Question Switching from Windows 10 to Linux... but which distro ?

Dom46

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Jun 26, 2019
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Or LinuxMint.

What will you be using this for?
General desktop use. I've become disenchanted with Windows 10.

Basically, I want to be able to do in Linux what I currently do with windows 10.

Write documents, surf the web, retrieve email, play video... you get the idea.
 

JWNoctis

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Jun 9, 2021
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Ubuntu is pretty mainstream.

There might be a bit of problem with any Linux distro if your setup had things like Nvidia Optimus, in which case you may have to turn your integrated GPU off in BIOS.

Apps for your use case come standard with just about all consumer-oriented distributions these days.
 
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dmroeder

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I'm personally a fan of Kubuntu.

I'd recommend setting up VirtualBox and installing Linux in a VM to kick the tires. You can get a VM up and running pretty quickly, if you don't like the distro, delete it and try another one. Once you find something you like, install it over your Windows 10.
 
For now, my personal favourite distro right now is Fedora workstation with a very nice Gnome desktop. This is the same desktop system as the default Ubuntu distro use. However, it's very different from the W10 desktop look'n feel, so if you need something that have a kind of start menu thing, you should look for XFCE, Mate, Cinnamon or Budgie desktop.

My bucket of standard distros to recommend if having some resembles to Windows (where you find start menu, programs, etc)
  • Linux Lite (Ubuntu based, XFCE)
  • Linux Mint (Ubuntu based, XFCE, Mate Cinnamon)
  • Ubuntu (other versions than the standard one such as Kubuntu, Ubuntu Mate, Ubuntu Budgie.
  • MakuluLinux (Lindoz) - user interface that reminds of W7.
 
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mamasan2000

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You can go here https://distrowatch.com Top list registers clicks on OSes as far as I know. Not actual downloads of ISOs. But it's useful nonetheless.
Personally, I prefer Manjaro. Just about anything Arch-based but Manjaro just fits me. Others like EndeavourOS, Garuda or Arcolinux, for example.
I'm not into the Ubuntus at all, besides Linux Mint. Mint is nice, on a laptop. I used to use Ubuntu as default but that was years ago.

Couple of things you need to know off the bat.
What is the package manager? Ubuntu uses apt. To update system, type in terminal: sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade. Arch uses pacman. The command is: sudo pacman -Syy && sudo pacman -Syu. "&&" just means 'run this command after previous command'.
Always refresh the repo if you just booted into Linux, before trying to install a program via terminal. That's the 'sudo apt update' and 'sudo pacman -Syy'-part of the commands.

What Desktop Environments/Window Managers are available (this is very much personal preference)? Gnome, KDE, Xfce, Lxqt, Enlightenment, Mate etc. Then theres the tiling window managers https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/Comparison_of_tiling_window_managers i3 is probably the most famous and used. Tiling can look like this: https://wiki.manjaro.org/images/1/13/Awesome.png 4 windows in tiles. It can be any program, browser, mail, terminal etc. But they always tile. First program you open is either half the screen or whole screen. 2nd program makes it so both programs are side to side, both taking up half the screen and so it continues. Browse the various distros sites and look at screenshots, for examples.

For extra packages/programs/libraries, Arch has AUR, Ubuntu has PPA and Fedora has RPM Fusion/COPR. And depending on distro, you have Flatpaks, Snaps, maybe a third I forgot. On top of that, you can always compile stuff from source.
You will have to replace most of the programs you run on a daily basis. VLC is available for Linux. It started there. But heres a nice list of programs in all categories: https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/List_of_applications
Let's say you want to install Evolution, e-mail client. On Arch-based: sudo pacman -S evolution. Could be with a big E. Evolution. Linux is case-sensitive, unlike Windows. To search for packagename you could run: sudo pacman -Ss evolution. On Ubuntu you search for packages with: sudo apt-cache search evolution. And install with: sudo apt install <packagename>, for example: sudo apt install evolution. The names for packages varies between distros often. You have graphical utilities to install and uninstall too. Arch-based often uses Pamac. Ubuntu-based often uses Synaptic. Whatever the distro uses, it should be in the Start-menu. Terminal is just faster most of the time. Also known as CLI, Command Line Interface. Like Command prompt in Windows but better. Look into Zsh if you really like using terminal.


