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  • Best Linux distros for beginners 2020?

    Posted on Microfix Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems Linux – all distros Best Linux distros for beginners 2020?

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      • #2282710 Reply
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        This Tecmint article, just published, may be useful for some in deciding which Distro to choose and try out.

        ..Over time, the vibrant Open source community has made enormous efforts in bringing Linux closer to the ordinary Windows and mac users by making it more user-friendly and easy to use…

        I can only agree with that statement, especially over the last five years or so.

        I’d also like to point out https://linuxjourney.com/ which has valuable tutorials, not only beginners but, intermediates and advanced users, that is a great reference point for any linux user.

        Win8.1 Pro x64 + Linux Hybrids x86/x64 + Win7 Pro x86/64 O/L
        14 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2282728 Reply
        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks for the useful links, Microfix.

        I would strongly encourage anyone interested in Linux to try out various distros from a flash drive before installing it to a hard drive. As someone who has actually tried all of the distros in the Tecmint article above, I can say that I really liked some of them and could intuitively use them right from the start, but some of them I really hated and found extremely user unfriendly. Of course, someone else might think just the opposite, so it’s really important to take each for a ‘test drive’

        It might sound like a lot of work to try out a handful or more of distros, but once you learn how to boot your computer from a flash drive (or perhaps an optical drive), and how to get a bootable image of the distro on that flash drive, it’s pretty easy.

        For context, I speak from experience as someone who is a non-techie and who had ZERO knowledge of Linux three years ago.

        6 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2282733 Reply
          Microfix
          AskWoody MVP

          Thanks for your input @DrBonzo, The beauty of live distro’s these days is just download, checksum verify and rip the iso to a usb flashdrive, configure bios to boot from usb first, insert flashdrive and try it out without affecting your current OS all within an hour or so (dependant on internet connection speeds)
          The rest is user choice and preference.

          Win8.1 Pro x64 + Linux Hybrids x86/x64 + Win7 Pro x86/64 O/L
          4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2282738 Reply
        anonymous
        Guest

        Important note for any beginner reading the linked “Best Linux Distributions for Beginners” article:

        If you’re a beginner, strongly suggest you ignore #5…
        CentOS should NOT be on any list of Linux distributions for beginners. If you need a 5th option to consider, maybe look at Linux Lite or PCLinuxOS, but steer clear of CentOS.

        Hope this helps.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2282776 Reply
          Rick Corbett
          AskWoody_MVP

          I agree. CentOS – whilst an excellent distro (particularly as a backend for fileserving) – is definitely NOT for beginners.

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2282898 Reply
          Microfix
          AskWoody MVP

          yeah #5 Core OS is more an intermediate to advanced level of linux, I also didn’t quite get why the author put that in the mix. He could have suggested many others and was quite surprised NOT to see a KDE distro in there..

          Win8.1 Pro x64 + Linux Hybrids x86/x64 + Win7 Pro x86/64 O/L
          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2282792 Reply
        doriel
        AskWoody Lounger

        I highly recommend Fedora distro for beginners. Its simple, it looks good and you can install software from *.rpm packages. You simply doubleclick the package, enter root password and its done. Feels lot like Windows if you are not used to Linux.

        Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

        HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

        3 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2282901 Reply
          Microfix
          AskWoody MVP

          Fedora produce a good solid secure distro in the Workstation flavour, more orientated for business and security IMO. But digging deeper, they also offer a few Spins based on LXDE, LXQT, XFCE, MATE, KDE, CINNAMON and SOAS(?) that offer the homeuser a nice selection.
          Not only that, they also offer the fedora Labs spins for various needs.

          Win8.1 Pro x64 + Linux Hybrids x86/x64 + Win7 Pro x86/64 O/L
          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2282875 Reply
        firemind
        AskWoody Lounger

        When I was getting back into Linux I tested out distros at Distrotest.net.

        https://distrotest.net/

        I then went and tried out some distros on live USBs to see how they functioned on my hardware.

        I tried POP_OS! because it is considered a good gaming distro. The live USB worked fine but I found the default Gnome desktop annoying. I tried installing it but it wouldn’t work with my system.

        I then tried Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop and installed it. Almost everything just worked and it looks like Windows and I could use Linux versions of software I was familiar with or found alternatives. I installed Lutris and play Windows games. There have been issues (my Corsair mouse and keyboard sometimes aren’t found at boot) but overall I am pleased.

        I would recommend Linux Mint for people coming from Windows because it has a familiar look and feel and it has access to lots of cool software. Installation took about 20-30 minutes and my Internet worked immediately and my Email was easier to set up than in Windows!

