Ubuntu is my Linux distribution of choice.
If you are not interested in using Ubuntu, two other Linux distributions that I’d recommend are Fedora and OpenSUSE. Fedora is for the more advanced user and can be difficult to configure. That said, both are good alternatives, but Ubuntu has emerged as the most popular and easiest to use Linux distribution. I highly recommend Ubuntu over the other Linux choices.
When installing Ubuntu, I recommend a wired Internet connection, if possible. Ubuntu will not always have a driver for your wireless device. If you are wired up during the initial Ubuntu installation, it will pull a working driver from the Internet that will make the wireless card work.
- Google Chrome. Google’s fast and slick web browser is also available for Linux! You can download and install from Google’s Chrome page. (Chrome includes the Flash Player pre-installed.)
- Adobe Flash Player. With Ubuntu 8.04 and later, you can install Flash directly from Adobe. Once on Adobe’s download page, pull down the list of downloads and choose the .deb for Ubuntu 8.04+ option. Open the download and install effortlessly with Ubuntu’s package manager. (If you are using the Chrome browser, the Flash Player is automatically and continuously updated and maintained.)
- Sun Java. Java has become a bit of a security hazard, so install it only if you really need it. To do so, type the following command in the Terminal to automatically download and install Java: sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-fonts
- Microsoft TrueType fonts. This may or may not be something that interests everyone, but it’s easy to do. Type the following command in the Terminal: sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer
- Transmisssion BitTorrent client. If you use torrents, this is the best client you can get. Type the following command in the Terminal: sudo apt-get install transmission
- Xchat. Xchat is the best IRC chat program for on Linux. I think it comes pre-installed on Ubuntu.
- Extra hardware drivers. If you are connected to the Internet during the install and first boot, Ubuntu should seek proprietary drivers for your hardware automatically. If this isn’t the case, get connected and choose Hardware Drivers from the Administration menu. If your wireless card does not work by default, this is how you get a driver for it. Also, a proprietary graphics card driver may be necessary to fully take advantage of Ubuntu’s desktop effects.