Originally Posted by phospholipid
there are tons of FAQ's on linux it makes my head hurt. i just have a few questions to ask here, so i get the general idea
- what's a "distro"?
- what is the best [or most popular] linux ..umm distro? i heard mint was pretty legit, but when i cruised around the forums Suse seemed to be a crowd favorite
- are there any "must have" programs
1. A distro is someone's "version" of Linux. Since it's open source, anyone can take the code and modify it. Communities and companies take the Linux source code, modify it, give it a name, then put it out as a "distro." They have different default programs and setups, but any of them can be tweaked to become identical to one another. That said, some will be easier to start with than others.
The most popular is probably Ubuntu. It's the best way to comfortably use Linux if you're not familiar with the OS. Mint is basically a repackaged, even-easier-to-use version of Ubuntu (under the hood, it's all Ubuntu; you can see this if you pull up anything that gives system info).
Suse is one of my favorites. I like it because I think it gives a good balance between ease-of-use and power using. And it has an actual hub/control center, that is Yast. Novell actually made their own control center for their own distro. It configures all the OS internals: hardware, software management, security, etc.
Ubuntu, on the other hand, uses generic "GNOME Network Utility" or "KDE Monitor Configuration." That probably doesn't make sense to you... Let me try to explain like this: in Linux, to use it as a desktop OS, you've got the kernel, which is the "engine," the X-server, which provides graphics, and the Desktop Environment (DE) which provides the desktop GUI (think: windows explorer). DEs come with their own set of default programs. As for the hardware configuration utilities packaged with DEs: they're rather generic and flimsy, imo. That's why I prefer Suse's Yast Control Center. Some people don't like this. You'll have to try out the distros and see which you like.