Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Chat about Linux in general
Post Reply
MR Keys
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2021 3:13 pm

Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by MR Keys »

Hi everyone

Over the past few months I've been trying out linux. I've come to understand the various desktop environments out there. Gnome, Cinnamon, xfce, etc. My final choice that I settled upon was mate. Because of its accessibility with the orca screen reader plus being lite weight on system resources.

What I don't really understand, between all the different distros, what are the reasons why one chooses say: Ubuntu over Fedora or Mint over Ubuntu.
I completely get why one picks a: desktop environment over another. However with so many different Linux distributions, my brain just can't conceptualise why the user picks one over the other.
If anyone can enlighten me because I find it somewhat fascinating and once I know the why and reasons, people gravitate to certain distros. Then, it will become as clear to me as it did, with choosing a desktop environment.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to gaining more knowledge on distro selection.☺️
RIH
Level 6
Level 6
Posts: 1154
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2015 3:47 am

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by RIH »

Different Distributions have difference strengths & drawbacks.
Indeed, you can put many desktop editions on most distributions, so the choice of distribution is probably more important than desktop. Although some of the Ubuntu based Distributions specialise in just customising 1 Desktop to its' maximum..

Some Distributions aim for stability, some aim for old hardware, some for minimal hardware, some for cutting edge, ever changing software, some expecting high user experience, some mimicking commercial operating systems..

If you go to a Distributions Home Page then you usually get a good idea of what they believe their strength is..

Reading between the lines, the strengths also indicates its drawbacks as well.. Cutting edge means lack of stability, Stable means old software..

The only way to decide on which Distribution suits any individual best is for them to try it & see.
Many Distributions come with live sessions that allow use without installation, Virtual Systems allow simple & safe testing.
User avatar
Pjotr
Level 22
Level 22
Posts: 16583
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:18 am
Location: The Netherlands (Holland) 🇳🇱
Contact:

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by Pjotr »

If you want easy, stable and reliable: select Linux Mint. Any edition. :mrgreen:
Tip: 10 things to do after installing Linux Mint 20.1 Ulyssa
Keep your Linux Mint healthy: Avoid these 10 fatal mistakes
Twitter: twitter.com/easylinuxtips
All in all, horse sense simply makes sense.
User avatar
kc1di
Level 16
Level 16
Posts: 6934
Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:44 pm
Location: Maine USA

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by kc1di »

Hello Mr Keys,
This page may be of help in clearing the fog about Distros. Which one you finally choose is a mater of need. use and personal taste. Good luck in your search.
https://itsfoss.com/what-is-linux/

Have fun on your Linux Journey.
P.S. you won't go wrong with Linux Mint :)
Easy tips : https://easylinuxtipsproject.blogspot.com/ Pjotr's Great Linux projects page.
Linux Mint Installation Guide: http://linuxmint-installation-guide.rea ... en/latest/
Registered Linux User #462608
rene
Level 17
Level 17
Posts: 7543
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:58 pm

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by rene »

kc1di wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 7:17 am
This page may be of help in clearing the fog about Distros.
This link may then again undo all of said clearing again: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... meline.svg
guythp
Level 2
Level 2
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:11 pm

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by guythp »

For a new comers there is a bewildering number of distros to choose from, each having several versions within (desktop environments etc, plus there's ones that are based on others, based on others again which makes you, as someone looking into linux, question why not use the original distro the others are based on) ) and I wonder if this deters some people from trying linux, after all most people just want to turn on their pc and get online,
I started years back with ubuntu (albeit due to malware ruining windows 7) and stuck with that until they changed the interface, when I went to Mint MATE (via a brief try of Debian - I wanted docky on my desktop and debian didn't).
I recently decided to use an old netbook to try some lightweight distros just to expand my linux experience (mint xfce, peppermint, lubuntu, Zorin, bionic pup etc) and it was interesting to see how each differed to fulfill their set features whilst still feeling familiar, if that makes sense.

tl;dr
IMO Mint is a great distro - I lets me do what I want and it doesn't get in the way. However I've found it's fun to try others and it's so easy to do now via a USB live boot.

All in all you've made a good choice. Welcome to Mint Club :)
User avatar
all41
Level 16
Level 16
Posts: 6960
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:12 am
Location: Computer, Car, Cage

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by all41 »

Pjotr wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 6:15 am
If you want easy, stable and reliable: select Linux Mint. Any edition. :mrgreen:
Yes, plus the beginner support through this forum is unsurpassed. This makes Mint your
perfect choice.
sh4rkbyt3
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2021 2:24 pm

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by sh4rkbyt3 »

I can relate to All41's reply.

I build and work on computers and laptops as a 20 yr hobby so that's my niche. Doesn't make me an expert at anything such as file systems, distros, OS's or anything else.

I came from the Commodore Vic 20 days, where you could do a little but it also was groundbreaking back then lol. It was still fun and entertaining AND when IBM rolled around the corner I had some of the basic concepts already built in. Part of my issue is (that I've recognized) we're humanly flawed in that we feel secure in what we know, mostly repetitious. This become more evident the older you get too.

When Linux Ubuntu initially came out I knew LINUX was for the most part command line processing based. I hated and never took the time to learn MS-DOS (except for a few commands) because it was a masochistic headborne road map you had to have available on a moments notice (Windows 1 and windows 3.1). Then we got Windows 95 a GUI based platform that anyone could use and steer through, pretty much. And then it got easier with each version up to 10 now and soon 11.

