Beginning GNU/Linux Journey

Choosing a linux distribution to begin with is a question that almost every linux beginner faces and most user find the answer as Ubuntu. As a matter of  fact, if you search “linux” on google, the top result that you get is Ubuntu ,wicked eh!!! That’s the popularity that it has attained. But there are other distros that are equally good as Ubuntu.

Well, I believe that there is no such thing as a best distribution for beginners. It’s just a matter of appropriateness. If a person wants to begin with the hardest of distro to work with,he surely can. But,it’s a bit better to first start with a distro that is easy to install and use. It’s more like a warm-up before the game :).

Distros suitable for beginners

So,based on the ease of use, good hardware-detection and nice selection of software packages and repositories, here is my list:

Ubuntu – Ofcourse ubuntu!! it needs no introduction. It is the most loved distribution by the beginners. It now uses its own Desktop Environment called Unity. Unity was received by users with mixed reactions.

Linux mint – Linux mint is based on Ubuntu. With 10.10 release,Ubuntu decided to move along with Unity while Mint stayed with Gnome.It is getting quite popular among the Gnome fans.

Zorin – This distro is designed for Windows users who want to have access to linux. It will provide you with the look and feel of Windows.

Pinguy Os – Also based on Ubuntu. It’s a fully packed distro with most of the softwares, that you are likely to use,and codecs already installed.

PclinuxOs – It is based on Mandriva. It is also easy to install and work with.

Sabayon – This distro is based on Gentoo. Gives a good out-of-the-box experience. It uses entropy and portage for package management. It is also easy to install and use.

The above distros are very good in providing a out-of-the-box experience, perhaps too good, things will hardly break. They will do most of the work themselves,you hardly have to do anything to make them work. If you switched from windows you’ll probably end up doing your work in the same way as Windows, a click here and a click there. I read  this line in some blog, don’t remember the name of the blog though

If you’re  not going to get your hands dirty, you ain’t gonna learn.

Breaking things in linux is an important part of the learning process in linux world. Yes, you do have resources to learn but man!! it’s a whole different feeling when you fix something that is broken.

When I say that the above distributions are suitable for beginners, I don’t mean that they are not used by experienced linux users. Experienced linux users do use them simply because they get out-of- the box system. They don’t have to configure everything.

Distros that provide an insight and are super awesome:

If you’re one of those hungry learners then you should surely try one of these:

Arch – It is installed as a minimal system from where user can shape it the way he likes. Powered with an excellent package manager “pacman” it uses a rolling release system which makes it bleeding edge and it has got an excellent wiki, might I add “the best” that I know of.A very good distro indeed.

Slackware – One of the oldest distros. It is aimed at elegance and stability. Slackware users typically prefer manual dependency resolution, since it gives them more system control.

Debian – Another one of the oldest distros. It is mostly aimed at stability that is why with the stable release you may get out of date software but everything is guaranteed not to break anything else when you install it.

LMDE Linux mint has come up with it’s own debian edition which goes by the name Linux Mint Debian Edition or simply LMDE. It is a rolling distribution that means it constantly receives updates. It’s not that stable. Things are likely to break more often but fixes can also come quickly.

LFS – Although,it’s not a distribution but it’s worth mentioning since it goes with the flow. Linux From Scratch or LFS is a project that allows you to make your system from scratch. You build an LFS system on an already installed Linux distributions.

Taken from LFS website:

Many wonder why they should go through the hassle of building a Linux system from scratch when they could just download an existing Linux distribution. However, there are several benefits of building LFS. Consider the following:

LFS teaches people how a Linux system works internally
Building LFS teaches you about all that makes Linux tick, how things work together and depend on each other. And most importantly, how to customize it to your own tastes and needs.

Building LFS produces a very compact Linux system
When you install a regular distribution, you often end up installing a lot of programs that you would probably never use. They’re just sitting there taking up (precious) disk space. It’s not hard to get an LFS system installed under 100 MB. Does that still sound like a lot? A few of us have been working on creating a very small embedded LFS system. We installed a system that was just enough to run the Apache web server; total disk space usage was approximately 8 MB. With further stripping, that can be brought down to 5 MB or less. Try that with a regular distribution.

LFS is extremely flexible
Building LFS could be compared to a finished house. LFS will give you the skeleton of a house, but it’s up to you to install plumbing, electrical outlets, kitchen, bath, wallpaper, etc. You have the ability to turn it into whatever type of system you need it to be, customized completely for you.

LFS offers you added security
You will compile the entire system from source, thus allowing you to audit everything, if you wish to do so, and apply all the security patches you want or need to apply. You don’t have to wait for someone else to provide a new binary package that (hopefully) fixes a security hole. Often, you never truly know whether a security hole is fixed or not unless you do it yourself.

Where to get help

Got into some problem ?? Don’t worry, there are plenty of resources from where you can get help.

User documentation & Wiki– Every distro has a community built documentation where you can find some very useful information.

IRC– Almost every linux distro has its own irc channel where you can ask your problems. All you need is an irc client like xchat. If you are a beginner then please, do read the Do’s and Dont’s on the irc, here, before going on the irc.

Forums– There are many forums like linuxquestions.org and distro specific forums where you can ask your questions.

Oh!! and don’t forget you always have google, folks!!!! 😉 Also,to know about many other distros you can go to distrowatch.

These are just my recommendations, in the end it all comes down to you…. what suits you best is entirely your decision.

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