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Operating Systems Linux

Ask Slashdot: What's The Easiest Linux Distro For A Newbie? 510

joseph Kramer -- a long-time user of both Windows and MacOS -- comes to Slashdot with the ultimate question: I've been lurking here for years and seen many recommendations for a Linux flavor that works. What I'm really looking for is Linux that works without constant under-the-hood tweaking (ala early Windows flavors, 3.1, 95/98). Does such an OS exist? For the record, I am not an IT tech. I just need something to work with the mechanical equipment it controls. Any recommendations?
When it comes to Windows and MacOs, he describes himself as "fed up with their shenanigans." So leave your best answers in the comments. What's the best way for a newbie to get started with Linux?
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Ask Slashdot: What's The Easiest Linux Distro For A Newbie?

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  • Mint (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27, 2017 @03:33AM (#54116637)

    The answer in my opinion is Mint, there shouldnt be tons of constant fiddling... However it is important to understand, Linux is still very much a power-user operating system... So far i havent seen any distro worth its salt that does alot of hand holidng.

    • I second the choice of Mint.
      • Re:Mint (Score:5, Informative)

        by hambone142 ( 2551854 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @04:18AM (#54116827)

        I third Linux Mint. Just put it on a disc and boot from the disc to give it a try (or a flash drive). You don't even have to load the OS to try it. If you like it, you can dual boot it with Windows or overwrite Windows.

        I installed it both ways on two laptops and I really like it. The user interface is similar to Widows so it should be pretty intuitive.

        • Yeah, well (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I changed my video card to one that had HDMI audio. If I want to use my fancy sound card, I need to prevent the system
          from defaulting to the HDMI interface. What's worse, even though the old sound card modules load on boot, the system
          (Mint 18.1) fails to make the old interface available in any of its configuration options. Blacklist the HDMI module? Now
          I don't get any sound configuration interface at all. I fumbled around on the forums for days. Nobody had a solution that
          that worked, much less one that a no

          • Re:Yeah, well (Score:5, Informative)

            by CronoCloud ( 590650 ) <(cronocloudauron) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday March 27, 2017 @09:38AM (#54118083)

            I changed my video card to one that had HDMI audio. If I want to use my fancy sound card, I need to prevent the system
            from defaulting to the HDMI interface.

            Your video card can output higher quality audio than your "fancy" audio card can, really.

            (Mint 18.1) fails to make the old interface available in any of its configuration options. Blacklist the HDMI module? Now
            I don't get any sound configuration interface at all. I fumbled around on the forums for days. Nobody had a solution that
            that worked, much less one that a noob could grok.

            pavucontrol, run it. If pavucontrol is not installed, install it, it has more configuration options and is apparently NOT installed by default in Mint 18.1 It will show BOTH your "fancy" sound card and HDMI audio and you can switch between them on the fly. In fact you can choose which output an application uses on an individual level. For example you could have XMMS outputting to HDMI, while rhythmbox is sending output to your "fancy" sound card.

            IMHO pavucontrol should ALWAYS be installed by default on pulseaudio using systems

      • by quenda ( 644621 )

        I use Mint too. But the ultimate Easy Linux would have to be Chrome OS [google.com.au] .

    • a lot. Two words FFS!

    • Re:Mint (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hughbar ( 579555 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @04:03AM (#54116777) Homepage
      Yes. Thirded, if that's a word.

      Solid reasons (apart from 'I use it at home', I'm a computer person, so it's not a useful observation) is that my ex (bit geeky but non-technical career) and a bunch of old (55+) people in various community projects use it. They are often the easiest, because they don't arrive with a ton of half-formed preconceptions, prejudices about open source and uselessness of non-Windows, non-Mac. We install for them, but it's an 'easy' install and we re-use 'older' hardware that would struggle with Windows 23 (or whereever we are now, yes, I am joking before people jump on me).

      I'm 66 and my ex is late 50s.

      Incidentally, I'm not a complete fanatic and have a Windows laptop at home for Logic Pro, but I'm looking to transfer to Ardour perhaps this year.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I'm trying out Mint Cinnamon (the recommended default option) at the moment.

