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Ask Slashdot: Easiest Linux Distro For a Newbie 622

Posted by samzenpus
from the low-difficulty dept.
anymooseposter writes "My mom is taking a computer class at the local Community College. she asks: 'I need to download a Linux OS and try it out for class. The assignment is to use an OS different from what you normally use. Well, since I use Windows and OS X, the assignment suggests Linux. But, my question is, what is the easiest version based on Linux for me to put on CD and try? I saw several on the web. Any thoughts off the top of your head?' What Linux Disto would be easiest to set up without having to resort to dual booting and/or driver issues?"
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Ask Slashdot: Easiest Linux Distro For a Newbie

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:40PM (#36677114) Journal
    I assume this is going to be 99% of the suggestions. If your computer is old or slow, I suggest Xubuntu [xubuntu.org] which I've switched my old P4 to after the regular Ubuntu got a little too GUI intensive. Here's the link to VMWare [vmware.com].
    • by Alex Belits (437) * on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:44PM (#36677154) Homepage

      DON'T run Linux under Windows. Just don't.

      • by kimvette (919543)

        Why not? AndLinux makes Windows tolerable. :)

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:51PM (#36677258)
          I've got to break some news to you - You're mother is at the local community college trying to pick up D&D players.
      • if not for the crazy people who put linux ontop of a FAT filesystem (dont ask) i probably wouldnt be the successfull IT profes.. i mean .. homeless nutjob i am today.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Indeed. If you want both on the same machine, install it dual-boot. If she's running Windows on an Apple she could run it triple boot.

        Of course, if you're just trying it out most distros let you run it from the CD without actually installing it.

    • by Bloodwine77 (913355) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:48PM (#36677208)

      Ubuntu is the most well-known distro for newbies, but I'd almost suggest Linux Mint which is just as easy but with less quirks.

    • Use a LiveCD, rather than running it virtualized.

      Other than that, I'd have to agree. Normally I loathe Ubuntu... for Linux, it's sluggish, and somewhat erratic in how it's developped. But from a new-to-linux perspective, there's really only a handful of distros I'd consider to be in the same category as Ubuntu for general ease of installation/use. A great many are as easy to install but aren't as usable, and still many more are far more usable, but nowhere near as easy to install. For a basic project like t

      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @08:11PM (#36677444) Homepage Journal

        there's really only a handful of distros I'd consider to be in the same category as Ubuntu for general ease of installation/use

        I see you've never installed Windows. Every Linux distro I've tried (Except Red Hat, and that was back in 1998) was brain-dead simple to install and completely painless, even Mandrake back in 2003.

        Try typing in that forty digit key with 1s and ls and 0s and Os. And sit there having to click "yes" or "no" every two minutes for a solid hour -- with a whole lot of reboots. Then installing every application you'll need to do any actual work.

        Compare that to installing ANY Linux distro; two screens of choices (only one with many distros), wait 1/2 hour with no babysitting (maybe change the CD) and one reboot, and you have a ready-to-use, functional machine.

        Comparing installing Linux with installing Windows is like comparing driving a modern car with a model-T hand cranked Ford (Windows is the model T). People only think Windows is easy because they've used it all their lives. Those of us that cut our teeth on DOS (or even earlier machines, like a Sinclair or an Apple II or a Commodore) know better.

        • Actually, I've installed every version of Windows since 2.0, every version of MS DOS there is, and some variants like CP/M. I have also installed almost every version of MacOS since 7, and dozens of different renditions of Linux, starting with Slackware 2, and have even rolled my own (1.7MB floppy, for use in a diskless system as a gateway/router). For spice, I have also installed BeOS (the original, as well as Haiku), AROS, and QNX. The installer for Windows 7 is much easier than Ubuntu's btw... you put th

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by whoever57 (658626)

            you put the CD in, boot up, click next through a few screens entering the information it asks for, and then it spits out the CD and boots to a working OS about 10 minutes later

            And then how long to install the applications you need? Plus install the updates, plus install the anti-virus, plus, plus...

            You can't compare installing WIndows 7 to installing a Linux distro.

            Oh, and if the machine is not the newest, Windows 7 may not have drivers for it -- you may have to hunt down and install a network driver,

            • And then how long to install the applications you need? Plus install the updates, plus install the anti-virus, plus, plus...

              I spend a lot of time doing this on Ubuntu as well, except for the anti-virus. Replace that with drivers and hardware that isn't working properly, setting the resolution, configuring wifi because Ubuntu does not support your networks encryption method, etc. Just because Ubuntu comes with a ton of free stuff pre-installed doesn't mean I want to use any of it. Probably the only thing I do use is Firefox, if only to download Opera.

