The Best Linux Distros for First Time Switchers From Windows and Mac

Mihir Patkar 24-02-2015

Linux has an intimidating image, making it seem like it would be difficult to start using it. But the switch from Windows and Mac is actually pretty easy, if you can ease yourself into it.


If you’re a Windows user, you have probably slowly evolved from Windows 95 to XP to Windows 7 and now you are getting ready for Windows 10. This gradual progression has helped you deal with changes in how Windows is now, and is a major reason that you may think you should stick to Windows. However, if you’re switching to Linux, do yourself a favor and make it gradual, rather than a dramatic shift.

Linux doesn’t have a single look and feel, as there are several operating systems based on Linux; these are called distributions (distro). The jury is out on which is the best Linux distro The Best Linux Operating Distros The best Linux distros are hard to find. Unless you read our list of the best Linux operating systems for gaming, Raspberry Pi, and more. Read More , but that’s just a technical comparison. The best distro for you is what matters, and when you are switching, that is usually the distro most akin to which OS you are coming from.

The Best Distro to Switch to From Windows XP


If you are still on Windows XP, it’s probably best to switch to Linux since Microsoft no longer supports updates for XP. And Linux Mint is probably the best way to go.

Linux Mint is one of the most popular distros around, and for good reason. In many ways, it looks and feels like XP, with the old-style Windows taskbar and Start Menu. The big benefit is that it is one of the most stable distros and has a large community of developers and supporters, plus it is in active development (so you are assured of critical updates).


The familiar desktop environment, the fact that your minimize-maximize-close buttons are in the same place as Windows, and several other such small tweaks make Mint an easy shift for first-time Linux users coming from XP.

The Best Distro to Switch to From Windows Vista


Vista had most of the same elements as XP—the taskbar, the start menu, the file explorer and more generally remained the same, except for cosmetic upgrades. You could safely use Linux Mint if you’re upgrading from Vista, but you might also want to try Kubuntu.

It is based on Ubuntu, one of the most popular distros. However, the desktop environment uses KDE, which looks and operates differently from Debian or Unity (used by Ubuntu). In fact, you can easily try the gorgeous KDE desktop KDE Explained: A Look at Linux's Most Configurable Desktop Interface What does Linux look like? Sometimes, Unity; other times, GNOME. Oftentimes, though, Linux runs KDE. If you're not using the erstwhile K Desktop Environment on your Linux PC, now is the time to change! Read More . Jargon aside, what you need to know is this: Kubuntu is the closest you’ll come to Vista in terms of look and feel, especially if you apply one of the darker themes.


The Best Distro to Switch to From Windows 7


If you’re a Windows 7 user looking to make the jump to Linux, don’t even think twice about it and get yourself Zorin OS. Why? It was made specifically to make switching easy for Windows 7 users Make Switching From Windows To Linux Easier With Zorin OS Linux is not hard to use or understand, but it simply doesn't fit the Windows mindset that most people have. Expecting to do everything in Linux exactly like in Windows is where problems start appearing,... Read More .

It faithfully recreates the look of Windows 7, from the new taskbar to the system tray, from the start button to the file explorer. Heck, if they had thrown in jump lists, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two.

The big seller for Zorin OS is the preloaded software. Linux is often touted as lighter and faster than Windows, and Zorin proves that in spades. If your machine runs Windows 7, install Zorin OS on it and pick the “Lite and Fast” software package during installation. Thank me later.


The Best Distro to Switch to From Windows 8


Microsoft made Windows 8 so that it could be used with laptops that have a touchscreen or 2-in-1 hybrid devices. If you’re using one such device, then you want a Linux distro that will work with touchscreen input. Look no further than Ubuntu.

Of all the Linux distros, Ubuntu is the most flawless for touchscreen usage, thanks to its large icons and well-spaced buttons—you won’t be tapping things mistakenly. This is mainly because of the Unity interface, made to be used with both tablets and in a desktop environment. Plus, Ubuntu’s on-screen keyboard is far better than what you get on other distros (although it’s still not as good as  Windows 8, let alone iOS or Android).

Plus, you don’t need to get rid of Windows immediately, you can easily dual-boot Windows and Ubuntu Tired Of Windows 8? How To Dual Boot Windows & Ubuntu If you discover that Windows 8 isn't quite your cup of tea, and you have no feasible path to downgrade, it may be a good idea to dual boot with Linux to have an alternative... Read More .


The Best Distro to Switch to From Mac

If the appeal of OS X is its minimalistic, aesthetic look, then Elementary OS is what you need to switch to. It’s “inspired” by OS X, much like how Vanilla Ice was “inspired” by Queen’s Under Pressure.

But let’s not get into the blame game. Elementary OS is incredibly beautiful Want to Install Elementary OS? 8 Reasons Why You Should! Linux Elementary OS has developed into a fine computing experience, but is it time to switch from your current operating system? Read More , and the developers actually built several apps made specifically to be used with the OS (unlike other Linux distros which package existing software). The Maya calendar app (which syncs with Google Calendar) is gorgeous enough to rival any calendar you may use, and I badly wish Noise was a more popular music player.

Are You Ready to Switch to Linux?

If you’ve decided to start using Linux, or at least give it a try, we recommend starting with our beginner’s guide to Ubuntu and Linux Getting Started With Linux and Ubuntu You're interested in switching to Linux... but where do you start? Is your PC compatible? Will your favorite apps work? Here's everything you need to know to get started with Linux. Read More . You should also get acquainted with these basic Linux commands An A-Z of Linux - 40 Essential Commands You Should Know Linux is the oft-ignored third wheel to Windows and Mac. Yes, over the past decade, the open source operating system has gained a lot of traction, but it’s still a far cry from being considered... Read More .

Image Credits: jesadaphorn / Shutterstock, Wikipedia

Related topics: Linux Distro, Linux Mint.

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  1. epubichair
    June 25, 2017 at 9:52 am

    CALIBRE the BEST eReader!

  2. Doug
    April 25, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    I don't think it really matters what version of Windows anyone is coming from, I am of the opinion that Linux Mint is the way toi go for first time users. This is based on my own experience. It's super easy to with all the basics auto-installed with the operating system. As prrof, I installed Linux Mint on an old laptop and put it in our common space while I was fixing our Windows laptop that was in that area. My family didn't know the difference (I didn't tell them) and they used it just as if it was Windows. This is coming from Windows 7 and Windows 10 users too! :-)

  3. JAK
    June 27, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Last year at an estate sale I bought an HP Pavilion a6200 Desktop PC for only $28 in perfect working condition for the purpose of making it a Linux computer. I added an extra 2 GB of RAM for under $9. I installed Mint, Elementary, OpenSusie, and many more Linux distros but finally settled on Zorin. Zorin is definitely a complete OS and actually fun to use. I haven't connected my HP printer to it since I main desktop runs Windows 10.

  4. Ian
    February 4, 2016 at 2:07 am

    Thanks Eduardo for your advice. I've loaded both Mint and Zoran OS and am looking at which to adopt longer term. Briefly, Mint is looking the stronger contender at the moment as I prefer it's look and feel.

    I've started using Linux more often than Windows. Basically, a honest review of my computer use is:-
    1. Most of my web browsing is via my Android tablet in front of TV.
    2. Although I leased MS Office 15 365 for 12 months, I only use Outlook 99.9% of the time.
    3. I still need MS Windows 8.1 and IE for my on-line banking. Unfortunately my bank has tied it's HTML too close to IE for comfort. They advise this will change over the next 6 months.
    4. Most of my Windows 8.1 use is to play ga!mes under Steam.

    So, other than for games, I have no need to run Windows/Office combo for my daily computing use. Under Windows I have installed LibreOffice and Thunderbird Mail, plus other open systems such as Gimp, etc when I need them.

    Having these available under Linux simply adds to my choices. And they function the same on all platforms, and the interfaces are, in my opinion, much easier to use.

    So my new PC will be custom built with both Linux and Windows 7 dual boot.

  5. ianken51
    January 23, 2016 at 2:45 am

    I've got an old Compaq Presario AMD Athlon 64 powered box that originally came with Windows XP. I upgraded the CPU to a Athlon 64 x 2, maxed RAM out to 4GB (only 3.25 addressable due to old BIOS, added a 1TB WD hybrid HDD and upgraded to Windows 7.

