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back to article Ubuntu? Fedora? Mint? Debian? We'll find you the right Linux to swallow

Linux, it is said, is all about choice. Indeed, the ability to choose, well, pretty much everything, is probably the best thing about Linux. But the huge variety from which you can choose - ranging from distro and desktop to window manager - can also be overwhelming for newcomers. If you've ever thought about abandoning Windows …

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Angel

Re: Am I just thick-skinned?

I agree. Every time I had to ask something the community answered with good will. Granted, I asked a question - I didn't demanded a solution. There is a big difference, and it is not forgiven.

So:

"My computer doesn't work! Whats wrong?" Will trow You in a (digital) world of hurt.

But:

"I am using OpenSuse 12.2, and don't know how to play a video. What should I do?" Will, most likely, result in a polite and useful answer.

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Anonymous Coward

Linux != Windows

I tried various Linux distros and went back to FreeBSD.

If I want to install Windows then I'll use the real thing instead of some poor man's version.

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For the novices the answer is clear

The default answer is tell them to install Ubuntu. It has the lowest risk, it works, it has proprietary drivers where necessary, it has a simple GUI, it's supported.

If the person is somewhat more knowledgeable then you can discuss other dists since they're more likely to appreciate what the differences actually mean.

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Re: For the novices the answer is clear

Disagree, I'd say Mint is a far safer option, because it doesn't have a crazy UI by default.

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Re: For the novices the answer is clear

Sorry, but I have to disagree with you. With Ubuntu it is far too difficult to find all the programs that are installed.

Mint is what should be recommended to all newcomers IMHO. It is most similar to what they are already familiar with.

In fact, it's not just for the newbie. I've used Linux for well over a decade, and these days I just stick to Mint. It works, gets out of the way, and lets me get on with what I want to do.

The only question is what variant of Mint. I would say that if you have a computer older than about 5 years, use Mint with MATE, otherwise use Mint with Cinnamon.

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Re: For the novices the answer is clear

Unity isn't crazy. It might be aggravating for a power user which is why I explicitly said novice where they just want to be up and running with no nasty surprises.

As for Mint, yes perhaps someone might later move to that, but it offers choices for things which a novice is not in a position to make an informed decision about.

It's this profusion of choice which is half the problem of Linux. People make it so damned complicated when it doesn't have to be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: For the novices the answer is clear

I have to respectfully disagree. On Mint the a novice user might want to for example load up a paint program. They can click on the Menu in the same location that Windows 95 - Windows 7 had one, choose graphics, and a list of graphics programs are listed. They will see "GIMP Image Editor", as opposed to the other default applications and try that, and end up in a paint program.

On Unity they would have to know the paint program is called Gimp, and would have to search for it. Hence the difference.

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Happy

Mint Cinnamon for me...

Still running an Ubuntu laptop (the kid's one), but Unity is a mess... not to mention the constant updates. The endless updates being the reason I dropped Xubuntu on my little Sammy NC10. Mint Cinnamon is a bit heavier than Xubuntu, but no daily upteen thousand package updates makes me a happy camper.

I'd venture to suggest that Ubuntu is actually the biggest issue for entrants to the Linux world at the moment - for newbies it seems to be the first place they end up (I did, several years ago). Whilst the install is relatively simple for anyone with four or more braincells, the GUI Pile-Up that is Unity is enough to make most people not bother getting past the live USB stage.

The support forums for Ubuntu are awful - I just don't bother with them these days; if the search returns nothing then you've got the choice of your question either insta-locked and linked to something vaguely relevant, or ignored. The best you can usually hope for is that it goes in a pile with a load of other related bugs where someone may eventually fix it. I've not had cause to try the Mint support yet, after 6 mths installed on two netbooks.

Anyway, interesting comment regards Mint being very 'Windows' in it's feel - hadn't really occured to me. I like Mint because it's clean, relatively light (using around 130mb RAM at idle on this 2Gb netbook), and aside from installing the Samsung packages in Terminal I've had to do the square root of nothing to make it work.

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Stop

Re: Mint Cinnamon for me...

I am running Ubuntu 10 LTS and I always found my questions answered after some googleing. If that hadn't worked, I would have visited my local friendly Linux User Group for a beer and a chat.

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h3
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I don't agree about choosing a major distro other than Debian.

Debian and the niche distro's have decent support (Freenode irc).

The support from #slackware is ace (And it supports Vector and a few others that are based on Slackware).

