With each day that passes, more and more people are giving Linux a try. It’s free and it can hold its ground against both Windows and Mac, so why not? And maybe you want to give it a try, too–but you keep hearing about how difficult Linux is, how it’s a “geek-only” operating system, etc. Thankfully, there are certain versions of Linux that will help ease you into the process.
But before you decide to switch to Linux, you should think about why you want to switch. If you just want something prettier than Windows, for example, then maybe Linux isn’t for you. Consider some of the key differences between Windows and Linux before switching. Similarly, when switching from Mac, think about your reasons for doing so.
If you’re still reading this, then that means you’re still considering the switch. Great! Let’s take a look at some of the easiest version of Linux that will make the switch as easy and painless as possible for you.
Ubuntu: The Most Popular
For those who have heard about Linux here and there but haven’t really looked into it much more than that, Ubuntu is often synonymous with Linux. And for newbies, why shouldn’t it be? Ubuntu is one of the largest, if not the largest, Linux distributions in the world. With that kind of size, Ubuntu brings to the table something that smaller distributions can’t: userbase.
With so many Ubuntu users out there, if you run into a problem while using Ubuntu, it’s almost a guarantee that someone else has run into that same problem. And with the abundance of community activity, you can ask for help and receive it almost immediately.
Another benefit of Ubuntu’s prevalence is that Linux developers almost have no choice but to support it. For the most part, any Linux program will run on Ubuntu.
But personally, I believe Ubuntu is the easiest Linux to learn because of WUBI, the Windows Ubuntu Installer. When you using WUBI, you can install a copy of Linux straight inside Windows which can be accessed through dual booting. If you don’t like it, you can uninstall it just like any other Windows program. In other words, zero risk.
Zorin OS: The Most Familiar
Zorin OS is a distribution of Linux built off of an Ubuntu foundation. But even though it has roots in Ubuntu, the developers have made some significant decisions that clearly differentiate Zorin OS. What is the driving philosophy behind Zorin OS? To offer an interface that closely resembles the Windows interface so that users from Windows will feel more comfortable.
Everything from the desktop layout to the start menu will look familiar to you. But as you grow more accustomed to the Linux environment, Zorin OS allows you to venture into different interfaces using its Look Changer feature. It also uses Nautilus Elementary over Nautilus–the Linux counterpart to Windows Explorer–because it’s tighter and cleaner.
For more information on Zorin OS, read our Zorin OS overview.
Linux Mint: The Most User-Friendly
Linux Mint is the second most popular Linux distribution, right behind Ubuntu. Interestingly enough, Linux Mint is actually built on top of Ubuntu. Though Ubuntu might have a larger audience, Linux Mint is often hailed as one of the most user-friendly distributions available.
What makes it so user-friendly? Unlike Ubuntu, which doesn’t come with many prepackaged goodies due to licensing issues, Linux Mint comes loaded with plenty of codecs, drivers, browser plugins, and more. This means that most programs will work right out of the box without needing to be tweaked or troubleshooted.
When I first started learning Linux, I actually started on Linux Mint. I’ve tried a few other distributions over the years but I still like Mint the best. Is it any wonder why DistroWatch has it ranked as the #1 Linux distribution?
I don’t mean to say that your Linux experience will be incredibly difficult if you don’t use one of the three distributions above. Similarly, I don’t mean to say that these three distributions will make your Linux experience full of flowers and happiness. All I’m saying is that these three distributions are known for being some of the easier ones on a relative scale.
With that said, I think you’ll have a lot of success switching over to Linux if you are prepared beforehand. Research as much as you can, as that will be the primary factor in determining how difficult a switch is.
And remember: if you don’t like Linux, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.