Linux: Choice Overload
Lately, I have been going nuts over the myriad of choices available in the world of Linux. Linux is a free and open-source operating system available in a plethora of different flavors, or distributions that are developed and maintained by a variety of different companies and groups, who all have one thing in common: They are devoted to making computer usage free. There is also a wide variety of DEs (Desktop Environments) that give many different looks and feels to your operating system. With this series of short reviews, I intend to give n00bs and experts tips on choosing distro/DE combo that is right for them.
Perhaps the most notable, and currently the most popular, of the distributions is Ubuntu, developed by Canonical. The distribution got its start in late 2004 and has since become a very popular flavor for both n00bs and experts. The current version is 12.04 LTS (Long-term support), codenamed ‘Precise Pangolin,’ which ships with the infamous Unity interface.
Precise Pangolin and Unity
I was able to try 12.04 upon its release, and I must say that, while Unity has a long way to go before it reaches the simplicity and stability of GNOME2, one of the many features that made previous versions of Ubuntu great, it is becoming increasingly usable compared to the first time we saw Unity in Ubuntu 11.04. It has become more stable, and it seems to be more compatible with older hardware. Despite this, it still tends to lag, even after the installation of proprietary graphics drivers.
The distribution itself is still great, and despite all its flaws, Unity can still make a standard user comfortable. However, if you are an expert aiming to use Ubuntu, I would highly recommend another DE, such as Xfce or LXDE, which are both aimed to be more lightweight and simple when compared with Unity.
Other than its struggle with desktop environments, Ubuntu is still the great distribution it was back when 10.10 was the current version. It promotes user-friendliness by allowing easy configuration, while still allowing Linux experts and enthusiasts to operate without being slowed down by its lack of difficulty to use. That is why I would like to recommend this distribution to new Linux users coming from Windows.
I won’t go into detail about all of the major distributions here because that would take too long. Rather, I will go into detail about each of them individually later in this series. I will say, however, that trying them all has been an adventure that I’ve enjoyed. Like any user coming from Windows, I felt overwhelmed with the plethora of choices I had when I began looking into Linux. The user has to begin by finding the combination that works for them. Then, when they have that combination, they must learn how to use the distribution’s facilities (command-line package manager, community, etc). With much time and ‘fudgeting,’ the n00b can become a guru.
I would like to conclude this short critique by saying that finding the right combination of distribution and DE takes time and effort, but you will eventually find the ‘one.’ When you find this magical combination, be sure to explore it. Get to know it well, and then, maybe, you can try other distributions. With many years of experience with the many distributions of Linux, you will reach guru status.
Jack’s Ubuntu Rating
Recommended for everyone?