Selecting the Best Linux Distribution for You
Linux is all about choices. Linux offers you the freedom of choice ranging from the operating system to the software you use. As a part of this freedom, the Linux users are given the option of selecting a suitable distribution from hundreds of flavours. Sometimes, having a lot of choices may become an issue. That is when you are confused with all options available and stuck in the selection process. This brief article is written for the assistance of such souls. In case if you are in the middle of choosing the best distribution for you, make a note of the following considerations as well.
Before you select the Linux distribution, you need to understand your needs and what you expect from Linux. As an example, some people may use Linux as an experimental operating system, purely for learning purposes. Some other may use Linux for commercial purpose, such as video editing or programming. Therefore, your need for using Linux is the primary factor, when it comes to selecting a distribution.
Let’s consider a few factors that will help you to choose the best distribution for you.
Sometimes, people are stuck with their old hardware. They have their secondary PC lying around with 5 years old hardware. Non of the modern operating systems cannot run any faster in these PCs. Therefore, you might want to install Linux in these PCs, as Linux is popular for its light-weight nature. But not all the Linux distributions are lightweight. In case if your hardware is much older, you may want the lightest Linux distributions of all. DamnSmall Linux and Feather Linux are two lightweight distributions that will take only a fraction of your limited RAM and hard drive space. Therefore, choose a lightweight Linux distribution to make your old hardware live.
In case if you are migrating from Windows to Linux, you may have a different set of options. When it comes to such a migration, the new Linux user should choose a distribution that is quite close to the Windows operating system. This way, the low productivity due to the learning curve does not hit the user negatively. When a Windows like Linux distribution is opted, the user does not have to compromise on the usability and the productivity. This is a great start for someone to start learning about Linux. With the time, when the user gets to know Linux better, the user can move on to more advanced Linux distributions. Xandros is one of the best options for this category of distributions.
Multimedia is one of the key uses of computers. We use computers for everyday entertainment. If your objective is to get done simple day-to-day tasks, such as Internet surfing, word processing, and entertainment, you belong to the category with most number of options. At present, almost all the mainstream Linux distributions have been fine-tuned for the general-purpose use. These distributions can be installed without any difficulty and works with almost all hardware. Ubuntu and Mandrake are two of the mainstream distributions that offer the ultimate usability, ease of installation, and high-end features for the users.
Although Linux systems are quite competitive in offering multimedia experience to the users, compared to other platforms, there can be a few drawbacks that hinder the full experience. First of all, some of the distributions do not ship codecs necessary for playing certain video file types. The users need to download them from 3rd party websites or repositories. This is no exception for some audio formats as well. This could be quite inconvenient for the novice users who have just started their journey with Linux. To address this, some distributions, such as Ubuntu, offers automatic codec and driver installation process on demand.
In case if learning about Linux is your primary objective, it is always advisable to start with ‘difficult’ types of Linux distributions. These Linux distributions do not have high usability features or easy-to-configure wizards. These distributions offer the users Linux in its raw form, so the users, or rather learners, can get deep understanding of the Linux architecture and processes. The maintainers of such distributions make sure to keep the distributions the same way for a long time as it helps the Linux users to understand the inner-systems better. Gentoo and Debian are two distributions that offer such facility to Linux learners.
Gaming is one of the favourite past times for many of us. Windows platform is the most respected platform by the gamers of all time. This is mainly due to the fact that all popular gaming developer companies release their games on Windows platform. It usually takes some time for them or another party to port the game to Linux. Therefore, the Linux gamers taste the best games a little later than the Windows counterpart. Although this is the case, there are many Linux distributions fine-tuned and geared-up for gaming. Many mainstream game developers do offer a Linux version for almost all the popular games.
In order to ease your decision making, you can easily prepare a checklist for assessing your needs and selecting a suitable distribution. If you are lucky enough, you can easily find a similar checklist online, prepared by many others who have gone through the same dilemma.
Although Linux is free by nature, some distributions may cost you money. This is mainly due to the fact that certain distributors charge a fee for the value added by them. The Linux distributions made for media purposes, such as video or audio productions, usually have proprietary software and libraries developed by non-open source parties.
Once you select the best distribution for you, there is no need to stick with it long-term. Once you start getting to know Linux better and when your requirements change, you can always move on to a suitable distribution.
By now, you should understand that selecting a Linux distribution for you is all about your requirements and your personality. Linux offers something for everyone. Whether you are a college student or a professional graphics designer, Linux has a distribution for you.