Can there be one? Distro's for new users

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by franksmcb What’s the best Linux distribution for a new user? Its a simple question with a myriad of answers. It is also a question that is asked on numerous websites with sometimes questionable answers. Recently an article on this subject led to lots of discussion on BDLL about this very issue. That discussion has…

Interesting, but you are all wrong, and you are all right at the same time.

The 1st question is “who is the new user?”, followed by “what is their skill level”, what is their interest level, and finally “are they too thick to be let loose on their own”, “are you prepared to provide their level of support?”

For some people I know a Chromebook (or desktop equivalent) would be all they need. I am curious if Porteus-Kiosk would be a solution for minimal users.

For a big chunk of potential new to Linux users probably many of the suggested seem reasonable, Did anyone above mention MX? how about Debian 10 (may be too early but as Testing it ran for 9 months for me with no problems that had me scratching my head, and the new installer makes the install as easy as a lot of the above suggestions.

The really hard group of new to Linux users are the “Windows Guru” ones, the one so entrenched in their “expertise” they just don’t want to start learning and thinking again.

So, my list to pick from would be MX, Peppermint, Mint (choose desktop - MATE or Xfce for me), Ubuntu MATE or Xubuntu.

For slightly more techie users I’d add Debian 10, ArchoLinux (with Xfce but pick your own poison) and I think Endeavour may join my list if it holds up.

For the curious, I might add SparkyLinux (the 5 series using Debian Buster) and perhaps Linux Lite. I don’t have a feel for the communities about those last 2, I’ve tried them and they’ve been OK for me.

Just my 2 pence worth… and as the pound is going down the pan, that’s not a lot of worth probably

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I think for me the first question you should ask when supporting a new user transition to Linux is: What am I confident I can help them with when I get a support request, for me that would be Mint, Mate or Ubuntu Mate. I also like to check what someone does with their PC before deciding how to set it up. I recently installed Mint 19.1 Mate on an 8 year old laptop with 4Gb Ram for a friend. I set up desktop icons for all the software she needed which was Firefox, Word, Excel and PowerPoint these were obviously the LibreOffice iteration of these applications but I labeled with the familiar names for her. That was 3 months ago and I have not had any support calls as yet, so all good so far :smile:

You mean Arco Linux:wink:

Distro’s for new users would be one key word: intuitive.

You can easily install a distro, but it must have a GUI to help guide it, without showing you checks and the confusing stuff. Therefore, you might be better off with something like Ubuntu or Kubuntu, maybe even Linux Mint, which has a Windows look which might fit Windows migrators.

But Ubuntu makes it easy with its installer, Ubiquity. Only confusing part, if THERE WAS ANY, would be when double checking the disk formatting.

But the more confusing, like for dual booting or triple booting, I am talking as if you are just formatting your disk and throwing Ubuntu on it.

But that is the hardest part-the installation. Otherwise, its all easy. Either GNOME, or whatever, it would be easy.

However I suggest that Zorin would be a good hit for Windows migrators, as it was made to be like Windows.

So what does this all mean-as long as you make it intuitive and family friendly, there can be one, a distro for new users, and it is literally all around you.

I think this answer is broad and many factors like weather the new user is switching over via the community or via their own accord (going it alone) weigh heavily on the answers given. Not to mention the new users motivation to switch, what their needs are and what they need to get out of a desktop or laptop. below that is the new user already “tech savy” or are they a “tech interested” user with basic skills tbh the only way a new user would switch to Linux with no skill would be if they bought a pre built system with Linux installed so I would count them out of the conversation.

My personnel recommendation based on experience and a very generalized definition of a new user would be PopOS! (Close 2nd Vanilla Ubuntu) yes I’m a fanboy but System76 do a great job out of the box with making things very easy and highly usable. Simple things like clear AMD & Nvidia download options, Great gaming support, Plenty of online Pop specific documentation (Ubuntu much the same) they have a very active presence on social with things like Pop Planet, Redit etc with a willingness to help directly where needed weather you buy a S76 machine or run just run PopOS!, And they do a great job with maintaining reasonably current packages and updates are seamless and they provide support for a broad range in hardware and software.

The main thing for me would be is that PopOS! provides a new user the option to not “have” to rely on the community initially while finding their feet and while being involved with the community is great and I would always encourage it, Sometimes the noise and opinion can turn people off or make things more confusing or difficult, It also gives the new user the ability to learn at a pace that is comfortable to them. I don’t feel like running Linux and being involved in the community are always mutually exclusive and nor should they be.

I’m not always convinced that trying to replicate a “windows like” experience for a new user is the most important thing but it certainly can be in some cases, just like the way Mac and Windows do things in their individual environments differently and people adapt new users will be able to adapt to something like Gnome or KDE. As long as the the distro is intuitive with a decent amount of help built in or easily accessible I think it’s ok for a DE to be a completely different experience.

I have personally rolled out PopOS! to around 12 users within our company all with varied tech ability (but none really tech savy) not only have people not needed a ton of tech support (which surprised me) they have thrived and the consensus across the board has been that they feel more productive in Linux then when we ran windows.

I know people will have their reasons for loving or recommending certain DE’s/Distro’s and a case can be made for a ton of different options and in some cases I would likely recommended something other than PopOS! but as a starting point (for me at least) PopOS! is it.

I do like Arco, it’s the 1st non-Debian in my top 5 distros, and it’s there in case Debian decides to quit the distro business in a huff because people keep mispronouncing it’s name :grin:

I still stand by Linux Mint as the most well-rounded. polished and new user friendly distro but having spent time with Zorin recently I can see being another option, particularly with the Ultimate edition providing multiple familiar layouts and support.

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I think that when it comes to directing noobs to their first Linux distro you have to know your guy.
Because, if the Debian/Ubuntu family seems like a given for stability and simplicity reasons, the DE really depends on whom you’re talking to.

I switched to Linux nearly 6 years ago and nearly went back to windows because Mint was just boring and ugly to me. Fedora and Gnome actually saved the day for me and hooked me firmly in the Linux world. Ever since when helping someone transition to Linux I always take to have them experienced multiple DE before recommending a Distro.

I really think that if people are enjoying their user experience and finding their computer interface nice and fun and different they’ll gloss over bumps or problems and actually go through the trouble of learning how to fix those because they’ll be having fun with their machine.

That said for someone just wanting to have something that works for browsing the internet or sending an email a week Mint or MX do just that they work.

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