The Ubuntu and Opensuse support is god awful in comparison. (I have a reasonable amount of experience so I can tell when people are advising stupid stuff that is going to cause large amounts of hassle later.)

As a first distro I wouild probably go for Debian it has quite reasonable decent documentation and good irc help on irc.oftc.org or irc.freenode.org #debian

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Oftc #debian seems to have less bickering so that is what I use. (And it is what irc.debian.org points to).

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I'm not a serious Linux user, but I've had experience(s) with a few distroes. My favourites ones by far from a setup and usable-out-the-box perspective are Ubuntu and Suse (in no particular order). Knoppix was kind of cool, but the other two were nicer.

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OpenSuse

I love OpenSuse, Can't really do any wrong in my book.

I did have kubuntu for a while but heard it was being deprecated so made the jump and glad I'm did, the effort gone into that interface is pretty nice. Just the little details make it feel a lot more professionally done.

Even got native Steam working on it over the weekend through a one-click-install link

I'll use my win7 boot for development and gaming, but pretty much all else is OpenSuse

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Linux

Kubuntu deprecated?

I hadn't heard that! I'm downloading the latest Kubuntu images now. Been using it since Gutsy, now using Precise almost exclusively (except for the compulsory Wintendo). Wouldn't install Ubuntu Unity if you paid me... I've got Windows 8 in a VM at work and find it a pain to use at best, though I admit part of that could be Virtualbox.

I've even installed Kubuntu Precise on a computer for a friend who is computer-clueless (approaching clue-resistant). He is quite comfortable with it, and is even getting used to, yes, the command line.

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Re: Kubuntu deprecated?

Yeah, it was a shame cos it was my Linux of choice for the no-hassle way of doing things in a KDE interface but I heard they're just going to let it fizzle out while they concentrate on unity ubuntu

But like I said, since my main criteria interface-wise was "must be awesome in KDE" OpenSuse was joyful compared to kubuntu

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Kubuntu

My wife has been on Kubuntu for years, and prior to that, Mandrake/Mandriva. Her old PC died and we bought a new one, it came with Windows 7. She tried it and didn't care for it. The machine is dual boot, and she might boot into Windows a few times a year to run something she can't run in linux (audible books). The problem with that is that Windows usually way behind on updates and need to spend a couple of hours downloading and rebooting. She is not a computer person and it works just fine for her. She also has an HP Touchpad and prefers WebOS to Android on it.

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why either/or?

On my laptop I'm running Ubuntu in VirtualBox seamless mode under Windows 7. In Ubuntu I use GIMP, Meld, KLinkStatus, and VLC media player. In Windows I use various MS development tools, and one I can't do without: SQLyog.

But even if I had nothing to use in Windows, I'd still use it as a VirtualBox launcher to run different Ubuntu environments. If nothing else it does a great job of that. ;)

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Boffin

From a

(1) Microsoft user--DOS 2.11 through Win7, but not Bob, ME, or Vista

(2) Linux/Unix user since 2009: BSD, Ubuntu, SuSE, Mint, Knoppix, Debian

I've taught college for over twenty years, from Boolean logic to assembly-language programming to Operating System Design, and I've always ascribed to the philosophy that the best way to teach a new subject is introduce it gently. If the 'gentle' tool(s) used turn out to be elegant, powerful tools--they most always do--then so much the better.

To use a topical example, I would never use LibreOffice or Office to teach a begiining course in word processing; even if the goal of the course was proficiency in a 'powerful' WP, using AbiWord as an introduction to the subject would be most beneficial to basic and lasting knowledge of the subject. And, as it so happenst , Abiword seems to be able to do almost all that one would want from a word processor while not being intimidating.

In a similar vein, considering power, lack of intimidation, and lack of ego-inspired "capabilities"--which only add to the new-Linux-user's burden--the best choice, and the one I suggest to those who are interested in switching from Windows to Linux with the least effort and highest productivity is Linux Mint.

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Sneaking in with the Raspberry Pi

I'd say that Debian has sneaked here in the guise of Raspbian. That's a million computers that will never run Windows sold, and to a lot of people who didn't know Linux existed before that as well.

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Linux

Re: Sneaking in with the Raspberry Pi

You can tell they had no idea linux existed before because of the proliferation of 'How to do <really obvious linux thing> on Raspberry Pi' blog posts.

It's most entertaining, like a bunch of teenagers who think they invented music, or kissing or something. Still, good that they're learning about it one way or another.

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Boffin

"When setting out to explain something, make the explanation as simple as possible. ..but no simpler".

