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The age old question of: Which distro to choose? Windows replacement?

post #1 of 28
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Hey fellas!

The long version:
I've experienced Linux before on many ocasions and attempted to switch over from Windows more times than I have fingers. But I was always held back, mostly by my need for certain software that I could not let go of (e.g. Photoshop) and of course games.

That said, given Valves progress in the past years in bringing gaming to Linux and more importantly, given Microsoft's blatant disregard for our privacy and choice in the past year, I once again want to try my chances of converting over to Linux.

I'd say, on a scale from 1 to 10, my Linux knowledge is somewhere at 3 - 4. So not that great. But I'm not a total begginer either.

So the question of course, what distro do I switch to? In all honestly I'm tired of Ubuntu, more specifically, Unity, and I'm tired of Mint as well, as these 2 always get recommended and I'm starting to feel the monotony of it.

I would love to venture into Arch but I'm waaay to inexperienced to weild it well, having tried to do so before. And I'd go to rock solid Debian, but it gives me a very grey and boring vibe, maybe it's just me.

I'm looking for something fresh, somewhat customizable and stableish enough to not give me headaches. Any suggestions?

The only distro I've given some thought to is Manjaro, but I would like to see what others like.

Oh and P.S. which desktop environment would you guys recommend?

The short version:
Need Windows replacement distro recommendation. Not Ubuntu, Mint, Debian or Arch. Must feel fresh and be stableish and for a semi-intermediate Linux user. Also please mention your preffered desktop environment smile.gif

Thanks fellas smile.gif
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post #2 of 28
Manjaro does seem pretty good. DE depends on what kinds of features and visuals you want. We post desktop screenshots in the Show Your Linux thread, some of DEs and some of simpler WMs, so you can maybe get an idea of what you want to try
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post #3 of 28
I recently made the switch from windows 7 to Linux Mint, and I have to say, it hasn't been overly stressful. Yeah, theres a few annoyances, which in time I hope to sort out as I learn more, but it really isn't that bad. Even surprised I managed to get some windows programs to work on it too! Has anyone actually tried running photoshop on a linux distro of some sort? It might be worth exploring.

What was wrong with mint? Was it just the Desktop Environment? Cos as far as I know you can pick and choose what DE you want on any linux install. It's just a matter of finding the one you like, installing, and setting it up to be your default. I know everything in Linux isn't as slick as windows stuff to set up, but there seems to be plenty of help around if you google. I picked the cinnamon DE flavour of mint, and it's been ok. It's not perfect, but i've found it easy to learn as it has a similar feel to it when moving from windows.

Two biggest headaches I've had, is getting hardware fan control to work, and to get my printer to work. I've not resolved them yet but I will in time, once I learn more. But overall, I can pretty much do almost everything I could before I switched.
post #4 of 28
I personally use Debian on my workstation, even though I once thought it grey and boring. My old crappy netbook was very picky when it came to bootable media, so much that I pretty much installed Debian (Squeeze) only as a last resort because it had a Windows installer available (as in you could actually bootstrap the installer from within Windows, I'm not talking about any kind of "run Linux within Windows"/VM magic). It just kind of grew on me from there, and when I built my workstation, I first spent around a month on Ubuntu, then distro hopped for a week (I think I went through at least 5 distros), before finally settling on Debian, and I've been using it ever since. Some software can be a bit out of date, and there are things I miss from faster moving distros (I use Arch on my current laptop), but overall it's very good, and surprisingly usable given it has a reputation for being a thousand years out of date. Also, I did install Debian 7 on my workstation when it was still in beta, and upgraded to 8 testing about a year from release, and had no major issues - even Debian testing is pretty stable, so you might consider that as an option if you want Debian with more recent software.

Apart from your "do not want" distros, though, the only other one I've used a fair bit is Fedora. It comes with newer stuff so if that's your thing, you might want to check it out. It has a nice, easy-to-use installer even though it's not usually considered a noob-friendly distro. Expect some glitches and bugs, though, it's not exactly a bastion of stability and reliability. I used it as my main OS for about ~3 years beginning with F10, and I thought it was magnificent, but some releases later on did give me a lot of grief, which IIRC is the reason I never considered it for my workstation. I'm not trying to paint it as a crash-prone fireball, but utmost stability is not its prime goal. Also, each version is only supported for around a year, and I have no idea how well distro upgrades in Fedora work. I have played around with the later releases a bit, and they're pretty unremarkable IMO, but they're not awful and, FWIW, apparently Torvalds himself uses Fedora so there's that.
post #5 of 28
I am going to say what I generally say, install Debian = ]

Debian is stable, has a massive repo, has decent cross compatibility with other repos and all around a good start for beginner or not so much beginner to set up shop and figure out what they want.

If Debian is not your cup of tea, I would say look for something that supports software you want/need first, than look for most optimal distro that has it.

I have to be honest I have not used Linux for sometime for it not having things I want/need and left for the wild lands of BSD = ]

As far as Desktop... I am a firm believer that outside of wm & file manager and few applets, you do not need a DE. I use fluxbox. Its possibly the second most stable wm I ever used in my life (first being openbox) and is the easiest one to configure thru themes or thru making your own themes. Its small, barley has any dependencies and hardly ever crashes. I highly recommend it and will be sad if it ever gets axed. When it comes to file manager, I am more conflicted since filerunner is not available in your fancy linux land (yes I use file runner, what of it? = p) but xfe seems nice enough and it would definitely get my vote.