        How do I fix the mouse wheel? Scrolling is incredibly slow in some apps and reasonably quick in others. I tried imwheel and libinput but neither seems to have an useful effect.

        My next task is to find a good alternative to Github Desktop. I tried Git Kracken and it wouldn't even load, not even an error message, so I'm looking at what to try next.

        • How do I fix the mouse wheel? Scrolling is incredibly slow in some apps and reasonably quick in others.

          That's usually an application issue, not a system issue, involving hardware acceleration for scrolling. Turn it off.

      • by Gramie2 ( 411713 )

        I installed Mint for my parents (both mid-80s, completely non-techy), mainly because we then didn't have to worry about viruses and other security issues. They have been fine with it for over a year. My uncle (mid-70s but an engineer) visited and saw it, then installed it on his old laptop and was delighted to find it useable. He has been evangelizing it to others.

        I also talked my ex (severely non-techy) through installing it on her Windows Vista laptop and she loves how much faster startup and shutdown are

    • Absolutely, either Linux Mint or Ubuntu, and I'm leaning towards Mint for the more Windows-like desktop.

    • Re: Mint (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't think Ubuntu and Mint are difficult to use. I use Ubuntu and, for the most part, stuff just works. Linux distributions have come a long way from the days of needing to manually configure your X server, compiling your own kernel for updates (you can do this still, but I haven't needed to do so for a long time), manually configuring your network interface, and so many other things.

      Sure, there may be challenges with hardware and file formats that are proprietary, but I haven't ran into too many issues.

    • Agreed, mind was very hand-holding tier when I've installed it for friends. Very user friendly.

    • by fazig ( 2909523 )
      Mint has my vote as well.

      They put a lot of effort into improving the accessibility for new users and those familiar with other popular operating systems. It comes with an 'app store', that allows you to install a wide variety of additional software with ease.
    • Re:Mint (Score:4, Informative)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @05:06AM (#54116999)

      The real question before the quick answer is what hardware do you have?
      Mint and Ubuntu are relatively good at hardware support. However there may be that one piece of hardware that makes your experience difficult. An off brand wifi controller, an odd or too old or too new video card...
      some distribution have a lot of these hardware drivers installed some may be missing that one particular devices some my be GNU pure so you will need to manually get a third party non gnu library to get it to work. Which may be annoying if say your wifi is out and there isn't an ethernet port.

      Now Linux isn't horrible at hardware support and not meant to be scarry however some distributions work better than others based on different hardware configurations

    • by ukoda ( 537183 )
      Yep, Mint would be my first choice. Easiest learning curve and good hardware support.
    • I'v used Ubuntu. Mint, CentOS etc. All of them require a little extra heavy lifting but once you're past that you're good.
    • I would say Mint as well for a basic user. If you plan on needing some more advanced software over time, I've found Ubuntu to be a good balance between simplicity to start and easy compatibility with more advanced software (I'm developing Intel Fortran, OpenMP and FFTW for a college project and Ubuntu seemed to be the easiest intersection of the packages). But with no need beyond the basics, Mint works nicely.

    • Two distros come to mind....PCLinux OS and MXlinux. Both "work" right from the get-go.
    • The last time I played around with Linux I really liked Mint too. I tried several others as well most of which I forget right now, but Ubuntu was one of them too.

      I got it running in a VM with very few problems and tweaked the settings a bit until I was pretty happy with it.

      It ran a little slow, but I attributed this to running in a VM.

      I put it on a USB stick and booted from that so no VM. Every time I did that I had about 2-3 minutes where everything worked great and then it hit a wall. It wouldn't fre

    • I hate that we refer to needing to work on your OS to make it work to be a 'power-user'. I'm a power user. I build large scale server infrastructures for a living. I know the ends and outs of multiple operating systems better than I know my wife. I do not want to spend time working on my laptop! This is why I use OSX. Of the *nix operating systems, it's the one that needs the least amount of my time to actually use. I want to do work on my laptop, not work on it.