        Videos about Linux Mint:

        Why Linux Mint Is Better Than Ubuntu For New Linux Users
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ORPyFfZUPI

        Linux Mint 20: Three Desktops, But One Great Experience
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_bszA0xopQ

        • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by firemind.
        6 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2283043 Reply
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          I agree with Mint being the best choice for beginners. Of the desktops they offer, I prefer Cinnamon, but opinions vary, of course.

          For slightly more advanced users who like a lot of configurability, I’d suggest something KDE-based, like Kubuntu or Neon. Unfortunately, Mint dropped their KDE version, but I can see why they did.  The other desktops Mint offers are all based on the GTK+ toolkit, while KDE uses the (superior, IMO) Qt. There’s a familial link between Xfce, Cinnamon, and Mate that isn’t there with KDE.

          I used KDE Plasma as my desktop for a while before I was ready to recommend it. For a while, it still had numerous bugs (constant messages about various bits crashing) and rough edges that would be more anxiety-provoking than they are for me.  It has improved so much that I’d easily recommend it to someone who is not going to get intimidated by a lot of options. If I didn’t think it was the best Linux desktop, I wouldn’t be using it! I’d use the one I thought was the best.

          It’s a weird situation with Neon and Kubuntu. Kubuntu is the standard Ubuntu release with the Plasma desktop, while KDE doesn’t even consider Neon a full distro as much as a technology showcase for their wares. I wonder if that changed when the KDE Slimbooks with Neon preinstalled arrived… how can it not be a distro then?

          Neon is a combination of (eventually) the newest Ubuntu LTS release, but with the KDE software in a rolling release setup. Not long ago, I wrote a post about how Kubuntu had the advantage of one more layer of QA than Neon. Recently, though, KDE has been fixing bugs faster than they are introducing new ones, so the bugfixed version of any KDE software arrives much sooner in Neon than Kubuntu.

           

          Group "L" (Fedora 32 Linux w/ KDE Plasma).

          6 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2285589 Reply
            firemind
            AskWoody Lounger

            My first distro (Xandros) used KDE and I liked the look compared to many GTK+/Gnome apps. Even now some of the Gnome apps look weird when you get past the shell/polish Mint adds to some of them and buttons are in different places sometimes.

            Have you tried Lubuntu? I tried a virtual version of it at Distrotest and it seems like a lighter version of KDE to a degree.

          • #2287690 Reply
            RamRod
            AskWoody Plus

            How difficult is it, or is it even possible, to change desktops following initial installation?

            Thanks.

      • #2287537 Reply
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        I am a decidedly non-tech user, and moved into Linux about a year ago due to the imminent demise of Win7 support.  Absolutely no desire to partake of the rolling train wreck called Win10.  With crucial guidance from this forum by Ascaris, Microfix, and others. I’m running Mint Mate and have found it to be a revelation, much better in pretty much every respect than Windows.

        I would say to those Windows users who are considering a change, try Mint and you will never look back.  If you go the dual-boot route, not at all difficult, Linux will provide access to your Windows OS by default, so there is no need to move anything.  You can even open your Windows files while booted into Linux.

        For help, not only is there excellent advice here, as mentioned, but there is a Linux support forum https://forums.linuxmint.com/ that is most helpful as well.

         

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

        7 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2287556 Reply
        Northwest Rick
        AskWoody Plus

        I arrived here via the latest AWP Newsletter.  Thanks for all the tips on Linux, a timely & useful topic.

        I recently hooked up an external HD (my Compaq clunker that originally came with Vista lacks a second HD bay, though it does have one PCIe slot which allowed me to add USB 3.0 ports for my external HD, and which makes backing up my data files to a 128 GB thumb drive a whole lot faster – WOO-HOO!  Am I on the cutting edge, or what??)

        I did upgrade this relic to Win 7 back in the day, but I saw no compelling reason to go further (who needs a Win 8 touch screen? And Win 10? Don’t get me started!)

        Now I’m all set to venture into the world of Linux, with my computer equivalent of a ’57 Chevy…  OK, maybe a ’52 Nash!  We know what I’m talking about, don’t we, Woody?

        3 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2287636 Reply
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          I expect you will be pleasantly surprised.

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2287773 Reply
          anonymous
          Guest

          Northwest Rick wrote:
          my Compaq clunker that originally came with Vista

          Vista? ooooh, fancy…

          I just read and am replying to your post on an HP Compaq “business desktop” with a Pentium processor (dual core – hmmmm, maybe my rig’s just a lil’ bit fancy too 🙂 ) originally running XP when it was purchased more than a dozen years ago. And while it might not be – and never would have been – the best system for computationally-intensive tasks, for basic use it still performs reasonably well when paired with a light(er)-weight linux distro.

