Choosing a distro

Now that I want to go self taught on programming I'm wondering what do you consider in order to choose your distro of choice. I've used Ubuntu in the past but I never understood what to look for on a distro.

Why use Gnome instead of Ubuntu? Why Xubuntu instead of Ubuntu? Give me some light in this. Sorry if I don't make any sense, I'm a completely newb in these places.

Ubuntu is a distro - gnome is a window manager

I like openSUSE and I also like Fedora - gnome on both, although I dont mind KDE5 on SUSE

Some distro's do some things different. One of those things are Desktop Envoirments out of the box. Alltrough you can install any desktop envoirment if you like. Another difference is the package managment system. And the way the release and patch cycles work.

I think Arch is great if you've already dipped your toe into the Linux waters, provided you

  • are willing to read a lot of documentation
  • are shy of doing things on the command line
  • are willing to invest time in the initial setup and getting-to-know phase
  • are willing to invest time in the occasional necessary troubleshooting (very rare these days)

The benefits

  • you'll learn a lot of what makes Linux tick
  • you'll always be up-to-date with the latest and greatest packages
  • it has a large and helpful community and wiki
  • you'll find even the most exotic packages in the arch user repository (AUR)

Anyway, whatever your choice, the first step should be to get comfortable with the command line [1] and one of the standard editors, vim would be my choice [2] here.


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My suggestion is if you have a DVD burn a linux distro ISO, pick lots of different distros, give them a try, just from the DVD do not install them. If you know how to use a USB thumb drive and put a bootable ISO on the thumb drive that is another way to test and find the distro you like.
Go to Distro Watch http://distrowatch and see all the different distros of linux there are.
I tried Uduntu with four different Desktop Environments and Mint with the same Desktop environments, did not like them only stuck with them for a few days to weeks and went back to windows.
When I found linux Manjaro and the Desktop Environment xfce4 that is when I found the linux for me. Easy install and a great packet manager.
I had to install Compix to get the graphics to look better, but that was easy to do. Manjaro is Arch based, and has a lot of other features that I like.
There are a lot of distros out there and everyone is a little bit different in the way they want to have things work.
Watching this persons videos, I learn a lot, hes a bit wacky but does give out the info.

Me I would say Manjaro is great and another would say Ubuntu is great or something else, It all comes down to what you thing is a great distro for you and your needs. Good luck and have fun.

Have a day

When it comes to Xubuntu, Kubuntu and all the other Ubuntu flavours - the difference is which desktop environment that it comes with (you can change this as you wish later).

Someone is probably going to disagree with me on this one, but when it comes to the distribution, it doesn't really matter. You can do your work on whatever you choose. If you are fairly new to the linux world you probably something that doesn't need a whole lot of configuration before you are up and running.

Others have suggested to download and test different distributions, do so! (You can test them in virtual machine before you install)

Choose a rolling release distro and has a good package manager imho

Here's what I look for in a distro:

  1. Stability: Bleeding edge distros are a LOT of fun, but if I am gonna make it my work system, and since I am not a Linux developer, I need the distro to have some basic stability, hardware compatibility etc. I am not saying it must work with every little unknown wifi adapter from any corner of the world... but it should have some firmware available for most major hardware components (e.g. Killer can be a little tantrum-prone, but if you are patient and look around a bit, you will get it up and running). It should not break simply because, say, you have Killer wireless instead of Intel, and the firmware could not be handled by the system!

  2. Usability: One of the best Linux distros around, and I think everyone will agree here, is Arch. I have Arch running on an old Inspiron 5240 from 2005, and I use it to learn my way around Arch. Someday, Arch is gonna be my main system. But right now I need to get my research done, I need to publish my research, or I am jobless! So, if a distro is gonna be my main system it should be usable without me having to recompile the kernel from ground up! I am not saying I won't use anything that requires me to open a terminal window.... that beats the point of a GNU/Linux system altogether... but it should be something that is biased in favor of usability in the usability:compile-yourself ratio. This will be different, of course, if you are, say, Wendell! Or someone whose profession revolves around this stuff! But otherwise, you want a tool to let you be productive. I expect a distro to at least have audio and internet working out of the box, at least with Kernel 4.1 and up.

  3. Libre: I look for distros that do not include proprietary software! And unless I have a gun to my head (for instance, I do use Matlab) I do not install proprietary anything in my system. It is not always possible... not unless you are a professional in this field... but I try to do this to the maximum extent possible. Why? Because I want to see how far I can go without compromising principles for convenience. I think RMS explains it beautifully in this video... he is one of my heroes. And I still remember getting goosebumps when I read The Hacker Manifesto/Conscience of a Hacker by The Mentor (aka Lloyd Blankenship). I got into computers because to me it represented a lifestyle driven by curiosity and knowledge, rather than greed. And I wanna see how far I can go with this, and still have a job and feed myself without compromising on the principles. A lot of people would say, "Oh, RMS is just all talks. Can't be done in real life." I don't think that's quite right. The only proprietary driver I have on my system right now is the one for Killer 1535. I would use an open source/libre option for it (like I do for the GTX 970M) if there was one... but I haven't found it yet.

  4. Legacy: You'd want a distro with some pedigree. Simply because you don't want to wake up one day and find that it's been discontinued.

All that being said, I am currently using Trisquel! I moved away from Linux Mint, arguably the most "usable" and "convenient" distro, because of the built-in proprietary software. But make no mistakes, if you are newbie, Mint is very very lucrative. I disliked Ubuntu's move to Unity, and it bugged me that they were including Spyware with their OS, and being very disrespectful to RMS! Besides, for some reason Ubuntu has always been very unstable every time I installed it on one of my laptops. May be I did something wrong... I don't know! But those problems would always go away when I switched to Mint. I also played around with Bodhi, Elementary (still in beta, 0.something I believe), Antegros (Arch based) and Open Suse. I finally settled on Trisquel because it was entirely free, and ticked most of my check-boxes above.

I would suggest you play around with Ubuntu, Fedora, Open Suse, Mint, Antegros, Trisquel, Bodhi and Elementary, and see what suits you best! Go for Arch if you have what it takes!!!