Mainly thought, research what software you would want your distro to have than look for distro that fits this, I wouldn't look linux to wooo you, but instead look for it to give you exactly what you wanted and make you happy that way ^^.

Cheers and welcome back! ^^

P.S. If you must first wonder around and distro hop, don't miss Void Linux. Thus far the only rolling release I've considered using, mainly as I've said earlier, it has stuff I want, like having ton of its stuff complied on musl, and having LibreSSL ported. It is also made by an ex NetBSD dev so it gets points from me for that ^^

EDIT: Correction, filerunner is available under linux, I guess I didn't look hard enough last time.
Edited by _Red_Dog_ - 6/14/16 at 7:11am
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post #6 of 28
I use Lubuntu. It's Ubuntu with LXDE instead of Unity. LXDE is lightweight and far faster, and you retain compatibility with standard Ubuntu repositories and other software.
post #7 of 28
I use Ubuntu, Mint, Centos, Fedora, and Arch. Just depends what I need from the OS. I put Fedora on my laptop and have been happy so far, regretting using LVM with it though.
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post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by latelesley View Post

Two biggest headaches I've had, is getting hardware fan control to work, and to get my printer to work. I've not resolved them yet but I will in time, once I learn more. But overall, I can pretty much do almost everything I could before I switched.

dang, sucks those are still troubling you frown.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Red_Dog_ View Post

I have to be honest I have not used Linux for sometime for it not having things I want/need and left for the wild lands of BSD = ]

What does BSD have that Linux doesn't?
Quote:
As far as Desktop... I am a firm believer that outside of wm & file manager and few applets, you do not need a DE. I use fluxbox. Its possibly the second most stable wm I ever used in my life (first being openbox) and is the easiest one to configure thru themes or thru making your own themes. Its small, barley has any dependencies and hardly ever crashes. I highly recommend it and will be sad if it ever gets axed. When it comes to file manager, I am more conflicted since filerunner is not available in your fancy linux land (yes I use file runner, what of it? = p) but xfe seems nice enough and it would definitely get my vote.

True, a DE is just a WM + kitchen-sink gizmos and a file manager, though some DEs like LXDE or Xfce provide a good suite of quality apps worth using. I've been using xfe lately and it's pretty good as a direct substitute for Windows Explorer but feels a bit clunky, thinking of switching to Thunar instead.
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post #9 of 28
I'll concur with the 'Desktop Environment looks are what you make it' notion. There are quite a few places you can go to find themes and icons online for different DE's that will completely change the way it looks. Jeff Linux Turner has a bunch of videos where he goes through and changes themes and reorganizes things to his liking. While I may not have the same tastes or needs in the looks department, he does run across a lot of places to find options for changing looks and when he runs into problems he generally shares it so people can learn how to solve them should they have a similar issue. You could always ask there or on here for help or ideas if something in particular is bugging you.

Since your problem with Ubuntu is mainly Unity, you could try another DE. There are some others on the way to becoming official *buntu versions. I recently heard a podcast mention Budgie DE where the guy sang praises of it. There are lots of options and these desktops can be used on other base distro's. If you don't like the default applications of a distro, you can get a minimal install and go through it yourself if you prefer.

There are a bunch of distro's on Distrowatch that are essentially respins of Arch, Debian, or Ubuntu which might have a DE you like and be closer to acceptable looks without needing to spend a lot of time messing with it. I've just gotten used to having to adjust everything to the point it takes a fraction of the time it did the first few attempts. I really like the looks and function of LXLE and I can closely replicate it in other LXDE based distro's and in XFCE as well. What I can't understand for the life of me is how Lubuntu respins seem to work great, but Lubuntu itself has several issues. I guess their lack of help and their focus on LXQt means they aren't too concerned with it.

You can click on the search link at the top of the Distrowatch page and search by what a distro is based on, (or not based on). You can find Arch based distro's like Manjaro, Antergos (I have also heard mention of others such as Architect), or you can search for Debian based but not Ubuntu based to yield a list of Debian distro's. As long as you can get it to install and function reasonably well, you might just want to play around with DE's to see what meets your needs and then try to find an Arch, Debian, or Ubuntu based distro that you can get along with. Considering the freedom of choice with Linux, I would expect at least some level of modification to get things looking the way you want. If you find a distro with different attributes you like, then look at what theme it uses, icon set, cursors, hex color codes and whatnot and save that info for later to apply to another distro that functions the way you need but requires a visual overhaul.
post #10 of 28
@Petrol

On xfce "apps".
Please do tell Oo. I mean it, I am not being sarcastic. I never really used any wigits or some such and always considered DE as just a program that edits config files for you, which I prefer to do by hand. So please let me know which I might give em a try ^^

On what does linux not have

PF, AuthPF, Jails, ability to build w/ LibreSSL almost across the board (in linux its raw as hell), better cryptography in general(Skien function dropping in 11.stable! arc4random), ZFS, better network stack, no systemD.
Not every BSD shares all these features across the board*

Again I still use linux from time to time (like Elastix and Cent are too damn good for what they do. If only there was ElastixBSD, I'd wet my pants. And Debian will always be my darling playground for cool stuff ^^). Where I for now need Linux is groupware... which I am going to be working on making it work on my FreeBSD machine
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