Discussion in 'Linux & Open Source' started by RobTi, Mar 14, 2019.
Hi why are there so many distros, is it just because we can or something else?
Because we can. Because one of the major 'selling' points of Linux is that of customisation. Because different groups don't have exactly the same method in mind to reach the same goal.
But mostly because we can.
Also, there are different goals. Wildly different goals. From full on desktops, to server farms, to embedded systems. Then each of those can be broken down to sub goals, fast desktop just for internet access, fully featured desktop for graphical design work. The list goes on.
And then you can multiply that up, "because different groups dont have exactly the same method in mind to reach the same goal" ;-)
MacOS and Windows are proprietary. But Linux is open source. Anyone, including you, could pick it up and make your own distro if you have the technical ability. So over time companies and groups of enthusiasts have produced their own distros, each focused on a slightly different aim. Gradually some of the better ones rise to the top as the popular distros.
To start wit I felt overwhelmed with decisions on which distro and which desktop environment to use. But over time I came to realise what I wanted and found several distros which offered that. At that point the variety became an advantage rather than a problem.
Thanks all for setting me straight
You're welcome. For a newcomer I would suggest picking one of the popular main stream distros such as Ubuntu, Mint or Fedora.
Ubuntu seems to be where most people start. Personally I think the Gnome desktop environment is quite different from Windows. Perhaps more suitable to Mac users.
Fedora is a great distro too. Also based on the Gnome desktop so perhaps a little less familiar for Windows users
Kubuntu is based on Ubuntu but with the KDE Plasma desktop instead of Gnome. So it looks a bit more like Windows.
Mint is also based on Ubuntu but based on either the Mate desktop or the Cinnamon desktop depending on which version you install. Both look like Windows.
I usually recommend Mint Cinnamon to new people used to Windows. Mint Mate is also just as good but is slightly less pretty than Cinnamon although it works better on slower hardware. Kubuntu is also great and I recommend this too. The advantages these two distros have is being based on Ubunbtu so there is a lot of software available and tutorials on how to get things working, but they have desktop environments which will be slightly more familiar to Windows users.
I would also add that whilst it may seem cool to use a small distro you also need to consider how well it is maintained. Will it get security patches for it's packages in a timely manner or will it leave you exposed?
With distros like those mentioned by Hades above the answer is yes you will, and the same is true for server distros such as RHEL, OpenSUSE and Debian, but with some of the smaller distros, which sometimes can even appear to be almost a one man band, you have to question if that is the case.
I'd echo (pun intended) the above. To be fair though, once you have some Linux experience under your belt it really doesn't matter what distro you use - it's all GNU/Linux underneath. I flit between Arch, Fedora, openSUSE (or however they're spelling it this week ), Ubuntu, KaOS and myriad others on a daily basis. Apart from remembering to switch package manager syntax and that config files are in a slightly different place, it's just a case of po-tay-toe/po-tah-toe.
Cinnamon is more Windows-like than most, imho, and Fedora does a nice job with it. Rather than use Mint/Ubuntu I'd actually (highly) recommend Pop_OS! by System76 - a US Linux laptop seller and distro maker. It is basically the latest Ubuntus (including the default upstream repos for updates/fixes) with speed and UI tweaks on top. They disable snapd by default, speed things up, add in some nice custom tools like battery monitoring and CPU frequency scaling, Do Not Disturb mode etc, and add a nice theme on top.
The advantage over Ubuntu proper is they package two versions - AMD/Intel and Nvidia. Both come with proper drivers installed which makes things much more plug and play for noobs, rather than messing around switching between FOSS/proprietary drivers and such to get things working. It also supports LUKS (drive encryption) right in their custom installer. You just install, update, add ubuntu-restricted-extras and you're away. Hardware video acceleration also works nicely in Chromium with intel-media-driver or i965, or the Radeon/Nvidia drivers - which is a nice bonus.
Personal opinion, KDE still holds that title
I said 'than most'. Given how customisable and option-rich KDE is, it can be overwhelming for a switcher ime. Either/or really, they're both decent DEs.
Not really, until they go digging into KDE out of the box it's ideal for win users doing the switch. As with anything, things take time to learn. Not saying you are wrong as with anything, willingness to learn something new is key.
Imagine going to a shoe store and seeing all the different shoes in the store. So you go there and pick the best shoes for you. Some may not be your model, some may not be your size, some you just don't like the color. But you look and try a couple until you find perfect shoes for you. It's the same with distros. That's the wonderful thing about them.
For a beginner, I'd suggest starting with Ubuntu or Linux Mint to understand the basics and then try other distros until you find that one that's perfect for you.
This is a great way of explaining it.
Having so many distros is great but also a curse for Linux - it would surely be better if there were 100+ developers per distro working on a few, rather than the handful/10s per distro as seems to be the case (apart from the big boys like Ubuntu, Red Hat etc.).
It's also quite confusing for newcomers to know what to use. They'll often be overwhelmed by the sheer choice of distro / desktop combinations that a lot will simply gravitate back to Windows/MacOS as that's far more straightforward..
I've only switched fully to Linux since the start of this year (was still dual booting Windows for the previous year). It's only after a lot of research you realise that there's not that much difference between distros - LTS vs rolling release. The various desktop environments offer the biggest difference in experience - though in theory you can use any desktop on any distro, it's easier to pick one with everything already set up!
As mentioned above, Mint 19 Cinamon is a great intro to Linux if you're coming from a Windows background - easy to install, good hardware support and a very windows like interface. It's my daily driver at the mo.
Distrowatch is a great site for helping you pick a distro. KDE Neon is my distro of choice, I like KDE not for it's customisation capabilities but because it looks nice and has some great tools for development work. Dolphin is the best file manager I've ever used, being able to split screens, open up embedded terminal windows, pasting clipboard contents into new files etc is extremely useful for the sort of work I do.
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