This is part 2 of a series looking to help people find the best Linux distribution for them.
In the first part of the series, I looked at some of the best Linux Desktop Environments so that you could eliminate distributions which only use desktops that won’t work for you and your setup.
The title of this post says it all really. Here are the 5 distributions I would turn to if I wanted to use Linux and I didn’t want to be too hassled setting things up and they just work.
Notice that the title includes the word “modern”. Click here for the “5 easiest to use Linux distributions for older computers”. This one is all about the modern desktops, the whizzy effects and the shiny interfaces.
Before I start, here is the criteria that I think is important when deciding on the easiest to use distros.
- How easy are they to install
- How much work is it to setup the distribution
- How intuitive is the desktop environment
- How much useful software is installed by default
- How much support is available
1. Linux Mint
Linux Mint is number 1 on this list and in the Distrowatch rankings for a very good reason.
Linux Mint uses the same installer as Ubuntu and therefore it is very easy to install. If you can follow simple instructions such as being able to choose your language, where you want to install Linux Mint and where you are located on the map then you will be up and running within about 10 to 15 minutes.
Linux Mint is ahead of Ubuntu in this list for two reasons. In the first instance the Cinnamon desktop is likely to be more familiar to more people than Unity and secondly because Linux Mint has the ability to play Flash and MP3s straight away.
For general purpose use, the desktop works the way you would expect it to with system icons in the bottom right, a menu in the bottom left and quick launch icons available to open a browser and file manager.
The software available in Linux Mint is perfect for the average user with the LibreOffice suite, GIMP image editor, Banshee audio player and VLC video player.
The main thing that is missing is STEAM but this can be installed via the package manager. The Mint Software Centre behaves more intuitively than the Ubuntu Software Centre as well.
Ubuntu is the Linux distribution that is most well known amongst people outside the Linux community.
Due to the Unity interface, Ubuntu has something of the Marmite effect whereby you either love it or hate it.
Installing Ubuntu is easy and the tool used is far better than the Windows equivalent (but then again ordinary users never have to install Windows).
The desktop is actually incredibly easy to use. If you can type the name of the program you want to run then you are 90% of the way to understanding Unity.
Ubuntu has a great set of software repositories and provides a stable base for many other Linux distributions.
Setup wise you have to install the restricted extras package to get Flash, MP3s and fonts (although there is an option during the installation which aims to achieve this with limited success).
Support for Ubuntu is very easy to find with support forums and IRC chat rooms available.
The software centre is still a little bit of a let down.
PCLinuxOS is the only non Debian based Linux distribution on this list.
PCLinuxOS is available for a number of different desktop environments but the way it utilises KDE is excellent.
The installer is incredibly straight forward and as with Linux Mint, the desktop will be familiar to most users with the panel, menu and icon layout.
PCLinuxOS has more applications than Linux Mint and Ubuntu with games, graphics applications, the LibreOffice office suite and audio applications. Dropbox is also included.
The graphical package manager for PCLinuxOS is Synaptic and whilst it might not be as pretty as the “Software Centre” it is much easier to find what you are looking for.
4. Zorin OS
There is no easier transition for Windows users to Linux than Zorin OS, that is the intention anyway.
Zorin OS looks and behaves in many ways just like Windows and you can choose which Windows version you want it to look like, whether that is Windows XP or Windows 7.
The installer for Zorin is the same as the Ubuntu installer and so it is very easy to install and it comes with all multimedia codecs pre-installed.
Zorin OS comes with a good selection of software including the LibreOffice office suite, VLC media player, Banshee audio player and the GIMP image editor.
PlayOnLinux is installed which makes it possible to run Windows software (although not every application works).
Zorin has a look and theme changer and also has some fairly nice desktop effects.
Zorin is number 4 on this list because there are a few glitches, it uses the software centre and there isn’t as much support for Zorin as there is for Ubuntu, Linux Mint and PCLinuxOS.
Thankyou for reading