    Now Microsoft says Windows 10 won't run on this PC so I'm ditching for Linux. Any ideas which distribution would suit me best? I'm inclined to Mint as I found Zorin to be too familiar to interest me. Maybe I'm nuts but I'd like my Windows 7 replacement to be reasonably easy to come to grips with, yet different enough to reignite my interest.

    I also have an AMD quad core Athlon(?) powered Samsung laptop I'd like to upgrade to Linux. I tried Windows 10 briefly but found it slowered that Windows 7 and it trashed my HDD requiring a complete fresh reinstall.

    My ultimate hope is to run Linux on all my PCs. The only Windows box left would be my Windows 8.1 HP Pavilion 500 series for games.

    • eduardo
      February 3, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      Hi, i have almost the same laptop than you have, i start usign linux distros like a year and a half ago. and my experience in that "relative short time" is that Mint and Ubuntu are the best distros to start (in the sence that they are intuitive, user friendly and the community are so large that you can find forums in anywere, an with all the topics thtat you can imagin).

      but what are you searching is something different to windows. son let me add something that this article don't talk about: the Desktop Environment or DE. the fabulous thing in linux world is that you have the power to customize your pc at your way, and the graphic customization is under the DE, and has nothing to do with the OS.

      in other words, the DE is what make your pc look alike: the buttons, the themes, the windows, etc. so what are you really looking for is a DE that is different to Windows, and not a OS (and depend in the DE you choose the OS that you will have).

      my recomendation is that you serch the following DE: Unity, Cinnamon, Mate, KDE Plasma 5, Gnome 3. and then choose a distro.

      if you choose:
      -Unity - Use Ubuntu
      -Mate - Use Mint
      - Cinnamon - Mate or Ubuntu
      - KDE - Kubuntu (a KDE variant of ubuntu, but they are not the same distro)
      - GNOME 3 - i think Ubuntu support GNOME, not sure, or use fedora (this is a little bit more advanced distro, but has some cool things)

      and also look for live installation (you can install the distro in a thumb drive and running in to your pc, just to look and play with the distros without installing it)

      good luck
      (sorry if i miss spell something, english is not my best lenguage)

      • eduardo
        February 3, 2016 at 7:27 pm

        also you can install more than one DE in the same distro, and every time when you log in into a acount you can choose between all the different DE that you have installed

  6. Tim
    January 9, 2016 at 3:30 am

    Windows setup process:

    1: Check hardware to see which OS will work with your hardware.

    Really old machines may use 98SE/ME which are very buggy due the shared memory bugs causing one program to overwrite the data of another program (the dreaded cross-linked files screen). Not to mention the dreaded & slow defrag, or the fact moving the mouse could trigger defrag to restart all over again. Random lockups, blue screens, nothing modern works...

    2: If your hardware supports XP/Vista/7/8, decide if you want an old & unsupported XP, buggy Vista (IE9 is supported but has more bugs than IE9 for 7), heavy on resource Aero Windows 7, jacked up Windows 8 Metro tile mess, Windows 10 spyware...

    3: Once you decide which OS to use, install the OS.

    4: After installing the OS, look for drivers, which may be hard for older OS like XP.

    5: Spend a few hours endlessly downloading updates, rebooting, etc.

    6: Spend more time configuring options & services.

    7: Activate Windows, unless support has ended. CLICK! They decide if you use it.

    8: Install & update security programs.

    9: Install & update applications & programs.

    Hope everything works without blue screens, especially after all the updates are complete.
    Hope your antivirus/anti-malware doesn't delete critical app because of buggy heuristics.
    Like Windows 10 has done to Speccy users, because of buggy "anti-piracy" heuristics.
    Windows 10 EULA states all your vacuumed data may be turned over to the feds.


    Linux setup process:

    1: Install Lubuntu, Xubuntu, or Linux Mint. (9 minutes, unless you have a slow pc)



    Many people do not need any additional steps.
    Lubuntu uses the least RAM, though all 3 work better on older hardware than Windows.

    1: All 3 support modern software
    2: All 3 are available in x32/x64, unlike Windows 95/98/ME (XP has x64 but it's buggy)
    3: No defrag needed, no crosslinked files, everything usually works
    4: Usually includes Chrome or Firefox, which are light-years faster & more secure than IE
    5: Light on resources, no metro tiles, no spyware
    6: Many users don't even have to install drivers, because things just work
    7: No time wasted configuring options, services, or having to activate (beg permission)
    8: No antivirus needed to stay safe
    9: Many users have all the apps they need installed by default

    Updates almost never cause blue screens
    Critical apps don't get "accidentally" deleted by bad heuristics in "anti-piracy" apps
    No need to worry all your private user data will be vacuumed & left with the feds.

    None of these cost multi-thousand dollar business licenses to use.
    None of these will spy on you like Windows will.
    None of these will get you slapped with a $500,000 "anti-piracy" (anti-sharing) fine.
    None of these will have to be activated.
    None of these will have to have an antivirus installed after setup

    Linux: Faster installation, faster operation, & no privacy terrorization!

    Easy choice, for me!!!

    Xubuntu makes my netbook run like I just tripled the processing power...

  7. Mark
    December 15, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    did you try to install flash on Linux ..
    In Windows you just have to accept do you want to install?

    In Linux .. you get a bunch of questions. What program do you want to use (I have no clue) ..
    Choose this or that .. etc etc ..

    One need to be knowledgeable about the system .. but not all people are programmers

    • FFB
      May 16, 2016 at 10:01 pm

      I have never had Flash automatically be installed in a Windows installation. I always had to install it separately.

  8. Jamie
    November 25, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    I upgraded to Windows 10 five times and I went back to 8.1. I would like to switch to Linux at some point in the near future. The thing about Windows is that it is proprietary software, so there are restrictions as to how you can use the software. Whereas with Linux, you can redistribute it and make modifications as you see fit, which is what I really like about it.

  9. mathew
    November 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    ive ran both systems for many years, windows at work, and a very small install of win7 for the 2 games i play (i wish i coulld get those to work under linux so i could lose windows at home. my wife plays a bunch of facebook games, so one day while she was at work i swapped her drive for , stuck linux and a facebook link and she barely noticed. asked if she wanted the new windows she says "dont touch my linux". with linux i never have to worry about virus, malware, spyware, or for that matter the built in (can't shut it off) ability on all those free windows 10 copies everyone got, for bill gates (using the patriot act) or the homeland security etc. to read all your texts, emails, and axcess to your web cam (all to find homegrown terrorists. everyone should read the fine print on those policy disclosers instead of just the first couple sentences and blindly checking the ok buttons. now why would any one in their right mind swith (or stay) in gatesville, when there's other options?

  10. DragonDon
    November 22, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Sigh. It saddens me when people argue that 'things in Linux are not perfect'. Well of course they aren't. If companies really wanted to support more operating systems, they would make it easy to build drives for video cards and any other hardware. But when you have to build something from scratch, don't have millions of dollars for research, And have to navigate/fight legal liability, damn right things are going to be a little more 'rough'.

    But hey, feel free to keep paying for the utter lack of privacy and security that comes with the 'other guys'. You know, the ones that utter try to make sure that they have no other competition so that they get people to complain about how bad those 'free OSs' are.....

    oh, and hard to use firewall? I'll take GUFW( over the default windows (or even convoluted Comodo ) any day. Although I prefer iptables as being mroe secure but hey, a new system, with barely any funding compared to commercial versions, that takes some learning...who'da thunkit?

  11. DevGuy
    May 1, 2015 at 2:38 am

    I'd really love to love Linux. The price is right, it's largely open source, and it looks great on paper (and in articles like this one). But, even after moret than a decade of development, it still has lots of rough edges once you look beyond the pretty desktop.

    I've tried a half dozen current popular distros, including Zorin and Mint (Cinnamon), and none of them come close to the polish or Windows or OS X--even ancient XP.

    Robert Driskill's comments above were dead-on. It's not just about how pretty the desktop is or what apps are bundled. It's about the skinny scroll bars, a firewall that's completely obtuse to configure (and turned off by default), menus and dialogs that are fussy to navigate, stuff that opens with half the dialog off the screen on a laptop, needing to use the shell and command line to do many things, and so many another annoyances, road blocks, and hurdles. Daily Linux users seem to just blindly put up with all the crudeness and/or some are skilled developers and fix some of the problems and/or find other work-arounds.