[paraphrase]

--A. Einstein

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cd

No Mention of Pinguy?

I'd think it would be a top contender for a beginner/switcher. Rarely takes any explanation when I've installed it for folks. Just put the stuff they want in Docky and let them at it.

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Debian

Debian cause I don't have issues with it. Even got the Nvidia drivers to install correctly once I got the dependencies installed. Same with VMware. Got it running in dual boot on my desktop, running as a daily driver on my 5 yo laptop and netbook. Very happy with it so far.

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Vic
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Re: Debian

> Debian cause I don't have issues with it.

The installer's horrible. Stopping part-way through waiting for user input is a PITA.

I also had problems with Debian 5 (which a 3rd-party tool vendor required - Deb 6 wasn't supported) and sssd. Never did get that one sorted...

Vic.

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Mushroom

OpenSuSE

but thanks to a really well done KDE release,

Thanks to a really well done, KMail explicitely excluded, KDE release. There, fixed that for you.

Kmail2. It's the most astonishing pile of festering parrot droppings.

Kmail 1.x would occasionally eat a couple of mails from one of its folders, leaving zero-size files and requiring you to exit and restart Kmail, then reindex that folder, losing any meta-information on whether you had replied, etc., as well as those eaten files.

Kmail 2 "solved" that by dumping *all* message files in a single directory, and storing meta-info as required (which folder(s) the message was filed in, among others) in akonadi. Which then proceeded to eat that info, leaving just the huge pile of message files in that single directory..

Remove, reinstall (including akonadi), check settings, re-import, try again.

Same shit.

Remove, reinstall (including akonadi), check settings, re-import, try again once more.

Same shit.

I'm now using mutt. TYVM.

KDE4 is (mostly) fine, but KMail is an inflamed pustule on its nether regions.

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Re: OpenSuSE

"KDE4 is (mostly) fine, but KMail is an inflamed pustule on its nether regions."

So use Thunderbird, that's also installed by default

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Facepalm

Re: OpenSuSE

Sad, but true. Never had problems with KMail. That's it, not before KDE 4.x. Using Thunderbird now - but really liked the old KMail...

Ah, well...

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Re: OpenSuSE

So use Thunderbird, that's also installed by default

May well be, but the first thing KDE throws at you when you first start it, and want to start using mail is KMail. Which people would do well to utterly avoid.

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Vic
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Re: OpenSuSE

> Kmail2. It's the most astonishing pile of festering parrot droppings.

Something about v2 code under KDE :-)

Amarok v1.4 remains my favourite music player/manager. It's properly excellent.

Amarok v2 (pick your version...) is buggy and far less competent. And I hate the look :-(

Vic.

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Re: OpenSuSE

Plus, KDE4 randomly renamed some programs - Apparently KPDF and KView were too obvious, so we got Okular and GwenView, respectively.

As for Amarok v2 - that mess caused me to quit monolithic media players all together and switch to mpd (the clients for which were also lost in a KDE3 vs KDE4 crapstorm for years.)

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@Vic re Amarok

Agree on Amarok. When I did a dist-upgrade of my Ubuntu desktop box from Hardy to Lucid it did the 1.4-to-2.something upgrade for me, and I was lost for weeks trying restore all of my music.

The bugs are mostly fixed now (at least the ones that were affecting me), but I still find it bloody annoying to maintain music on an external device. It was sooooooo much easier with 1.4.

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Linux

My problem is that due to the Nvidia graphics on my laptop most of the live CDs fail and freeze up. I could get round this by using the alternate Ubuntu text based install CD. But now they have abandoned it. Last time the upgrade failed. The workaround I used was to install Xubuntu who still do an alternate disc. Then install the Nvidia driver and apt-get the unity desktop. Then I decided to try Cinnamon. Added the PPA, downloaded it and never looked back. I have Mint on Virtualbox on Win vista and if I could I would probably install it as you get all the multimedia goodies. I would probably choose the Debian edition of Mint rather than the Ubuntu based flavour.

As it stands though I will stick with my custom Ubuntu + Cinnamon cos it rocks & I can't be arsed to mess about with the computer anymore. If Windows Vista was anywhere near as good as OS X I would not have bothered with Linux in the first place.

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Linux

Lots Of Propaganda Operatives Here

So let me cut through all the disinformation and get a few facts straight:

1.) Modern distros such as Ubuntu are way easier and faster to install than Windows and Windows applications on 99% of current PCs. There is a centralized software installation/updating system and not an installer/updater per program.

