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which version of Linux is best?

by davidmflores / October 10, 2006 3:21 PM PDT

I am interested in using Linux, but there are so many
versions of it, that I don't know what would be the best and most safe to use for my home computer? and are any of them compatible with microsoft word or excel?

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The beauty of linux is that you can try them all without...
by ahtoi / October 10, 2006 5:26 PM PDT

going to the poor house. But for newbie that maybe too much. The most polish, in my opinion, are Suse, Xandos, Mandriva and the most responsive is Dame Small Linux (DSL). If you have a new computer (=fast); I recommand Suse.

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which version of Linux?
by septus / October 10, 2006 6:42 PM PDT

It is not possible to name any particular one. Agree with the previous responder that Xandros is excellent when coming straight from Win. DSL has the advantage of being small and fast. All the ones I have tried have programs compatible with MS Word or Excel (commonly via OpenOffice). Since your question is partly ?"most safe for my home computer", I would add another "subcompact" (c:a 72MB to download), Puppy (cf. e.g. Distrowatch for details). It is very fast, boots from, reads from, runs entirely in RAM, and saves/writes to a DVD (latest version can write to NTFS:WinXP as well). It does not install on your HD, unless you choose to.

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About "safe".
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 10, 2006 9:51 PM PDT

While most live CDs are about as safe as it gets for use on machines where people don't have a backup of files they can't lose, there are dozens of "distros" that I've used over the years.

Let me sidestep your question and tell you what I'm using today. PCLinuxOS, the Big Daddy version. I've added Kdevelop, boost libraries and more documentation but it's a step up from Suse 10 that I had prior. I think you'll see me writing more about this version.

PCLinuxOS boots from CD (the LiveCD feature you've heard of) and offers the Open Office suite good to go. If you like it there is an install icon on the desktop to install it on the hard disk.


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PClinuxOS eh,
by ahtoi / October 11, 2006 5:01 AM PDT
In reply to: About "safe".

I'll keep that one in mind when I order upgrade next time.

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I'll kick in my two cents...
by MartyLK / October 12, 2006 10:51 AM PDT
In reply to: About "safe".

PCLOS is only the second Linux distro I've used, the first being Linspire, but I have to say I'm very well pleased with it. Incredibly easy to install, free for download and burning to a CD and very convenient with the LiveCD function. PCLOS works very well and efficiently. The programs for it...already installed and those that are available through Synaptic...seem to function very well and least the ones I've used.

I did encounter a few post installation bugs, a couple of which have been solved. At the point of installation I had trouble trying to put PCLOS in a separate partition of the HD that had WinXP on it so I just formatted the HD wiping it clean and just put PCLOS on it. It went buttery smooth and easy.

Thanks to R. Proffitt here who gave me the heads up on this great OS. If all continues to go well with it and I'm able to do everything I need a computer to do with it I'll be saying goodbye to Windows...for the most part.

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Probably off topic but...
by o01i / November 1, 2006 11:03 PM PST

I am thinking about getting into linux because i'm just generally sick of windows...I aquired a free copy of Linspire 4.5 a while back (i know there is now 5.0) and i was just wondering what you thought of linspire and why you chose to switch to PCLOS? I also have an installation cd of ubuntu but as yet i dont have my own pc to try them out on.

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Let's have an arm wrestle
by Owyn / October 17, 2006 11:22 PM PDT
In reply to: About "safe".

I just downloaded latest PCLOS Big Daddy, Ubuntu and SimplyMepis Live CD's to make sure I was up to date. After looking atr all 3 of them again I agree that PCLOS is the best of the 3 for new Linux users. Tex does a really good job of pre-configuring the distro to include most if not all of the standard options that a new user would need.

I have used both Debian and Mandriva (Mandrake) distros.

I have had a Debian Server running without problems for a long time. It is stripped and web-admined. Could not have done that with Mandr*. I am in the process of setting up some new servers. They are going to be based on Ubuntu Server. I feel a lot safer with Ubuntu given the political and update problems in the Debian project. With Ubuntu's roots in Debian I really have nothing to lose. PCLOS (even the minimal release) will not let me do what I want to do.

I decided a long time ago that PCLOS was a better Mandrake than Mandrake. I had to think hard before I decided that Ubuntu was a better desktop for my needs. My needs, not everybodies.

SimpyMepis was a surpise. I had not looked at the distro in a long time and it is a better Kubuntu than Kubuntu. I think that it may give PCLOS a run for best KDE desktop.

