What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Talk about other linux distributions, or even other OSes.
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What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by mimosa » 20. Jan 2016, 16:13

Like many newcomers to Linux, I began with Ubuntu before distro-hopping. Eventually I landed here, with the result that I don't have too much idea what's out there these days.

Ubuntu is harmless enough I suppose, apart from being so bloated and slow. It's probably not a good place to learn, but a real beginner won't be doing that yet. The poor quality of much of the advice on the forums is perhaps the main drawback that occurs to me.

I have a friend who has just chosen to make the switch from Windows, but his box is quite old and slow, so something lighter would be good - with XFCE striking an attractive balance, not too spartan, while light on its feet. Does anyone have any good suggestions?

One possibility would of course be Salix. But Salix isn't intended for total beginners. With 14.2 coming any day soon in the next year or so, now is also perhaps not the best time in the release cycle for someone to take up any Slack-based distro.

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Re: What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by ChuangTzu » 20. Jan 2016, 22:31

I am partial of course because I think Salix (even if not the intention) is very good for beginners. Especially if they can contact a friend that has experience. Between that, the forums and beginners guide it shouldn't be too bad.

Alot depends on their experience. How experienced are they with Windows; CLI or mouse clicker?

If not Salix, and Ubuntu is too heavy then perhaps, in no particular order:

Xubuntu LTS
Linux Mint
Zorin (no experience with it, but alot of people in the different forums like it)

Personally I think Ubuntu LTS or its derivatives is best (after Salix) for completely new Linux users. Linux Mint requires fresh installs for new versions (does not permit apt-get dist-upgrade) and they are a little slow with updates.

PS: Debian has become easier to install (very slow installer though), and it allows the choice of DE during installation. Just use Salix... LOL

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Re: What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by laprjns » 20. Jan 2016, 22:56

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?"

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Re: What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by mimosa » 21. Jan 2016, 09:10

Interesting link Rich. I hadn't heard of Ubuntu Mate, and it does sound like a better place to start than Unity. But what about something more lightweight, for oldish hardware?

If it were to be Salix, I'm now thinking Salix Mate could be a good recommendation, too. When I tested it, I didn't find any noticeable performance lag compared to XFCE - and the user won't need to do such a big package upgrade.

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Re: What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by elcore » 21. Jan 2016, 09:21

Salix is alright because it usually ships one program per task, and new users get easily confused with big distros, at least that's my experience.
MATE and xfce4 can be configured very windows-like, but if you think the learning curve will be too steep then cinnamon may be an option.
Everyone coming from windoze will judge the system by its user interface, so I guess one must see to that first.
I've seen mandrake first and didn't like it too much since kde2 was very ugly back then, but much smaller than it is today and surprisingly modular.
Then years later I slowly started using DSL which had mini selection of programs plus firefox. Basically all I needed, just a surf machine.
I guess if I had been spoiled by ubuntu from the start, I'd probably not know half the things I've learned.
Too much automation, and you'll have one lazy user, imho.

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Re: What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by sqlpython » 26. Jan 2016, 06:05

Salix is to start with a Great Slackware installer for us Lazy Slackers. What more do you need?

If you get your Slack easily installed and stick with a version ( I ran 13.1 for years) it is very easy on the beginner. No worries about dealing with constant updates and Very Stable packages. While Ubuntu has a LTS (Long Term install) with links to other packages it will become unstable at some point. I have not in Twenty years found this to be as big an issue with Slackware. Therefore install once and run for years I vote Slackware. Secondarily I would vote Pure Debian. Although a bit more difficult for a newcomer to install.
Debian ( Stretch 9, Sid ) Salix OpenBox 14.1, Gentoo, Calculate

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Re: What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by Atip » 28. Jan 2016, 02:08

I started my wife, a total newcomer to computers, with Salix xfce4 on her HP netbook.
Now on her desktop PC she is using KNOPPIX-kde since Saklix had become quite old.

Compared to the days when I started with Linux RedHat-5.6, today these distros can
be installed and run by any grandmother. ;-)

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Re: What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by coyotl » 22. Apr 2016, 16:37

Mint seems to be 1st choice for most beginners.

latest, mint 17 seems to just work.

For someone who can live with a few tangles Mint Debian Edition is interesting: they have solved a long standing problem,
Bluetooth headset audio.

I tried the Cinnamon version but gave it up as hardware acceleration of Cinnamon apparently did not agree with my ATI video card.

The MATE edition works well, MATE is by now perfectly usable.

Problems: for some reason Modem Manager does not work at all with my Huawei 4g modem (has worked in all others i've tried). So use wvdial for that.
All package managers must be started from terminal. Menu entries or gksu do not work. Not really a problem but for a newbie could be.

Use this on my laptop which I need to just work, replacing xubuntu.

Brilliant work from mint and yet a chance to tinker and learn as it's less inflexible than the ubuntu-based.

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Re: What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by doll0x032 » 4. May 2016, 12:30

I started with Open Suse, but Salix seems to be more userfriendly, to my mind. It's faster and more stable, well-documented and has a great community. Slackware books and forums are ok, in addition to this forum and wiki.
PCLinuxos is fine too. Fast, stable enough, and it is rolling-release, so you don't have to reinstall it or make a big update every time a new version is out.
Debian had some features that didn't fit me, so I prefer Slackware and it's derivatives.

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Re: What is a good distro to recommend for beginners?

Post by Papasot » 16. May 2016, 11:16

I am late in this thread, but anyway I will add my bit.
My wife is what one would call a "beginner with minds". She just doesn't like computers that much, so learning anything she doesn't need is out of question - she will simply refuse. Normally, all she does is to browse the Internet, download and read some documents useful for her job, playing music, and occasionally writing a short document on LibreOffice or playing Mahjongg. That's pretty much all she does and all she wants to know about computers.
Still, she was able to adapt herself to Salix pretty easily (which I installed in her laptop without asking, ha ha ha). I even removed gdm, told her she needs to login from "that black screen with letters", then type "startx". Furthermore, I told her "changing the system language is left to the user as an exercise", which she found how to do it easily.
That was all. Absolutely no problem, I doubt she even remembers her OS is different now. Migration to Salix was so easy that I had more difficulties to convince her using duckduckgo instead of google than explaining to her what's new in this OS.

So honestly, I don't see how Salix isn't for beginners as well. Granted, I wouldn't call Salix a "distro for newbies", but even installation is so easy that a newbie could do (except of course the "mindless mouse clickers" - those aren't able to install anything anyway).
A pleasant detail in this forum: several people pick a picture of their pet as their avatar. Who am I to do otherwise? ;-)

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