Which Linux Distro?



Hi all!

I know that there are always posts about this basically everywhere, but I'm hoping that my question is specific enough to get a good answer.

First off I'm starting a new job and am blessed to able to do it from home. It's a remote IT job and I've been given a short list of required programs/commands:

Terminal Commands:

REQUIRED Programs (cannot change and must work through gui):
evolus pencil
whois (command?)
visio viewer (possibly getting the full version)
shrewsoft vpn client
remote desktop connection (linux equivalent must be able to connect to Windows systems)
google drive sync
shoretel client

General MUST-haves:
Desktop environment (either installable or pre-installed)
pdf viewer
flash player

General MUST-haves through gui:
network management
zip (p7zip)
rar (p7zip?)
feature-full text editor (gedit)
multiple monitor support

Multiple desktops/virtual desktops


Most/every application requiring configuration
Important utilities requiring lots of configuration
Crashing after a simple update
old versions of required applications
slower than Windows (ubuntu unity)
not free

All of these programs must be able to run at least as well as windows (One would hope that wouldn't be hard) and in some cases connect to windows. For instance, windows has that file sharing feature (don't remember the name) and I would like to be able to use that in linux to windows and vice-versa to sync files and such. It also would be nice to remote desktop into a windows system from linux without using teamviewer (you can't install certain applications such teamviewer while you are connected with it). If possible all these should run natively, but I would accept wine and/or a virtualbox of Windows 7 if they will work correctly.

Here's what I already know:
  • There is a way via Samba 4 to connect/sync windows file sharing, but I'm not sure how well it works and if anything outside my system would have to be changed (which I can't do)
  • I know that most if not all these applications have linux versions that are exactly the same as the windows one (-remote desktop connection).
  • I have already tried to set this up with Arch Linux on my desktop and it failed pretty hard because I couldn't get basic functionality through a gui in several cases (zip, network manager, wine applications). Also I was able to get my graphics to work on the open source driver on my desktop
  • I have not tried to install linux on my laptop yet because I fear that the graphics driver may cause the system to overheat. (I had a laptop with an nvidia card heat up enough to break my wireless card in linux)

My Desktop specs:
Graphics:radeon hd 6550D
Memory:ddr3 8gb 1600mhz ram

My Laptop specs:
Graphics:radeon hd 7660G (don't even know if it's supported in linux)
Memory: ddr3 16gb 1600mhz ram

I consider myself to be of an intermediate level linux user. I can configure Arch to work in some cases, but sometimes it just refuses to work correctly.
So what it comes down to is that I need a linux distro that can do run all these applications easily and that is stable enough for a production environment, but not so old that my graphics will overheat/not work. I will be dual booting Windows 7 as a fallback as well. My friend at the company suggested Opensuse and Mint because he knows those. I have tried Opensuse and it does ok, but falls short in the update area fairly often.

Any suggestions or questions?



Mint's a fairly good option. Fedora's good too if you like bleeding edge (and can bare the vanilla Gnome 3 experience out of the box).
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