The Best Linux Distribution for New Users

February 5, 2016 The TNS Group

This is a debate that most certainly brings out the beast in many a Linux user. The argument doesn’t generally boil down to which distribution is truly best suited for new users, but which distribution is favored by those in the debate. If we set our personal preferences aside, a clearer picture can arise. But even that clarity can quickly get obscured by the needs and desires of the new users.

As you’re well aware, the correct answer depends on why someone wants to use Linux in the first place.

In my experience there are three kinds of Linux or PC users:

Ordinary: They want a PC that just works. They won’t be interested in how it works. They won’t have any desire or time to learn more about it or ‘waste’ time in fixing it. All they want to do is create some documents or send email; they don’t need to learn anything about the OS just way you don’t have to become mechanic to drive a car.

Enthusiasts: They are tinkerers, tweakers. They are never satisfied with what they have and want something different; something more. Linux gives them the perfect platform to play with like a toy. These folks don’t worry about broken systems; they actually take their systems to extremes to break them so that they can get the pleasure of fixing them.

Professionals: These folks are (or aspire to be) developers or system admins. They want to learn how an OS works. They don’t worry about broken systems as that would be part of their job – to fix broken systems.

Choosing the right Linux distribution is a very important step in the process of switching to Linux, because each flavor (distro) is different and you will want one that matches your needs (and potentially personality). Having said all of that, each person is different and each distribution is right for a different reason.  Reach out to our Managed IT Services Provider should you need additional information.

Top three distros

For the purposes of this examination, to be included in the short list a distribution must:

  • Be incredibly user-friendly
  • Include, out of the box, all common apps
  • Include some form of an app store
  • Offer a modern user interface.

With the criteria in place, which distributions meet (or exceed) our needs?

Ubuntu

Ubuntu Linux has long reigned the king of user-friendly Linux. Out of the box, it’s a challenge to find a desktop (Unity) that is more engaging and easy to use… even for those unfamiliar to the platform. The desktop layout, although different, is logical and intuitive. With the addition of one of the single most powerful search tools of any desktop environment, Ubuntu Unity should be considered a crowning achievement among the Linux faithful.

Linux Mint

If there is a distribution set to usurp the crown from the king, it is Linux Mint. Linux Mint takes a more standard approach to the desktop, but layers just enough eye candy and variation to make it stand out from the long-in-the-tooth desktop metaphor. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, so it does benefit from the stability and reliability found in its big brother.

Linux Deepin

New to the user-friendly list is Linux Deepin. This relatively new distribution hails from China and should be making some serious waves. Why? Because it takes the Linux desktop and turns it into a thing of artistic beauty; while at the same time retaining a high level of user-friendliness. Linux Deepin takes the GNOME 3 desktop and retools it into something completely different and completely marvelous.

Do you want to use your windows applications on Linux?

Linux has come a long way, but you may still need to run Windows applications occasionally – especially Windows-only PC games. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to run Windows applications on Linux.

Of course, before you try to run an old Windows program, you should look or alternatives that run natively on Linux. You’ll have a better experience if you can find a decent alternative that runs without any fiddling.

The Wine project

Wine (originally an acronym for “Wine Is Not an Emulator”) is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as Linux, Mac OSX, & BSD. Instead of simulating internal Windows logic like a virtual machine or emulator, Wine translates Windows API calls into POSIX calls on-the-fly, eliminating the performance and memory penalties of other methods and allowing you to cleanly integrate Windows applications into your desktop.

Wine implements the Windows application binary interface (ABI) entirely in user space, rather than as a kernel module. Services normally provided by the kernel in Windows are provided by a daemon known as the wineserver, whose task is to implement basic Windows functionality, as well as integration with the X Window System, and translation of signals into native Windows exceptions.

The big question is, are you ready to switch to Linux? What’s keeping you rooted in Windows or Mac? Contact us today for the answers.

By:  Hassan Aboulfetouh, Engineering, The TNS Group

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