There are over three hundred Linux distributions that you can choose from. The choices can be overwhelming at best. In this post I want to offer you some guidance to help you choose a distribution that will fit your needs. Use these suggestions are a starting point for your own search. And understand that there is no agreement as to what is the best distribution. We know that Ubuntu is the most popular on the desktop and Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the most popular in enterprise settings. But popularity does not equal best fit.
1. For newbies: Linux Mint or PCLinuxOS
If you are new to Linux, I suggest you use Linux Mint or PCLinux OS. These are the most user friendly distributions.
2. Everyday Linux: Fedora or Ubuntu
If you are looking for a distribution that is going to be around a while and is relatively easy to use, then I suggest Fedora or Ubuntu. Fedora is based by Red Hat and Ubuntu is backed by Canonical. Some would also suggest OpenSUSE, which is based by Novell. I don’t recommend OpenSUSE because I don’t like Novell and their close dealings with Microsoft.
3. Light and fast: Puppy Linux
If you have an older system Puppy Linux is the choice for you. It is an amazing distribution for older machines.
4. Server: CentOS or Debian
CentOS is simply an unbranded and free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Debian is also an excellent choice, being well known for its stability.
5. Music Production: Ubuntu Studio
This is the most popular music and recording solution out there.
6. Multimedia: Mythbuntu
If you are interested in turning your computer into a multimedia station, this is the distro for you. The learning curve is a little high, but worth it.
7. Power User: Gentoo or Slackware
If you really want to learn Linux, then Gentoo or Slackware is the way to go. Slackware just happens to be the oldest Linux distribution still in active development.
8. Netbooks: EasyPeasy or Jolicloud
If you are think of using Linux on a netbook, EasyPeasy or Jolicloud are both good choices.
9. KDE Desktop: OpenSUSE or Kubuntu
For those who like the KDE desktop enviroment OpenSUSE or Kubuntu are probably the best.
So what is the best distribution? It depends on your needs and what you are looking for. Most distributions have a live CD, so you can download the iso and burn it on a CD. Then you can test drive that particular distribution and choose the one that fits your needs.
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