Thinking of switching to linux

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by 2barcharlie, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. 2barcharlie

    2barcharlie New Member

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    I have been thinking of switching to a Linux OS for general internet and home use. I like the fact that it is more secure than Windows. My question is which version is best suited for what I have in mind? Not looking at being a developer just want an OS for general internet and home pc use. I have been thinking of dual booting, I have Windows 7 enterprise now. My pc is a Toshiba A-135 S2276 laptop with 320GB hard drive and 2GB RAM. Both HD and RAM have been upgraded from factory.

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  2. DevynCJohnson

    DevynCJohnson Well-Known Member Staff Member Staff Writer

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    I would recommend -

    1st - Ubuntu

    2nd - Linux Mint
    3rd - Fedora

    Read this article for extra advice - http://www.linux.org/threads/which-distro-is-right-for-me.4834/
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  3. samtheemo

    samtheemo New Member

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    If you're thinking about surfing the Internet, facebooking, using office software etc, you're just fine with Ubuntu or Linux Mint. They're also pretty good distros for Linux newbies as well.
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  4. KenJackson

    KenJackson Active Member

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    Those are good recommendations. If you want to do some comparison, DistroWatch is the king of distro comparison sites.

    Scroll down a little and look on the right for the Page Hit Ranking. Linux Mint has been number one for a while now, so a lot of people must find it easy to use and useful. My preference is for Fedora.
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  5. alug_Doc

    alug_Doc Member

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    Try before you "buy." Almost all free Linux distributions are downloaded as an ISO image that you burn to a blank DVD or CD as a Live Disc.

    You can boot your system from the disc, use Linux, and then shutdown the computer, remove the disc, and reboot back to Windows.

    Experiment with a variety of Linux distributions before you commit to loading it. This is the real beauty of Linux -- choice.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  6. Cyber-Berserker

    Cyber-Berserker Active Member

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    I suggest investigating the web sites of several distributions. Read the information provided for each system to narrow down the possibilities. If you want to dig a little deeper, visit the fora for the distros that appeal to you and investigate the levels of difficulty and satisfaction the users have. DistroWatch has been mentioned. It is one place to get the names of distributions and a small amount of information, but there are plenty of other resources as well. If you choose to check out DistroWatch, ignore their meaningless "rankings."
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  7. KenJackson

    KenJackson Active Member

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    He he he! :D

    The rankings don't have high value, but they're not meaningless. The problem is there really isn't a way to get good data on Linux use. Very few people buy a PC with Linux installed and ISO downloads are way too distributed and problematic to count. So how do you tell which distros are most popular?

    DistroWatch does it by counting the number of times people click on their information pages. It's admittedly weak but I think it's a valid metric. For example, many more people click on Fedora than Gentoo, so I conclude Fedora is much more popular than Gentoo.

    Do you know of a better metric?
  8. Cyber-Berserker

    Cyber-Berserker Active Member

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    The number of people participating on fora? Buntu and Mint are used by more people than Arch and Fedora, so by coincidence :p those boards are more active.

    It is not difficult to figure out relative popularity of distros, but popularity does not equate to quality. That is why I always suggest researching distros to see which ones appear to meet one's needs, instead of blindly downloading ISOs and installing.
  9. lobo

    lobo Active Member

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    Distrowatch rankings are not that useful. Sometimes incorrect statistics are worse than no statistics at all.

    The problem with DW page hit stats is just that - they are based on page hits alone. They also (roughly) measure popularity, not necessarily quality. So it's not a "best distro" barometer.

    The first problem:

    Some distros are the first port of call for casual, experimental or one time users. Ubuntu and Mint fit this category well. If a new member, new to GNU/Linux arrives on this forum looking for a starting point people recommend ubuntu or mint - that's more page hits for ubuntu or mint.

    The second problem:

    There are rolling release distros where the system is in a constant state of flux - there is no release as such, the user simply upgrades via the package manager and does not have to go to the distro's website and download a new .iso - that's less page hits for those distros.

    The third problem:

    There are distros which only release e.g every two years and which have a solid upgrade path - meaning less people downloading .iso images from the distro's web site, meaning less page hits.

    The fourth problem:

    There are rapid release distros, e.g. every 6 months, where users will tend to visit the site and download iso images more frequently. More page hits for those distros.

    The fifth problem:

    There are users who make use of mirrors or torrents and may not necessary visit the distro's site to download the new release. Less page hits.

    The sixth problem:

    The "veteran" users tend to reinstall much less often, instead preferring upgrading to the next release, they're also less prone to "distro hopping".

    The seventh problem:

    Noobs tend to break things and have to reinstall more often - in particular they tend to break upgrades or just not attempt upgrades at all.

    The eighth problem:

    Some distros are available as livecds, some are not or only via 3rd parties. Livecds are useful and used by many from demos and for recovery,. The downside is that livecds cannot be just upgraded - you have to download a new .iso when there is a new release. This means that distros which provide livecds will see more hits.

    The ninth problem:

    Some distros provide special desktop specific spins, this can mean (in particular in the case of Ubuntu) that the different spins are listed separately on DW - this means that hits are split across a few separate distros which are really one distro, meaning lower ranking.

    The tenth problem:

    The 'fanboi factor'. To avoid flamewars, I won't elaborate too much on this, but let's just say that users of certain distros may have worked over time to push those distros up the rankings at some point.