  • ChromeOS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <kurt555gs&ovi,com> on Monday March 27, 2017 @03:35AM (#54116647) Homepage

    It's linux. And there isn't any tweaking you need to worry about.

    • Re:ChromeOS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @04:37AM (#54116903) Journal

      RMS was right.

      He always said we should refer to it as GNU/Linux to avoid confusion. Here the OP is likely referring to GNU/Linux, but you're directing him at something which has the Linux kernel but does not behave anything like normal GNU/Linux.

      • RMS was right.

        He always said we should refer to it as GNU/Linux to avoid confusion.

        Actually, if you are referring to something unixy, you should call it POSIX/Linux because there are more userland toolsets than just GNU and they are all centered around POSIX.

        • That certainly wasn't the case when he started making the point. And it doesn't alter the fact that he was 100% right about the confusion.

    • Why would you recommend Google spyware?
      Which is evidently even worse than Windows 10 spyware, which is desperately trying to be a Google-wannabe in personal data acquisition / exploitation.

  • Slackware (Score:5, Funny)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @03:36AM (#54116653) Journal
    and if you want the best user experience, install it from floppies.
  • Control/command ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dargaud ( 518470 ) <slashdot2 @ g d a r gaud.net> on Monday March 27, 2017 @03:36AM (#54116659) Homepage
    What do you mean by:

    I just need something to work with the mechanical equipment it controls

    Apparently you just don't need a run of the mill desktop linux distro, but some special purpose to control some hardware, right ? The good news is that all linux systems are more or less equivalent for that. The bad news is: what is you equipment ? Does it support Linux ? Do you need to write software for it or are you provided drivers ? If the latter you should ask your hardware provider what they recommend, not us.

  • Gentoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by fredgiblet ( 1063752 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @03:43AM (#54116681)
    Obviously.
  • by ladislavb ( 551945 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @03:43AM (#54116685) Homepage
    then try Linux Mint - it seems to be the most popular and the highest rated among new users. But if you don't mind reading a bit before making a decision, then maybe this link will help (includes screenshots): http://distrowatch.com/dwres.p... [distrowatch.com] Have fun!
  • Debian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dwywit ( 1109409 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @03:50AM (#54116711)

    Just Debian, no derivatives.

    I've had the least trouble with Debian. Mint just doesn't seem to like me, and I don't like Ubuntu.

    Building Gentoo from source was fun, Fedora just didn't feel right, FreeBSD wouldn't even work in Virtualbox, and I've yet to experience the pleasure of Slackware.

    If this is to control manufacturing/industrial equipment, you really should be employing someone with skills and experience. /advice

    • I'm not comfortable with this recommendation.

      Debian can be described as a lot of things, stable, robust, customisable, scalable, all these come to mind. But I wouldn't describe it as a push button - receive desktop OS kind of distribution.

      A lot of its derivatives use it as a basis for its stability and support, and then add primarily user experience / easy to use interfaces and customisations on top.

    • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @06:09AM (#54117205)

      What's The Easiest Linux Distro For A Newbie?

      Just Debian, no derivatives.

      I've had the least trouble with Debian. Mint just doesn't seem to like me, and I don't like Ubuntu.

      Building Gentoo from source was fun, Fedora just didn't feel right, FreeBSD wouldn't even work in Virtualbox, and I've yet to experience the pleasure of Slackware.

      If this is to control manufacturing/industrial equipment, you really should be employing someone with skills and experience. /advice

