Starting with Linux desktop, any recommendations?

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Van o.geerdink

Hero (582)

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19-09-2015, 11:03

I have been using linux since 97 and evolved as a console, vim, tar.gz, configure/make user. But I also try out the various desktops. Linux mint is nice but as with all Linux distro's it's package management can go mental on you. And repairing it is very difficult. My best experience is Lubuntu for desktops, I use older pc's for that which had XP or vista. For a webserver I advice cent-os.

The good thing about lubuntu is the simple GUI. I have installed stuff like tv cards on it. But I program from Vim in x-terms. I have used eclipse on it for Android development. If you want to do Java take something with at least 2 CPU cores and 4gb memory. For anything else like C, PHP or msx a p4 with 1gb is good enough.

The most memory I use in Linux is for chrome or Firefox because I use 10+ tabs. To be honest the best browsing experience is Windows. Windows GUI is faster than a Linux Gui. I tried gnome, kde and the lighter x-servers but nothing beats a clean Windows 7 installation with chrome as far as I know.

But for programming, Linux rules. I program through putty from windows to Linux. Don't waist time with ide's or source versioning systems. Use a fast text editor with highlighting with a simple project manager if you want

Van Manuel

Ascended (17869)

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19-09-2015, 12:04

You will regret not using versioning systems in general.

Van nitrofurano

Champion (300)

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20-09-2015, 01:02

Crunchbang was the Debian-subdistro (using Debian repository) i was better satisfied with, it was almost easy to use as Ubuntu is, and very good for low-end or old hardware - Crunchbang did a better migration from being Ubuntu-subdistro to Debian-subdistro (in my opinion, far more successful than Mint was) - sad is that Crunchbang isn’t supported anymore, and i hope that BunsenLabs will be and will keep being as excellent as Crunchbang was

Van ren

Paragon (1795)

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20-09-2015, 11:18

Hey guys, thanks for all the input (so far)!
Nice to have some Linux / 'alternative' OS discussion going here anyway! Smile

'Processing' stuff right now, will come with some response(s) later... Wink

Van Manuel

Ascended (17869)

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20-09-2015, 14:52

2 more tips:
1. remember that you only use the installer once. Although the installer should of course be usable, it's not very relevant for the actual use of the system
2. keep away from small/obscure distros. You can't easily get (enough) help if you need to and they die easily

My first PC used to be dual boot, but I never booted to the other OS. I'm not sure about other people, but for me it was just clear that it was useless to have dual boot. Never did it again. For me it was just too much of a hassle to boot into the other OS. You have 2 systems to keep up, it interrupts your workflow and there's always something you need from your primary OS once you've rebooted. And... you have to reboot! Who wants that?

Just some more cents from me, have fun Tongue

Van RetroTechie

Paragon (1563)

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20-09-2015, 21:39

Very good points made. Looks like there's quite a few Linux users around here! Big smile Big smile

I ran Ubuntu for a while, but found it was too much focussed on "shiny/new", and messing with user's experience, as opposed to fixing bugs or polishing bits here & there. For example the Unity desktop: Evil ran it a short while on my gf's computer, everybody using that machine hated it / couldn't work with it. It's a tablet UI at best, totally crap on desktops. Recently upgraded that machine to a later version (14.x) and slapped Cinnamon desktop environment on it. Much, much better, this really is a beautiful DE that's maturing quickly. Gnome3 or KDE are fine if configured correctly, but (imho) just not worth it in terms of resource usage, amount of tweaking required etc, versus the UI you get in return.

Myself I'm longtime Debian "testing" user, because it offers a very 'vanilla' Linux experience, and most aligns with what I'm looking for. A good balance between stability and up-to-date software, maaaaaaannnnnyy packages available so installing almost anything is an "apt-get install xyz" away, cross-platform (for example Raspbian on the Raspberry Pi feels totally at home for Debian users), strong focus on bugfixing, heavy on the "Free/Libre" open source software front, etc. Currently with the Mate desktop, considering a switch to Cinnamon though. And with Debian-Multimedia repository added.

In most cases, a modern/mainstream Linux distro will have everything working out of the box. And where not, it's mostly a matter of finding (Googling... Wink ) what tweak to apply. I haven't booted into Windows for a long time, simply because (for me) there's nothing to run there that doesn't run on my Debian install. Moving an existing Linux install from PC to PC is simply a matter of moving the harddrive, and perhaps a config change here & there.

If you're looking for the freshest software, try Arch Linux, or a source-based distro like Gentoo. The latter also a good choice for developers or gaming purposes. And I've read good things about Linux Mint - basically Ubuntu minus the 'annoying users' part... Smile

Van snout

Ascended (15184)

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20-09-2015, 22:17

Indeed, I'd rate Linux Mint as a distro that has all the good things op Ubuntu without all the bad things of Ubuntu. It has been around almost 10 years now and this distribution also started the development of the Cinnamon Desktop that got so much well-deserved praise in this topic. Their file manager Nemo is also just about as pleasant as it gets.

Last but not least agree with Manuel that small/obscure distributions are a bad idea with so many decent, mature and well-supported options out there.

Van Manuel

Ascended (17869)

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20-09-2015, 22:24

By the way: the way I see it is that choosing a distro because of its desktop is nonsense. It's just the default anyway. If I wish I could run any desktop on my Debian 'testing' box (as long as it's packaged for Debian), it's only an apt-get away, as was already pointed out earlier...

Van Marq

Champion (387)

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21-09-2015, 14:51

Well, yes... and no. From what I've seen the user experience might not be as polished if the maintainers of a particular distro haven't taken the trouble to tweak the default settings, tools, applets and so on.

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