    I did a fresh install of Zorin. Opened the pre-installed Firefox browser. Brought up Google Maps streeview, and the first time I tried to pan the view the browser window turned into a blurred mess and essentially locked up. So much for "stability" on Linux. This was on a 3 year old PC with Intel integrated HD graphics. If Linux can't offer stable drivers 3 years down the road, on very bread-and-butter vanilla hardware, what does that say for brand new bleeding-edge hardware?

    It's really amusing when Linux users bash Windows. I'm sorry, but Windows is infinitely more polished, infinitely better supported, and honestly far more stable (if only because the drivers and applications are so much better developed). With Windows 10 being essentially free it will be interesting to see what happens to the already miniscule Linux desktop market share. I think a lot of people, if they're entirely honest, have been merely tolerating Linux because it's free.

    • Anonymous
      August 9, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      Wow! I am second to you. I did came to the same conclusion after several attempts with several distros during the past 5 years. Linux supporters live in a bubble, and they blind each other. Ubuntu desktop is pretty but the whole system is a digital mass underneath. Hey they cannot make a simple virtual keyboard, not an OS... :D Linux guys support it because only they know the command lines, the secret to live with a Linux.... and thus the pro ones can make living on being a Linux IT admins or so or hackers bec they know all the "backdoors"

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 11, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      I kind of agree with both you and Istvan. In terms of polish, I've always thought Linux lags behind the big two.

      • Anonymous
        August 20, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        I just had to re-install Win 7 from scratch on my daughter's laptop. It took 24 hours of work over three days to get it back where it used to be.
        First, it was the 4 or 5 Restarts during the O/S install.
        Then it took at least a day to re-install all the applications (productivity, media players, audio players, all the anti-malware programs to keep Windows "safe", etc.)
        Then I had to update and run all the anti-malware programs. Each one took at least 2 hours.
        And each time I would Shutdown of LogOff, Window updates would insist to be run.
        The last task was to create a disk image with Clonezilla. That took about 3.5 hours.
        I left the configuration of Windows up to my daughter so she can make look and feel the she wants to. That will probably take a her a few days.

        Other than the Clonezilla disk image creation, I can re-install Linux and all the included apps, update/upgrade all the software and configure everything in about 5-6 hours.

        And with Linux, even the commercial distros like Red Hat SUSE or Ubuntu, I don't have to call the mothership to ask for permission to use the O/S. I don't have to talk to some person with an accent one can cut with a knife, recite 9 groups of six-digit numbers, be dictated a different 9 groups of six-digit numbers which I have enter onto a screen and hope that there are no mistakes. The irony is that, even with all that rigmarole, there are as many pirated copies of Windows out there as genuine ones.

        So I'll take the "roughness" of Linux any and every day over Windows and use the "polish" for the wax job on my car.

        • Mihir Patkar
          August 21, 2015 at 7:43 pm

          24 hours? That sounds unnecessarily long.

          I haven't noticed any major time difference between setting up Linux and Windows, honestly. I do both often.

        • Anonymous
          August 21, 2015 at 9:10 pm

          Some of the time may have been wasted due to me no longer being familiar with Windows, giving a lie to the notion that Windows is "easier" than Linux. Most of the time was taken up by updating and running anti-malware software - SpyBot, Malwarebytes, AVG, CCleaner and SuperAntiSpyware. Other than CCleaner each program took at least 2 hours to complete. The other big time waster were the Windows updates that ran every time I tried to shut the PC down.

          The install of Win 7 from scratch took at least 45 minutes with 4 or 5 reboots. I lost count. When the install completes, all I have is a bare O/S. The Linux distro install may take as much time but when it is done, I have not only the O/S but all the applications I will need and I am ready to go. So the install run time may be comparable but the amount of software installed is vastly different.

      • Anonymous
        August 20, 2015 at 5:12 pm

        As they say in New York City "The polish and a token will get you a subway ride."

  12. Darth Frisco
    April 24, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Once you go Mac you never go back.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 11, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      I've gone back.

  13. Peter
    April 21, 2015 at 9:18 am

    The problem with Linux is that there isn't one distro that has not evolved over the past years. Take Ubuntu for example. I've been using Gentoo Sabayon, a "user friendly" version of the most stable and well packaged OS for many years since 2007. When I looked at Ubuntu 5 years ago I was put off by the lack of proper packaging and they look and feel of the graphics. I would have to go through a lot of trouble to install video codecs, dvd descriptors, etc. A lot of hassle and a lot of geeky stuff, not for the typical a home user. Sabayon solved that for many years, yet not too easy to install. But it worked "out-of-the-box". You didn't have to install anything, if you wanted to watch and encrypted DVD you just plugged it in.
    However, when I looked at Ubuntu or Kubuntu today I was impressed how this distro has evolved. It's very well tweaked, looks sharp as ever on a laptop with the right graphics card, and there are tons and tons of help online, documentation, screen shots, has excellent the most user friendly package installer.
    So back to my point, people who have once been put off very often dismiss Linux as the wrong solution and in any poll they will simply press the NO button, because they have not been comfortable with the way things work or simply because they have not tried hard enough to see if they can switch. They may never come back, so I think a lot has to do with advertising. MS and Apple will put a lot of money to advertise their product, because they need revenues, whereas Linux distributions are very often created by fanatics, where money is not key, but the idea and concept. I am not surprised Linux has not made it the the mainstream desktop as far as it should, because it deserves it. If it was advertised as well as MS and Apple do with their products, then probably the market would have been different.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      I don't think it's advertising, fwiw. It's just that Linux hasn't been able to deliver a consistently good out-of-the-box experience, like you said. Windows and Mac are easier out-of-the-box.

      • Anonymous
        August 20, 2015 at 8:18 pm

        "Windows and Mac are easier out-of-the-box."
        Sorry to disagree, Mihir, and I am not trying to be contrary when I say that.

        I used Win 3.1 through XP at work over the span of about 15 years so I can say I got to be pretty proficient. Then about 10 years ago I switched to Linux almost cold turkey. My kids use Win 7 because that is the standard in college. When they have problems, I cannot help them because I have forgotten most of Windows. When I try to go back to Windows from Linux, I am in the same position as those who are trying to switch from Windows to Linux. Windows and OS/X may be easier out-of-the-box for those that already know them but for those who don't, they are a black box.

        • Harry Fuller
          March 22, 2016 at 5:16 pm

          That is EXACTLY what my trouble is fcd76218, and Mihir, and to the whole Linux community. I have tried every distro of Linux since 8. If I need to install software to record music from a new CD, it may or may not work, because I needed to ALSO install a different set of drivers. What? I thought like a Windows 3.0 thru 8.1, install the software package, and let it rip.
          How about Digitizing a movie? Same. Sharing my contacts with my Android phones, or IPad? Same. Streets and Trips replacement? Same.
          They won't work out of the box, and someone telling you cryptic command line commands. Type what? WHY? Where is the CMD Icon?
          I would love to move from Windows, but... HOW.

        • Anonymous
          March 26, 2016 at 1:08 am

          If you are familiar and comfortable with Windows, then by all means keep using it. Nobody is forcing you to switch. We are only suggesting which distros may have a similar look & feel to certain Windows versions. No matter which distro you try there will be a learning curve.

          The biggest mistake people trying to switch from Windows to Linux make is to think that Linux is exactly like Windows. Linux IS NOT Windows. It does not look like Windows. It does not run Windows programs natively. It does not do things the same way as Windows. If it was the same as Windows, Mr. Gates and his pack of legal beagles would be very upset.

          Linux is well documented. If you have a problem, just like in Windows you use a search engine to research it. In spite of what may try to imply, Windows does not solve your problems for you automatically. You need to put in a little effort.

          "I have tried every distro of Linux since 8"
          I doubt it because that would be hundreds of distros. Which"8" do you mean? Ubuntu 8? Mint 8? Debian 8? Fedora 8?

          "software to record music from a new CD"
          You mean rip? Every distro, by default, comes with at least one command line ripping app and one GUI ripping app.

          " I needed to ALSO install a different set of drivers"
          No, you don't. Most application packages are self contained. That is why they are called "packages." They come with all the needed libraries.

          Please do not complain to me about Linux drivers. I never had more driver problems than when I was still using Windows. With Linux most devices are truly Plug & Play, not Plug & Pray as in Windows.