      The first thing the person asking has to to realise is that this is a very loaded question about religion. You might as well ask which Christian/Muslim/Jewish sect has the 'one true' interpretation of it's respective religion's scripture. Having said that the parent is partly right, Debian or one of it's many derivatives is pretty easy on newbies, or at least as easy as Linux can be but then so is Fedora. Suse is also a good choice but less popular because it is meant to be a bit more Microsoft compatible and having anything to do with Microsoft is to Linux geeks what sunlight, holy water and garlic are to a vampire. When I worked with Suse I liked it because it has YaST setup and config utility which is a bit reminiscent of AIX's smitty (SMIT) command and lets you do lots of system configuration changes in one place and if you have to interact with Microsoft systems then Suse might be a good choice for you . For those looking at the enterprise sector you might want to consider CentOS which is functionally and (mostly) binary compatible with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) offerings. I'm sure there are other Linux distos that are worth mentioning but these are the ones that I have worked with the most and think are good for newbies because of their features and/or community support. If you strip away all the sectarian bullshit that surrounds Linux distros the best advice you are left with is go for a big and widely used distribution like Debian/Ubuntu or Red Hat Fedora simply because there are lots of users and therefore lots of forums, blogs, help pages howto guides, etc... Of all the things that are mostt valuable thing to any Newbie the most important one is extensive community support. Suse and the host of Debian and Red hat based distributions all have extensive and helpful communities, especially the last two. You can always move on to something less widely used or hostile to newbies later.

      • Of all the things that are mostt valuable thing to any Newbie the most important one is extensive community support.

        Not true. The MOST valuable thing to a "newbie" is a distro that "just works." What you want the most is something that will work without customization or tweaking first and foremost -- after that, the SECOND most important thing is good community support.

        Many of the distros you mention (SUSE, Red Hat, etc.) tried pursuing the ease of use and "just works" philosophy starting a couple decades ago, but Ubuntu really pushed that forward significantly, and Linux Mint went further still. Personally, after a

  • Kubuntu (Score:4, Interesting)

    by qubezz ( 520511 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @03:50AM (#54116713)

    I would choose Kubuntu for its normal Windows 7-like start menu (incorporating type-search for applications, and organized submenus). The distro also has several things to get you rolling, optionally installing flash and mp3 proprietary extensions, a driver installer to get proprietary things like ATI/Nvidia and WiFi up and running. Firefox and LibreOffice are ready to go, and typing "updates" or "software" in the menu will get you more programs to install.

    In 17.04 (beta 2 from a few days ago) the awkward "K" branding has been removed from KDE plasma, giving the startup and menu a more unified feeling.

    At noob level, probably the most challenging thing is to make and use a bootable USB of the distro, and for that, the ISO plus Rufus or Unetbootin will make the flash drive, and creative pounding of function keys on boot will get your PC to start live off it.

  • Android, or ChromeOS. Both are based on Linux, after all. But otherwise, Fedora. Everything about Ubuntu is weird.
  • Just use Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Njovich ( 553857 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @03:54AM (#54116731)

    You say you don't want to spend time tinkering. As we don't know what specific software/hardware you will run, only general advice can be given. So generally speaking, if you go with the flow and use the most used distro, that will maximize chances that any 3rd party software you use will work with it. Even if something goes wrong, you have the largest chance of being able to Google your way to a solution. So, then consider Ubuntu (or another mainstream Linux distro).

    • by truck87bp ( 2498212 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @05:17AM (#54117033)
      As a Teacher of Windows and Ubuntu to the elderly, Ubuntu Mate 16.04 is by far the best people friendly distro. It is so much like the 6.04-10.04 that we all used to love but with all the new bells and whistles. I get more complaints that Mint its a little harder to find stuff in. I'm close to 70 and don't program. Most of my students are older than I. Thanks to all of the Linux family everywhere for making life so great at our age.
    • Re:Just use Ubuntu (Score:5, Informative)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @06:08AM (#54117199)

      Second vote with justification:

      Ubuntu is primarily designed to be easy.
      Ubuntu has one of the best explained manuals for a beginner on the internet, covering really how to do simple things to get a system working. I often look to other manuals to tweak or do something else, but something as simple as installing a printer the Ubuntu manual is fantastic.
      Ubuntu is based on Debian which is an incredibly solid foundation for an OS.

      A few other flavours exist like Mint, but they mostly arose from some design decisions that pissed off Ubuntu users earlier on, and are now easily customised away.

  • The truth (Score:2, Flamebait)

    What's the best way for a newbie to get started with Linux?

    Here's how it works in Linux.

