Distros for beginners

Moderation Note: This topic was split from My first attempt with Linux

@ all:
What I find a bit weird - but also very brave - is that nobody got the idea to tell Brvno that an Arch-based distro is maybe not the best option for a first contact with the Linuxverse. There is no shame in using Mint! Many oldtimers and very knowledgeable people are using it and it’s probably the softest and easiest way to slip slowly into the habit of Linuxing. And many if not most questions and problems are already out of the way when Brvno finally decides to go all in and install some Arch-ish distro.

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The first time I used Linux is through Manjaro cause I liked the theming and it really looks great. But then, I went into their forum and asked how to install .rpm :sweat_smile:

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Was going to say, have to be brave to start with an arch based distro. Although the eos team did a nice job to make it easy to use and community is willing to help, starting from scratch could involve a lot of reading and self learning via the wiki and ask from there if something is unclear. Arch has a super comprehensive wiki.

I recall when I used Ubuntu and tried antergos, one update broke something and I had absolutely no clue how to fix it and no time to learn it. Fast forward things changed quite a bit for me, I still have no time but I take it.

…also used debian/ubuntu based distros for a couple of years. Strangely mint broke two of my installs during kernel upgrades, while with eos I had zero issues and that in 2020. Mint is often recommended to newbies for sure, but I don’t recommend it anymore due to my bad experience with it. Something about their package management mix that I can’t really stand.

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Beginners can’t go wrong with MX linux … it is pretty much impossible to break as far as i can tell after a few years of use … very helpful forum too and their small team of devs plays an active role on the forum … sure it is based on debian super stable but you can always grab newer software from the testing repos if you really need it

it has taken me about 15 years to get round to arch btw. … always felt i would be out of my comfort zone but so far so good

anyway … don’t want to make the OP too nervous but he/she really should be aware that you don’t often download deb files from random internet sites before using any flavor of linux … that’s what package managers are for and one of many reasons that linux blows windows out of the water…

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I don’t hate Mint by any means but I think it is grossly overrated as a beginner friendly Linux distro.

I am not sure it is easier to learn than something like EOS/Manjaro/Garuda/etc. If you are coming from the Debian ecosystem, I think there are a lot of things you have to learn when you come to an Arch-based distro because there are differences. However, if you have no Linux background at all, it is really easier to learn Mint than EOS? You are just learning different things. Yes, some things are harder, but others are much easier. In the end, I think it is about equal.

On the other hand, I think there are some Linux distros that are genuinely easier to learn coming from another OS. Things like Solus and EndlessOS have a much smaller learning curve. Granted, there are some sacrifices made for ease of use but if you truly want to prioritize low barriers to entry, I would recommend either of those over any distro based on debian/arch/suse/fedora/redhat/etc.

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@dalto you may be onto something. Most new users posting here seem to be really willing to learn, and ask questions which is a good thing.

I think the key is to understand that this a terminal centered distro, for example there is no software store/boutique, but as a user you see exactly what is installed, in a sense it is a cleaner direct way to interact with linux and you can change it to your liking depending on the user level I guess. The sky is the limit (if your hardware is supported).

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If you are content with not learning about your OS, I think Mint is more suited for you than EndeavourOS. EndeavourOS requires you to be somewhat inquisitive. Mint, for the most part, you can just use without knowing what’s going on.

However, if you have the desire to learn, then it makes little difference which distro you choose, in terms of “difficulty”. In the end, the main difference between distros is package management and software availability. That’s why I like Arch1, because it’s rolling release and has the AUR.


1 BTW.

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True. But I installed “pamac-all” from the AUR, turned on snap & flatpak support, and was rewarded with a GUI that looks like–well–a software store/boutique! The pamac interface is simpler, more intuitive, and frankly much better looking than synaptic. It’s a great place for a noob to start learning about repo software.

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This is not really my experience. There are still things that need to be dealt with in Mint they are just different than what you have to deal with in EOS.

