Distros are what
make Linux special

Almost six hundred Linux distributions exist, with close to five hundred of those in active development. Because of the huge availability of software, distributions have taken a wide variety of forms, including those suitable for use on desktops, servers, and laptops. There are commercially backed distributions, such as CentOS (owned by RedHat), openSUSE (SUSE) and Ubuntu (Canonical Ltd.), and entirely community-driven distributions, such as Debian and Arch distributions. Most distributions come ready to use, and some distributions (such as Gentoo) are distributed mostly in source code form and compiled locally during installation. The big 5 Linux distributions are The main 5 branches in which almost all other Linux distros are based upon. They are Debian, Redhat, Arch, Slackware, and Gentoo. Debian and Slackware are among the oldest Linux Distros in existance. Click here to see the full Linux family tree from 1992 to 2018. To see a similar tree of Windows distributions for reference click here, or here for Mac OS X.

What is a distro made of?

A typical Linux distribution is comprised of a Linux kernel, GNU tools, libraries, and additional software, documentation, a window system (the most common being the X Window System), a window manager, and a desktop environment (See: Desktops). Most of the included software is free and open-source software made available both as compiled binaries and in source code form, allowing modifications to the original software to be freely made as you see fit. Usually, Linux distributions optionally include some proprietary software that may not be available in source code form, such as binary blobs required for some device drivers. A Linux distribution may also be described as a particular assortment of application and utility software (various GNU tools and libraries, for example), packaged together with the Linux kernel in such a way that its capabilities meet the needs of many users. The software is usually adapted to the distribution and then packaged into software packages by the distribution's maintainers. The software packages are available online in so-called repositories, which are storage locations usually distributed around the world. Beside glue components, such as the distribution installers, or the package management systems, there are only very few packages that are originally written from the ground up by the maintainers of a Linux distribution.

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Linux Mint features the Cinnamon desktop environment. New Linux users who are still in the process of familiarizing themselves with Linux software will find Cinnamon very useful. All the software are very accessibly grouped under categories. Although this is nothing of a mind-blowing feature, to new users who do not know the names of Linux software, this is a huge bonus.Linux Mint is fast. Runs fine on older computers. Linux Mint is built upon the rock-solid Ubuntu base. It uses the same software repository as Ubuntu. About the Ubuntu software repository, Ubuntu pushes software for general only use after extensive testing. This means users will not have to deal with unexpected crashes and glitches that some new software are prone to, which can be a real no-no for new Linux users.

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Ubuntu has been tagged as Linux for human beings. Now, this is because Ubuntu has put in a lot of effort on universal usability. Ubuntu does not require you to be technically sound for you to use it. It breaks the notion of Linux=Command line hassle. This is one of the major plus points that rocketed Ubuntu to where it is today. Ubuntu offers a very convenient installation procedure. The installer speaks plain English (or any major language you want). You can even try out Ubuntu before actually going through the installation procedure. The installer provides simple options to Install Ubuntu like removing the older OS or install Ubuntu alongside Windows or MacOS (A choice is given at every startup to select the OS to boot) Beginner tip: Select the second option if you are not sure about what to do. Ubuntu’s user interface is called GNOME. It is as simple as well as productive as it gets. You can search anything from applications to files by pressing the Windows key. There are no driver installation issues as Ubuntu comes with a hardware detector which detects, downloads and installs optimal drivers for your PC. Also, the installation comes with all the basic software like a music player, video player, an office suite and games for some time killing. Ubuntu has a great documentation and community support. Ubuntu forums and Ask Ubuntu provide an appreciable quality support in almost all aspects regarding Ubuntu. It’s highly probable that any question you might have will already be answered. And the answers are beginner friendly.

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An overwhelming majority of computer users are Windows users. And when a Windows user gets on Linux, there’s a fair amount of a ‘unlearning process’ that user must go through. A huge amount of operations have been fixed in our muscle memory. For example, the mouse reaching to the lower left corner of the screen (Start) everytime you want to launch an application. So if we could find something that eases these issues for newcomers on Linux, it’s half a battle won. Enter Zorin OS. A blessing for Linux begginers. Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based, highly polished Linux distribution, entirely made for Windows refugees. Although pretty much every Linux distro is usable by everybody, some people might tend to be reluctant when the desktop looks too alien. Zorin OS dodges past this obstacle because of its similarities with Windows appearance wise.Package managers are something of a new concept to Linux newcomers. That’s why Zorin OS comes with a huge (I mean really huge) list of pre-installed software. Anything you need, there’s good chance it’s already installed on Zorin OS. As if that was not enough, Wine and PlayOnLinux come pre-installed so you can run your loved Windows software and games here too. Zorin OS: A blessing for Linux begginers. Zorin OS comes with an amazing theme engine called the ‘Zorin look changer’. It offers some heavy customization options with presets to make your OS look like Windows 7, XP, 2000 or even a Mac for that matter. You’re going to feel at home.