2.) You will never touch the command line if you just want to do text processing, spreadsheets, image manipulation and similar things. For the masters of the IT trade, the command line is the most productive and precise tool to operate computers, though. Very much like a scalpel in the hands of an experienced and well-educated surgeon. Or like an Endoscope.

Windows has never been designed for proper command line operation, but for the GUI approach.

3.) The Command Line of Linux is for Expert To Repair your computer if something has gone wrong. Windows does not have a proper command line infrastructure and instead often requries "full re-installation" or "25 registry hacks". Computers are more complicated than modern cars so you sometimes need an Expert to fix it. Full Stop.

4.) Linux User groups meeting in the "real world" are very helpful to new Linux users. After they know you, they will surely help you out with some Command Line wizardry, when something has gone wrong. They will also answer all your conceptual questions.

5.) Linux machines simply run and run. For years. You don't need this collection of "tuning" and "security" programs of the Windows world. In most cases Linux machines die from hardware problems or from too much dust in the heat exchanger on the CPU.

6.) There exist Linux versions which will run on quite old computers with (for today's standards) moderate hardware such as 256MB RAM or less. E.g. some Xubuntu versions. There was a time you could run Windows NT on 48MB of RAM and they did not add much substantial since then. Instead they added lots of eye candy so that you need 2000MB now. With Linux, you can still run on 48MB, if you really like. Your Linux-based DSL router probably runs on 16MB or less.

7.) Whereever real IT professionals work, they use Linux for the heavy-duty work. Facebook, Google, Eurex, CERN and most of the world's supercomputers run Linux. Because it is a heavy-duty, professional-grade system. And yeah, Facebook is probably one the most massive computer systems, as it needs to handle 400 million teenagers.

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Meh

Overstating it a bit?

"Modern distros such as Ubuntu are way easier and faster to install than Windows and Windows applications on 99% of current PCs. There is a centralized software installation/updating system and not an installer/updater per program."

True and false. Most users never install Windows from scratch, so they wouldn't know. I agree that installing Windows as a clean install (like I may be just about to do on a laptop with a replaced hard drive) is no picnic, but even most users who bother will be using an OEM CD with drivers.

"You will never touch the command line if you just want to do text processing, spreadsheets, image manipulation and similar things."

If you want LibreOffice 3.6 and the current LTS Ubuntu release you need to add ppas in the command line. It's trivially easy, to be fair.

"Whereever real IT professionals work, they use Linux for the heavy-duty work."

That's for servers. Zuckerberg wrote Facebook on a Mac.

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Re: Lots Of Propaganda Operatives Here

1) Truth.

2 & 3) One slight correction here: Windows DOES finally have a proper CLI, though it's about 20 years late. It's called Powershell, and as of Windows Server 2012 you can finally run the whole system from it without ever touching the mouse.

4) LUGs are great if you happen to have one nearby. Personally I'd have to drive 3 hours to get to the nearest one I've been able to find. The joys of living in the boondocks.

5) No joke. My file server's been going for 7 years now. The only time it's ever been off was when the power was out. Since it's cut off from the internet I haven't even bothered with security updates, so the only maintenance I've done on it is to poke the power button to boot it back up after a power outage. My web server isn't far behind (except, with it being a web server, I do keep up to date on the security updates on it).

6) I had a machine set up for my kids a couple years ago that had 64mb of RAM and ran Damn Small Linux. Sure it was slow as snot, but it was built in the late 90s so what do you expect.

7) Truth.

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Linux

It is about the money and applications.

The reason Microsoft is still on the desktop is the money that Microsoft pushes onto the suppliers to get it out. Also, remember that FOSS isn't just for Linux but Windows as well. Point out sites like ninite.com to Windows users and they will learn.

As one person said, purchasing a computer with Linux on it is hard to impossible for most people. Yet they will purchase Android without thinking. Microsoft has made it hard by bundling their OS with the hardware. You pay the licence fee and then get counted as a user, even though you wipe it ASAP.

As for installs, this is my major headache. I would love incremental upgrades but that has not worked. Part of the reason is major code changes and library changes. This can be a real killer. I just installed Fedora 18 on two machines and found that this was a major headache. Someone tried and decided to install 17 instead of 18 due to the poor installer. In all cases it was due to custom disk partitioning and not wanting to use LVM. I have used the Fedora upgrade path with success on simple system in the past but it fails if you use encryption or more customized installation.

