Best Distribution of Linux

IMHO, Linux Mint with the Maya desktop is one of the best distributions of Linux for the desktop. If you’re looking for a substitute for Windows to handle all the usual tasks such as web, email, word processing, spread sheeting and imaging, this will do it. The learning curve isn’t too steep, you’ll barely even need to use the command line. Here’s why I prefer Linux over Windows:

  • Security: very few virus’ and malware are written to attack Linux. It’s an OS designed with security in mind.
  • Economics: Almost all distributions of Linux are free, although there are some you can purchase and receive phone support.
  • Support: Linux people tend to be helpful, informed and eager to help. If you have an issue, type it into your favorite search engine and your chances of finding straight answers are very good. There’s also local mailing lists and clubs to help.
  • Stability: Linux generally doesn’t crash, unless your hardware has a serious malfunction.
  • Performance: The newer the version of Windows, the more hardware you’ll need to run it effectively. Some distributions of Linux need later model PC’s to run well, but many distributions run well on older PC’s.
  • Compatibility: Newer versions of Windows tend to drop support for older hardware. Linux tends to embrace all hardware, new or old, and they don’t plan obsolescence just because that controller card or all-in-one printer is 5+ years old. Windows if profit based, they want you to toss your old hardware and purchase new stuff.
  • Run anything: There’s a Linux application to replace almost anything Microsoft or Adobe puts out. If there isn’t, there are several ways to run Windows apps under linux such as Wine (a Windows Emulator) or Virtualbox, which allows you to actually run Windows on a virtual machine within Linux.
  • NO activation! At no point will you ever be locked out of your system because MS decides now is a good time to audit and validate your copy of Windows. This can be a real nuisance if say, it’s 4pm and you need to print postage for a critical package.
  • Competition: This is what makes companies work harder. A recent Forbes magazine survey concluded that many Fortune 500 companies are planning to add or replace servers with Linux, not Windows.
  • Choices and control: It’s YOUR machine, you can choose from hundreds of different distributions of Linux and dozens of various desktop environments.

Some reasons you may not do well with Linux:

  • You might have to learn something new. I’m not being a (total) smart-ass here, but any new operating system or application will require some learning and maybe you’re really busy and comfortable with the OS you’ve been using for years.
  • Applications: There’s a Linux replacement for most Microsoft and Adobe products, but not all. If your line of work requires you to use the latest and greatest Adobe or MS product, you can use Wine or Virtualbox to run them, but the hardware requirements are greater and some things just don’t play nice under anything but Windows.
  • Games: Some just need a native install of Windows. Others will run fine in Linux. Some popular games are now being ported to run natively within Linux.
  • Less flash-whiz-bang: Linux apps tend to be more to the point and have less bells and whistles. Some people need bells and whistles.
  • Techie stuff doesn’t interest me: And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to just get on a machine and process some photos. Having used Windows, Mac and Linux I still think a good distro such as Mint is actually easier, but that’s just my point of view. You’re best bet there might be Apple. They cost more but you get more. Some popular distributions of Linux can be run on a Mac.

Where do I learn more?

distrowatch.org – find out which distribution of Linux is popular, very helpful for choosing.

linux.org – tips, tricks and articles galore. Lots of stuff to get introduced to Linux, no degree in IT required.

phxlinux.org – A great way to make contact with linux enthusiasts in the Phoenix Metro Area. Lots of helpful people on the mailing lists and regular meetings.

Or just hit your favorite search engine.

-Ken Ranous

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