26

Transitioning to Linux this weekend, any recomendations?

Submitted by dele_ted in freeAsInFreedom (edited )

I've finally decided to ditch Microsoft, in favor of a free (as in freedom) OS. I'm a front-end developer, and i have some experience with Debian, but i want to make the right choice to begin with. I really don't want to sit with an OS that I've finally customized and made mine, only to realize after a few weeks that this isn't what i was looking for.

Any dist recommendations? Any pitfalls to be aware of? All tips for a tech-savvy Windows guy going to Linux would be very much appreciated.

Edit: Thanks for the replies, everyone, you were a big help! I'm sure future visitors will benefit from this thread too. I decided on KDE Neon, been playing with it for two days now and it seems like the perfect choice.

Comments

You must log in or register to comment.

13

NEOalquimista wrote

First, start thinking about the hardware. Not all manufacturers care about GNU/Linux. If you want a safe start, pick Intel components. Intel contributes with open source drivers, and they're the most reliable you'll find in the GNU/Linux world. AMD had a bad reputation back then, but now it seems to be starting to make it different. Nvidia provides proprietary drivers compatible with it, and most Linux gamers use them, but sometimes they don't work so well and cause a lot of headache, especially for being closed source.

Wireless card? I'm using an Atheros wifi card, and it's flawless. Not all models are guaranteed to work flawlessly, by the way. I also have a netbook with an Intel wireless card, and in spite of having caused some trouble a year ago, it's working fine nowadays.

Now to the software.

The GNU/Linux world has a diverse set of graphical interfaces. GTK-based: GNOME (the most popular but controversial because it adopts new technologies and experimental usability metaphors), Xfce (since 1996 full featured while being lightweight), LXDE (made for old computers), Cinnamon, MATE, Budgie, and so on. Qt-based: KDE (this one offers an infinity of configuration options, visual effects and looks a lot like Windows - on the Qt world, it's the most developed), LXQt (like LXDE, but made with Qt), Deepin Desktop (made in China, very beautiful), and other less known interfaces.

You must be thinking, what are these GTK and Qt stuff? First, they are just the toolkits with which one can build a desktop environment. There's no need to talk much about it now. What you must be aware of is that for some reason one will work better than the other. Maybe GNOME will work fine for you, and not for your comrade, because he's using different hardware that causes some glitch or whatever. Maybe you prefer lightweight interfaces? Xfce uses around 300 Mb of RAM when idle. On the other hand, a freshly started GNOME desktop can consume around 1.3 Gb before you even open an application.

About distributions

Debian is so popular in my country that ATMs and password machines at banks run their software on it. Government buildings also run Ubuntu here. Debian tries to provide software with good quality, lots of testing. Instead of just pushing to the latest upstream version, they seek to maintain the program unchanged but patched for security. You probably already knew these things about it, right?

Unlike Debian, Fedora is backed by a company, Red Hat. Fedora seeks to provide the latest and greatest of software and new technologies that need testing. It's a good choice for curious people, developers... and it only ships free software by default, except hardware drivers. I like it a lot.

Ubuntu is also backed by a company, Canonical, and unlike Fedora, it seeks to find a balance between convenience and the latest software. Home users want to easily play a movie, or a game, and Ubuntu makes that easy even for newbies.

Arch is a DO-IT-YOURSELF distro. I'm typing this from Arch right now. I use the MATE, a traditional and quite light GTK-based interface. But I could be using GNOME, or i3, or ratpoison, or even Unity for f*s sake. Arch starts blank. No graphical interface. Nothing but a terminal. From there you will build your own system adapted to your needs. It has a wiki, a very rich manual for understanding how to do it. Before I could install Arch the first time, I had to fail dozens of times. It takes READING... A LOT. But it teaches you a lot about the underpinnings of an operating system. And it's also rolling release, which means it's always giving you the latest versions of software and it has no point release like "Ubuntu 16, 17, or Windows 7, 8...". I gotta say things work so smooth with it. It's worth the trouble.

Well, I hope that's enough to get you started. As you can see, I spend a lot of time interacting with my system, testing new distros and breaking stuff. Safe travels, comrade.

5

dele_ted wrote

This is exactly what i was looking for, thank you for the rich answer! Arch Linux is in a way both intimidating and tempting. I'll for sure explore Arch or Manjero at some point, because it sounds like the perfect setup, but as of right now, mostly due to my limited experience with Linux, I'll stick to something simpler, and hopefully something lightweight. I hate preinstalled software from the very bottom of my heart.

Fedora sounds like a solid choice. Perhaps not lightweight, but it makes up for that in all other departments (and maybe i just need to calm down about weight, hardware isn't limiting..). I'll go get some sleep and read through your comment again tommorow, my thoughts are a little cloudy thanks to a good 24 hours without sleep.

Again, thanks a lot for your help! Hopefully others will benefit from this thread too.

5

NEOalquimista wrote (edited )

Sure, I'm glad it helped. Just to add more information about Fedora: it ships primarily with the latest GNOME version. Despite being perhaps the most solid DE in the GNU/Linux world, I'm not using it because it's laggy (slow animations and such). They also ship SELinux, which enforces a set of "rules" about what an application CAN and CANNOT do. If it tries to do something weird, SELinux blocks it. It's used on Android too. Fedora GNOME also runs on the shiny new Wayland protocol, which is meant to replace the old Xorg, rejuvenate things and improve security.