  14. tom
    March 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    any mac user should definitly try any distro with gnome 3 - where yosemite has taken so much input from... - but i would recommend a direct ubuntu drivate like ubuintu gnome for that instead of elementaryOS - and just add themes if neccessary.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 11, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      Hmmmm Ubuntu Gnome instead of Elementary for a Mac switcher. That's a first right there!

  15. Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér
    March 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    In the "honorable mentions" category, I would put in Deepin.
    It is a little different, but not so different it is problematic - and it is very well done. Has an excellent Control Center for settings.

    • Anonymous
      June 6, 2015 at 5:24 am

      I myself have been interested in Linux for awhile, But it always put me off for the most simple things too do..I've ran my own BBS system.(Dial modem up days lol ) Code it and ran for years, Installed windows for friends and teachers from windows 95 to Windows 7. Now I have gotten into streaming with Twitch Tv. I'm a gamer and love both Consoles and PC gaming. I just built 2nd new pc to be my streaming PC.. I want to give Linux a try but once again already put off by trying. I tried Ubuntu 14.04 and I can't even figure out how install OBS for my capture card. I don't want type silly commands. This isn't 1990's anymore. I should be able download apps or programs from Web and click install.. Not search on Google how install programs.. :( I've hurd rumors and what not Linux is getting better. I've tried it back 2007 and got no where. Tried again today and still frustrated.. I like my windows 7, and hate windows 8..
      I build pc and fix them all time for friends or family..and I really want get into Linux one day.. Now have my 2nd pc for streaming. I was hoping set it up as Linux streaming pc.. It's just barebones I5 3.5 ghz and that it. soon with new capture card..How I install OBS? How I installed Avermedia LGP drivers?

      I'd love find Windows like Linux with start menu like Xp/Visa (hate windows 7 one) but still like windows overall. I do not know where to start.. As said I just recently started streaming.. My twitch name is CentaurChester... if anybody could drop my msg there if they like make some suggestion how get started with Linux? That be great.


  16. bruce
    March 3, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I'm saddened Eros never made it out of the developer stage and is waiting impatiently to be completed

  17. Natalia
    March 2, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Thanks for tackling the subject Mihir. I too greatly enjoyed reading your initial piece and the comments it triggered. And I understand what you try to do with it...

    I myself first started working with Linux at university in the 90s, so at first glance I'm probably not the right person to ask about first time switcher deliberations. But I've been the target of people considering to switch frequently, and have noticed a pattern there I'd like to share.

    First of all, I agree with you that the look of the interface is a very large part of what switchers consider. After all, they don't want to be lost completely (Win 8? Start button?) and start from there. But that is the absolute beginning. After that they start working with the OS, and come to their next decision points. Your piece therefore kind of addresses only the first 5 to 10 mins of an users interaction with a new OS.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention UNetbootin (also available for Windows), or perhaps better, the possibility to take a flavour, burn the iso to an USB, and play with it for a while. Not difficult to boot, because you stick the USB in and turn your computer on. The grub menu is on the USB, and all Windows users know how to boot from an USB (or CD/ DVD) in stead of the HD/ SSD. Don't like it? Shut down, pull the USB out, and reformat your USB.

    I do agree with some of the comments here about the deliberations of switchers. Here are my observations, mainly seen during the April 2014 period.
    --- People are very, very confused by the large amount of distros and flavours. And to be honest it can be confusing if you've to find the right one for you. That's why I always ask what they want to do, and introduce the UNetbootin option.
    --- In most cases people don't NEED to switch, a thing quite often forgotten by the Linux community, which, let's be honest, can be quite... passionate in their argumentation.
    --- The thing that keeps people connected to an OS is, apart from familiarity and convenience, the things they want to do. So programs. And be honest, the software catalogue for Windows/ Mac is massive. And yes, there is Linux software, but don't underestimate the connection people have to for example Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop, or ACDSee. And sorry, no, GIMP is not a replacement for PS. In my observation, perhaps Pinta is perhaps even more for most users. But what matters here is that the connection to a certain task, program, and interface is so strong that I myself still run PS under Wine.
    --- Make an inventory of what people actually DO with their computer. Of all the cases I helped over the years, it turns out that in 90+% peoples computer life revolves around a web browser, email program, the occasional word processor, spreadsheet, and photo program. That's it. Many would like to see themselves as more "power user" but turn out to be not. So I install them a docky with these applications on it, and ask them to work with the USB based Linux flavour for a while. And quite often that seems to be absolutely sufficient.
    --- Although we all love the open community and the absolutely excellent and helpful Linux community, if something DOES go wrong, it can take quite some effort to get it sorted out. Like somebody said here: you try out a new OS, so you should expect a learning curve. But then again, editing a Windows registry, or sorting a desktop icon position reset on Mac can also be a pain.
    --- I absolutely agree with the driver issue. And this has been the focus of the community for years already of course. But yes, Nvidia still is, like Linus famously said, a pain in the arse. And yes, Canon does not help either. But then again, HP is realising the potential (HPLIP), and Logitech too has Linux drivers. Not much, but they do. And for Windows users who say that they never had any problems with installing Windows drivers, well, we all recognise that for what it is. I suppose that comments about this is a typical glass half full - half empty discussion, and saying more about the person saying it then the issue itself.
    --- I'm sure we can all come up with more...

    I suppose what I'm trying to say that you're right: look and feel are indeed important - but for the first 5 minutes. After that it is what you want to do. And we all know examples of OS designers who tried to predefine this FOR their users.
    Second, I love the emphasis you put on the will (or curiosity) to switch. We should never forget that people do not NEED to switch. If they're fine where they are, than their world is all good, and so should be ours. And yes, we could all exhaust ourselves discussing principles and philosophy of FOSS, free (not as in beer) and propriatory software, but all Linux curious users care about it whether they can email the picture of their daughter to nan.

    • Mihir Patkar
      March 2, 2015 at 10:55 am

      Great reply, and thanks for the compliment, Natalia! :)

    • Peter
      April 21, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      A very good response. There is one factor polls don't take into account. When it comes to older computers, like I recently grabbed one Dell Vostro 220 from work that was going to the bin because it would have been incapable or running Windows 8 - I added some memory and an ATI graphics card and it works even with the bloated KDE. So for older computers a LINUX OS is the best choice. But what about the new computers sold with Windows pre-installed? If you have one with Windows 8 and you are offered free upgrades to 8.1 and now advertised version 10, why would you scrap that OS for a Linux? You paid not only for the computer, you also paid in some way for the OS and it offers you legitimate often lifetime upgrades. Why throw that into the bin?
      That's people which not chose to switch even though the Linux OS may offer something equal or in some way better.

    • Anonymous
      August 20, 2015 at 7:59 pm

      Don't take this the wrong way but if people are "married" to their Windows programs, maybe the should not think of switching to Linux and stick with Windows. I am not talking about users who have to use industry-specific programs that are only available on Windows. I am talking about the casual user whose "life revolves around a web browser, email program, the occasional word processor, spreadsheet, and photo program."

      " In most cases people don’t NEED to switch, a thing quite often forgotten by the Linux community"
      Can you honestly say that the "Linux community" is forcing anyone to switch? They are just advocating the advantages of Linux, sometimes rather passionately.

  18. Voltus
    February 28, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    I have enjoyed reading everybody's comments. Many of them are personally helpful.

    I am new to Linux, been with MS since DOS through 8.1. I use Camtasia to make tutorials and Teach Access and Excel. I am also starting to work more with Adobe Prmiere Pro. That is why I decided to go with Ubuntu Studio (UBS) 14.10. I love the look and feel. I played with Ubuntu about four years ago so the interface was familiar. With a little bit of trial and error I got the desktop to be very easy to use. What I like best is that UBS is fun to use, though I still struggle with the CLI.

    I can never make a complete transition from Windows because I teach MS Office products and I have not yet found a suitable replacement for Camtasia on any OS because it has excellent editing capabilities and things like capturing and displaying keystrokes, and cursor effects. What I do for now is dual boot with Windows 8.1` and I run VMWare in UBS for when I only occasionally need to be in a Windows environment.

    Even though I have good tech skills and a desire to move to an OS based on the Linux kernel, I still have to spend a lot of time learning how to accomplish some tasks, e.g., getting UBS to recognize an SDXC card in a USB 3.0 card reader formatted as ExFAT.

    Also, Calc and Base lack the "one-click magic" in Excel and Access. On the other hand, these applications force you to understand what you are doing rather than just clicking a magic button.