I run Manjaro KDE. Looks the way I like, behaves the way I like.

TL:DR. Just about anything Arch-based or Ubuntu-based will be a solid choice.
 

Dom46

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As a novice I went with Lubuntu .
It has an added program to find and install all of your third party drivers for you . Without having to know any command line prompts.
Yes... but I WANT to learn and use command line prompts. You see... I come from a time of FDISK and C:/s

One think I hope to recapture is to use my system from the command prompt, just like in the old days of DOS 3.0.
 

ClapTrapper

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May 25, 2020
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I'm personally a fan of Kubuntu.

I'd recommend setting up VirtualBox and installing Linux in a VM to kick the tires. You can get a VM up and running pretty quickly, if you don't like the distro, delete it and try another one. Once you find something you like, install it over your Windows 10.
VBox is great! Try every flavor of Linux. And while your at it run MSDOS 3.1 and everything since! Thow in some UNIX (no,I didn't mistype-you can get the still being developed UNIX OS as an ISO)
VirtualBox is why I prefer quantity (# of cores and amount of RAM) over quality (speed of RAM).
 
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May 16, 2021
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I've used ubuntu exclusively since 2008 (8.04LTS), after being a windows user since '94, and even though linux had a learning curve it soon left windows behind wallowing in the dust. Ubuntu is incredibly easy to use and will do all the usual "computing" stuff that you normally do. However, linux can also be a PITA when something doesn't work the way you want but online help is a lot easer to come by and flame proof for the most part (usenet was a bitch).

Web browsing? - Chrome/Chromium, Firefox etc.; Documents?-Libre Office or Google docs; media? - VLC and a host of others. You get the idea and they are mostly cross platform, so can be accessed from all the major platforms (IOS, Android, windows, linux, FBSD...).

The thing I like the most about ubuntu is that it is pretty well invisible, you can spend more time doing what you want than mess about with the OS and whatever malware/virus crap you may get in a less secure OS. EUFI, secure-boot, TPM 2.0, GPT and whatever other garbage that MS wants to shove down your throat?-fugget-abou-dit! You can run ubuntu (or a derivative) easily on a 12 year old computer that will continue to get updated till it blows up.

Gaming? Dunno, I don't game but from what I gather, it is better than it was a few years ago, but generally speaking try it in a VM and kick the tires, you may decide to leave "big brother" and join us.
 
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EUFI, secure-boot, TPM 2.0, GPT
Neither of these technologies are "MS Garbage". Both UEFI and GPT are the-corner-stone of every Chromebook (and probably Android).

You can run ubuntu (or a derivative) easily on a 12 year old computer that will continue to get updated till it blows up.
One will need a lot of luck installing modern Linux OS on 12-year old hardware, especially 32-bit. My best advise for anyone wanting Linux on old hardware is to look at old distros.
 

Dom46

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I've used ubuntu exclusively since 2008 (8.04LTS), after being a windows user since '94, and even though linux had a learning curve it soon left windows behind wallowing in the dust. Ubuntu is incredibly easy to use and will do all the usual "computing" stuff that you normally do. However, linux can also be a PITA when something doesn't work the way you want but online help is a lot easer to come by and flame proof for the most part (usenet was a bitch).

Web browsing? - Chrome/Chromium, Firefox etc.; Documents?-Libre Office or Google docs; media? - VLC and a host of others. You get the idea and they are mostly cross platform, so can be accessed from all the major platforms (IOS, Android, windows, linux, FBSD...).

The thing I like the most about ubuntu is that it is pretty well invisible, you can spend more time doing what you want than mess about with the OS and whatever malware/virus crap you may get in a less secure OS. EUFI, secure-boot, TPM 2.0, GPT and whatever other garbage that MS wants to shove down your throat?-fugget-abou-dit! You can run ubuntu (or a derivative) easily on a 12 year old computer that will continue to get updated till it blows up.

Gaming? Dunno, I don't game but from what I gather, it is better than it was a few years ago, but generally speaking try it in a VM and kick the tires, you may decide to leave "big brother" and join us.
Thanks for the feedback. I will be upgrading some hardware on an HP 580T and doing an Ubuntu install over the next few days.

