I have tried my hand at several distributions of Linux over the years, from Red Hat to Fedora, Suse and OpenSuse, Knoppix (briefly), and now Ubuntu. I’ll choose Ubuntu over all the others. I’ll tell you why.
Fedora is very barebones. You have to do a lot of tweaking and manual labor to get it the way you like it. That said, it is a solid OS. Suse is easier in the sense that it takes a lot of that work away during the installation, even automatically mounting Windows partitions. It tries to be more user-friendly. Ubuntu, however, out shines them both. It is the slickest, easiest version of Linux I have ever installed. I am running v6.06 (Dapper Drake). This new 6.06 has been billed as LTS (Long Term Support), with updates and patches for three years on the desktop.
Instead of downloading five CDs worth of programs, all I needed was to download and install a single CD. It is a “live” CD where you can boot from the CD and use the operating system to try it out before it ever writes to your hard drive. After that, installing the OS is dead easy. There is a link on the desktop to install. The single CD has most of the tools you’ll need to be up and running. If you want more, you download them via an interface much like the Windows “add/remove programs”, but this pulls all of the software from online servers. I found the software and libraries to be shockingly up-to-date when I first installed the OS, even though it supposedly came out in June of this year.
The update icon on the desktop actually works! Unlike the other distros, this one actually reports and updates correctly from the taskbar without any command line entry. Finally! In fact, I haven’t needed to use the command line hardly at all. Everything is pretty much perfect as-is. Adding to my amazement, when I put the Ubuntu Live CD into my Dell laptop, the wireless net connection worked instantly with no questions asked. I was stunned! Never in any other Linux distro was I ever able to get wireless networking to actually work.
To make life even easier, some folks have put together a package of goodies to install to your Ubuntu system in a single swoop. It is called Easy Ubuntu and installs things like java, flash, acrobat, audio/video codecs, etc. It is awesome!
I am very satisfied with this Linux build. I have been reading about how a new version is supposed to be released this October. This is my first experience with Ubuntu, and from what I’ve seen, their slogan “Linux for Human Beings” actually holds true. If you want to try Linux, this is the one to get, hands down.