Most people who have used Linux at one point or the other agree that it is an awesome open-source OS. However there are some problems associated with using it. Linux users can choose from approximately 600 versions of the operating system. The problem here is that users find it difficult determining which is the best Linux distribution. If you are familiar with some of the basic features of Linux, and wish to go further than the fundamentals, this article presents some hints on how to discover the best Linux distribution that will best serve your needs.
It should be noted that this write-up is not meant to teach you the basics of Linux. It is assumed that you already understand the basic terminologies, as well as have a little understanding of the way Linux functions, the meaning of desktop environment, how repositories plus package managers function, and the like.If you are familiar with all this, then this article can help you find the best Linux distribution.
How does a Linux distribution differ from other distributions?
Other factors play a part in defining the best Linux distribution apart from the feel and appearance of the desktop. While searching for the best Linux distribution, you need to consider all the factors that make a distribution what it is. It is true that users can customize most of the features in any Linux distribution – for example, if you are not pleased with the drivers, desktop environment, or apps that come with the package, you can get them installed independently – the aim here is to discover the best Linux distribution. This would save you the time you would have spent in customizing it to suit your needs. The following are some of the things you should always consider when selecting a Linux distribution.
The package manager has customarily been a major distinguishing factor between Linux distributions. If you have made use of Ubuntu, it is likely that you know about APT or Synaptic, its graphical interface). This feature is also available on some other distributions such as Debian and Mint. However you will find different package managers in other distributions. For example, it is slightly simpler to use Yum manager for Fedora than using APT (Even though using it is somewhat slower sometimes).
Another important thing that counts when we decide the best Linux disbribution is the ease of access to packages. At times, it may be more difficult to find the application you are searching for, as Fedora is not as trendy as Mint, Ubuntu and others. What this means is that you will be compelled to build from source rather than simply getting what you need from the repositories. It is not so difficult to build from source, but the system will not let you update the program automatically any time a new edition is available. Therefore, while selecting the best Linux distribution, you should take into account the popularity and accessibility of a particular package manager.Therefore when you are looking for the best Linux Distribution, you should take into account the package managers in offers.
Changing the desktop environment is something that can easily be done, even though it touches on several different sections of a distribution. Desktop environments can differ in the following ways:
- The feel and appearance of your menus, desktop and windows in addition to how customizable a desktop is.
- The ease with which some programs integrate with the desktop.
- The options that can be found a distribution’s graphical preferences (for example changing what can be seen in the menus, remapping some keys, etc.)
- Resource usage.
The desktop environment is something you have to give serious consideration when finding the best Linux distribution , even though you are free to install a different one. If the default is very close to the kind of desktop you prefer, you will need to do little or no work trying to customize it to suit your preferences. Also, the programs installed in your system will be better integrated.
Cutting Edge V. Stability
All Linux distributions are usually not released on the same period and their update cycles are different. Some distributions such as Fedora, concentrate on giving users the most current editions of the packages and apps they use. But at times, users have to sacrifice stability just to get the greatest and newest applications. For this reason, distributions such as Debian choose to defer some updates to be certain everything works efficiently. You should go for a distribution like Debian, if you like having the newest edition of Firefox and some other applications. Going for Fedora and other distributions like it will get you the newest updates faster. So your decision on the best Linux distribution on this count is quite subjective.
The different Linux distributions do not come with the same drivers within their installers. Therefore, if you make use of a particular distribution, you will discover that some of the hardware you use may not be compatible with your operating system. Of course, you can install other drivers that will make your hardware work with a little additional effort, but you will not find it exciting. While selecting best Linux distribution, carefully examine the pages that talk about hardware compatibility. (You can also use their Live compact discs to test them out). Doing this will help you find out if your pieces of hardware such as video card, sound and Wi-Fi are supported by the operating system. If they are not supported, you should be aware you have to put in a little extra effort to get everything running efficiently when you do the initial installation of the best Linux distribution.
Linux has a very big community, and members of this community provide one form of support or the other such as good documentation, app support, or troubleshooting. Your chances of getting help, finding documentation regarding a piece of hardware, or about a particular issue while using a distribution is greater, if the community surrounding that distribution is large. Ubuntu is the best Linux distribution for beginners because the community supporting it is so large. Get on the internet and join the forums that talk about your chosen distributions, and find out the ones that suit you best. How helpful is the community? How many helpful documentation pages or forum threads does it have? Your decision to chose the best Linux distribution would be very easy if the community supporting it provides excellent support.
Distributions all Linux users should check out
After finding out what differentiates the best Linux distribution from another, the next thing you probably want to know is where to begin the search. One good resource for individuals who intend to branch out is Distro Watch, however keep in mind that there are so many distros to choose from, and selecting one can be really overwhelming. Presented below are some distributions that are extremely popular. You can start your search by looking at these first, but your search should definitely not stop there. It should be noted that some distributions have variants that make use of different desktop environments; however this article focuses on a distribution’s default environment to aid you in selecting the best Linux distribution.
Ubuntu: The benchmark
Most people who have tried using Linux before have probably tried using Ubuntu. Ubuntu originally aimed to simplify the process of using Linux, making it easy for the typical user, and it has performed wonderfully well. Beginners enjoy using Ubuntu, as it is quite easy to use, every 6 months it is updated, and it now contains a Unity interface, which cannot be found in other distributions. In place of a taskbar, it has something like a dock. Ubuntu’s package manager has an application Store-like interface, a dashboard that makes it easy to search the OS, and several other features. Whether you like or do not like these features, you still have the option of bringing back the standard GNOME interface, if that is what you want. The distribution comes with some standard apps, such as Transmission used for torrents download, Empathy used for instant messaging, Thunderbird Firefox, and several others. Also, the community supporting it is really large and helpful, and its hardware support is fantastic and makes it the best Linux distribution for novice Linux users. Therefore, if you are searching for the best Linux distribution that will give you little or no problems, you should check Ubuntu out. Because it is so popular, it probably has a large amount of programs within the repositories. The possibility of you building any program from source is very low.