    To give my comments perspective, I am a university professor who teaches accounting and information systems courses. Also, I write very little code though I am competent in designing algorithms.

    • dragonmouth
      March 1, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Have you tried PCLinuxOS Full Monty version?

  19. Yochanon
    February 28, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I switched from Windows in 2000 cold-turkey after having used Windows from 3.1 through W98SE. I got sick and tired of it. It was garbage. It was buggy (and still is..I have an old laptop with windows 7 on it strictly for my two old games *ONLY*).

    I got sick of fighting my computer, got sick of the constant worrying about virus this and malware that, got sick of constantly making sure I had the latest and greatest of anti-, got sick of the constant worrying that someone would get something from my system or put something on it and take even worse things from my system like credit card numbers etc., got sick of NOT BEING ABLE TO *USE* MY COMPUTER AND ACTUALLY *ENJOY* BEING ON IT!

    So, one night I literally started to search for another OS. I knew I didn't want Apple as I'd had a chance to try a few new-at-the-time systems in a demo setup in the mall one day...couldn't stand it and they were way too expensive.

    I eventually found out about Linux. I'd never even heard of it until I'd started searching. Found a distro that seemed like it would be nice to try - Mandrake. Took three days to download as I was on dial-up. Gave it a try for about two weeks, but it had its little quirks that just weren't making me want to keep trying it.

    Found SuSE next and stuck with it for around 10 years or so, but got sick of them going to bed with Microsoft and doing what they could to screw over other distro's and dropped them like a hot potato in 2010.

    Went to Slackware figuring maybe I just need to get to something nice and basic, doesn't claim to have every shiny bell and whistle on the planet and is the oldest distro and is still working just fine for people.

    Took a little while to get used to how Slackware works, but now that I've had it for 5 years I will never change to another distro again (unless Patrick V decides to go with using that abortion known as 'systemd', then I'll drop Slackware and move on to one of the BSD's).

    In all that time, I *NEVER* looked back on Windows. During the first few months of using SuSE I discovered one day that I was actually *enjoying* myself! I hadn't the worries, none of the stress that I had when I was using Windows. I literally sat up and stopped what I was doing and just smiled and thought about it a few minutes. It amazed me that it could be and I've been happy ever since.

    There's nothing at all hard about learning Linux. If one has never been at a computer *ANY* OS will seem overwhelming. All it takes is sitting down and just doing stuff and learning it. It's how I did it. No one taught me a thing about computers. I learned everything on my own by just doing stuff with it. Yes, I ended up having to reinstall my SuSE a few times because I just *HAD* to mess around with things as root (curiosity is a Good Thing with computers!!), but so what? I wasn't out anything but an hour and I was learning stuff even doing a new reinstallation.

    I took all the music I had put on my W98SE system onto a few CD's and put them on my Linux and never worried about them 'just working' (can't say the same going the other way because Microshaft doesn't want people to know about lossless and free types of music files such as ogg or aac or flac). I can even do pretty much anything with that M$ Office garbage by using LibreOffice or OpenOffice...both *free* (try to *easily* make that Word 98 work in your word in Windows 7...won't work because M$ wants you spending that green on it!).

    The *ONLY* reason people seem to be 'afraid' of trying out an Operating System other than Windows is because dumb articles get written up making it seem like it'll be tough to do - 'unless one tries this or that distro', or yada yada, etc. All anyone has to do is read up on the distros, pick one to try out and do it. Then they have to *HONESTLY* give it more than just an hours worth of trying to use it.

    One does *NOT* have to be a genius to have a Linux OS on their system. I'm not a high school dropout, but I'm not smart enough for college either (proved that by trying 3 separate times over the first 20 out of high school and never finishing). I can do on my Linux anything someone can do on their Windows and I can do it without having to make sure I have twenty anti- programs running in the background.

    Quit writing up articles in ways that make people think they *must* find just the right Linux distro or they simply won't be able to 'make the switch'. Just write up how easy Linux is to use, how similar many things are with both OS's, and that basically the main differences are the names of apps/programs and the core of the system. The former is easy to get used to, the latter one doesn't need to even think about if one doesn't wish to. Simple. linux has a Desktop - just like Windows. Linux has files and directories - just like Windows. You 'point-and-click - just like Windows. You get online and surf the web - yep, just like Windows. There's not a damned thing hard about Linux except what's in ones mind from listening to FUD and ignorance.

    • Mihir Patkar
      March 2, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Actually, I've written several articles on how easy it is to make the switch, but constant reader feedback has been:
      1. "Which distro should I try? I use XYZ right now."
      2. "I tried it out, I found it too overwhelming."
      3. "Linux is not for me, man, it's too different from "

      This article was meant to address that. No one is saying you need to find the perfect distro, and I apologise if my tone came across as that, it wasn't my intention. What I meant to say is that having a familiar environment makes the transition easy. Once you do make the transition to Linux, you can start experimenting more with other distros. It's not about the intelligence required in learning, it's about the effort--if I have the choice of getting the hang of a new thing in X hours vs X+5 hours, I'll choose the first option. This article is about the transition, not about "Which OS is perfect for you for life"

      • Anonymous
        August 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm

        ' constant reader feedback has been:
        1. “Which distro should I try? I use XYZ right now.”
        2. “I tried it out, I found it too overwhelming.”
        3. “Linux is not for me, man, it’s too different from ”"

        Chances are I've read all the Linux articles on MUO in the last 4-5 years. The feedback you mention comes mostly from Windows users. Comments #2 and #3 come from users who may be willing to switch to Linux but want everything to look and work the same as in Windows, and want to be able to run all the Windows software they are used to. When they don't find things to be comfortably familiar, they start complaining that Linux "is too different, too overwhelming, not ready for prime time." I hate to bring up the hackneyed car analogy but would the people who complain about Linux's different look & feel refuse to drive a different make of car than they are used to just because the controls were not in the same, familiar locations? No, they would take out the manual and use it to familiarize themselves with the new locations.

        I think MUO writers "enable" the user inability/disability to switch by trying to find distros that look and feel "just like Windows." I don't think I have ever read any article that said "Yes, Linux IS different than Windows but different does not mean no good."

        After having had to learn many O/Ss, I can confidently say that no O/S is harder or easier to learn than any other. What is hard to do is to UNLEARN the habits and terminology of one O/S when learning a new one.

  20. Tiago Fernandez
    February 28, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    i don't mind switching to zorin os, kubuntu, ubuntu, elementary, or any linux, but If i needed to switch to linux, I would choose haze os core.

  21. Govertz
    February 28, 2015 at 11:46 am

    The only reason I stay with Windows 7, is because of the huge software library I have build through the years.

  22. Kamal
    February 28, 2015 at 3:14 am

    I am a techie and have been living / working in Silicon Valley for 25+ years. I’m surrounded by technology and very comfortable with getting out of my comfort zone. Having been a Windows user since the early days of Windows, I comfortably started using Mac OS about 5 years ago, and have been working with both OSs. While I’d love to start using Linux, it has brought nothing but pain. Installing software has been mostly mysterious. If drivers are missing, things don’t work. BTW on that note, during the New Year break, I bought 20TB of disk and a new motherboard (made by a reputed vendor), and none of the NAS distros I tried (FreeNAS, NASforFree, OpenFiler, OpenMediaVault) would fully load on that motherboard, due to unrecognized hardware. It’s stuff like this, which drives me insane, and keeps me glued to Windows. I have no religious arguments against Linux, but it has been very frustrating.

  23. C2k
    February 28, 2015 at 12:41 am

    Ppl rarely mention BSD outside server circles but it is experiencing significant effort toward driver support & is frankly a saner environment than Linux. Ghost BSD or PC-BSD are becoming a viable alternative. Keep it in mind.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 28, 2015 at 6:00 am

      Ghost BSD is great, but I wouldn't recommend it to a Linux newbie. Has it got a software manager and better third-party device/driver support now? That was its big problem for me. To be fair, I tried out GhostBSD over a year ago.

    • dragonmouth
      March 1, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Have you ever tried PC-BSD? It's a bit more mainstream than Ghost, meaning it has a Package Manager and third party driver support.

    • Mihir Patkar
      March 2, 2015 at 10:55 am

      @dragonmouth: Nope, I'll check it out, thanks for the recommendation!