          Hope this helps.

      • #2287613 Reply
        petermat
        AskWoody Plus

        Linux has often, and rightly, been touted as a way to utilize an ‘old pc’. If a beginner embarks on this path – be warned – there is a trap here. First check if the old pc has 32 or 64 bit hardware. If 64, go right ahead. If 32, ask if there are specific programs you want to use? A good current example is Zoom – which will only run on 64 bit Linux. So whilst there are 32 bit Linux distros out there (though not so many these days) and they do have a variety of  apps available, you may not be able to run the app you want. Check first!

        • #2287648 Reply
          Charlie
          AskWoody Plus

          I’ve been assuming that my 2007 Sony VAIO laptop with an Intel Core Duo CPU will do 64 bits when I need it to.  How do I go about checking, just to be sure?

          Win 7, Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz, Linux Mint 19.1, Klaatu barada nikto

          • #2287652 Reply
            PKCano
            Da Boss

            In a Windows system:
            Control Panel\System should give you the bittage of the OS and the hardware.
            64-bit hardware can run 32-bit OS.
            But 32-bit hardware cannot run 64-bit OS and has a limitation of slightly less than 4GB RAM.

            You should have something similar in Linux that gives information about the bittage.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2287654 Reply
            petermat
            AskWoody Plus

            On win 10 – start/Settings/System/about  and under “Device specifications” see “system type” which will spec the bitedness of both OS and CPU. There is something similar in win 7 if I recall correctly. Alternativelly I believe Belarc advisor (free down load) will also give this info.)

            • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by petermat.
            • #2287656 Reply
              Charlie
              AskWoody Plus

              Thanks, but I’ve got Linux Mint 19.1, 32 bit on the Sony laptop.

              Win 7, Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz, Linux Mint 19.1, Klaatu barada nikto

              1 user thanked author for this post.
              • #2287657 Reply
                Microfix
                AskWoody MVP

                Charlie, type in the linux command prompt:

                inxi -Fz

                it will then display a sanitized system report of all your hardware 😉

                Win8.1 Pro x64 + Linux Hybrids x86/x64 + Win7 Pro x86/64 O/L
                1 user thanked author for this post.
              • #2287691 Reply
                Charlie
                AskWoody Plus

                Wow! That really gave me a complete system and computer report, right down to the model & serial numbers of the computer.  The System information icon in the GUI didn’t give all that.  Thank you very much Microfix.  I saw 64 bit under the CPU info.

                Win 7, Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz, Linux Mint 19.1, Klaatu barada nikto

          • #2287680 Reply
            Ascaris
            AskWoody_MVP

            Core 2 Duos are 64-bit, no problem there.

            I’ve had 64-bit Windows and Linux on my Asus F8Sn Core 2 Duo laptop (which, like most of that era, used the Intel PM965 chipset) for years. I’ve even got 8GB of RAM in it, working perfectly well, even though Asus and Intel claim a max of 4. No hack of any kind was needed to get it to work… the 4 GB limitation simply was not true. It was rumored that a certain type of memory may be needed, but the first one I found at a decent price worked fine. I was certain to buy from a place with a good return policy in case it didn’t, but there was no need.

            Group "L" (Fedora 32 Linux w/ KDE Plasma).

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2287695 Reply
              Charlie
              AskWoody Plus

              Thanks Ascaris, that’s good to know.  I’ve currently got only 2 Gigs of memory in the Sony and am looking to increase it to 4 Gigs. if and when I can find it.  It’s a Sony VGN-NR285E which they say will only take 4 Gigs max.  It’s looking like I’ll be forced to go to 64 bit Linux eventually.

              Win 7, Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz, Linux Mint 19.1, Klaatu barada nikto

              • #2287812 Reply
                Paul T
                AskWoody MVP

                If you have less than 4GB then 32bit is probably the best choice of OS. It is optimized to run in less memory.

                cheers, Paul

                1 user thanked author for this post.
              • #2287978 Reply
                Ascaris
                AskWoody_MVP

                My 4GB Acer Swift (non-upgradeable, with 3.7 available after the integrated GPU takes its chunk) laptop uses KDE Neon 64-bit, and it came with Windows 10 64-bit preinstalled. The 32-bit edition would have been a little more efficient with the memory, but there isn’t one for Neon, or for a growing number of applications. The most recent Ubuntu LTS release is 64-bit only, and thus so are any derivative distros, like Mint.

                The 32-bit world is going away, whether we like it or not.

                Group "L" (Fedora 32 Linux w/ KDE Plasma).

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