    Either you're very lucky and Linux works for you out of the box and you don't have problems with your hardware or you're very unlucky and you have troubles with your hardware and software.

    I'd recommend that you download Xubuntu/Mint LiveCDs, run them and verify that your PC works (including your GPU/peripherals like printers and scanners/networking like Wi-Fi/LAN). After that you may proceed with the actual installa

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @04:10AM (#54116807)
    I suggest running Knoppix from a CDROM or DVD.
    Unless you specifically tell it to it's not going to change anything on your hard disk. You are not going to mess anything up by accident.
    If you want to keep stuff save it to a USB disk, or even run Knoppix from a USB disk.
    I've seen a lot of people who had never used linux before run knoppix with no trouble.
  • Not Arch. But I would recommend it if you were willing to dive into a world of fuck you, because you will eventually climb out victorious and full of knowledge. I'd say it's worth it.

    Just don't be like me and accidentally delete all graphics card drivers, and be forced to download them through the text only webbrowser.

  • I think you will get as many answers as there are users on /. My preferred distro is Debian, simply because that is what I am used to. It is fairly conservative in that it doesn't dance exactly on the bleeding edge, but I have yet to find anything missing; I may just be a rather conservative linux user, of course. You could probably go for any of the popular distibutions and avoid tinkering, if that is what you want - it is more a question of which ones to avoi, in that case, since there are some that are m

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @05:15AM (#54117027)

    The best one is the one the person uses you are going to ask for help. e.g. if you have a cow orker that uses Debian, and he is somebody that will be helping you, use Debian.

    When I started I had nobody to ask and Google did not exist yet, so what I did was try out several of the large distributions at the time and the one I likes/Worked was S.u.S.E. (Now openSUSE).

    So take a weekend and try out several of them. If you can not make a weekend available, you won't like changing OS and you will be a User (nothing wrong with that), not an admin on your own machine. Ask why you want to move to Linux and find a pre-installed system or let somebody else install it. As you won't tinker with your system, but just have it working, that would be the best solution.

    The more important question is if you want KDE, Gnome or XFCE. And when you have decided on that, look at how to install new software and how upgrades are done.

    I like YaST from openSUSE, because it is consitant for a lot of different things, not just installing software. You can also easily install XFCE, Gnome and KDE at the same time at the beginning to check them out.

    I dislike Ubuntu for the main reason of how they handle root situations. Yes, I know you are able to change it, I just don't like how they treat it as default.

    So try out several of them. https://distrowatch.com/?langu... [distrowatch.com] will give an idea of popularity.

  • Who are you and what are you using your PC for?

    I started in 1979 on an Apple II, graduated to CP/M and then MS-DOS. In 1991 I decided to try that newfangled Linux thing and never looked back. The important thing, however, was that I was driven by my needs; in 1991 my need was a Unix clone that could run an certain program. I then found that an Unix environment suited my other needs of that time much better: LaTeX/BibTeX was superior to MS-Word for writing my thesis, the command line and the Unix tools suppo

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @05:28AM (#54117059)

    And before I answer it, one thing in advance: It won't go without "tweaking". Yes, Linux went a long way from its "CLI only" days that became "CLI only, but we have some kinda-sorta frontends for some of the things, and a few of them actually work" to what we have now, a system that you can mostly configure without ever touching a command line.

    Linux is still, though, an operating system that retails its command line roots. In other words, every GUI does, CLI can do better. Or easier. Or faster. Or with more options. Eventually, you will open that terminal window. We know you will.

    Linux is also not a "fake it 'til you make it" OS where you guess your way through the menus, hoping that eventually you will find a way that lets you do what you want to do. Unlike Windows, where there are usually a few ways you can reach a goal, some more intelligent and efficient, some less, there is usually only one way to do something in Linux, and it needn't be the most intuitive one depending on the angle you're approaching from.

    So, with this all said, the question which Linux distro is the right one for a newbie is answered by answering two questions:

    1. With what Linux distribution will access to webpages on the internet work out of the box with near 100% certainty?
    2. Which Linux distribution has the most informative and best Google-findable "how do I do stuff" pages?