Linux Mint: For the novice
This distribution is actually a variant of Ubuntu, however it is now big enough to stand on its own as it has increased in popularity now that Ubuntu has moved towards the Unity interface which is not so trendy. Mint has the objective of being as simple as possible for individuals who have never used Linux. Thus, installing it is quite easy; the menus are user friendly and very easy to understand. Also the distro comes with such things as MP3 support, Adobe Flash, plus a number of proprietary hardware drivers all preinstalled. What this means is that it does not limit itself to providing just open source and free software. All these are usually downloaded separately, in other distros. Ubuntu and Mint have very similar collection of preinstalled applications (but there is one exception that should be noted, While Ubuntu preinstalls Empathy used for instant messaging, Mint preinstalls Pidgin, which is definitely not a bad choice}, also the variety of programs obtainable as DEB files or within the repositories is very wide, because the package management system used by Ubuntu and Mint is the same. Additionally, it is driven entirely by the community around it, and that is an indication that any time you need help you can get it from a very good source. People who have never used Linux should consider going for Mint as their first distribution because it is the best Linux distribution on inexperienced users.
Fedora: For the cutting edge user
This is one of the most popular one and for some it is the best Linux distribution by a wide margin. Fedora aspires to giving users the greatest and newest software. Every six months updates are released, but support for them does not last very long. Users are expected to update frequently and as quickly as they can. For example, the moment new update for Firefox is released by Mozilla, the Firefox browser will be updated in Fedora. Ubuntu works differently, usually, it will wait to effect Ubuntu-specific alterations to the code before releasing things later. Users that always want to install the latest software on their computer will enjoy using Fedora, even though it can lead to a little more instability. Additionally, it is modernized to the GNOME three shell very swiftly. It is also the trendiest Linux distribution presently using it. Rather than use Mint and Ubuntu’s APT, Fedora makes use of Yum package manager, which is easier to use but somewhat slower. Fedora’s software availability is much lower than that of Mint and Ubunto, but you can get all the software you need within the repositories or over the internet with one click installer. Also, Fedora’s enterprise and security features are excellent. Fedora is the best Linux distribution for individuals who wish to make use of Linux in an environment that is a bit more professional. This distribution is suitable for determined Linux users instead of people who are only interested in experimenting with the operating system.
Debian: For the stable and guarded
Debian is a Linux distribution that tries to be bug-free and secured at all times. It is quite different from Fedora in the sense that it does not provide users with the newest and greatest editions of software. Every one to three years new updates come out, and the community surrounding the distribution can be a little unsympathetic for inexperienced users. This does not make it the best Linux distribution. But, if you want something that is very stable, and cares little about constantly having the newest edition of software, you should go for Debian. Also, the package management structure that Debian uses is not different from the one used by Mint and Ubuntu, thus it has lots of programs that you can work with both as DEB files and within the repositories. Additionally, it works well with several processor designs, which makes it the best Linux disbribution for users that have a build that is rather offbeat or old.
OpenSUSE: for the those that want to play around
This Linux distribution is general-purpose and the community behind it is quite helpful. The degree to which it can be configured is what sets it apart from other distributions. Its default desktop is KDE, but during the installation, it gives you the chance to select between XFCE, LXDE, GNOME and KDE. Also, its package manager, called YaST, and system administration utility are great, plus excellent documentation and a good community surrounding it. However, it should be noted that OpenSUSE and KDE use more resources than other distributions, therefore before choose it as the best Linux distribution, be certain that you have sufficient resources. This distribution is not suitable for your netbook. OpenSUSE provides you with several configuration choices that do not require you to explore the command line. So anyone that likes tinkering with things can give it a try. The ultimate decision whether you find it the best linux distribution rests with you.
Arch Linux: For the diehard
This distribution is exceptional and surely should be considered in your search for best Linux distribution. When you install Arch Linux, you have to do it from scratch, and that means its own characteristics are quite few. A command line is the only thing you have after installation, and from there you have to put together your preferred applications, drivers, desktop environment, and more. You are basically developing your own customized distribution. You can include as many features as you like, and even though you have to put in a lot of effort, what you get in the end is superb. (Also, you get to learn so much about how Linux functions while doing it). One good thing about this distribution is that in the event something goes awry, you will most likely know why, for the reason that you are compelled to take care of things like that at a basic level. This is particularly important considering that the community surrounding Arch offers very little assistance to beginners. This single thing keeps it away from the status of best Linux distribution.
Arch makes use of Pacman package manager, which is extraordinarily powerful and easy, also, it is regarded as a rolling release, since no official releases exist – all you do is install the newest edition of any packages that comes with it, which will suit users who like cutting edge. The distribution also includes what is called Arch User Repository, an exciting feature of Linux operating system. Basically, it makes it easy for users to create installable editions of any program, thus if you cannot find it within the official Arch repositories, all the programs can still be installed just like normal packages within the repositories, by using an AUR helper.
Apart from the ones mentioned here, there are several other Linux distributions that you can get and one of those may well be the best Linux distribution for you. You will also find popular ones such as Slackware and CentOS, and variants of the distributions mentioned above such as CrunchBang (which is related to Debain), or Lubuntu (which is related to Ubuntu). As stated earlier, as you look for the best Linux distribution, you have to carry out several tests, because the more tests you do; the greater your chances of finding the distribution that will best meet your needs.
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