    I also don't think the number of people on a forum is in any way useful in determining popularity. Certain distros which appeal to or are designed for newer users, will of course see a lot more forum traffic.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  10. DevynCJohnson

    DevynCJohnson Well-Known Member Staff Member Staff Writer

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    I strongly recommend you turn your post into an article and give it to Rob to put on the main page of this web-site. That is some very informative and interesting thoughts about Distrowatch's accuracy. So many people use and recommend Distrowatch, so an article that makes people think twice about Distrowatch would probably get a lot of views.
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  11. lobo

    lobo Active Member

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    Distrowatch is ok for reading news and articles about distros, the danger is when the rankings are taken too literally (which they often are).

    I have no real time to write an article - thanks anyway. Feel free to do some extra research if you wish and use my post as a basis.

    The problem with the hit counter and popularity argument is that the same could be said of any product which saturates the market but isn't necessarily the best. Some distros were just in the right place at the right time, with the right kind of marketing.

    Ubuntu is one such distro and Mint rose from it's shoulders. Mint in particular exploited a gap - namely: Ubuntu with all the non-free shit included and built up from there. Ubuntu then foisted unity, upstart, the infamous shopping lens etc, on it's users - and while I dislike the idea of these and would not use them, I would not have a abandoned a distribution based on this alone. I also think the press coverage and "fan reaction" to some of Ubuntu's poor or unpopular decisions was hugely over the top - in short Ubuntu have just become a big overly exposed target. Yes they get much of what they deserve, but there are plenty of other distros out there which are hardly RMS endorsed...

    The fan back lash was silly and mostly spread by the uninformed. Yes Ubuntu and Canonical have come out with some idiotic stuff. The silly flocking to Mint in reaction this is even more ridiculous, because Mint is still Ubuntu with a 3rd party add on repo. That's not a problem as such - but the users who flamed Ubuntu and Shuttleworth should probably inform themselves of that - they should also realise that they are not the entire user base - not everyone subscribes to the "forum cults". That's what happens when lots of people jump on a bandwagon and it just snowballs from there...
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
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  12. Videodrome

    Videodrome Active Member

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    I like Distrowatch to learn details about a Distro I read about. What desktops/windowmanagers may be included with it? Is it based on Debian or Slackware?

    Sometimes there are comments on the distros development. Or why is it even being developed? Did it begin as a Fork from something else? Is the developer gearing the distro for a particular use or trying to improve in some area?
  13. Cyber-Berserker

    Cyber-Berserker Active Member

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    McDonald's being a perfect example.
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  14. Archonsg

    Archonsg Member

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    To the OP, besides different major distributions such as Debian, Slackware, Redhat and their variants, you also have a choice of different desktop environments. Namely KDE, GNOME, XFCE and other more recent stuff such as Unity (used by Ubuntu).

    To Simplify, XFCE = low load on resources, does not look as pretty as the other DEs but you'd be hard pressed to find fault with its speed. Xubuntu, Linux Mint XFCE all run blazingly fast even on older systems.

    KDE= Most windows like. Looks great (openGL 3D effects) and is well developed.

    Gnome= More "apple-ish?" but same as KDE more or less.

    So besides using Ubuntu (default download) and its Unity DE, you might prefer Kubuntu for the K desktop environment.
  15. KenJackson

    KenJackson Active Member

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    Grief! I wonder if you place way too much importance in consumer statistics in general.

    Incorrect statistics do have value if you take them for what they are--a starting point and a perspective. If you listen to the news and commentary, you'll frequently hear them talk at length about their unscientific surveys. Even those have some value if you take into account the bias of the person presenting them and what's actually being and not being said.

    For example, for some years I noticed three things about ArchLinux: people who love it seem to be very knowledgeable, search engines frequently return specific Linux solutions on its website and it slowly climbed DistroWatch's rankings to it's current 6-10 range. So I used it for a while and decided two more things: I don't like having to fiddle with it, but all things considered, that ranking is probably very accurate.

    OTOH, look at Red Hat Enterprise Linux way down there at 29 below unknowns like Pear and LXLE. When you consider that the people and companies who use it are paying for support and depend on it for their productivity, you'll realize they're unlikely to care what DistroWatch has to say about it. That (and that you can't use it for free) makes the ranking very understandable.
  16. lobo

    lobo Active Member

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    Not at all - quite the opposite in fact... I thought that was the point I was making...?
    Incorrect statistics are only a "starting point", if they are based on good metrics from the start. I don't believe DW's stats are. I don't believe there is a reliable way to measure distro popularity, I accept that page hits might be the only way, but because of the skewed results it offers, it's not that useful and the danger is that many people still quote it as gospel (because of the way it's presented on DW and because many don't know how the stats are acquired).

    DW's stats in fact are just a small contributor to the snowballing factor:

    .e.g

    someuser: "Linux mint is kewl, it's also top spot on DW"
    otheruser: "yes and Ubuntu is not as kewl as it was, it's in second place"
    someotheruser: "I might switch to Linux Mint"
    yetanotheruser: "we can safely say that it's because of the shopping lens and unity, etc, etc"

    I don't place much importance on meaningless statistics - unfortunately some people do.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
  17. Cyber-Berserker

    Cyber-Berserker Active Member

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    I am not referring to DW specifically, but to all information and misinformation. Your argument of a starting point assumes critical thinking: "if you take into account the bias of the person presenting them and what's actually being and not being said." Unfortunately, most people are not critical thinkers. "It must be true. That is what was said on the television newscast.":rolleyes: Your argument is perfectly valid for those of us who critically evaluate all information, but sadly, we are the minority. Therein lies the "danger" of DW's "rankings". I could not begin to estimate the number of times I have seen what lobo refers to as "people quoting it as gospel."
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