Choosing the Right Linux for Me R

Edmund Ochieng April 7, 2010
Abstract This article is written to answer the widely asked question, ”Which is the best Linux for me?”. The truth is there is no Linux that is best for you but, there is a Linux Distribution that is best suited for the task you want to undertake. This article should guide both the Newbies and so called gurus in selecting the best Linux to perform the task they would like to unertake.



What is Linux?

Linux is a generic term reffering to any unix-like operating system that is based on the Linux kernel. Its a promintent example of open souce software impliying its source code can be modified and redistributed both commercially and noncommercially depending on the terms of the licence mostly GNU General Public Licence. The use of Linux is prominent in the server environment whereas, most desktops and laptops either run Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows with Linux having about 1-2 % of the desktop share. However, it tends to hold a larger market share generally due to its ability to run on a wide range of devices; from embedded devices such as mobile phones, smartphones and wristwatches to mainframes and supercomputers.


Why do you need the Linux on your PC?

Despite changing trends in the recent past, Linux still faces a lot of opposition as it is said not to be user-friendly a fact I’d boldy disagree with. This is a wrong notion that is brought about by using the wrong the distribution-one doesn’t use a table knife to cut uncooked meat. In my opinion, Linux is a swiss pen-knife and is not meant for the faint-hearted. Linux can fully be operated through the graphical user interface that ships with the perating system however in some cases it is necessary to execute tasks from the command line interface as the GUIs in some cases are absent or offer limited options. A typical user may not need to learn how to perform tasks from the command line however, the knowhow is necessary. Often when the operating system crashes or rather fails, the command line interface mostly reffered to as the shell survives and may be used to revert the last change that caused the failure. In addition to, here are more advantages of LInux: • Lower total cost of ownership-its free • Quicker bug fixes • Faster release cycles • Wider support base • No vendor lock-in • Encourages innovation / creativity • Good security • Facilitates the understanding of concepts especially in academic institutions



Choosing the right Linux Distribution

Linux distributions are practically incomparable due to their techincal variations. Technical variations here being support for different hardware support and systems or package configurations. There are three questions that should guide when choosing the right Linux distribution, these are: 1. What needs should the Linux distribution meet? The purpose for which the Linux OS is to be used is a crirical consideration in the choosing the right distribution. Various distributiions are best suited for certain task for instance Ubuntu Studio is best suited for those who have interest in the mastering and developing of multimedia which lack in most other Linux distros, BackTrack for firewalls among others. 2. What is the installation type? This is determined by the purpose the operating system should server. This may break the type of installations into two major type: (a) Server install (b) Workstations / Desktop install The type of installation required also determines the packages to be included in the system. However, for newbies and explores, you may consider installing all packages to ease the strain of adding packages when needed later in time. 3. Categorization of the distributions Finally once the first two questions have been answered satisfactorily, we can choose a Linux distribution from iether of the groups below: (a) Size For old PCs which may have very little storage space, small Linux distributions such as Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux, Piggy Linux among others may be used. (b) Novice vs Expert user Depending on the intended users of the system, a perfect Linux distribution may be chosen. Where by a Novice may be adviced to use a Linux distribution that is easy to install and has an easy to use software updater such as Ubuntu whereas, Experts may go for systems that may better perform the tasks needed but may not have very good and well developed user interfaces which may make it difficult to use for novices. (c) Bleeding edge vs Stable Based on the requirements of the user, a user may choose a bleedingedge distribution - here being a Linux distribution that attempts to incorporate all new developments in the open source realm. Such distributions are normally pleasant and fascinating to use however, they have tendencies to become unstable especially if some of the included software are still in ther alpha stages an example of such an operating system is Fedora Linux and Ubuntu. On the other hand, 3

stable distributions tend to be released not so often and normally have undergone thorough testing and do not include any software that may compromise their stability such systems include Debian, Solaris. Other qualities that need to be considered when choosing a distribution are such as: i. Security ii. Support iii. Documentation




[1] as at Wednesday, April 07 2010 00:26:19 hours. [2] as at Wednesday, April 07 2010 00:27:18 hours. [3] as at Wednesday, April 07 2010 00:29:39 hours.


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