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Since we have taken a look at Linux distros for Windows users, let’s swing by something for MacOS users too. Elementary OS very quickly rose to fame and now is always included in the list of top distros, all thanks to its aesthetic essence. Inspired by MacOS looks, Elementary OS is one of the most beautiful Linux distros. Elementary OS is another Ubuntu-based operating system which means the operating system itself is unquestionably stable. Elementary OS features the Pantheon desktop environment. You can immediately notice the resemblance to MacOS desktop. This is an advantage to MacOS users switching to Linux as they will much comfortable with the desktop and this really eases the process of coping to this change. Elementary OS is an excellent Linux distro for beginners The menu is simple and customizable according to user preferences. The operating system is zero intrusive so you can really focus on your work. It comes with a very small number of pre-installed software. So, any new user will not be repulsed by huge bloat. But hey, it’s got everything you need out of the box. For more software, Elementary OS provides a neat AppCenter. It is highly accessible and simple. Everything at one place. You can get all the software you want and perform upgrades in clicks. Experience wise, Elementary OS is really a great piece of software. Definitely give it a try.

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What is Wine?

Wine (originally a recursive acronym for "Wine Is Not an Emulator") is a compatibility layer software capable of running Windows applications on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as Linux, macOS, & BSD. Instead of simulating internal Windows logic like a virtual machine or emulator, Wine translates Windows API calls into POSIX calls on-the-fly, eliminating the performance and memory penalties of other methods and allowing you to cleanly integrate Windows applications into your desktop. This is extremely important because Wine allows Linux users to continue using Windows software or games without going back to windows at all.

What is a package manager?

A package manager or package-management system is a collection of software tools that automates the process of installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing computer programs for a computer's operating system in a consistent manner.

A package manager deals with packages, distributions of software and data in archive files. Packages contain metadata, such as the software's name, description of its purpose, version number, and a list of dependencies necessary for the software to run properly. Upon installation, metadata is stored in a local package database. Package managers typically maintain a database of software dependencies and version information to prevent software mismatches and missing prerequisites. They work closely with software repositories, binary repository managers, and app stores.

Package managers are designed to eliminate the need for manual installs and updates. This can be particularly useful for large enterprises whose operating systems are based on Linux and other Unix-like systems, typically consisting of hundreds or even tens of thousands of distinct software packages.

Ubuntu and other Debian based Linux distros use the Aptitude or Apt Package manager. (ex: apt install wine). CentOS and other Redhat based distros use Yum. (yum install wine). Arch based Linux distros use the Pacman package manager. (pacman -S wine). Slackware uses slackpkg manager. (upgradepkg --install-new wine-1.5.22*.txz) and Gentoo uses the Portage Package Manager. (emerge -a wine). Although it is commonplace for gentoo users not to use a package manager and just manually compile Linux programs from binary files on the computer itself.

What kind of distros are out there?

  • Hacking/Penetration Testing Distros
    • Kali Linux
    • ParrotSec
    • Black Arch
    • Pentoo
    • Cyborg Hawk Linux
  • Paranoia Level Security
    • TAILS
    • Whonix
    • QUBES
  • Workstation/Server/Enterprise
    • Redhat Enterprise Linux
    • CentOS
    • Oracle Linux
  • Extremely Small or Lightweight
    • Puppy Linux
    • Damn Small Linux
    • TinyCore
  • Highly Customizable
    • Gentoo
    • Arch
    • Linux from Scratch
  • Toolkits and Utilities
    • RIP (Recovery Is Possible)
    • CloneZilla
    • AIO-SRT (All in One-System Repair Tookit)

If you are new to Linux and have a decent computer, below are some very good distros

  • Any of the Ubuntu clones
  • Linux Mint
  • Fedora
  • Manjaro
  • Zorin
  • Solus
  • Deepin
  • Lindows (For complete familiarity)

If you have an old PC or a netbook with low ram:

  • Linux Lite
  • Robo Linux
  • WattOS R10
  • SolydX
  • PeppermintOS
  • Puppy Linux (Only for r-e-a-l-l-y old hardware)

Here are some distros that a beginner should avoid like the plague

  • Arch Linux
  • Default Debian (Not bad but lacks alot of out of the box functionality)
  • Gentoo (AAAAAAAAAA)
  • Anything with an i3 Desktop
  • CentOS (Not a Desktop OS)
  • Alpine Linux
  • Damn Small Linux
  • TinyCore
  • Kali Linux (You aren't a hacker)
  • FreeBSD (This isn't Linux)

Which path will you walk
to decide your fate?

From casual browsing to hardcore programming and brutal installation

Think you might be more of a Unix person?

Although Unix is similar, Unix is not really as freely distributed the way that Linux is. The closest thing you can find to Unix today is called FreeBSD. Many people much prefer BSD based OS's over Linux based ones, but it comes with a little bit more of a learning curve and added difficulty.