What is the best Linux distro for a new Linux user?Learning is a process, not a destination. It will take you a good deal of time and effort to become proficient in Linux. I have used it as my **only** OS for ten year and still learn new things each and every time I log in.
There are really only three good ways to learn the basics and start to learn more advanced features. I will share those three:
- Get a second computer, install a Linux distro that assumes you either know what you are doing or can figure it out on your own. This is the "full immersion" process. You just throw caution to the wind and figure it out. I did this. First I used Arch Linux for awhile and within a few months started using Linux From Scratch once my terminal skills had improved. It was really hard and a messed up A LOT, but it was soo fun. LOL it took me like a week just to get Arch onto my computer at first, being a n00b is fun.
- You could dual boot or use a virtual machine. This lets you run back to Windows or Mac screaming if you have a project you HAVE to get done and don't yet have the skills to do it in Linux. I find this slows down the learning process, but is really good for people who are not 100% sure if Linux is worth their time or not. I'd go with Linux Mint for this one.
- The third is sort of a combo of the other two. I call this a soft immersion. Either dual boot with the commitment that you will use the linux install as your primary os or load linux onto a second computer and use your property os based one for very specific things like work. I would use a rather easy to use "master" linux distro, one that many others are based off of. For my money either Debian or Fedora would be the place to start as there are MANY other operating systems based off of these two.
Where learning Linux is easy ~Linux Survival
where Linux users come for help ~Linux Question is a Distro independent community that is very helpful
Stack Overflow ~A great community for budding programmers
OK! So You decided which way to go and have picked out your os. Before downloading it you need to pick a version. Most distros offer at least three.
- Gnome: I highly encourage new users utilize this desktop. You run across apps from here even when you are not using it. It is also very strait forward and doesn't use up too much memory. Its also the most used desktop by a wide margin.
- KDE: I suggest avoiding KDE at first, possibly forever. You will rarely see KDE apps outside of a KDE environment and I find it too bloated with features that serve no real purpose. Some of the mobile projects based on it are great, on the desktop not so much.
- Cinnamon, LXDE, or XFCE: Great for older computers and for when you find that its nice to have a desktop, but the previous two are too bloated. Using Linux tends to turn people into minimalists
- Openbox, Fluxbox, or Blackbox: A lot of people move onto these once they find themselves in the terminal mostly. It provides some niceties but gets completely out of your way. Also *box systems are great if you like to run multiple desktops.
FAQ to head off comments:
- Why not Ubuntu? Ubuntu makes it almost TOO easy and can result in bad habits as a result. Also as a supporter of FOSS I have some issues with Ubuntu and refuse to use it so obviously I am not going to suggest it.
- Why not OpenSUSE? I don't have any issue with the distro, but I have only known like maybe a dozen people that use it as their primary.
- What desktop do you use? Openbox with Rox-filer
- Why do you prefer a second computer over dualboot? So, lets say you don't know something and need to look it up or post to a forum and your system is all screwed up. Wouldn't it be nice to just flip on your other computer?
A few years ago I would have said Ubuntu, even if I don't use it personally. But not now. Ubuntu seems to go all wrong nowadays.
I won't get into tedious technical and/or political details right now, but to make a long story short, Ubuntu now seems to pretty much go into its own direction, follow its own advice and not care much about what the rest of the Linux world is doing. That is wrong for people who want to learn generic GNU/Linux skills. Right now Ubuntu is still decent, but the technical and political choices that were made in the last years mean that it is likely that Ubuntu will increasingly become a stand-alone OS with its own way of working and less interoperability with other linuxes, including Debian.
My advice would be to go directly for the "real thing", in other words Debian. Debian has had huge improvements in user-friendliness and usability for the general public in the last few years, and now installing and using it is not so different from Ubuntu. Which means it is actually easier to install than Windows, and the learning curve is soft and the documentation abundant if you stick to default options and environments. And if you know Debian, you know one of the most widely used distributions for servers worldwide.
I never tried Linux Mint, but I heard much good of it too. Fedora and Arch seem to be solid options too. Mandriva used to be a good choice for beginners, but it has been ages since I last heard of someone actually using it. They seem to have had a huge drop in popularity and I wouldn't recommend it now.
First off. just FYI, it's "White hat hacking" not "white hack hacking". The other categories are Black-hat hacking, and grey-hat hacking. The hat reference comes from the US Western movies, where the good guy(s) always wore a white hat, the bad guys always wore black hats. That was so that the movie-goer could figure out right away who were the good guys, and who were the baddies. "Grey hat" is just a nerdified mixture of the two.
Secondly, throwing in Steam OS and Kali in your list is rather like saying, "I want some simple, non-motorized transport, so my choices are a bicycle, a Penny-Farthing, and a banana".
The highest quality distro is not a particular company or gui.
The highest quality distro is most often the last build of the previous version from the current version. There is always a push and a desire to download and install the latest version of a linux distro, and I appreciate that and it is fun to see the new stuff, etc.
But if you are new or if you are deploying a bunch of systems and can't take the time to customize and debug each one, I would go for the final version of the last iteration of the distro. Not just the "stable branch" which is different, but the version prior to the current one. It has had all the big bugs taken out and the installer works and you can find all sorts of help online fixing anything you might find, because linux users tinker away and debug their boxes.
Personally, I run wattOS7 (older version) on my desk, and Centos 6.8 on a 32 bit server and CentOS 7 on an x86_64 server, and they all keep chugging away. So as far as reliablilty , almost all will run well.
I have an issue with systemd, though.
Systemd , has pretty much taken over some or most of the new distros and could be a major decision as to go with one of the distros that does not use it. There are also some major variations between the distros that do use systemd, as well.
