Choosing the right Distro – Part I
Users trying to migrate from Windows to Linux have to make the most important and difficult decision “ Choosing the Right Distro (short for distribution) “. It is very important because the distro you choose will affect your experience with linux a lot. Your decision should be based on your computer hardware configurations, your knowledge of computer related stuff and many others all of which I will cover in this tutorial.
Note: This tutorial is focused mainly on novice users using Linux or are planing to migrate from windows to Linux.
Distros - Intro
You may wonder why in hell would there be so many distributions out there. Why can't it be just like Windows or Mac where it is just one company controlling everything and making a choice isn't difficult.
This is the best part of Linux. You CHOOSE everything. Well for a novice user this may be overwhelming but as you start using Linux you will see that this is actually a wonderful feature. One main reason for users migrating from Windows are because everything is fixed, constant and rigid. The themes, application fonts...and users want a change. And with using Linux, you get a wide variety from many well known companies like red-hat, openSuse , Ubuntu, mandriva etc...if you don't like one you can always use an another one.
Distros – Leading Examples
There are many distros to name all of them would be a huge list. I will list only the most popular and user-friendly distros.
Fedora ( Redhat Project )
Linux Mint ( A distro derived from ubuntu )
Distros – Live CD or Normal CD
Note : A live CD is one where all you have to do is just boot the CD and start using Linux with installing any thing on your computer!!
This is one of the important factors which is sometimes ignored. A live CD gives you a taste of Linux before you install it on your computer. So you can get the feel of it, use it to your satisfaction before you can install it. You can see if the distro detected your wireless network, your printers and scanners and any devices or you could see the applications installed in it.
One important thing you have to remember is that a distro suited for others might not always suit you. Probably you don't like the way it is organized or maybe the applications installed aren't sufficient. The best way to find out is using a live CD of a distros. And not all distros have it.
Besides if you think you are not ready for the full time move to linux, you can always boot the live CD use Linux in your free time, learn about it before switching completely to it.
Distro – Community Support
Based on the previous method, let's assume you have some distros in mind. The next thing you have to look for is community support like forums etc. As you start using linux full time here and there you may have to perform some tweaks, or probably you would like to get some help on solving a certain issue. Hence it is very important that you can find help easily online or from your friends. Most major Linux distributions have their own forums where you can ask for help.
Some of them are mentioned below,
Distro – Release Cycle
If you are like the person who would always like to have the latest bleeding edge softwares and drivers in Linux, then you should choose a Linux distro which releases a new release frequently. While some people would like to use stable softwares. For instance ubuntu releases a new version every 6 months, while fedora releases a new version every 7-9 months.
Distro – Desktop or Server
You definitely want to take this into consideration which choosing a Linux distro. If you are going to use it to host a server, then you need to take to considerations like does the distro is secure enough, how long will it get software updates etc. While if you are using it for a desktop then you might want to see if it has all the necessary pre-installed applications, ease of adjusting setting like wireless networks etc.
Distro – Additional Resources on choosing the right distro
This site helps you choose the distro based on your experience with linux, your computer hardware and many other factors etc. It has a very intuitive process helping you choose the right distro.