        • by ickpoo (454860)

          Installed Windows 7 recently (Windows Vista ate itself on the machine previously.) It was about as simple as installing Ubuntu or Fedora. Might have actually been easier.

          It was a far cry from Windows 98 installs.

        • Also, Microsoft's printed keys are actually pretty good. They are well-printed, and they use a font that is easy to read. Try decyphering the printed keys from anything by Atari or Infogrames from the early 2000's. I actually had to call tech support and send them a scan of my product key for Neverwinter Nights, because it was illegible... even they couldn't decypher it, and they sent me a new key by e-mail instead.

        • by PNutts (199112) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @09:01PM (#36677896)

          there's really only a handful of distros I'd consider to be in the same category as Ubuntu for general ease of installation/use

          I see you've never installed Windows. Every Linux distro I've tried (Except Red Hat, and that was back in 1998) was brain-dead simple to install and completely painless, even Mandrake back in 2003.

          Try typing in that forty digit key with 1s and ls and 0s and Os. And sit there having to click "yes" or "no" every two minutes for a solid hour -- with a whole lot of reboots. Then installing every application you'll need to do any actual work.

          Compare that to installing ANY Linux distro; two screens of choices (only one with many distros), wait 1/2 hour with no babysitting (maybe change the CD) and one reboot, and you have a ready-to-use, functional machine.

          Comparing installing Linux with installing Windows is like comparing driving a modern car with a model-T hand cranked Ford (Windows is the model T). People only think Windows is easy because they've used it all their lives. Those of us that cut our teeth on DOS (or even earlier machines, like a Sinclair or an Apple II or a Commodore) know better.

          I don't know why I still consider this a technical forum. Almost everything you said isn't true. Windows 7 installs from a USB stick in about 15 minutes (longer depending on the performance of your system). The only choice is where to put it and installation completes and the system reboots. Windows starts and then some configuration questions are asked and I assume are required on other platforms (account name and password, date and time, and yes, choosing to enter the Windows license key or not). I feel like I'm leaving something out, but after these steps the system is up and ready for use. Because my hardware is relatively static, I created a small text file that makes installation silent. I boot from the USB stick and return to Windows ready to use. Then I can use it for as long as I want without doing anything other than patching. Or not.

          I could compare that to my experiences with trying to install Linux on a set of raid disks without a wizard a few years ago but I assume it's better now so I won't condem the entire Linux platform on my bad experience (ancient history now). I also started on some of those systems you mentioned and got to be quite the DOS batch file developer along with higher level languages. I simply use and understand Windows because of the apps I develop/run and you didn't. That doesn't make Windows a less viable platform or me ignorant on the available options.

          And I prefer to install only the programs I want to use. I hear of people who have issues with not keeping everything patched or turning off unwanted services. Possibly FUD but I'm not a Linux guy.

          • by timbo234 (833667)

            And I prefer to install only the programs I want to use. I hear of people who have issues with not keeping everything patched or turning off unwanted services. Possibly FUD but I'm not a Linux guy.

            This is either FUD or you're talking about Windows. With Windows every application needs to run it's own update service in the background or annoy the user for updates when they start the program. The difference couldn't be more stark with Linux where the system update handles all the programs you've installed (s

          • by Britz (170620)

            What Win7 image are you using? I seriously didn't know Win7 came with an official option to put it on a usb stick for install. Also: How big does the stick have to be?

            Now when you install Linux, you arrive at a machine ready to go. With office and internet applications already installed. When I install any version of Windows I will still need to install drivers and applications afterwards. If you don't have a fresh install, but a new machine and/or a restore to factory you can't start installing, but rather

          • by Risen888 (306092)

            Is there finally an option in the Windows installation to leave the bootloader alone?

        • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wolf AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @09:58PM (#36678370)
          Your experience differs from mine. I have had hardware detection issues with most Linux installations every year from 2001 to 2007. It was only in 2008 or so that I started to consistently have my video card, wireless card, and sound work consistently right out of the gate with most distributions and even now I can't get Debian Squeeze or OpenSUSE to install. By comparison Windows is tedious to install but I haven't had an installation fail or fail to properly configure hardware since Windows 95.