  24. C2k
    February 28, 2015 at 12:13 am

    I appreciate the author's good intentions but this post is very lightweight & superficial.

    1) Look & feel : yeah some users cling rigidly to familiarity but most people contemplating a 'switch' are willing to adapt to a new interface... within reason. I would initially avoid steering users to Unity or Gnome 3 - they will have the same reaction to those are Windows 8 (WTF??). Likewise I initially advise steering them away from minimalist environments like LXDE, Openbix, Fluxbox etc because ppl will get frustrated quickly. Xfce & Mate are in the sweet spot of maturity/stability/features/resource usage imho. Cinnamon is nice but still under heavy development (avoid showing new Linux users buggyness).

    2) Hardware support : kernel 3.16 or later really is good with modern hardware. Avoid distro's with older kernels.

    3) installer : for enterprise use OpenSUSE is very good. For general use the Ubuntu family. Manjaro now has an extremely good installer now.

    For best all round experience of performance/ease of use I recommend Manjaro.

    If a new user does not/cannot adapt to a new thing then don't try to help them. Leave them be.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 28, 2015 at 5:59 am

      "If a new user does not/cannot adapt to a new thing then don’t try to help them. Leave them be."

      I find fault in that line of thinking.

  25. Robert Driskill
    February 27, 2015 at 9:58 am

    @Mihir, @dragonmouth
    Thank you both for the discussion.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 27, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Any time, Robert!

  26. Richard
    February 26, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    "... in to the desire for convenience."

    For a new user it is 'all about' convenience. First impressions is everything. Most people probably don't care about anything else other than it 'works' (Linux Mint is the one I recommend to newbies). Ie. Get my email, cruise the web, watch a youtube video, write a letter, fill out a spreadsheet.... Done. Want to dig deeper? Linux allows you to do so. There is nothing stopping you from loading your favorite compiler, get the source code, or whatever you want to install or learn about in any of the systems listed above. It is an open system. Don't like the kernel? Recompile it. Your choice. I love it.

    My one complaint with Linux is drivers (not really Linux fault). Especially printers. Some times they are a real pain even when supported. Just bought a Canon and it isn't supported at all (Windoze and Mac only), for example. Not the simple click, click installed in Windoze land.

    BTW, I have feet in both worlds Windows (DOS to Present) and Linux (dialup download to floppies versions to present). At home. Currently running CentOS 7, Mint 17 and Fedora 21 , and Debian on Raspberry Pis. Only one computer running Win7.

  27. lucius.cornelius
    February 26, 2015 at 10:02 am

    A full install of Slackware has web development stuff 'out of the box', if I remember correctly.

    My problem with these lists is that they split, however unintentionally, Linux into "easy for beginners and hard for beginners" when in reality, most distros are fairly easy to install. The third distro I tried, after Mandrake 9 and Red Hat 7,8 & 9, was Slackware. I downloaded a step by step guide to installing it and got on with it. Had I started recently, rather than 12 years ago, I would be reading lots of "no, this distro is not for you" type articles and would find my progress hindered as a result.
    So, let's hope you haven't put anyone off by trying to imply, whether knowingly or otherwise, that they're too ignorant and/or too helpless to try anything other than spoonfed-Linux. Not intending to be harsh here - this is an issue that I've seen repeated over and over again over the years. An article designed to help can end up doing the opposite by scaring users away by implying they're teetering on the edge of a vast, complex and all but unknowable region of computer use, into which there are only one or two entry points

    And then there's the proprietary vs libre issue. All of the spoonfed-distros come with all the proprietary codecs and drivers pre-installed, robbing users of the chance to understand the deeper issues or make an informed decision about it, because the presence of these bits of code sort of implies that "who cares if it's open or closed source, as long as we get as near to Windows in performance as possible?" and thus they grievously harm the whole point of why Linux is available as a choice in the first place.

    10 years ago I would have said "It's enough to use Linux". Now I no longer believe that and think that some distros do more harm than good because they're killing the spirit of opensource by caving in to the desire for convenience. Windows and OSX are for people who want convenience and who don't care about anything else. It's a bit like telling people tired of right wing politics "come to the left wing, there's barely any difference between the two" - (so why change?).
    Linux is for people who want something different, something less tainted and something that gives them the power and control that Microsoft and Apple don't allow them.

  28. Texas Nerd
    February 26, 2015 at 3:54 am

    as a hobbyist I love trying new software. have done many hundreds of times (thousands?) over the years. have dabbled with a few distros and determined now to get one on my older laptop. Yet for the 10 or so distros I've tried for some reason only 1 or 2 are able to recognize hardware and actually use on a usb boot up. I hate missing great software and therefore feeling dumb, but it's been really frustrating getting linux to work on this very common HP presario. While I don't like the choke hold MS has on the world, for me there needs to be a much easier setup routine for linux. It's like I was born speaking english, and now I've got to learn Russian and can't even get past hello. LOL

  29. jymm
    February 25, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    I know not many will be familiar with Point Linux, but I would recommend it for a Windows convert. It has the Mate desktop which will look familiar. It comes with most everthing a newbie should need, and Point has few problems. It has to be the quietest forum in Linux land with lack of problem. I like Zorin a lot too, but Zorin was very challenging to me as a newbie. Updates broke stuff, updates failed and a wrong click can turn it back into Ubuntu.

  30. Robert Driskill
    February 25, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    The problems arise when you want to have more than one O/S on one drive. So why doesn't the Linux community standardize on a bootloader. Wouldn't that be the easiest thing to do, for everyone?
    The boot order in the bootloader can be changed by editing the config file. Ok, how. We are beginners, give us instructions.
    The Debian-based distro installer ask the user where to install the bootloader. Either in the MBR, the first block of a partition, to a floppy or not at all. So what is the difference, or should I say how does that impact overall system.
    That is an editable option. You can set it so that a click anywhere on the address line will highlight the address. Once again, how? We are still beginners.
    Please don't misunderstand anything I have mentioned. I am not trying to be an a&&. But you are guilty of the exact thing I have been talking about. The Linux community seems to assume that the newbs know more than we do. And I will admit that the Windows community does the exact same thing to the Linux converts. Unfortunately, that illustrates all of my points also, wish I could say it doesn't :).
    And to clear up one statement I made earlier. When it comes to partitioning, at least display the name that the user supplied. Don't have to use that name internally, use sda or sdb or whatever. Or display the name of the mfg.
    Maybe get some newbs to help with the instructions. Have some of the designers sit with newbs, not necessarily to help, but to watch the process to get a better understanding of what is going on mentally for the user.

    • dragonmouth
      February 27, 2015 at 1:15 am

      "The Linux community seems to assume that the newbs know more than we do. And I will admit that the Windows community does the exact same thing to the Linux converts"
      And therein lies the crux of the problem. It is not a Linux-specific problem, it is not a Windows-specific problem, it is not a OS/X-specific problem. It is a problem endemic to the entire computer community. For those that have already learned a particular O/S, it is very hard to bring themselves down to the level of the newbie again. When you have used an O/S for 10,15,20 years, even the most esoteric and byzantine one seems easy.

      The kind of handholding you are looking for exists only in classrooms. Once you get out of the classroom there is no handholding for Linux, not for Windows, not for OS/X, not for any O/S. In my time with computers I learned about 10 distinctly different O/Ss. I learned them by reading the manuals, by making mistakes, by using them.

      One of the operating systems was Windows (3.1-XP). I used it exclusively until about 10 years ago when I switched to Linux. Now when I try to go back to Windows, I have the same problems with it as you do with Linux and no newbie wrote the instructions for Windows.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 27, 2015 at 5:06 am

      Heh "Why doesn't the Linux community standardize on a bootloader?" just made me laugh. You need to spend only one day on any Linux forum to realize how fragmented and opinionated the entire community is.

    • James
      March 10, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      @Robert Driskill
      You need to be able to figure things out by yourslef. The thing about linux is it is very well documented. How to setup GRUB, LILO, etc is probably documented 100 times over. You need to at least show that you have tried to look for an answer yourself, people are NOT going to just hand hold you through the entire thing. In fact, having the attitude of just asking for help and not trying to figure it out yourself will get you either ignored, or possibly even made fun of. For example, the web address highlighting thing, if it's an option, then it's probably in the options menu, go in there and look around, go through all of the options. If you still can't find it, then try some google searches. Then if you STILL can't find it maybe try posting a question like, hey I have tried this and this and that, and looked here and there, but I still can't figure this out, -- then people are going to be much more likely to help you out.

