If you are a beginner computer user wishing to learn something different from Windows 7 and don't want to wait for Windows 8 next year to improve your computer knowledge, then you could probably be interested by Linux. Yes, Linux, you heard right. Linux is a powerful Operating System which Windows users sometimes hesitate to install because of its mystical aura of an OS for nerds and geeks. But this is not true today. No more. New Linux distributions are quite easily installed and run without ever touching to its obscure features (the Kernel, the Terminal and so on).
Today many Linux distributions exist. Some are harder to use, some are definitively easier (maybe easier then Windows I daresay). Some are for the IT expert wishing to have full control on its installation (like Slackware, Fedora or Debian, the grandpa of Ubuntu), some are oriented to please the common person using its personal computer for Internet browsing and listening to music.
Easy desktop distros are, for instance, Ubuntu (mainly for its wide hardware compatibility and its ease of installation) or Linux Mint (mainly due to its familiar GNOME interface).
If I were to define in a few lines the Linux distributions as I see them today, I would say:
- Ubuntu 11.04, Mandriva, Linux Mint is for real beginners
- Fedora 15 and Slackware 13.37 is for skilled geeks
- Puppy Linux 5.2.5 or Xubuntu 11.04 (based on Xfce) is better for installation on older hardware
- Linux Mint 11 or Ubuntu 11.04 is good for your home computer
- Jolicloud 1.2 or MeeGo 1.2 is good for your brand new Netbook
- Debian 6.0.1 is for sysadmins
- OpenSUSE 11.4 is the right one for office automation
- CentOS 5.6 is good for enterprise servers and web servers
- Ubuntu Studio 11.04 or PureDyne 9.11 is for your multimedia station and for creativity
None of these distros is perfect, but they will fulfill various purpose, as you will learn using them. Picking a first Linux distribution to use isn't always easy so I have chosed for you: install Linux Mint 11. The reason for this choice is that Linux Mint is the Linux distribution of the moment, having just pushed Ubuntu (and its Unity interface) out of DistroWatch’s No. 1 spot.