Linux distro thought experiment

Ok, here is the thing. Imagine you have 5 new people working for you and they never ever used linux, they vaguely know what open source is.

You just bought them computers and you can install whatever distro you like including of course EOS. Since your team needs to use linux for this project…

What will you do? What distro will you install on their system and why? How do you choose a DE? Would get them terminal centric or keep them on the app store for the time being until they learn more?

Don’t forget, you will be influencing how these people will think about linux in the future. Install them the wrong distro and you loose them.

If they never used Linux - why did I hire them? :grin:

Being as they don’t need to know anything beyond operating day-to-day, they are probably going to end up on Pop!_OS or Mint, poor souls… At least you can expect function…


It depends what kind of new to Linux people they are.

If they are people who are uncomfortable/indifferent with technology and want a system that “just works” without having to learn much of anything I like Solus for that application. You can run it long-term with little to no use of the terminal and the learning curve is low.

If they are technology professionals I might prefer Fedora. It is big enough that you can find support for it but still has recent enough software. Unlike Solus, most software is available for Fedora through some channel. It also only needs annual version upgrades.

If they are curious about Linux and are the type to want to learn, I would recommend starting with PopOS or Linux Mint. They both have sane defaults, are based on Ubuntu making information plentiful and software is widely available.

If they need commercial support, I would recommend Red Hat. Mostly because the only other real options are Ubuntu and Suse and I would never want someone’s first introduction to Linux to be either of those.


All of those that I have transitioned from windows to linux have been onto Mint of various sorts, either Cinnamon or the unofficial KDE, depending upon their level of “expertise” and need for hand-holding and supporting applications. Most have been elderly. But if I can get the foot in the door soon enough, then they will already have had Thunderbird and Firefox and Libreoffice handling most of their needs inside windows anyhow, so teaching them that C:\ drive no longer exists isn’t that difficult. And look!!! No more BSOD!

Edit: I do IT consultancy. Windows is the thing in NZ. Macs are very rare.


I use Mint at work these days (other than irrigation computer).

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You let them try a selection of common distros.

But specify which one they choose should still let them achieve their work goals.

But reality is all should be standardised if possible for minimal support purposes, so its not a mixed environment.

At work new hires are offered Macbook Pro or Lenovo X1 without further explanation! Guess which one most choose. I asked “Tell me about the software that will be used first” for informed decision. Hilarious how many within one month request change away from Macbook to Lenovo.

I think Solus Gnome or Budgie, Linux Mint Cinnamon. Or PopOS.


No Pop, no snappy. :wink:

Ubuntu LTS. Relatively well-known, most things will support Ubuntu, configuration management tools know what it is. LTS means you’re not changing it every six months.

Comes with GNOME. It’s fine for business and new users.

Mutually exclusive. Users shouldn’t be installing software on business machines. :wink:

Except that

so… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


My thought is to

  1. get them all the same distro, easier to explain and easier to troubleshoot if needed. The big step is to choose either debian based or arch based distro.

  2. I should get them all on the same desktop first. Alternatively I could prep a couple of live isos with different DE and they could try them out.

  3. I like them to have a good impression of linux. No crashes or glitches allowed for at least two weeks.

I would probably get them started on either

  • debian based, linux mint or pop OS
    everything is there out of the box, it has a software center/shop, it seems easy to use and looks nice, contains all codecs etc to run videos, music. Plus its based on ubuntu, lots of software availability and info on internet. It should be mostly break proof.

  • arch based distro
    easy to use/install, nice gui for software install, its a rolling distro and quite stable. Arch has many packages, active forum and good wiki. Pamac. Generally stable but if something goes wrong, need to follow updates on forum on regular basis…

or EOS, perhaps it could be a good experiment and more likely to get them into terminal. Isn’t it the greatest miracle when you can interact directly with the core of your OS for the first time and do whatever you want with a couple of commands? I have no clue how someone with zero linux experience would react to it. However, I would show them a couple of tricks and be done with it. No need to click around and explain the software center. Just sudo pacman Syu Install updates, sudo pacman -S Install package.

Do you agree with that?

Interesting paradigm…

Interesting, I never tried or considered solus but heard good of it.

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Somehow I never managed to make fedora work for me. I am really curious about this distro but had a lot of very odd hardware issues and screen freeze. Partly could be related to wayland. One of the odd hardware issue was a high pitch battery noise on a lenovo, which disappeared on other distros. So odd, that is a killer for me.

Freebird54’s question is very valid. Why would five people with no Linux experience be placed on a project where using Linux was necessary? Also, why is Linux necessary for the project? The answer may determine which distro is the best fit for the project. In general, the answer would depend on the needs of the project at hand and have very little to do with what distro you personally like best. Overall, the hypothetical situation has too many problems to be answerable.

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I would echo @dalto’s suggestions, all perfectly reasonable, especially the last one, about RedHat.

In a business setting, you will almost certainly need commercial support, unless you have a lot of free time, which, as a business owner, you probably don’t. If you do, then it does not matter what distro you give to your employees: it can even be Arch, they will not know the difference, but you will be very busy keeping it all working and updated.

I’d install them TempleOS, they might learn thing or two!


I started a very small company with a friend of mine that kind of started off very suddenly using the laptops we had.
We gradually grew over time and needed more people along the way, most of them came to us if we needed new employees and during that growth spurt, we started using refurbished laptops and because Windows ran so slow on some of these machines, I installed Antergos on them.

So, every new employee used Linux from the first day they arrived. Because we were, and still are, a small company, our employees went along with it, knowing about the cost efficiency using this strategy.

Since last year, we bought our very first brand new ThinkPads for everyone and since we have 19 people working for us, I chose to let them ship with Fedora by default.

Depending on the team you’re working with, this can work, if you tell people why you made this choice and explain it so they can understand, then they are more than willing to adapt to this change.


So they ship with Fedora, but then are reloaded with EOS, right?

Oh, no I think I would go crazy if everyone came over to me, because the dock or something broke after an update. The team is too big for these issues now. :crazy_face:


This is an interesting question, but everything is relative. We need to know the attitudes of these people towards IT. If they are receptive to new things, feel free to use a terminal-centric distribution because they won’t be weird about using the command line, even if they’re used to graphical operating systems before. If, on the other hand, they prefer the usual convenience, I would recommend distributions that are mainly sharpened to the graphical interface. Many may be familiar with the experiment of putting people in front of Linux or Windows machines, but not telling them what operating system to use. The result was that no difference was found between the two systems in the majority of participants in the experiment

You just need a distro where all your team progs works. Your team will not have to upgrade anything. If there is some cli to use, bash is available on all distros. You will be the one who set up their workstation. So you only have to go with a distro you know well. It could be any distro, if you are comfortable with it and if the hardware support is sufficient for the workstation. So Endeavouros, or any other that you use and know well…

Choice of DE is another point. I will go with Xfce as it is easy to use and can look like Windows or Osx. And Xfce is available on all distros.

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