Of course, upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 and then Windows 8 won't be any easier. In most cases, it would be a purchase of a new computer. So the upgrad mess isn't that nice with Windows either. Of course with Windows in a location without an Internect connection, that can be a problem registering.

Get Windows off of new computers or out of the "Bundled price" and the move to Linux will grow. Once people see that they have to pay an extra $50-100 for their new machine and they will start looking around.

A move to standardized file systems is a good move to make it easier for deveolpers to package their software for multiple systems. The issue comes into the particular libraries being used. I have had issues with different versions of included libraries (dll's) on Windows computers that seem similar to Linux systems. Now there needs to be a simple packager that can create compatible packages and resolve dependencies across distros. A tool that can create RPM or DEB packates.

My father runs a Centos server, plays with different versions of Linux. He purchased an android phone to learn about it and now says he is going to get a new, more powerful one, just a few months after getting his new phone. He is in his 80's. My daughter installed Fedora 12 on her own laptop a few years ago. Using Yumex on Fedora gives me a nice package manager that allows me to search for applications that I may not know about.

I use Linux at work and home. Have not owned or operated a Windows computer (other than forced licenses.) since Windows 3.1. For work, I wish I could get Autocad Inventor but even thought their roots are in Unix, they don't support Linux.

Using LibreOffice I have saved files that were saved in MS Word but wouldn't open again.

Peoples complaints about Video drivers is also becoming mute. I have installed onto both nVidia and ATI cards using the default drivers in Fedora and ended up with 3D graphics. I don't think I have used the closed source drivers for over two years on any machine.

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Re: It is about the money and applications.

"In all cases it was due to custom disk partitioning and not wanting to use LVM."

Whatever you set the 'Partition type' dropdown on the 'Installation Options' screen to before you go into custom partitioning, will be the default type for newly-created partitions in the custom partitioning screen. So if you want to use plain ext4 partitions, it'll be easier if you set that dropdown to ext4 before you enter custom partitioning. Even if you don't, you can change the type after creating the partition; select the partition, expand the 'Customize...' expander on the right hand side, and you'll see the relevant options.

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: It is about the money and applications.

> A tool that can create RPM or DEB packates.

It's called "alien".

Vic.

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Windows

I have no background in linux but have enjoyed setting up a home multimedia server using a Mint and an old laptop.

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Preferred Distribution

As I do a lot of Oracle testing, my preference is 64-bit Centos 5

It has always been very reliable.

Running 3 Oracle instances and a couple of VM's has been fine on a machine with 6gb Ram

For testing any Windows setups I use VMware Player

P

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Boffin

And THE Linux problem IS...

...that there is no organization [sic] (your woord prosessor don't spiel chek good) or entity which has an interest in giving coverage to testimonials such as appeared above, to wit:

"I have no background in linux but have enjoyed setting up a home multimedia server using a Mint and an old laptop."

Please understand that this is not an indictment; merely a statement of fact. It is a fact that the best model for generating robust software must find a way, and reason, to generate revenue, which would lead to "honking its own horn."

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If ALL machines....

...came without an operating system, and users had to install it from scratch, I feel that it would be a different story. I don't know if anybody installs W7 (or W8, WXP for that matter) from installation media these days. It is a ROYAL hassle. You need to do silly licensing stuff and even more.

Yes, given a choice (which users really aren't) there might be different statistics on what is what.

Until that time, I will gladly use the Fedora 17 install DVD and dual boot the nice W7 machine I use at work (with KDE thank you!). Of course I really haven't use W7 at all, but if I need to break the glass on the fire alarm, I may need to use it. But in the mean time, my Linux installation works just fine.

Thank you very much!

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Re: If ALL machines....

Installing Win7 on a typical box is a lot of things. But not a hassle. Insert DVD, start box, accept defaults and enter serial key. Done. On first boot it configures the network and (if present) workgroup and done. Assuming you have a legal licence that is.

If you want stuff like more than one partition or domain integration you have a tad more work to do but even that is straight forward on the typical privat and corporate workstations.

Linux sometimes works (Suse) and sometimes did not (xBuntu) [Mid 2012 (1)]. Getting some CSS only stuff to work on it was a PITA same for getting the quite recent graphics card on the unit to run at it's full capacity(1). Printer setup was "interesting" and worked because I know the compatibility of the printer (Not in the list). On Windows it was "plug and play" for both.

(1) If I pay for it, I want full use of it. Even if the UI normally is not used on a "server"

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Vic
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Re: If ALL machines....