          I'm happy for you and the wonderful experience you've had. I haven't been so lucky.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Pie-rate (1098693)
            Historically, windows didn't fail to properly configure hardware because IT DIDN'T TRY. Only now ("only in 2008 or so") does it have even a modicum of driver detection. Windows didn't have video, wireless, or even wired networking out of the box. It worked after *you* installed drivers for it.
            The vast majority of hardware detection issues on Linux have been because of hardware vendors.
        • there's really only a handful of distros I'd consider to be in the same category as Ubuntu for general ease of installation/use

          Try typing in that forty digit key with 1s and ls and 0s and Os. And sit there having to click "yes" or "no" every two minutes for a solid hour -- with a whole lot of reboots. Then installing every application you'll need to do any actual work.

          I don't think you understand the difference between difficult and merely tedious. The former involves some sort of unknowns that need to be figured out and overcome before the task is over -- the latter involves doing something you know how to do but either many times or with a lot of waiting.

          This is one thing that I think separates the nerds from regular people -- a regular person will instantly pick the grind-it-out way to accomplish something (think cutting and pasting lots of excel cells) because they a

      • by Bastardchyld (889185) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @08:16PM (#36677480) Homepage Journal
        As opposed to a LiveCD I would recommend installing it on a flash drive instead. The flash drive can be written to, so it can behave more like a real OS (allow you to persist files and settings after a reboot) and its just quicker than CD/DVD.

        https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/FromUSBStick [ubuntu.com]
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Why Ubuntu? She's familiar with OSX and Windows, I'd suggest something using a KDE desktop, which isn't that different than either one. Gnome is kind of weird if you ask me.

      Kubunu iis a good one, combines Ubuntu with KDE. Wish Mandriva wasn't dead/dying, that was my all-time favorite.

  • ...if you don't plan to actually install. Alternatively, go download the Ultimate Boot CD [ultimatebootcd.com] and boot to the GUI for Parted Magic, which contains a browser, a command line tool, and a whole bunch of hard disk drive diagnostic and recovery tools, among other things. It's also useful for a bunch of other recovery and diagnosis stuff that doesn't use Linux, so it's good to have around for when the computer has a problem. I use it probably daily at work.

    • Are you sure it's a good idea to tell a linux-newb to start using all sorts of hard drive diagnostic and recovery tools from a LiveCD? Most of those tools have disclaimers: "If you don't know what you're doing, don't use this. Any damage you do is your own fault" (paraphrased). So yes, he wouldn't be installing another operating system, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't be causing damage to his disk...
  • Can be used without installation in CD and DVD versions. Can also be installed to memory stick and to disk. You can have a persistent data area on a memory stick or a partition.

    • Same with Ubuntu. Or really any distro that you wish to install in such a manner. I've a Slackware USB drive that I use in such a way...
    • by bahstid (927038)
      Must second Knoppix.... I used one last week after not having used one for a few years and was REALLY impressed with the updates... This on a machine that neither Ubuntu (which I usually use for others (but am starting to reconsider)) or Fedora (which I always use for myself) could boot, at least with default options. Straight into Compiz too. Had kind of stopped using it after the other distro's started shipping as live discs too, but it was the most notable "Linux rocks!" moment I've had in the last fe
  • Ubuntu. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:47PM (#36677180) Homepage
  • Linux mint live CD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:47PM (#36677184)

    By FAR the easiest and most comparable distro out of the box to Windows is Linux Mint. All of the good parts of Ubuntu with none of the broken stuff. It also comes with all the restricted multimedia drivers that make things easy to use in Microsoft land.

    • by Sinthet (2081954)

      I second this. Ubuntu is a great place to start if you've already made a decision about using Linux. However, if you're unsure, Mint is the best choice. It's pretty, relatively small, and comes with all the drivers/plugins you'll need to avoid the first kiss of dependency hell you might otherwise encounter. If you want to ease someone into Linux, I'd say Mint is the best choice.

    • by Abreu (173023)

      I'd suggest Ubuntu instead of Mint, if only because of the large number of helpful people in the Ubuntu forums

    • by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @10:45PM (#36678768)
      I agree! Mint has been my main OS for 3+ years, and it has bcome very easy to use and install, very stable, and fetaure-packed. Previously I tried lots of distros (all the main ones and some of the smaller names) but none of them appealed to me on a daily basis. I've tried lots of recent releases as well, thinking one might surpass Mint, but that has yet to occur. Now I only use Windows at work (I have no choice sometimes) and once in a while for games (rarely). I am decidely not a CS major or tech wizard, though I am very comfortable with it and feel I can recommend Mint to anyone even thinking about Linux as a Windows replacement.
  • Ubuntu + Wubi (Score:5, Informative)

    by Galaga88 (148206) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:47PM (#36677190)

    Ubuntu using Wubi is pretty brain dead easy to install. No partitioning required, it lives inside your Windows filesystem and handles adding itself to your boot menu.

