Guide to Picking a Linux Distribution
There's been a lot of interest in Linux, and awareness of Linux seems to be rising. Consequently, we have been getting more and more questions about which Linux distribution to choose.
The answer is not easy- there's a lot to consider. Some distributions (also known as 'distros') are made to be simple to use an install to help new users. There's still much to learn, but the drawback of these distros is that you don't learn too much about Linux itself. Some distros are the opposite, they expect you to know a lot and you are thrown right into the thick of things. There's a lot you can learn from these, but it's also easy to get bogged down in all the technical issues involved.
Another fundamental choice is the interface. The two more common and most graphical interfaces are KDE and Gnome, and the choice between the two is down to user preference. Other interfaces are not as graphical nor as friendly to new users. These include IceWM and Fluxbox.
Here is a guide to help choosing a GUI.
Here's a few popular distros in these forums, and a few that are often recommended:
Our own Quantum Skyline did a review of SuSE 9.1. Be careful when reading reviews though, as the version reviewed may not be the most recent version.
Another review by Quantum Skyline.
That's a very short list. The first two are better for new Linux users, the last two are better for people who have some experience or want to really jump in and understand what's going on.
Yet that really doesn't provide a lot of detail. Want more information? Well, that's not easy to supply here- there are far too many Linux distributions. If you find one you want to research more, however, or are looking for downloads, try LinuxISO.org. Some of the information there can be a little technical too, but there's always Google, and any reviews that LinuxISO links to.
Fortunately, Daniel André and the good folks at zegenie studios have put together a small questionnaire to help new users choose a Linux distro. It's by no means a scientific test, but it will help point you in the right direction by narrowing down the seemingly endless possibilities to a few that fit your needs and current abilities, allowing you to research those few better and make a choice. Of course, you can try as many Linux distros as you like The questionnaire can be found here.
So, to recap:
Get a little information of the available GUI's in Linux. Read this for some more good information and to learn about availability- many distros come with more than one GUI, some may need you to install the GUI you want to try.
Take the questionnaire at zegenie studios to help figure out where you are with your current abilities and what distros are recommended for you.
Research the suggested distros a little bit to get a better idea of what you're looking at. It's always good to check the distro's homepage for information and instructions to aid in the installation.
Check LinuxISO for another description of the distro and for places you can download it.