I did a tests on about 40 different distros a while back. The tests involved common tasks that almost everyone would/should do:

  • Installing the distro
  • Installing a predefined list of common applications including both proprietary and open source applications
  • Installing updates
  • Updating from an older version

There were only two distros that I was able to go through all the tests without needing to access the terminal. The two I mentioned above, Solus and EndlessOS. To be fair, EndlessOS was not able to install a fair portion of the software on the list so it isn’t entirely apples to apples.

Since I had no interest in EndlessOS at all, I then installed Solus on my long-term test laptop and tried to avoid using the terminal for a year. In a year of casual use, I only had to use the terminal once. That was because they made some repository related changes and all that was required was copy/pasting two commands off the website.

Mint, on the other hand, is not nearly as simple. Installing some of the software required adding 3rd party repositories, the version upgrade process is not always perfect. Is it terrible? No. Would I call it new to Linux friendly? Not anymore so than any most other distros. I mean, at this point, what make Mint more new user friendly than Ubuntu?

Again, I am not trying to bash Mint. I just think it is oversold as a beginner distro. To me, it doesn’t seem any easier than many other distros. I think that when Mint first launched there were far fewer Linux distros that focused on ease of use but these days there are lots more.

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Absolutely nothing. In fact, you could probably make a point that Ubuntu is more user friendly than Mint. Most people who switched to Linux in the last 15 years or so, started with Ubuntu. Some 10 years ago or so, it was the default noob distro. But of course, there are other problems with Ubuntu, why I would not recommend it to anyone, let alone newbies.

Mint is pretty much like Ubuntu, but without the spookiness and snappiness. It’s the distro you can install on grandma’s laptop so she can browse the web, play games and do elementary word processing, and if something goes wrong, you’re there to fix it. It’s much better than windoze in that regard.

Nowadays, however, I would consider Fedora KDE as the OS to install on computers of people who do not know how to use a computer. If only I had a grandma who would be a willing test subject… :man_scientist:t3:

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Where is the TS?
Looking at a black screen with a blinking cursor? :joy:

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To me Mint was always much more firiendly than Ubuntu, coz it has more traditional DE…
Gnome / Unity is made for aliens :laughing:

:alien:

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Well yes, that’s true. Well, maybe not for aliens, but for hipsters who spent all their allowance on pumpkin spice soy lattes and can’t afford a Mac.1 :rofl:

But Ubuntu comes in all sorts of flavours, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, asdfhebvdvbuntu…


1 I say that in purely in jest, no intention to offend anyone. GNOME is… okay, I guess. Certainly better than a real Mac.

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I don’t like any of their Ubuntu flavors. Nothing wrong with Mint except it’s Ubuntu but you have that option of LMDE4 with Debian. :wink:

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You can’t really tell Mint is built upon buntu. The devs were pretty thorough in decanonicalising it. LMDE is not yet ready, but soon.TM

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I keep a Fedora KDE install around in case Arch every disappears or has some critical issue. It is generally my second choice behind Arch-based distros. That being said, unless grandma is a technically savvy open source enthusiast, I don’t think it is a great choice.

  • The installer is terribly unintuitive
  • Getting proprietary software installed including drivers requires extra work.
  • Finding support for Fedora isn’t the easiest thing in the world. There isn’t an excellent documentation source and the forums are not usually helpful unless your problem is very simple. Sadly, reddit is the best place I have been able to get support for Fedora and that isn’t awesome either.
  • Fedora tends to introduce things into the default install early on which can introduce instability.

To me, Fedora is a better choice for a more technical user than the opposite.

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Well, I would install everything for the grandma willing to participate in this experiment.

As if grandma can tell apart Word from LibreOffice Writer. “What’s proprietary software, sonny?”, “It’s evil, granny, but don’t you worry about it.” :smiley:

I could be completely wrong, but I think Fedora would behave just fine. Grandma doesn’t even need to be on the sudoers list :smiley:

I mean, if you don’t need grandma to update the system or install software, I don’t think it matters which distro you choose. :wink:

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You could always give her elevated privileges when ready. :wink:

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Grandma already has that…

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