Which Ubuntu are you using?
 
Reactions: colin.p
May 16, 2021
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I only use LTS versions (20.04 currently) and wait at least until the first major update which would make it 20.04.1. Ubuntu numbers their versions as year, month (20.04 is 2020.April) and the first major update usually comes out in the summer. This LTS is good until 2025 ( 5 year support) but the next LTS comes out next year with 5 year support as well so they do overlap.

...and yes, I'm running 20.04 64 bit on a 2009 Dell 1545 laptop as well as my wife's 2008 Toshiba A200, a little slow but no major issues.
 
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Bazzy 505

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Jul 17, 2021
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VBox is great! Try every flavor of Linux. And while your at it run MSDOS 3.1 and everything since! Thow in some UNIX (no,I didn't mistype-you can get the still being developed UNIX OS as an ISO)
VirtualBox is why I prefer quantity (# of cores and amount of RAM) over quality (speed of RAM).
Despite the mess around who owns the rights to UNIX that had been going on for almost 2 decades (which thanfully is now finaly over), UNIX is very much alive, just look at IBM AIX, it's stil very actively worked on and is supported on pretty much all their major platforms from arcane system 360 all the up to PowerISA.
 

punkncat

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Ambassador
Ubuntu and Lubuntu are essentially the same program. The "L" is the lite version made for older, slower hardware. Both of them (as mentioned by a poster above) have auto updating and have a very Windows-centric feel about them.

I also recommend the advice above about a VM. Great way to test drive an OS without having to commit to it. The only aspect that isn't good in that respect is the latency while driving as opposed to actually on/in the OS.

Many of the Linux distro will work from a USB as well.
 
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Bazzy 505

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Jul 17, 2021
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agreed,
VirtualBox is an excellent tool in journey to find the right match ;) i would go as far as to recommend FreeBSD and QNX to broaden a pallete so to speak ;)
 
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Dom46

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Ubuntu and Lubuntu are essentially the same program. The "L" is the lite version made for older, slower hardware. Both of them (as mentioned by a poster above) have auto updating and have a very Windows-centric feel about them.

I also recommend the advice above about a VM. Great way to test drive an OS without having to commit to it. The only aspect that isn't good in that respect is the latency while driving as opposed to actually on/in the OS.

Many of the Linux distro will work from a USB as well.
And that is part of the problem. I'm already working with a slower machine. Working with the OS while installed on a virtual machine with only take away horsepower that is better served on Ubuntu being directly installed.

Its a "throw away" system. If the install doesn't work out, I can always restore the original OS.
 

punkncat

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And that is part of the problem. I'm already working with a slower machine. Working with the OS while installed on a virtual machine with only take away horsepower that is better served on Ubuntu being directly installed.

Its a "throw away" system. If the install doesn't work out, I can always restore the original OS.

Keep in mind that Linux distro work on a different format method. Once it's done there is a very specific way to undo it, or you can ruin a storage/USB device. I HIGHLY suggest doing your test drive via USB stick if you can. That way if you mess up trying to format back in the case that you don't like it, you don't risk losing a drive.
 
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michael diemer

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If your machine is 12 years old, you definitely need a light distro. Linux Lite was mentioned, this would be a great choice. However, depending on your graphics capability, you might need even lighter. I am running a 12 year old Gateway on the original graphics it came with (NVIDIA 6150se), and none of the usual "lite" distros would work. I found the perfect distro for it, however, which is Bodhi. It is Ubuntu-based (as is Linux Lite, and a whole bunch more distros). It looks great and works great.

But if you have a dedicated video card, Linux Lite would be an awesome choice. I would be running it if I could. But I don't want to put any money into a mchine that may die at any moment. To me, it makes sense to find the right distro for what you have. Fortunately, there are a wealth of choices in the Linux Universe.
 
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Bazzy 505

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Jul 17, 2021
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On very old hardware FreeBSD is as fast as it gets.
While it is not Linux, and has its own ecosystem of applications, it has a built-in application level compatibility layer that allows pretty much all Linux apps run just fine on it. It is not done with emulation so there's no performance penalty involved.
 

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