    Performance is slightly degraded, and bugs can come up with regards to hard reboots, but really it's the best option I know of if you're not running off a USB stick or DVD.

    • by xehonk (930376)
      I don't see any requirement to actually install the OS in the post. I'd suggest grabbing the latest ubuntu (install) cd and using it as livecd.
    • I recommend Linux Mint [linuxmint.com], it's based on Ubuntu and Wubi, and it will always track Ubuntu (and Ubuntu will always track Debian), but it doesn't try to remain ideologically pure -- so it will have many of the most common drivers/codecs (even proprietary drivers/codecs) already preloaded onto it.

      Here she can download it from this link [linuxmint.com]. It comes with an installer and an uninstaller. It can run from a DVD/CD, but there is actually no need to even run it from there. I recommend you just use the installer and the un

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:47PM (#36677206)
    Just go with Ubuntu. Its designed to be friendlier for beginners and there is pretty good documentation on typical end user wants and needs. Some other distros can have more of a by-nerds-for-nerds orientation and the community response to beginner questions is "go read the man pages", or the distros can be more puritanical in nature, no binary drivers etc. There's nothing wrong with these perspectives, unless you are a beginner just trying out Linux rather than someone who has decided to dedicate themselves to Linux and is willing to invest the extra time. Fedora may not be bad for beginners either.

    Now let the flaming begin ... :-)
    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex.project-retrograde@com> on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @08:20PM (#36677528)

      I agree. My grandparents, my 80 year old (retired air-force mechanic) neighbour, my Aunt and Uncles all use Ubuntu and have never even used a CLI.

      In my experience non-technical people have no more difficulty adapting to Ubuntu than they do upgrading from XP to Win7. Additionally, Gnome's drag n drop threshold is great for people with shaky hands, but I would suggest increasing the window border size for ease of resizing (1px resize regions?! Are you MAD?). It seems the biggest hurdle keeping average folks from using Linux is just lack of exposure.

      Once I introduce them to the Application repository ("Oh, so it's a free App Store?", yes Grandma, to you it is...), and set updates to install automatically they're all set. Hell, it's so easy that my Grandpa "accidentally" upgraded to the latest LTS version.

      I even install Linux instead of Win7 for my friends and family: "Try Linux out first; It's free, so why not? If you don't like we can always buy the Windows7 upgrade later." Even if someone goes with Windows, or OSX, there's no real reason not to have a Linux boot option just in case the other OS gets hosed -- This has saved me "urgent" weekend visits more times than I can count, and some folks choose to stick with Linux afterwards, heh.

      Now my friends and relatives call me just to talk instead of also guiltily dropping hints that they need me to fix their computers...

    • Just go with Ubuntu. Its designed to be friendlier for beginners...

      And Mint is based on Ubuntu and even friendlier and more complete for beginners. #2 on Distrowatch hit ranking, just behind Ubuntu and ahead of Fedora, Debian, openSUSE and everything else, and not by accident or as a shiny new John ny-come-lately.

  • by yuna49 (905461) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:48PM (#36677214)

    Whatever distribution you choose, start with a LiveCD and boot from that. You won't have to make any changes to the computer at all. If you can install to a USB pendrive [ubuntu.com], it will be reasonably quick, too.

    If the computer is reasonably hefty, with a modern processor and at least 1 GB of memory, I'd try Kubuntu 10.10 because I think the KDE desktop looks more like what someone used to Windows would expect. Otherwise, try Ubuntu 10.04LTS for the GNOME experience and avoid Ubuntu 11.04. It has an entirely different desktop environment (Unity) and is probably too buggy for someone whose never touched Linux before.

    I haven't used Fedora in quite a while so I'm not competent to discuss its current incarnations. I've never taken to OpenSuSE, but I'm sure others here will tell you why to use that. Mandriva is likely to get some endorsements as well.

  • by olyar (591892) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:48PM (#36677220) Homepage Journal

    You might have her try out Edubuntu. It is pretty different than just another OS, but I think it does a good job of showing how Linux can fit a specific niche in a really interesting way.