    The answer to those two questions would be Ubuntu. Yes, Mint works too, but Mint is a tiny bit different, and the last thing you need as a newbie is to wonder whether some cookbook you just follow is wrong, whether it's something on your end or whether it's one of the few things that differ between the textbook and your copy. And yes, Mint is a good system and in some areas actually better than Ubuntu, especially when it comes to support and tweaks for home entertainment, but I'd still stick with Ubuntu. Simply because you have a solid amount of good and helpful advice at your disposal that works for YOUR system.

  • XUbuntu (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bill Hayden ( 649193 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @05:49AM (#54117123) Homepage

    XUbuntu is very easy to install and maintain. It has a familiar Windows-like file manager and toolbar, and does away with the horrid UI that comes by default with Ubuntu. I've used that on a daily-driver development machine for a number of years. Download at http://xubuntu.org/ [xubuntu.org]

  • by aliquis ( 678370 ) <dospam@gmail.com> on Monday March 27, 2017 @06:05AM (#54117193) Homepage

    Ubuntu and Mint both try to be newbie friendly and are large enough.
    Normal Debian which they are off-spring of (Mint grand-children) would likely do too though I know ..well, back in 2.x days you used to get a question how you wanted to merge configuration files and stick with what you had or get the new one or whatever and that kinda felt like a pain. I don't know how it handles if you've done any changes and that's likely when you get the most problem with it (which may still not be a problem.)

    OpenSUSE work just fine.

    Fedora likely work just fine too.

    Where they separate is how you upgrade, Debian can update from one version to the next from within the running system, I think Linux Mint used to suggest that you simply reinstall the new version but by doing that you of course need to keep your /home and any other files you want to keep separate or backed up. The advantage with the later approach is that you can introduce any changes whatsoever, including really large ones and the system will still work and it won't be a problem. If you keep some old stuff around you need to know how to migrate it to the new.
    There also exist rolling distributions or releases from those who use numbered ones where the OS constantly evolve and you just upgrade all the time. Then you likely get more upgrades and in the case of trying to decide what to do with old configurations and such maybe you'll get more work there but you will never have to deal with going from one version to the next of the whole OS instead.

    Multiple of them also don't want to include non-free software by default but remain clean/more clean from that and as such you may not get the proprietary video drivers, Adobe Flash, video and sound codecs and such installed from the beginning but information about how to get that software installed too is readily available so it won't be a problem to install it.

    There's some other distributions why try to be the most friendly and easiest and would include such stuff too but the problem with those is that they will be smaller than the ones mentioned above and maybe they just die off or get updates slower than the large ones or will lack the documentation you want at some time or what you find isn't exactly matching the system you've got and so on.

    Someone mentioned FreeBSD too before but FreeBSD isn't Linux, FreeBSD/Linux to some degree would be but you likely meant GNU/Linux. There's step by step guides for how to upgrade one version of FreeBSD to the next to there shouldn't be a problem as long as you follow that to do that either. Maybe a few more commands but you're unlikely to run into an issue doing it so it will likely carry on very smoothly anyway.
    Someone also mentioned ChromeOS but if so then why not go full-blown Android instead? Though I think they was supposed to merge. Running Android wouldn't be the worst choice. Valve should just release a version which adds upon Android if necessary to make the Linux games run on it too.

  • by thsths ( 31372 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @06:22AM (#54117243)

    Reading is not a strength on slashdot. The submission says "I just need something to work with the mechanical equipment it controls", which seems to indicate that custom software is at play. In that case, especially if it is a non-standard interface, Linux may not be an option.

    For general use I would recommend Ubuntu, too, but this does not seem to be general use.

  • What I'm really looking for is Linux that works without constant under-the-hood tweaking (ala early Windows flavors, 3.1, 95/98)

    Really? if you think those didn't need constant tweaking, you have a distorted memory of using them (or you never used them at all).

