Baby's First GNU/Linux OSEdit
Being a technology board, talk of different operating systems and distributions is common. You may desire to try a new OS after reading about them. For users looking to make the switch from Windows or Mac to a Linux distribution, here are some recommendations.
Installing an OSEdit
It is recommended that you test out an OS in a Virtual Machine such as Virtual Box or run it from a Live CD/USB before installing it. This lets you test out the operating system without any permanant change to your system. You should also consider booting as a live CD to ensure good hardware compatibility.
However, if you've decided to dedicate yourself to GNU/Linux -- getting it up and running isn't as daunting as one might think. First of all: you have to figure out what distribution you want, and what architecture your CPU has, and download the corresponding ISO. Do download it with torrent, or check the checksum after it has finished downloading. It will save you a lot of hassle if you get a corrupted ISO. There are multiple tools available for creating a GNU/Linux bootable USB from this ISO, where the most common ones are UNetBootin if you're already running GNU/Linux, and Win32ImageWriter if you're on a Windows system. Boot from the USB, follow instructions. Problems? Official distribution manual, or just make a thread on /g/ once you have searched exhaustively on google.
If you're looking for an OS to use for daily use, try one of these. Keep in mind that 99% of your software and games will not work if you dont have the time to fiddle With wine. Most software has an equal or better FOSS replacement however. Check out osalt for more information on open source alternatives.
No, really. Gentoo is actually not a bad choice at all. But if you make a thread asking for help, expect a ton of "Install Gentoo" responses.
A common misconception is that gentoo is actually very hard to install. If you have patience, a few hours to burn, and can read a manual, it's not actually hard. What is annoying is maintaining gentoo after you have it installed, and if you have a slow machine, compiling programs can be a pain in the ass. There are binary packages available in portage.
Gentoo is available at http://here.www.gentoo.org/main/en/where.xml
Ubuntu is a common beginner's choice. It's easier to learn, has a fairly intuitive GUI and has a lot of support. It is based on Debian. Make sure that whatever variant you try is based off the latest LTS, 12.04.
You may want to try a variant of Ubuntu. The most common variants are:
- You might try Xubuntu if you want a semi-lightweight OS with a somewhat spartan user interface. Xubuntu uses the "XFCE" Desktop environment. This desktop environment uses a dock as stock, similar to that of the OSX GUI.
- If you want a less spartan and more windows-like environement,Kubuntu is worth a try. It is a lot more heavy on ram, but also has a nice user interface to make up for this, with alot of extra gadets.
- Lubuntu is the choice for the low-power machine, due to it's low memory usage. Use this if you want to save ram. Lubuntu uses the "LXDE" Desktop environment. Users who prefer a Windows GUI may prefer this.
Linux Mint is a distribution based off Ubuntu. Linux Mint comes in the flavors of KDE, XFCE, Cinnamon, and MATE. Linux Mint is the next best thing to Ubuntu, it comes polished off without the integration of Amazon services.
Crunchbang is a lightweight Debian-based distro aimed at experienced users. However, it can be used as a means of educating newer users of linux due to the intuitive nature of openbox. If you're willing to learn how to edit configuration files, you may learn a little bit of something on the way. Overall, it's user-friendly while providing convenience to more experienced users.
Available for download at http://crunchbang.org/download/
Fedora is almost as user friendly as Ubuntu. However, its repositories are not nearly as large, but you can add repositories quickly and easily. If you add RPM Fusion and livna repositories, you can have access to almost any program you will need. Fedora is available in different spins. Personally, I recommend the KDE or XFCE spins, but you can install any version and then install a new DE if you want to.
Adding reposories is simple. Livna, for example:
sudo rpm -ivh http://rpm.livna.org/livna-release.rpm
Fedora spins are available for download here: https://spins.fedoraproject.org/
Arch has excellent documentation and community support. If you like to tweak every damn little thing but don't like compiling *everything*, Arch is for you. Alternatively, you could try Archbang or Antergos.
Arch wiki: https://wiki.archlinux.org/
Arch downloads: https://www.archlinux.org/download/
A great server distro. It comes in three variants: stable, testing, and sid. - Stable lives up to its name, being the most stable. However, the packages are very outdated compared to the other two versions.
OpenSUSE is a commonly used distro. If you plan on only using KDE, this is a good distro for you.
Puppy is a distribution aimed at being lightweight, fast, easy and portable. Puppy Linux can be run entirely from RAM. It is meant to be booted from a CD or USB as opposed to being installed. Variations such as Racy Puppy exist.
Admittedly this is BSD based, rather than GNU/Linux based however it is still a very acceptable option as a first *nix os. It has a graphical package manager and supports a variety of desktop environments and Window managers, as well as FreeBSD's ZFS filesystem.
You may be interested in Linux as a server as opposed to a desktop. While less commonly asked about, it is still quite common.
Debian is one of the best operating systems to use for a server.
Ubuntu server is based off of Debian testing. While this means it does have the slight chance of being not as stable as Debian Stable, it still is a great choice for a server OS. Recent LTS releases have focused on providing heavy integration with Openstack, providing an out of the box turnkey solution to run an OpenStack Icehouse environment in a public, private, or hybrid cloud.
CentOS is a clone of RHEL, which is in turn can be thought of as a very stable version of Fedora tech support. Of course, CentOS doesn't have the same kind of tech support that RedHat offers for buying a license for RHEL, but you can probably find most help you need by searching on the internet.
Mirror list for downloads: http://www.centos.org/modules/tinycontent/index.php?id=30
Some distros serve other purposes, such scanning for malware, data forensics, penetration testing or several other purposes.
- GParted - a live distro aimed at helping users partition their disks
- Backtrack - an Ubuntu-based distro aimed at penetration testing
- TAILS - A live system focused on anonymous Internet surfing. this has Tor, I2P, and other useful tools built in and all traffic is automatically fowarded over Tor. TAILS is Debian-based and uses the GNOME DE.
- Liberté Linux - Much like TAILS, but more lightweight.
- iPredia - A debian based os designed for i2p users, this has amny i2p applications included such as Robert torent client, and imule.