      As far as your question about the bootloader being on the MBR or at the start of the partition, you typically want it on the MBR, unless you are 'chaining' bootloaders -- which you may want to do if you want to dual boot with linux and windows. For example, you could have Windows boot loader on the MBR, and then an option in the windows bootloader to go to the linux bootloader, which could be in the start of the linux partition. Or you could possibly do it the other way around, with Linux in the MBR and windows in the partition, but that can be a bit trickier to set up as windows doesnt give you the option of where to put it's bootloader. These days it might even be possible to directly boot windows from GRUB or Linux from the windows bootloader, if configured correctly, although I am not sure about this. I know 'back in the day' you could not do this, and had to 'chain' the bootloaders.

      • Clairvaux
        July 30, 2016 at 8:33 pm

        "You need to at least show that you have tried to look for an answer yourself, people are NOT going to just hand hold you through the entire thing. In fact, having the attitude of just asking for help and not trying to figure it out yourself will get you either ignored, or possibly even made fun of."

        And that's exactly the problem. I mean : one of the problems. I haven't been there yet, but this sort of attitude is exactly what I don't want from a computing community.

  31. Matthew
    February 25, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    The ideal dual boot, for a Windows user making a soft slide to Linux, is to put GRUB in the Linux boot (or main if no boot) partition, and use EasyBCD to add it to the Windows boot menu.

    That way reduces the Windows v Linux battle of the boot, otherwise they will always step on each others boot setup given half a chance.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 27, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Agreed, that's what I do every time.

  32. plsburydoughboy
    February 25, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I'm surprised Linux Mint got the vote as Windows XP replacement over LXLE, which is what I'm using now. Am I missing something? I happen to be using an older low power PC

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Nothing wrong with LXLE at all, it's a fine OS, especially for low-power PCs. I think Mint is easier only because it's so widely used and so support is easy to find. I think LXLE is the natural progression after using Mint for a while, if resources are why you switched to Linux. But you're absolutely right, if someone was on a low-powered PC, I'd ask them to check out LXLE too.

  33. CoolHappyGuy
    February 25, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Use Virtualbox as a risk-free, reversible way to try out as many distros as you want before making the jump.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 25, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      You can try almost any OS through a pen drive anyway.

  34. Robert Driskill
    February 25, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    I have tried a number of them, Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Elementary, Manjaro, Evolve, Debian, CentOS, PC Linux and Zorin to name a few. I am currently running openSUSE on an older system. I wanted to install three different distros, one example each of the different "parents", Debian, openSuse, Red Hat. I had a nice set up of Elementary, then I attempted to install openSUSE, only to be confronted with disk drive set up that only wanted to use the entire drive.
    By the way, I started trying Linux 15 years, or more, ago, back in the day of dial up internet, and when one could fill in a form online to have a live CD (not DVD) mailed free. This isn't something new for me.

    • dragonmouth
      February 25, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      When installing multiple distros on the same drive, you need to make sure that all the distros are not only using the same bootloader but also the same version of it. There are currently two versions of GRUB in use: legacy GRUB and GRUB2. They are not interchangeable. Slackware-based distros use LILO bootloader and that is different from either GRUB.

      I have not used open SUSE in a long time so I cannot advise you on that problem.

  35. Robert Driskill
    February 25, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    There are still things that the Linux community needs to understand in order to get Windows users to switch. The first is the installation process. I am an above average Windows user, not an expert. There have been a number of times that I have attempted to install Linux on one or another of my systems. Usually I try to create a second (or third) partition to install the distro on, before attempting the install. But during the install, linux uses strange drive naming, and doesn't match anything the user knows. And if the user figures it out, then when linux doesn't get to use the entire disk drive, the user has to figure out what the hell error messages mean when confronted with "You don't have xyz partition". If the user gets thru that, then Linux loads "grub" (or similar bootloader) to MBR for Windows, and sets itself as the default. Users don't want to to use another 2 or 3 keystrokes to access Windows. At least ask the user, in plain language, how/where to install the bootloader. And then make it easy to uninstall the bootloader. The installation is really the only technicall issue.
    The second problem is more cosmetic. Don't make the scroll bars so narrow it is difficult to to "grab" with the mouse cursor, for those of us without a scroll wheel. And don't make it disappear. Make the previous web address blank out instead of having to backspace thru the whole thing in order to type in another web address. Give use some examples of what the different desktops do, and look like. Use common terms for searches in the software repository instead of having to know the "slightly different" naming that seems to be required.
    The Linux community needs to understand that we are trying something new. We know there will be a learning curve, but the instructions needs to be put in a manner familiar to us.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 25, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      Fair points, Robert. It sounds like you've tried switching a few times and not liked it. Could you elaborate on which OS you were switching from, and which Linux Distro you tried out?

    • dragonmouth
      February 25, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      You will encounter starnge nomenclature whenever you move from one O/S to another. If you think Linux partition naming scheme is strange, you should look into BSD. That is not an excuse, just a comment.

      "The first is the installation process."
      All popular distro have an automatic install mode that installs Linux using the entire drive. No need to worry about partioning. The problems arise when you want to have more than one O/S on one drive.

      "Users don’t want to to use another 2 or 3 keystrokes to access Windows."
      The boot order in the bootloader can be changed by editing the config file. Some distros even provide a GUI tool for editing the bootloader. BTW - to select a different O/S in the bootloader takes only one stroke - either a TAB or a down arrow.

      "At least ask the user, in plain language, how/where to install the bootloader"
      The Debian-based distro installer ask the user where to install the bootloader. Either in the MBR, the first block of a partition, to a floppy or not at all.

      "And then make it easy to uninstall the bootloader"
      I don't think you would want to do that, especially if you have more than one O/S. Withoout a bootloader you will only be able to access one O/S.

      "Make the previous web address blank out"
      That is an editable option. You can set it so that a click anywhere on the address line will highlight the address.

      BTW - Linux users switching or trying Windows have the same problems as you do switching to Linux. It's all very different and unusual for them, too.

    • Knut
      February 25, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      The GRUB is an optional menu selector that use MBR to boot into other drives than your "C" drive. If you want one for EFI - try rEFInd, which provides icons to choose between, but cannot start "last good version" etc.

      It is MS that use a strange device identification. In Linux, all disk are "/dev/sd" something - its a device and the "sd" identifies the driver - standard disk. The first disk is "/dev/sda" and a memory card that is used as a disk also becomes "an sd-card" on Android. On Unix you have a more complete naming, which allows the same device to be operated in different ways, using different drivers. The main differences is character - "one byte a time device" and the "block devices" - 4KB in one write. All is fully documented to those that want to know.
      Regarding the "Elevator" and moving around - go to "Settings" and choose the look you like. You can install a number of frames for each, and no need to stop before you are certain that this is just right. The "Themes" are general, what others found to be good - I usually adjust font sizes smaller because I use good screens. I also select a set of icons and buttons that is familiar to me.

      We can always make it better, and for Mint, the effort is ongoing, and the installation procedure is worked on.

    • Steve
      February 28, 2015 at 6:57 am

      Well said Robert Driskell. I agree and speaking as a Linux beginner would like to add that using Linux techno-speak or Linux geek speak makes some feel that it's useless to even think about switching. I have been playing around with various distros for fifteen years or so. After loosing a windows installation or two over the years, it is now pretty much painless to give Linux a try with a "Live CD" as well as the actual installation to a hard drive.

      Mihir, dragonmouth, Knut, thanks for each of your inputs here. Your comments are the kind of words that potential switchers need to see. Words that non-Linux users understand. Thanks.

  36. Juju
    February 25, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Until you simply try them, you'll never know which one is better for you.

    • mastaeit
      February 25, 2015 at 9:22 am

      I don't speak for me, I speak for the linux novices, which are already confused about linux. They install the KDE edition, and say "this is not similar to XP". Hope you understand my point.

    • Knut
      February 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      I agree, KDE is "Korn Development Environment" - it is another shell, and another set of libraries and a ton of work in getting an integrated development environment perfect.
      It is miles away from XP or Vista - but the author seems to emphasise the initial look you get when it boots the first time. Select "Settings" and "Themes" - and make it look like you want to. If you develop systems, I would recommend the KDE, and Mint also has a KDE variant, not just Kubuntu. If you want video editing - "Studio" may depend on the KDE - this is a huge package that converts your computer to a professional editing station.
      Microsoft has never been anywhere close to "OpenPlasma" - in KDE.