    They also have a "Weblive" version where you can play with it for 2 hours online before even downloading. That's here [edubuntu.org]

  • Linux Mint (Score:5, Informative)

    by tdelaney (458893) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:49PM (#36677228)

    Linux Mint [linuxmint.com] is easily the most Linux-newbie-friendly distribution I've ever used. It also scales well to an experienced user. It uses an Ubuntu base (unless you use Linux Mint Debian Edition but I strongly advise against that for a newbie).

    Depending on hardware capabilities there are heavyweight (Gnome, KDE) and lightweight (Xfce, LXDE) versions.

    You can install it using mintinstall (wubi) from inside Windows (you need to use the CD version for this, but it's then very simple to upgrade to the DVD version once you're inside Linux Mint). Doing this means you can dual-boot without repartitioning - for your mum this sounds like the best option.

    • by cathector (972646)

      i just sent my mom a dell mini w/ mint on it,
      for many of these same reasons.

    • I changed my mother from Ubuntu to Linux Mint around a year ago, and very quickly had to switch her back due to the endless cries of "it's doing something strange!". It was indeed doing something strange -- in around a 2 week period I came across at least two updates that insisted upon pushing Ubuntu branding to core parts of the system. What is the problem with this? Well, frankly -- some LM in-house programs broke, as they weren't expecting this change, but it was their own update system that allowed it t

  • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:50PM (#36677248) Homepage Journal

    Use LFS [linuxfromscratch.org], that will teach you!

    On a serious note, the Linux distribution choosers/selectors [lmgtfy.com] out there can answer your and similar questions.

    • by HBI (604924)

      I use the chooser and it points me to Gentoo.

      I've been using Gentoo for about 10 years now, so I guess that makes sense.

  • Like others said, just go for Ubuntu. Easy to find, easy to install, and with WUBI easy to roll back from if the Ubuntu experience didn't convince her. If your mom doesn't like Unity, you can use the default gnome desktop (not gnome-shell) that it still ships with, or just avoid the issue alltogether and go for the other *buntu flavours. And yes, I hear good things about Mint too, because of the whole community driven software center they have had even before Ubuntu had it.
  • Gentoo (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @07:53PM (#36677284)

    Gentoo - By far the easiest!
    * no need for a mouse to install it!
    * don't have to boot a live cd
    * don't have to dual boot (just have it take over)
    * no hard to understand buttons - if you can read, you can install it!

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      Oh, for fuck sake!

      It's not even that Gentoo is hard to install, but maintenance can drive any newbie insane if he will want to use latest version of anything.

  • Does said University not have a computer center with miscellaneous Big Iron? Getting exposure to IBM's CMS or Dec's VMS was a high point of my college career. Teaching myself about signal handling in assembly language in VMS because no one on the staff knew how to do that was a blast.

    But yeah I guess go for a Ubuntu live CD or something. You probably don't want to try to actually install the OS on a computer that's currently in-use, since doing that without clobbering something tends to be a bit of a chal

    • ...said University...

      You mean the local Community College? I doubt they have anything more powerful or bigger than a 10 year old Dell server running Win2k (and no less than three different rootkits).

  • Why waste time with Linux when there's LoseThos [losethos.com]?

  • I was a longtime Ubuntu user until they started changing things too rapidly for no reason that made sense to me. I tried Fedora for awhile - liked it - but absolutely love Mint.

    Fast, fast, fast even on my old Dell laptop and I agree with the poster above who said it just feels right. Tight, stable and what i would recommend to any newbie. I've used most of the distros over the years - since 1995 - and this one is the best.

    And this might be a minor point but it seems to me that the Mint support forums are es

  • I'd put DOS on a VM. Not because it's even a passable OS; purely for the absurdity of it. Then record a screencast of her randomly typing in words hoping that it will get the computer to do something useful, before finally giving up, sobbing. (Just make sure your birthday isn't coming up soon.)
  • Once you choose a distro you will need to get familiar with the command line to really get in to Linux.

    I found this to be great for beginners: Introduction to Linux by Machtelt Garrels [fultus.com]

    Does anyone else have useful books to share?

  • Everyone's going to suggest Ubuntu. But every time I've tried Ubuntu I've run into countless problems with it detecting hardware -- especially network cards. And every Ubuntu liveCD I've ever tried has been complete garbage.

    Go with Mandriva. The LiveCD is excellent, the installer is the best I've ever seen, and every set of hardware I've ever thrown at it just works, straight off the install. None of the endless hours of screwing with things like Ndiswrapper that you get with Ubuntu. And it's got excellent

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      They are all the same kernel.

      They all use the same user land apps and daemons.