My issue, and maybe it's because I am older now, isn't it always good for someone to know how something works in the event it goes wrong? Yes, I joined and stayed with the Windows crowd because it was easier to use and took less of my time to understand it but in the back of my mind I'm always thinking "what can't we see"? Call it paranoia or reasonably cautious optimism but as the computer has evolved it has made "personal data" the new gold commodity that many are out of the loop on.
I like being able to retain at least a small amount of my privacy just for my own sense of security.

To your question, I have tried some of the other distros and when I expected Windows it acted like Linux, as it should. It's made it difficult to understand common things I do in Microsoft that actually need some thought behind the action in Linux. Mint for me crossed that chasm but I had to think about why. I'm still a n00b with Mint so take my response for what it's not worth :wink: .
A big part for me was the desktop. Upon initially trying it, it also reacted without me having to do a ton of command line processing. I still had to figure out how to get packages for my wifi, etc. but they were now fairly readily available without having to spend days searching through sites to find the drivers and then figure out how to install the things I needed to work. I've gone through that with some distros and it came down to why am I having to build this to work internally? Throw in emotions of frustration, inadequacy, failure, anger, loathing, hate.
Then to top it off I would go to those distros forums and get verbally assaulted by the OP(s) for my lack of knowledge that were often times not covered in the forums. I won't say which distro was the worst back then but it started with an 'A' lol.

IF you're trying to build a base of users, collectors, buyers, the last thing you want to do is make an already bad situation worse. That's exactly what happened in EVERY distro forum I went into. And I'm not thin skinned either but I expect something framed on the premise of HELP to be helpful. Not at all what I got. I still wanted to learn Linux in spite of what I had run into. I waited, and waited....finally another distro came along that I liked the look of. Not only that but it was simple to install. It was actually user-friendly too. And then I had a question about something in the distro and someone took a few minutes to explain something to me that completely turned around my previous experiences. I got treated like a human being for a change!

I understand not everyone is going to like an opinion or thought, that's to be expected. But when someone is simply trying to grasp how something works or how to get something to work the last thing I need is the top dog chiming in to get a few lashes in to satisfy their ego. That's what I often times ran into starting in 2008 and followed though even if to a lesser degree years later. The Mint community and Forum has absolutely changed how I perceive Linux now. It's very friendly in comparison and they seem to actually want people to learn the distro.

Even many ex-Linux users and even current ones had the same complaint. A lot of it started with the command line processing scheme but EVERY conversation ended on Forum abuse, literally every single one! Call it "the door" to Linux because that IS what it IS! That entry into "the door" is either going to be a good experience or a terrible one and it does matter. Even a recent post to someone who had created a Linux help video agreed the Forums HAVE been the major problem in may distros.
Given that, I do understand how frustrating it can be with people asking repeated questions about issues that may have been solved somewhere in the Forum but when you have n00bs it's going to happen. People genuinely are there for help not to scratch your last nerve. And we certainly don't show up to be slaughtered to better someone's ego.

So sorry for the long explanation but that's why I chose the distro I'm currently using and hoping to learn.

We just want to be able to use something that works for us and that we can fix if it doesn't do what we need to. The other variables can be endless but more importantly (to me) is a receptive community that acts like a helpful community and not individuals! We all started somewhere!
User avatar
all41
Level 16
Level 16
Posts: 6960
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:12 am
Location: Computer, Car, Cage

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by all41 »

@sh4rkbyt3
Thanks for airing out your thoughts and experiences.
In this forum we know 100% that 'not one of us is as smart as all of us'.
(although there are many forum members that are close :D --I am awed)

Newcomers sometimes pose questions that make the gurus do research--
It's great to have new thinking people join in here--each and every one makes this group stronger.

Have great expectations for Mint and enjoy,
Cheers
User avatar
Portreve
Level 11
Level 11
Posts: 3885
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:03 am
Location: Where the world bends around a curve

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by Portreve »

Linux Mint is definitely my main squeeze when it comes to distros. That said, I've come to find that Fedora of the present day is not nearly so unstable and bleeding edge as it used to be. However, I've also experienced that that statement, where Fedora is concerned, is heavily dependent upon which desktop environment you use, and at this point that's (most likely) due to them switching over to Wayland, something for which Gnome 40 is ported, whereas Cinnamon is not, and so there have been program lockups and crashes and little annoying glitches here and there.

As for bases upon which to build a distro, Debian is my favorite, which of course happens to be what Linux Mint is based on (by way of Ubuntu).

I've heard good things about openSUSE, but I've never been able to get it to boot on the hardware I've tried to use (a 2011 MacBook Pro) and I really don't want to disrupt my setup on my HP desktop.
Your intermittently humble Portreve.

Body Type: Clearly not one to turn down a taco.

Image

Recommended Keyboard Layout: English (intl., with AltGR dead keys)
Tolayon
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:00 pm

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by Tolayon »

Essentially there are just a handful of base/ "grandfather" distros which determine a whole branch/ family named after them. The most common basic branches would be Arch and Debian, plus the Redhat family, to which one might also count other, not directly related RPM-based distros.

As I just hinted, the main differences between these major branches are basic philosophies (Debian ist stable as a rock, Arch cutting edge) and their respective package management system.
From there it just forks out like branches of a tree, with Ubuntu being the most prominent Debian fork and Manjaro the most prominent on the Arch side.
User avatar
GELvdH
Level 4
Level 4
Posts: 294
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:10 am
Location: Havelock, NC USA

Re: Beginner trying to understand all the distro differences

Post by GELvdH »

After having gone through Univac plugboard systems and 80/90 column punch cards in the 60's, I am just as happy to have found LM for my current usage. I don't want to learn another OS or environment so LM was a relatively easy transition after CP/M, MS-DOS and all of the variations thereof.
Post Reply