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When you start out with Linux, you have to pick a "Distribution" which determines what desktop environment, package manager, repositories, software, login screen, even bootloader that you will use out of the box (if you don't know what those terms mean, just think of it as how your system looks and functions).
Distro-hopping is the practise of switching from one Linux Distribution to another repeatedly in order to find the "perfect" distribution. I was doing this a lot in December last year and I can tell you from first-hand experience how much of a pain it is. The novelty of having a new-looking system is cool, but having to set everything up again is incredibly annoying.
If you're someone who is new to Linux, how do you pick a distribution? This article will attempt to explain some options that I've used and would recommend.
This is by far the most popular one and at the time of writing this article it's the one I am currently using. If you don't know what to go for, just use this one. What I really like about Ubuntu is that it...just works and if for whatever reason it doesn't there's a lot of support available for it. It also has the option of a minimal installation* where you just get basic programs and a web browser if you want to install most things yourself.
One issue with Ubuntu and all of its derivatives is that by default it includes "Snap Packages" which a lot of Linux users dislike for being propriety and somewhat slow, but you can disable them. I'd highly recommend doing so to everyone who installs Ubuntu.
If you do go with Ubuntu, make sure to choose the Long-Term Support (LTS) version as it's the version that has been tried and tested the most.
An Ubuntu Derivative is just another version of Ubuntu but with a different desktop environment. The ones I'd recommend looking at are Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Ubuntu MATE.
Pop!_OS is a Linux Distribution that is based off of Ubuntu but with a highly customised desktop environment with a far more modern look and feel. It also has a few nifty things included out of the box like the option to Tile Windows, NVidia Graphics Driver support, no Snap packages and there's probably more I'm forgetting.
I will say that out of everything I talk about here, Pop!_OS is by far the hardest to customise because of its modified desktop look. It's still one of my favourite distributions though. If I weren't using Ubuntu this would probably be my next go-to.
When it comes to new-to-Linux distributions, Linux Mint probably gets suggested more than any other. I think the reason for this is because it gives you a very Windows-esque look and feel out-of-the-box which will help users make the transition easier. On top of that you have a few options for a desktop environment, while not having too much choice to the point where it may become overwhelming. If you're not sure what desktop environment to go with, just choose Cinnamon - the default.
One problem with Linux Mint is that it installs a lot of software out-of-the-box that you probably will not need and uninstalling it all is a slow process. Unlike Ubuntu there is no minimal install* option.
If you've looked into Linux, you probably would have heard about something called "Arch Linux" which in itself is just another distribution, but it's not one made for new users. Arch uses something called a "rolling release" model which none of the other distributions I've talked about use. "Rolling release" is exactly what it sounds like: when there's an update it is available immediately. The benefits of this means you get the most updated software, the downside is that this sometimes causes things to break. Arch Linux also comes with its own independant, community-driven repository of software called the AUR.
If the idea of Arch Linux is appealing to you, I would suggest instead using EndevourOS. It is based off of Arch Linux and you get all the benefits of it, but you will have a much easier installer to use and you will be properly guided when getting started. There is another Distro called Manjaro that is also a beginner-friendly way to get into Arch like EndevourOS is, but I don't recommend it due to its poor security practises in the last few months.
I would only recommend Arch-based distros to people who are a bit more technically-inclined. If you're someone who just wants to use a computer and not tinker with it, go with one of the other distros in this article.
Even if after looking at all of this you still don't know what distro to choose from, I'll repeat what I said earlier:
JUST USE UBUNTU
There is seriously nothing wrong with it, for the longest time I wasn't sure what I wanted out of Linux and I was distro-hopping every few days. I stayed away from Ubuntu because I had heard from other Linux users that Ubuntu was somehow bad, it's really not. I decided a few days ago to ignore what everyone had told me and install Ubuntu onto my main PC and honestly it's all I need from a desktop computing experience. It will probably be the same for you too.
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