My home system is in this weird state of having both the old rc.d system and systemd on it and I have got it all harmonious, but it will have to go one of these days.
Its one of those things you have to investigate before you commit to installing a distro, like the package manager and the software, and the ease of building custom versions of linux software if you have special hardware needs.
Microsoft Office compatibility and ease of playing DVDs and mp3s, etc, and interfacing with printers, scanners, phones, and fingerprint devices can be a decision choice as well. Support for power-saving and laptop features might be as well (wattOS).
You may want professional support if your livelihood depends on your linux machine humming along, so that is a business decision. If you need servers, that is one that takes some serious investigation.
Some business-oriented distros that offer off-the-shelf business software suites are kind of sketchy fly-by-night operations and I would be wary of jumping into that pool without some thorough research and a test-run before making any multi-thousand dollar investments.
Some of the most pretty graphical desktops out there are actually not really good OS distributions, because they concentrate on that one thing, and are usually the brainchild of one single person and when that person moves on or something else happens, your distro is frozen, never to be upgraded. So be careful of those beautiful rare gems sparkling like ephemera in the night. They might be gone by light of day or stock market crash.
I would stay away from the build-it-yourself distros (Arch, Gentoo, linux-from-scratch) if you are new or not into writing configurations and debugging stuff. You might learn a lot, but the fun factor for a newbie is not there, just a lot of getting hit in the face and reading things over and over.
Your options may be limited if you have anything other than an Intel or AMD PC or laptop. X86_32 and X86_64 run linux like a dream, but hter are linux distros for MACs and ARM processors and the new laptop CPUS but again not every distro supports them. If you have an older machine (i486 or Pentium III , IV , pro) there are pared-down distros just for those and I have had good experiences with them, I would steer you toward on of the old-PC distros for those because the performance of a newer distro would suck on them. But they are right for those machines.
If you play games I would very much have you check out a game-friendly distro. Not all of them are.
Waste some valuable time on distrowatch.com. Its got rankings, the new stuff , links to distros, reviews, torrent links, etc. It is one of the linux worlds best resource sites.
Put the fun back into computing. Use Linux, BSD.
My desktop (wattOS 7)
There is NONE. That's the cool thing about Linux, it is ("was" at least since systemd) all about choice.
Numerous people use Ubuntu/Debian flavors for everyday Linux. They are well supported and has a wide community, so they have the power of people. They use APT and DPKG packaging system. There are many software compiled to work on them.
Fedora and RHEL family has also a great community behind them they are strong and stable distros. Fedora does not officially support proprietary software that can be annoying sometimes. Almost always you can find the same software for Debian family for RedHat family. They use RPM and YUM for packaging.
Another RPM using distro is OpenSUSE, which is one of my favorite distros. Most of the software for RHEL family works on OpenSUSE too. It has two versions Leap and Tumbleweed. Former is incredibly stable and great for production environment, latter one is a rolling release distro for the ones who want to get bleeding edge software. The thing I also love about OpenSUSE: its configuration tool, YaST. You can configure almost everything using the YaST GUI.
Lastly my no #1 distro, Arch. It has a steeper learning curve but it teaches you many things about a Linux distro. In contrast to ones (which have automatic installers) above, you install and configure all the software from bare bones. It feels special and it is special because your stack of software is selected and installed by you. It is a rolling release distribution, you get updates of a software in 1 to 5 days. Its community is not as large as Debian or RedHat but its wiki is certainly a golden book (or Bible) of Linux, so most of the time you don't even need to ask people. For software availability it is also great, many software is supported officially and can be installed via pacman, the best package manager for me. If it is not officially supported, the software you are looking for is always(99%) in AUR. In AUR you can even find software that is specific to other distros (like Unity of Ubuntu , Suse Image Writer..). If you are curious and want to learn internals of Linux Arch is the way to go. It gives you amazing flexibility and availability.
If you ask my ordering of choice, I choose Arch first, then go for OpenSUSE. When I was a newbie I used OpenSUSE. Then tried Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu. As I said it is a matter of choice and you should try some and stay on a distro as long as you like it.
Ubuntu family comprises of the most popular Debian based linux distros tailored for various audiences & to server various purposes. There are plethora of flavours for Ubuntu available that you can try as a beginner. Though, I would not suggest Ubuntu itself now due to UNITY interface it has adopted in the recent past.
My top picks are :
Ubuntu Budgie provides the Budgie desktop environment which focuses on simplicity and elegance. It's a new entrant in the ubuntu family but is a cool choice for many.
Kubuntu offers the KDE Plasma Workspace experience, a good-looking system for home and office use. Kubuntu is a bit hardware intensive.
3. Ubuntu MATE
Ubuntu MATE expresses the simplicity of a classic desktop environment. Ubuntu MATE is the continuation of the GNOME 2 desktop which was Ubuntu's default desktop until October 2010.
Xubuntu is an elegant and easy to use operating system. Xubuntu comes with Xfce, which is a stable, light and configurable desktop environment.
Lubuntu is a fast, energy saving and lightweight variant of Ubuntu using LXDE. It is popular with PC and laptop users running on low-spec hardware.
Apart from Ubuntu family,
If you're after a distro that gets you as far away as possible from the image of a nerdy hacker type bashing away at a terminal interface, Elementary OS is what you need. It's probably the most attractive distro around, with a style similar to that of macOS. This operating system's superb desktop environment is known as Pantheon, and is based on Gnome.
Linux Mint is a great ‘default' distro for new Linux users, as it comes with a lot of the software you'll need when switching from Mac or Windows, such as LibreOffice, the favoured productivity suite of Linux users. It also has better support for proprietary media formats, allowing you to play videos, DVDs and MP3 music files out of the box.