    • Mky
      March 4, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      I've a nice mod of Mac OS theme, willing to share it to more folks...

    • Peter Jespersen
      March 30, 2015 at 10:26 am

      Knut - Korn Development Environment - primarily consists of the the Korn shell, some sort of Emacs based editor and the Ada programming language. Made to meet the US DoD Steelman requirements, AFAIR by MIT.

      By KDE I think you mean the KDE Software Compilation (KDE SC) - called The K Desktop Environment until November 2009.

  37. mastaeit
    February 25, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Advice for the author: If someone makes a switch from xp to mint, he/she will be confused which mint should download from the official site. So my suggestion is to specify either cinnamon or mate, or xfce, a DE with more familiar look for them.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 25, 2015 at 11:50 am

      I thought I said Cinnamon, but you're right, I didn't. My mistake.


    • Knut
      February 25, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      Linux Mint Cinnamon is also the best if you come rom MacOS - just install the OSX theme, and the look is that of Snow Leopard / Mountain Lion look. The OSX also comes with the Mac icons.
      Visit the Nooslabs site, and there is a complete customisation ready, that makes Mint Cinnamon look just like MacOS so that others will not see the difference - including boot screens, log-in, gestures well you have to use Wine to run the MS Office applications.

  38. Phil N
    February 25, 2015 at 12:24 am

    I could never use linux due to lack of software. Most of the software I need is either Windows only or available on mac with limitations.

    • Mauricio
      February 25, 2015 at 2:16 am

      What kind of work you do? (Just curiosity, I know that there is not always a software for some kind of jobs)
      In my case, I used to use Linux, but since I have a Mac then I didn't need Linux any more.

    • Megh
      February 25, 2015 at 9:54 am

      The software you use may not be available but alternatives always are available :
      - Web Browsers : FF and Chrome and Opera and many others (Hope you dont use IE)
      - Office : LibreOffice is the best (and used as the standard office by some Governments)
      - Photo editing : GIMP has most of the things that photoshop has but it may take time to adopt to the new interface
      - Vector Graphics : Inkscape is nice enough
      - 3D animation : Blender can do everything. See some of their beautiful movies
      - Games : Steam has many games
      - Wine : Runs most simple Windows Programs

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 25, 2015 at 11:50 am

      That's fine, Phil. I totally understand if there is Windows software that you are heavily tied into. Unlike others, I don't think you need to justify why you won't switch or give you reasons to switch. I believe that's a personal decision and I trust you made the right one for you :) If you do decide to switch in the future, maybe this article can help!

    • Phil N
      February 25, 2015 at 11:55 am

      The first thing people always say in response is that there are alternatives. That may be fine for an amateur or freelancer who never works with anyone else and has all the time in the world to learn it without proper instruction. And yes blender can be used to make films, so could Microsoft Paint if you try hard enough. However, I'm personally going to choose the one that works well, I use blender on occasion and it's always a hassle with it's poor interface and broken tools.

    • Phil N
      February 25, 2015 at 11:57 am

      Thank you for being reasonable Mihir.

    • Megh
      February 26, 2015 at 4:39 am

      I too was just pointing out alternatives and not forcing you in anyway. (Though I still think Blender is very good). Sometimes interfaces are not bad. They are just different. Remember the first time that you used your software, you had to learn that too and had to deal with the frustration of somethings not working as you wished only to later google them and find that you were doing things wrong or that you were using an outdated version

    • liamcoded
      February 27, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Megh, unless I missed it, you never said what is the software that you use. Since Blender was mention, Autodesk offers Maya on Linux but I think you have to call them to order it. Maybe. It has been years since I used Maya but Autodesk does say Maya 2015 works on Linux. They have it offered for Fedora, RedHat, and CentOS. So does Mudox. Zbrush doesn't unfortunately. Adobe never offered software for Linux. But Linux can run older Adobe CS 6, and earlier, software through Wine or CrossOver.

      There is also Linux Wacom Project, open source, and I believe Wacom helps with their work. Most people seem happy with drivers. If you already have a Wacom tablet you can try it our.

      I don’t know much about film editing software, so I can’t make any suggestions. Above was from a personal experience, Google search, and Autodesk website.

    • liamcoded
      February 27, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      I meant above comment for Phil N. Sorry Megh.

    • Phil N
      February 27, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      @Megh This is one of those times when it is bad, just like zbrush. Many, many, people agree with that. I've been using blender for years, it's not new to me. And yes I remember when I first started using LightWave and it was very intuitive, everything is right where you expect it to be.

      @Liam One thing about 3D software on linux is that aside from blender of course the linux versions are always the last to get updated. Sometimes weeks or months later than the Windows version. It also has little to no third party support and many 3D programs seriously depend on third party plugins.

    • Satuitni
      February 28, 2015 at 1:15 am

      If you drive a Lamborghini why buy a Ferrari, and vice-versa.
      Whatever floats your boat - go with it.
      There are a lot of professionals out there using all platforms and a wide range of software.
      For the rest of us a move to Linux makes a lot of sense as the value in OS and most other software changes diminishes. Apart from marketing hype the average consumer gets very little value from the changes offered in the commercial marketplace.

    • Anonymous
      August 20, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      @Phil N:
      Mihir, in his article, is not advocating that everyone should switch from Windows or OS/X to Linux. He is just suggesting a few distros IN CASE someone would like to switch.

      Windows, OS/X and Linux each have industry-specific applications that the other two operating systems do not. This means that there are people, such as yourself, that should not/cannot switch. You would know better whether Linux has the tools, free or pay-for, that you need.

      Having said all that, there is no reason why you cannot use Linux for non-work related tasks. :-)

      • Anonymous
        August 20, 2015 at 8:37 pm

        My work and pleasure are the same thing. Besides, why would I switch to something don't like when I want to have fun?

        • Anonymous
          August 20, 2015 at 11:05 pm

          I guess you found a reason. :-)

  39. Jimmy
    February 24, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Been looking for a OS that comes prepackaged with web developer tools / software baked in. Anything around like that?

    • dragonmouth
      February 24, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      No, there is no distro that installs web development tools by default. However, you can download the software for free from many distro's repositories with no problems. There also is pay-for software abailable.

    • KT
      February 25, 2015 at 2:17 am

      pclinuxos 64 full monty is about a 20 gig o.s. It may have some tools pre-installed, if not, Dragonmouth's right. Just pull whatever you want from the repositories or synaptics (no terminal needed).

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 25, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Yeah, agree with Dragonmouth, as much as it pains me to say that ;) He knows what he's talking about here, I'd take his advice.

    • Paul
      February 25, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      Bbqlinux will suit your needs perfectly

    • Rob
      February 28, 2015 at 4:18 am

      I use Ubuntu Studio and added some software to it like Ruby & Brackets, File Zilla and a LAMP server for testing.

  40. Deere
    February 24, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    "Distro" stands for more than "looks", Amigo. It's about a vision, philosophy, repositories, support and so on, and so forth. Because of that, it's folly to suggest a distribution based entirely on its shell or the way it looks, and I feel that it was a sole basis for distros' selection for this article.

    >the developers actually built several apps made specifically to be used with the OS (unlike other Linux distros which package existing software)

    Are you suggesting that EOS is exclusive in that? Is this supposed to be some kind of joke?

    • Mauricio
      February 25, 2015 at 2:13 am

      This post Is not about what is the definition of Distro, or even the philosophy that they have. If the user has the interest it will search for this, if not, then is only a way to push back the users.
      Common users doesn't care about that stuff, just want to use Facebook, Google, and office apps that's all.

    • Larry
      February 25, 2015 at 8:44 am

      For Windows users introduce themselves to Linux the transition is not simple. A simple encouragement is all they need.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 25, 2015 at 11:47 am

      1) The way it looks and the way it functions is why I chose these distros. I'm fine with you disagreeing with my choices if you think distros should be chosen on a larger philosophy, but based on my interactions with first-time switchers, a familiarity in the look and function is what keeps switchers happy and doesn't make them go back.

      2) I'm not saying EOS is the only one which does that, I'm saying EOS did a great job of that and there aren't many distros which do that, especially not among those listed in this article.