      If you have problem with a device in one distro, you're probably going to have the same problem in others.

      PnP on Linux pre-dates Mandrake.

      If something like ndiswrapper is even in the discussion then clearly there are some basic driver support issues regardless of how well you dress up the hack in question.

      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        Same exact hardware, on Ubuntu native network drivers wouldn't work; ndiswrapper wouldn't work, uninstalled it, reinstalled it, still no...uninstalled, installed from source...still no. Reinstalled Ubuntu entirely, removed ndiswrapper, reinstalled ndiswrapper from source, finally worked. On Mandriva? Installed Mandriva, network card worked.

      • by solanum (80810)

        They are all the same kernel.

        They all use the same user land apps and daemons.

        If you have problem with a device in one distro, you're probably going to have the same problem in others.

        Not really, each distro heavily patches the kernel, Mandriva included, and not necessarily with the same patches. Plus as the distros tend not to come out on the same day they also often have different kernel versions. On top of that the userland tools to detect and set up hardware are not the same and things like automating ndiswrapper wifi driver installs tend to be better on Mandriva

        I second Mandriva, I've been using it for close to a decade and it is definitely easier to set up than Ubuntu, plus being K

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      especially network cards.

      You mean, WIRELESS network adapters made by BROADCOM, that you have in your CRAPPY LAPTOP, right? Right!

      screwing with things like Ndiswrapper

      No sane person would use ndiswrapper on his own hardware now. If wireless card is unsupported, replace it or don't use it at all.

      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        You mean, WIRELESS network adapters made by BROADCOM, that you have in your CRAPPY LAPTOP, right? Right!

        Yes, I mean wireless network adapters. Is there any OS/hardware combination in the world that has trouble with wired? I figured that was kinda assumed. And yes, I mean broadcom adapters in my "crappy laptop". That's why I use Linux, because I can buy the cheap hardware and have it still perform better than the guy on the $2000 machine. Besides, that's what's in damn near every laptop I've ever seen. I know exactly two people who don't use Dell machines...and one of them just broke their HP and is looking to

  • If so you could go for FreeBSD or Solaris. Or get really crazy and try to find a copy of BeOS or OS/2.

    After all, the summary just said "an OS other than what you usually use", it didn't say it had to be Linux. And most of the people there will likely go with Linux anyways, so why not be different?
  • To get the full Linux experience, I think she should create a Fedora Respin, or just go ahead and roll her own Linux distribution. :-) I think Ubuntu is probably the easiest for hardware that requires proprietary drivers. Fedora is another good choice if the hardware has all open source drivers.
  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @08:38PM (#36677684)
    It's derived from Linux Mint which is derived from Ubuntu, so is far removed from Ubuntu's quirks and adds many enhancements that make it easy to manage. It's set up more like how a power desktop user would tweak their Linux distro with all the most common nice GUI tools for getting things done. Although it would be more familiar for a OSX user with it's mac-like dock.

    For me it just saves time having to tweak things and install lots of packages.
  • The best Linux distribution to try as a beginner is the one that your friends and family use, because they'll likely be the ones providing your tech support. Try one that has a "Live CD" so you can try it without installing it to make sure it supports the devices in your computer.
  • LTS is the version Ubuntu release every two years that promises long-lasting support, and is more geared towards entreprise. You loose some bells and whistles, but gain a lot of reliability and documentation.

    Ubuntu "regular" value their users' time too little. I'm typing this from a brand-spanking new 11.04 install, and I'm already semi-pissed at it: Ubuntu is the only OS I know arrogant enough to force you to have your OS launch bar on the left side of the screen.No moving it to the bottom, top, or even ri

  • by CodeInspired (896780) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @09:58PM (#36678368)
    Sure... it's your mom's assignment. My grandpa is also taking Theory of Computation at his university and asking me why his carefully crafted Lisp code still doesn't solve the halting problem.
  • by mekkab (133181) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @10:30PM (#36678626) Homepage Journal

    And the best way to start? By the hand that rocks the cradle! Qimo linux is geared towards young children, but is so simple even a Parent can use it!

  • by krazytekn0 (1069802) on Wednesday July 06, 2011 @10:51PM (#36678826) Homepage Journal
    a LiveCD, this means a CD which will boot you to a usable operating system. You can poke around without installing anything or messing up your computer. If you find it interesting give a bunch of them a try to see just how different the experience can be.
  • by hoover (3292) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:23AM (#36681998)

    Another vote for Linux Mint 11, maybe try pinguey which is supposed to be even easier.

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