Regarding convenience, Fedora is not a "raw" distro like Debian or Arch. They actually work to make things easier for the end user and preserving consistency by not changing the default theme and icons (leaving that task to the user only). Not to the level of Ubuntu, but it's very noob-friendly too. You install apps through GNOME Software, which also updates all your packages and allows you to sort your applications or group them like you do on Android when you drag an icon on top of another. Give it a try.

5

ziq wrote

I use KDE Neon and opt out of the non-free drivers/codecs. It's the best distro as far as I'm concerned.

2

dele_ted wrote

I just finished installing and setting up KDE Neon. I got a really good first impression, there's not much proprietary software (only some drivers here and there, and they can be replaced), everything is super slick and good-looking, generally it just feels like a solid OS. Thanks for your recommendation comrade!

2

ziq wrote

The new release is about to come out with tons of improvements too. Great time to hitch a ride.

Did you click the button to install third party proprietary software? I didn't and never had any problems with my NUC, it only needs open source drivers.

2

dele_ted wrote

I actually did, since i didn't have the energy at the moment to manage tons and tons of driver issues without WiFi. I'm thinking I'll get rid of the proprietary drivers one by one, and then install new drivers as soon as i bump into issues. Seems like a better solution than getting bombarded with broken WiFi, broken bluetooth, broken trackpad, broken audio, broken graphics and so on as soon as everything is installed.

2

ziq wrote (edited )

I guess I'm lucky my computer supports everything out of the box without third party packages.

2

dele_ted wrote

That sounds like a dream come true, mine always gives me a goddamned headache when it comes to drivers (that is, if i opt out of "automagic" driver solutions such as WinUpdate).

5

selver wrote

There is no right choice, it'll come down to personal preference. Just jump into a distro and see if you like it. It's easy enough to install a new one if you don't like what you choose at first.

I use Manjaro.

3

dele_ted wrote

Alright, if it's just about choosing whatever and finding what fits your needs, then I'll start with the one with the sleekest stock interface. Manjaro looks like a solid choice. I'll do some research until the weekend hits, and then install whatever i settle on. If anybody's got other reccomendations than Manjaro, fire away!

3

selver wrote (edited )

Since the other post didn't mention it, Manjaro is basically Arch but with all the basics pre-installed so you don't have to go through all the bullshit to install Arch from scratch. I use the xfce DE.

1

[deleted] wrote

1

selver wrote (edited )

Yeah, it uses arch's system pacman, which has all the official arch packages (which has an app like the software center). Then there is the AUR for unofficial packages, which you can use an AUR helper like pacaur to download.

I like it a lot more than Debian/Ubuntu's package manager, it's why I've stuck with arch-based distros for so long. Also because arch has the best documentation I've seen. Anything you could possibly need is probably in that wiki with good instructions.

3

MrPotatoeHead wrote

I burned DVD's and made some bootable USB drives or about a dozen live distros. The one that worked best for my machine, my workflow, and automatically found my networked printer was Linux Mint. Each distro has quirks. Try as many different ones as you can. Keep a list of pros and cons. Keep Tor on hand for special occasions as it's too slow for everyday use. Enjoy.

3

zombie_berkman wrote

use debian

3

dele_ted wrote

I've been looking at Deepin, a Debian-based distro, simply because i love its looks (and, at the risk of sounding like a big idiot, looks is very important to me, especially when we're talking daily driver), but it isn't open-source as far as i can tell, or at least not fully, which is a deal-breaker... Cherry on top, it's Chinese-developed.

I'll see if i can find something similar, thanks.

7

NEOalquimista wrote (edited )

The Deepin Desktop is entirely open source. The problem is the Deepin distribution, which ships proprietary applications installed by default, such as Google Chrome; and it promotes proprietary software, such as Spotify and Steam. Guess what, Ubuntu is not so different. If you want to use the Deepin Desktop, you could install it in another distro, like Arch or even Manjaro with its Deepin version. But you can still read the source code of the Deepin DE and its applications and see for yourself if the Chinese have planted spyware there.

2

zombie_berkman wrote

open source is capitalist and reactionary so no real loss

2

dele_ted wrote

How so? That's never been my understanding of open-source, quite the opposite actually.

2

selver wrote (edited )

Check out the documentary Revolutionary OS if you haven't seen it. It's about the start of gnu/linux.

Stallman called it free software because of the ethical principles behind it, and then all the libertarians started calling it open-source to avoid the commie implications so they could sell it to corporations.

2

zombie_berkman wrote

open source was invented my libertarian shitheads because they couldnt monetize free software. so they took, free software and threw out all the principles and were left with a development model.

2

ziq wrote (edited )

There's a big difference between 'open source' and 'free and open source'. Open source is just a way for corporations to get free labor (and then they close source it after the volunteers do all the work - see reddit). FOSS is actually for the people.

2

dele_ted wrote

Of course, but open source is still open. I never thought about the implications of companies abusing the free labor, thanks for explaining.

1

Acarpnerd wrote

Try Virtualbox you can check out many different disros without hardware install.