  • by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @07:34AM (#54117443) Homepage

    In addition, you can get Knoppix which incredibly allows a full system to run of a CD-ROM!

  • Windows 10

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @07:42AM (#54117497) Homepage

    I've been lurking here for years and seen many recommendations for a Linux flavor that works. What I'm really looking for is Linux that works without constant under-the-hood tweaking

    I think the question really requires taking a step back and looking at what a distro is and does. Because if you're coming in from another OS I'd say there's three levels of changes and the distro-level is probably the least important.

    1. Applications: Do your applications run under Linux or do they have functional equivalents like web services you'd be happy with. If you've heard about WINE, then stop because Windows emulation is full of quirks. It's a tool for users that really, really don't want to run Windows even if it has 10x the issues of running Windows software on Windows. No distro is going to help you if after banging your head on GIMP and Krita you realize that no, I really need Photoshop or anything else with less than a platinum rating on WINE. And even then it can break in the next update.

    2. Desktop environment (DE), this is pretty much how the OS part of the interface will look like for you. No matter which one you pick it won't be like Windows or OS X. If a distro ships a DE, it'll probably look and feel pretty much the same across distros. If you don't like Gnome or KDE on Ubuntu there's not much point trying them again on SuSE, Mint or Debian. Granted, a few of these are almost like picking distros as I'd take Mint for Cinnamon and Ubuntu for Unity but far from all.

    3. Quality of packaging, testing, support, upgrades, security patches, availability of backports and third party repositories, release schedule etc. basically a lot of the boring housekeeping and problem solving. For the most part, this is what distros do - they take what developers have made and wrap it up in packages for you. But if the developers haven't made the apps you want, you'll be tweaking your work process a lot. If they haven't made the DE the way you want, you'll be tweaking your OS interaction a lot. A good distro doesn't create fuss for you, but it doesn't really mean it'll work for you.

    I'd just start with Ubuntu with Unity (the default) only because it's super common and see if you get past #1. If you do and don't like Unity I'd try Cinnamon, KDE, Gnome and XFCE, as far as I know they're all available as packages on Ubuntu. If you find something that looks right for you I'd move on to #3 and ask "What distro is the best to run [Cinnamon/Gnome/KDE/Unity/XFCE]?" Though I suspect that the answer will probably be one of the Mint or Ubuntu spins in most cases. There's not much point in going outside the beaten path if you just want to get started.

  • Preferably those with long time support (LTS).

  • by Max_W ( 812974 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @08:26AM (#54117719)
    on Raspberry Pi 3 computer https://www.raspberrypi.org/ [raspberrypi.org] . It is an OS and a computer with the link to the physical world via GPIO.
  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @08:28AM (#54117727)

    I just need something to work with the mechanical equipment it controls. Any recommendations?

    Without more details about this "mechanical equipment" we cannot give you an appropriate reply because we have no idea if any

    Linux distro is even able to talk to and control this unknown "mechanical equipment".

    If you're talking about a regular CNC mill/router/lathe then LinuxCNC [linuxcnc.org] should be appropriate.

  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @09:37AM (#54118069)

    I hate to sound flippant, but "it's complicated." To maximize the chances of a good user experience with Linux, we need to have an idea of what the Linux newbie wants to do.

    This is not an easy question to answer off the top of your head because it requires you to anticipate things you might not do commonly but occasionally can be very important to you, like editing MS Word documents on an airplane or train (where you don't have a wifi or 4G connection).

    Do you have Windows/Mac apps you will expect to run on your Linux box? What does your pattern of network usage look like -- do you mostly connect to a few wireless networks at home or the office, or do you hop around between hotels and coffee shops and three or four different work sites? Is your workstation even a laptop at all? How sophisticated are the documents you work with (I mean in terms macros, collaborative editing, templates, and the like -- I am sure the content you produce is plenty sophisticated regardless!). Are you watching video for fun or do you need to edit video for work?

    Distrust any quick and simple answers from someone who doesn't show an interest in what your actual goals are as a user.

