora on a USB stick as the best live Linux.
Google Chrome OS
The Google Chrome OS is based on Ubuntu but does not perform as well. It is the same old story from Google. Everything from Google is beta. They have not succeeded at refining anything outside of their search engine.
KahelOS is from the Philippines and offers a desktop version plus a lightweight version for netbooks. This distribution might be an advantage if you live in the Philippines.
MeeGo, previously called Moblin, is a genuine attempt at focusing a Linux distribution on netbooks and hand held devices. History shows that it is easier to make the hardware adapt to the software and netbooks already have many of the attributes of conventional notebooks. That leaves MeeGo the best choice for hand held devices including the primitive iPhone (no USB drive or memory card slot or anything modern) and some of the very small computer phones with limited memory.
If you purchased a netbook in 2008 or shopped in the low end of the netbook market during 2009, MeeGo, easypeasy, and equivalents could be a good choice.
Lots of people used to recommend SUSE and now recommend openSUSE but I have never found a situation where either was a better choice than CentOS, Fedore, Debian, or Ubuntu. One of those well known but for no obvious reason distributions.
Puppy Linux, from puppylinux.org, offers the same as the Ubuntu live CD but none of the other options. If you use the Ubuntu live CD, you can use the same installation experience for other computer and server configurations just by using the Ubuntu DVD instead of the CD.
If you have never heard of Puppy Linux, it is for a reason.
Slax offers the same light weight CD as Puppy Linux and Ubutu but without the support forums and without the options offered by the Ubuntu DVD.
Ubuntu offers a light weight CD and more options from a DVD. Why is everyone focused on a CD when computers have DVD drives? Yes you can load a CD into a USB memory drive but an 8GB USB memory drive is dirt cheap and can hold a DVD with all those installation options not available on a CD.
If you are on a dial up Internet connection, ask a friend to download the Ubuntu DVD using broadband. Many broadband companies have free overnight download periods or free download servers. You can often download the Ubuntu DVD free. Once downloaded, a copy costs as little as 80 cents for a reliable DVD.
USB DVD drives cost less than AU$60 and 8GB USB memory drives cost less than AU$20. There is no reason to limit yourself to a CD then have to make a separate DVD download when you want to install something different.
For the desktop, there is the desktop edition with limited disk configuration options and an alternate download with options for creating RAID arrays.
Ubuntu Moblin Remix
Ubuntu Moblin Remix is a rough merger of Ubuntu and Moblin for a Dell PC. Hopefully this will mean future versions of Ubuntu will have a Moblin install option for small devices with limited memory and touch screens.
Ubuntu Netbook Remix
The Ubuntu Netbook Remix performs better on netbooks than the Ubuntu Moblin Remix. The Ubuntu Netbook Remix performs better than all versions of Moblin in netbooks. Presumably the Moblin version is designed for such tight memory spaces in hand held devices that it cannot make use of the larger memory spaces on modern netbooks.
Xandros supply a free distribution of Linux but with an end user license that looks like a Microsoft EULA. Xandros also offer to take US$50 of your money and share it with Microsoft. You can also pay US$99 to get a professional version that is the free version with the addition of the free Samba and the free Wine open source applications.
Xandros makes Ubuntu look good considering Ubuntu includes both Samba and Wine in their free downloads.
Get access to broadband and download the Ubuntu DVD during the free overnight period. Load the Ubuntu DVD on to a DVD and then to an 8GB USB memory drive. You now have everything to install anything anywhere.