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Nothing gets people in the Linux World riled up like comparing distributions, desktops or editors. But for the new Linux user, the whole thing is a bit confusing. What do we tell them? Do we verbally slug it out in forums or do we offer gentle guidance to those entering the Linux jungle for the first time? It's hard not to offer an opinion in such emotional matters. One might believe that Linux, choice of desktop and editors are religious notions instead of technical ones. I offer the following gentle guidelines for the newbie who dares enter our sacred space.

Linux is many things to many people. For you, it is an alternative to Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS. For us, Linux is an operating system kernel that's used in creating Linux distributions. Distributions are a collection of programs, applications, tools and graphics to create an operating system environment comparable to what you experience with Windows or Mac.

The Window environment or GUI as some call it, comes in a variety of flavors or implementations. They all are similar to Windows and Mac but also distinctly different. Your major choices for those are GNOME, KDE, XFCE and LXDE. GNOME and KDE are great for Desktop computers but servers need less graphical interface weight than Desktops, so you probably would choose between XFCE and LXDE.

These days you have choices for almost every type of software that you've grown accustomed to on Windows or Mac. There are office suites (KOffice, OpenOffice), individual applications like Abiword and Siag, games, graphics manipulation programs (GIMP) and just about anything you can conjure up in your mind.

There's no single correct answer for every question concerning Linux or its associated applications since they all work pretty well, it comes down to a matter of choice.

Where to begin?

If you're totally new to the Linux realm, I suggest you try Ubuntu Linux. Grab the latest ISO image from ubuntu.com, burn it to an optical disk, boot your computer to it, install and never look back.
Forget all the rhetoric surrounding this distribution or that distribution--just use it, learn it and go from there.

Don't be turned off by the fanboys, fanatics and others who want to sway your mind into their respective camps--just ignore them, laugh at them and enjoy your awesome new computer.
As you learn more about Linux, you might find that Ubuntu doesn't work for you as well as another distribution--so be it. Choose another. Change monthly if you want.

Realize this: Your Linux distribution is a tool, an operating system--a righteous one but only that--an operating system. Feel free to explore this new world and enjoy it. You'll have allies and enemies no matter which camp you decide to stay in but that comes with the territory.

Welcome Linux newbie, we're glad to have you.

And, if you must know, I prefer CentOS for Servers, Ubuntu for Desktops, GNOME and vi. So there. Flame away.

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Last Post by Cheemag
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I started with my first attempt of LINUX in 2000 , which i might add was a complete failure. It was still the OS of GEEKS and Networkers. NO LONGER!
That poor laptop was never the same again.
BUT now i have been running for over 3 years on a LINUX DISTRO or 5. I started with Freespire moved to Madriva , Slackware and a few others.. Puppy was cool for a small fast browser OS, but i also had UBUNTU ,DamnSmall all at one time.This was done with help in Forums to do it, i had 11 versions installed on my system. NOT Recommended. You should choose your DISTRO , Do a little questioning and dedicate yourself to ONLY ONE... FIND a good Distro Forum.. and ask questions.. make friends.. ignore the dopes that Flame you for NOT understanding.. once you have found this HOLY site , ask a billion questions.. find some one to teach you about COMMAND LINE and GUI interfaces.. Its not completely needed.. but you will learn more and enjoy, IMHO , your LINUX OS.. if you learn a bit of Command line. Yes, FIND YOUR DISTRO.. the one YOU really want to buckle into and learn it. THEN you can begin to relax in a SAFE , STABLE.. Unvirus able system. LINUX , once Installed.. is seriously SIMPLE to use. Most install disks are also quick and painless. ONE major Caveate.. LINUX is not a strong Game supporter. IF you are a major gamer.. there are ways.. but LINUX is till not the Gamers choice. If you MUST be a MAJOR GAMER.. install LINUX on a partition.. allow WINDOWS for the games only.. DUEL BOOTING or doing a WUBI.. virtual install is EASY.. it maybe hard at first , to do the NEW THING.. BUT in 3 years.. i have had NO virus's , no Hackers or Malware.. and I went for over a year with out a REBOOT.. NO Defragging.. My WUBI install took all over 20 minutes.. and i can add and subtract from that any time i want to.. FREE SOFTWARE and UPGRADES and NO ANTI VIRUS SOFTWARE SLOWING DOWN MY SYSTEM.
that has to be worth all the WORLD..

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Debian for servers, RHEL for servers if you need support, Ubuntu for desktops, with gnome and vi!

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i agree with forestwalkerjoe...linux really is simple once you get the hang of it...and about the gamers soo true...one of my friends was asking me what operating system i use, and i told him linux...and he had no idea what linux was....so i told him to get a copy of ubuntu since it is by far easiest to start out with....and the first thing he asks me I will be able to install drivers from my cd right? and I tell him no since ubuntu doesn't let you run .exe files and he is like wtf...and than he asks what about my games...i told him there are some ways of running games but its little more complicated to install than on windows and he is like this sucks...why would anyone even use linux lol

So yea i think linux should start having more easier way of running games haha....game programers should get games on linux/unix!

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The Window environment or GUI as some call it

Someone needs to learn the difference between a Windowing System (e.g X11), a Window Manager (e.g Sawfish) and a Desktop Manager (e.g GNOME)

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I try Ubuntu 8.10 which I come from a book I bought and I love it. Easy to install and use. But I have to test it on an older computer which had been lying in my store for some time. So I thought I bring it back to life and it did. The window base is easy to understand. But I am still suck with the command line though.

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