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Chad Smith

Getting Started with Linux

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Linux Mint is Ubuntu is Debian...

They are built on top of each other, yes, but several distros built upon Debian, including Mint and Ubuntu, are way better updated, system-wise, than Debian. This is due to the reputation of stability (or goal, cannot remember for sure, but it sure is stable) that Debian must maintain, which is why the "current", stable release is still dwindling around kernel 2.6 (and how many years old?) instead of the most recent 3.5 (which "stable" versions of Ubuntu and Mint are running).

 

So I would not exactly mention them by an "is-a" relationship, but more an "originally-a".

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I do not know many Linux commands nor have used it's terminal in quite a while so I'd like to learn some of that too.

Just to make it clear: for a lot of stuff you don't need the terminal (well, in the popular distros at least). I lost the count of times when somebody asks for help and everybody replies with terminal commands when it isn't needed at all. Probably it's easier to copypaste some cryptic text without giving any explanation than to guide somebody through the GUI.


This is indeed the case, guiding someone through a GUI on the internet where people use different languages in their OS is a challenge, doing it when people may not even use the same desktop enviroment as you can get really really hard, The shell is the same regardless of what language the user has and it is similar across related distributions (most shell commands that work with debian will work in Ubuntu and Mint aswell even though the 3 distros have vastly different GUIs in their default configuration)

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Yeah, the problem is that then users are left with the impression that to do pretty much anything beyond the basics (or even that in some cases!) you are required to use the terminal and thereby classify Linux as being "too hard" because they aren't willing to learn to do all that through the terminal (and they don't need to, when you could just use the GUI).

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That said, I would also recommend Ubuntu BUT with a different desktop enviroment than Unity (the default).

Any particular reason you would recommend a beginner against an interface designed for non-experts, or is this just the same religious issue that causes consternation about Microsoft Windows 8?

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If you want to try Linux. I recommend stock ubuntu 12.04 LTS if you want something basically guaranteed stable, or you have older hardware. This version also has unity 2d pre-installed, which is great for older hardware. It behaves similar to unity 3d, but its much much much faster.

 

If you want some of the newer web-app integration features try 12.10 32-bit as well. By now, its fairly stable, so its just whether you want the new features of 12.10 over 12.04. And the unity desktop has improved in performance a bit as well in 12.10. 12.10 does not include unity 2d by default, but i believe you can install it via the software center.

 

64-bit ubuntu vs 32-bit ubuntu: go 32-bit if you are new. 32-bit Linux, unlike 32-bit windows, will properly address memory ranges greater than 32-bits, so that 8GB of RAM you have, can get addressed just fine. Additionally, you will have less potential compatibility issues as more apps and drivers are written for 32-bit linux over 64-bit linux. This doesnt mean that 64-bit linux doesnt work well, its just that you should know how to go about getting multi-arch packages if you run into compat issues, and therefore isnt a wise linux newbie option.

 

After you're well acquainted with linux and still want to work in the ubuntu realm, go Xubuntu. Its Xfce desktop is higher performance, less resource intensive, and has compatibility with gnome and KDE based app architectures if needed. Generally, avoid mint like the plague. While i'm not a huge fan of unity, i'm not a fan of Cinnamon. I found it a bit glitchier and generally slower than default ubuntu as well, but that was my experience, yours may be different. I also havent tried MATE yet... so who knows, i may like that...

 

Kubuntu & Lubuntu. If you're a die hard KDE fan, Kubuntu may be your thing. I havent played with it much, but it is a different beast. If you switch to it from regular ubuntu, you'll have the need for some readjustment. Lubuntu is basically the ubuntu you get for old hardware or when you want the least resource intensive desktop possible: LXDE. Its damn fast, but you get that at a price (looks). If you have an netbook or an old desktop, this will bring it back to life guaranteed. It does what it does, and does it well. Lubuntu is also the only ubuntu i've tested in a VM, in which it never needed the special virtual drivers because it was that fast by default.

 

Ubuntu pretty scale (high-to-low): Kubuntu, Ubuntu, Mint, Xubuntu, Lubuntu

Ubuntu performance scale (high-to-low): Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu, Kubuntu (source ubuntu 13.04 testing, gnome 2x was not tested so i have nothing comparable to Mint)

Edited by Net Gnome

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That said, I would also recommend Ubuntu BUT with a different desktop enviroment than Unity (the default).

Any particular reason you would recommend a beginner against an interface designed for non-experts, or is this just the same religious issue that causes consternation about Microsoft Windows 8?

Metro is still definitely better than Unity from what I know. The issues with Metro are mainly the fact it's a different UI paradigm, with Unity it's that and also the shell doing stupid things (sometimes bugs, sometimes intentionally). The former can be excused, the latter can't. This is pretty much specific to Unity, all other shells are just fine (and that's taking into account there are things where they get wildly different).

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Thanks everyone for the replies.  It looks like Ubuntu is the one most people seem to recommend right now.  I'll look into more and see if I like Unity.

 

I actually meant to post my hardware in my OP as I knew that'd also be important but forgot too.

 

Hardware Specs:

Intel i7-3610QM

NVdia GeForce GTX 660m

8gb of DDRIII RAM

 

Thanks everyone for the posts.  I also can take any more recommendations as I wouldn't mind switching or trying out another version of a different distro if I see it is for me.  I do plan to later on, once I get more familiar with it, support it in some of my projects.

 

I myself do run Windows primarily though have found myself to be more of a OSX fan actually though sadly don't get to run it that much since I no longer own a Mac Laptop at this time.  Though learning new OS/s haven't really been a bother for me.  I just didn't want to jump through hoops trying to get everything installed and working right on the initial install.

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Metro is still definitely better than Unity from what I know. The issues with Metro are mainly the fact it's a different UI paradigm, with Unity it's that and also the shell doing stupid things (sometimes bugs, sometimes intentionally). The former can be excused, the latter can't. This is pretty much specific to Unity, all other shells are just fine (and that's taking into account there are things where they get wildly different).

 

That's still pretty broad, vague, and non-specific.  Have you discussed any of the specific design faults or deliberate bugs with the Unity devs?

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Besides already mentioned options. Debian! Easy to install and has a massive repository of packages.

 

Yes, Debian is great. Unfortunately, to be just in neighbourhood of somewhat updated (kernel-wise, especially), you have to install the "testing" version, which is not for newcomers.

The "testing" name might be intimidating but Debian testing is usually around the ballpark of other distros :D (probably even more stable than other distros, I've seen Arch and Mint comparing themselves with Debian sid) Is just that they're very (very!) strict about what they call "stable".

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Yeah I think overobsession with having a "stable" version is not needed for most open source programs, as it most likely just means old version without the newest bugfixes. The bleeding edge svn version would then often be more stable (possibly minus the one new bug where you then just revert to second newest version).

 

Can someone explain a bit more detailed what the real difference between all these many desktops is besides fancy looks? Are there incompatibilities when you use the "wrong" desktop?

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