> not a hassle. Insert DVD, start box, accept defaults and enter serial key. Done

...And then look for all the devices it's failed to install drivers for. Particularly troublesome if one of them is the network interface (thank you, Sony, you bastards).

Boot into F14 from my USB drive, connect to the network, download drivers. Reboot into Windows and install :-)

Vic.

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Happy

Coupla Points....

The proprietry nVidia drivers, on Ubuntu and Kubuntu at least, are offered to you, as a choice, by the hardware wizard, once booted up inside the O/S. Obviously, the installer goes with the standard open driver to start with and you are offered the choice of a change (which of course, you can choose not to, and even if you do, can also choose to change back if you wish).

Adding Reops, again, you do not need to drop to the command line to do if you want to use the Software Package GUI that came with your distro to do it that way. You can do it either way, which ever you prefer.

Kmail2 was a disaster zone in the re-write from Kmail1->2, but they have pretty much nailed it, finally, on KDE 4.95/4.10 (which will be the default on Kubuntu 13.04). In fact, I would say they nailed KDE4 overall, finally, on 4.9.5/4.10 also.

Kubuntu, is not "deprecated" or in any way anything other than going from strength to strength. The fact seems to be that people didn't understand that all that changed was, Canonical stopped paying the wages of the single dev they had employed (J Riddel), but he continues anyway (the rest of the Kubuntu team were "community" anyway/already). So now, Kubuntu is in the same place with regards to Canonical as Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu, i.e. support other than financial, from Canonical (and all with their very good points).

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Cheers for that!!!

I've just spent a productive 20 minutes creating a dual boot Win 7 / Mint workstation.

It's been simply years since I tried Linux, and to be honest didn't have the patience to persevere. I have to say, i'm impressed with the improvements.

time to have a mooch round, while the boss isn't looking.

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Linux

So many choices...

I settled on Xubuntu after Kubuntu, and a failed attempt at Ubuntu, as I have a rather older computer. So far, I have no complaints, other than the seemingly unending stream of updates, but that's not always a bad thing. There was a learning curve switching over from XP, but nothing unmanageable.

I'd really like to try out Mint on my wife's lower-spec laptop after reading all the comments. Making a convert out of her will probably be more difficult though...

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Re: So many choices...@Tank boy

My Mint laptop (an ancient IBM a21p) has become the backup web browser for the whole family (one wife and two pre-teens). There was a little resistance at first, but it evaporated when they saw it could do most of what was needed (surf, send mail). Learning curve was small to none (login, click here, select Internet and select Firefox). I also tried Puppy, Lubuntu and Xubuntu but found Mint provided the best hardware support.

Mind you, this laptop is nearly 12 years old (an Intel P III), and has a whopping (maximum) 512 MB of memory.

The box is way too old to run WIN7 and used to struggle with XP which is why I tried Mint, after a friend's suggestion.

Some assembly was required to make all laptop features work but this is also a great way to learn about Linux.

If your box is somewhere above that spec, you should be happy but I would try a Live CD trial first before going large.

In the interests of full disclosure, I do get a little more resistance when this laptop can't play the occasional You tube video.

It also can't run Chrome (because it runs out of memory) so FF only, instead. If anyone here can suggest a better browser for this venerable laptop, please do. I can't put anymore memory inside. It works reasonably well with HTML5 sites that do video.

But these are all hardware resource issues, not OS issues. Otherwise, no complaints.

I found one of the best things about MInt was the community of people who have made it run on a large variety of hardware platforms (old and new) and are happy to share their experience.

Go for it. !

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Started with Slackware

I started with Slackware 8 (I think) and had great fun building Mythtv so many dependencies to track down and build. . . in the end I found trying to keep up somewhere close to current to be a chore (package manager doesn't / didn't check dependencies). I've since had a couple of buntu's and SUSE before settling on Gentoo. I left KDE when things like Akonadi and Nepomuk reared their ugly heads and installed XFCE instead! Miles simpler. Great thing about Gentoo is the documentation is pretty good (although without it I doubt anyone would ever successfully install).

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Raspberry Pi

I'm just waiting for a decent version of Unix to come out for the Pi so I can ditch the awful Linux crap (***BSD probably but I'd prefer a System V - a shame Open Solaris still isn't around, I'm sure they would have made a Pi port!) . It's not an OS, it's a hobby. The people on the forums are a nightmare and stuff changes overnight with no documentation. ALL their ideas and tech is stolen from Unix. Pah!

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