  • Android (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @10:15AM (#54118311)

    You can get a Chromebook and run packaged, maintanance free Android apps and games. If you want to develop, you can install Ubuntu/some other Linux disto as chroot (Crouton) without impacting stability/maintainance-free operation of the main OS.

  • by evolutionary ( 933064 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @02:11PM (#54120243)
    Okay, this is a serious questions and all us who know the power and importance of Linux should be give more complete answers. I see a few hear but none that feels complete so I'll give it a go:

    For pure ease overall I would second the anonymous posting for Linux Mint. https://linuxmint.com/ [linuxmint.com] It is overall the easiest to use for a newbies. The reason being that it has the best software package wizard/interface of the any distro I've seen to date. Runs virtually the entire Ubuntu spectrum, doesn't have odd experiments that we sometimes see in Ubuntu. I tend to prefer Mate (it's a bit older and uses fewer resources) but people wanting a more "slick" look will prefer Cinnamon. This is what you want if you are a pure desktop user. Especially for gaming. Plus Ubuntu has been caught doing desktop search data "deals" with Amazon (you can turn it off but it's not easy to find) so if privacy is a big concern, Linux Mint has to the best of my knowledge never given/sold data to Amazon. (see this link: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/... [eff.org]). One thing I should point out, the Linux Mint team was until recently a bit laid back on security leading to their website being hacked. They are more diligent now but just something to bear in mind. But Linux mint is in my opinion the best distro for Windows Die hard users to look at to make the switch. (you have TONS of games from Gog.com and Steam.com for you gamers..) I'm not suggesting Ubuntu simply because Mint is more usable and when Ubuntu starting quietly selling user data to Amazon (they may not be doing it now, but once bitten), I felt they betrayed the community as they did not announce it openly but started doing it quietly and made the "off switch" as tricky to find as MS does with changing the default extension save option in MS Word/Excel.

    That said, if you want similar ease but want to be able to do moderately easy admin style tweaking with a wide community help base, you use Mint Debian which uses a pure Debian file directory/location layout (Ubuntu and Linux Mint are Debian BASED but have a few tweaks/customizations that don't entirely match pure Debian specs but are compatible with the vast majority of Debian Linux packages/software).

    once your are comfortable you can tweak the User interface to look like whatever you want. But...if you want a more Mac look/feel out of the box I'd suggest ElementaryOS. https://elementary.io/ [elementary.io]

    ElementaryOs has the slickest look out of the box and while it says "for Windows users" I feel it's even easier for MacOS users making a switch. However, it is less mature which is probably why the packages are fewer and to expand that you need some knowledge a beginner would probably not have and the community base is significantly smaller (newer so this is to be expected.)

    If you want a more server set of functions and flexibility, I'd suggest using Debian (http://www.debian.org) and set the login mode to Gnome Classic. It will disorient MS windows users at first but the transition is still easy and I've had office use it with no real complaints (just that it looks different but staff figured it out quite fast). The advantage that Debian has is it's a true server level OS (even with GUI) and the being the base of more "user friendly" distro has a HUGE community base that can get you through almost anything. I may be digressing a little but it's important to distinguish what you are using Linux for. others will say CentOS but for Windows users I'd say the Debian package system is more like what MS windows users are accustomed to as opposed to the RedHat package system which will feel more alien to MS windows users. Lots of business big wigs will say go RedHat based (CentOS, paid RedHat or Oracle Linux) and for some business solutions with specific business needs it is in some cases the only way to go. If you ever decide to uas a RedHat Pac
  • Just do it (Score:5, Informative)

    by TimMD909 ( 260285 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @02:16PM (#54120301) Homepage
    Nike had the right idea: just do it. Pick a distribution. Use it. See if you like. If you don't, switch.

    A very non-techie friend of mine installed Ubuntu 8.04 almost a decade ago and has only needed my help a couple times in that time period. Once he needed help with X config settings to hook up an old TV via HDMI. Another time it was a Comcast issue. Granted, my friend is on the high end of intelligence and he's not easily discouraged. His experience and lack of problems makes me believe Linux has been ready for the desktop for some time.

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