Given the different hardware detects in each of those distros (well Mepis and Ubuntu are pretty close, PCLOS has a very different hwdetect code base), it is worth while to try each of them on specific hardware. If some specific component does not work on one distro, it might work on the other. At a minimum any usefull distro must provide audio, a useable desktop, network connections, a functioning browser, and a hard disk installer. If a LiveCD can not do that from boot, it is the wrong distro for that system.

So where is the contention? PCLOS vs Ubuntu as a long term distro for a better than novice Linux user.

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PCLOS vs Ubuntu as a long term distro for a better than ...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 17, 2006 11:54 PM PDT

"PCLOS vs Ubuntu as a long term distro for a better than novice Linux user."

One of the pursuits I'm involved in is some Linux application.

PCLinuxOS or PCLOS came up on my radar because I was able to get KDevelop up and running with a minimum of fuss. I don't want to spend my time massaging the install. I need to get going.


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Very practical
by Owyn / October 18, 2006 12:23 AM PDT

Using PCLOS for KDE development definitely makes sense.

Quick check shows all components in Ubuntu Universe. I will double check versions etc vs PCLOS and try installing it in Ubuntu bit later. See how much of a hassle it really is.

What language set are you using with it?

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In our case, ASCII.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 18, 2006 1:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Very practical

No language at all. It's some device on a serial port(s) and I hope to move the app to Linux before Vista.


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ROFL... However
by Owyn / October 18, 2006 2:56 AM PDT
In reply to: In our case, ASCII.

I meant which development language(s) are you using?

Also noticed you have total of 64818 submissions to forum. Hmmm.

Anyway, work in progress. No big problems expected. I will finish off with some Hello World tests.


I am still munching through

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install kubuntu desktop.

Basically runs by itself except for prompt about default display manager. I left it at gdm.

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in KDE, after some hassles
by Owyn / October 18, 2006 3:40 AM PDT
In reply to: In our case, ASCII.

KDE and prior KDevelop install complete. Display Manager got confused after logout. Took full shutdown to come up cleanly after update.

Display resolution after switching session to KDE was too high. Had to dig around a bit to get solution.

sudo krandrtray

then adjust video from tray applet.

Checked KDE -> Development and Kdevelop components in menu. Out of this for a bit, got some paying things to take care of. Later.

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Oops! I thought you meant the install language.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 18, 2006 4:31 AM PDT

I get the question about German Knoppix a lot.

The language will be C++ but for all intents it's what you see when you toss a C programmer on the job. So far just an interface like you see from the top command.

A "work in progress" describes it well.


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There is no one correct answer.
by Owyn / October 15, 2006 9:10 AM PDT

I will start by saying that my preferred distro is Ubuntu. It has worked on every thing I have tried it on but I admit I have not tried it on older low-powered systems. It probably would not work for them. DSL (Darn Small Linux) or Puppy Linux are two of the best small footprint, tight resource usage distros for older systems.

The best way to start is with a Live CD. If the distro works for you from the Live CD it will work after installation. I think PcLinuxOs and Ubuntu have the best Live CDs for a new to Linux user.

The decision of which of those to use is a bit religious. If you want to use something with roots in Mandriva and is KDE centric, then go with PcLinuxOs. If you want to get a feel for Gnome with a bit of a twist, then go with Ubuntu. I do not recommend the Kubuntu distro. It's KDE implementation is a bit of a resource hog.

I lean towards Ubuntu for the size and richness of its repositories (available applications) and its support group. Nothing against Texstar, he has probably got one of the leanest and meanest group of testers, developers and documenters. But size has a quality all of its own.

There are other distros around which are primarily distinguished by having "Enterprise" somewhere in their name. These typically are overkill for consumer use and do not have the same support communities. These distros are based on a fee for service model.

Check out distrowatch for even more Live distros. Some of these are great ways to get a richer look at a particular class of application, e.g. games, audio, multi-media, etc.

Compatability with Microsoft Office is not bad but not perfect. Open Office 2.x is your best bet for importing existing files and exporting back to MSO. The interface is a bit different, well in some cases, a lot different, but easy to get started.

Another alternative is to use basic web apps such as google doc. That is about as transportable as you can get.

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I just ran the LiveCD of ubuntu...
by MartyLK / October 16, 2006 1:07 PM PDT

I'm not too impressed with it. There are too many restrictions in the package manager. ubuntu help forums aren't much in the way of help. In my query for screen resolution help I did a search on the subject and found queries from other posters that have answers that take a person to a whole new level of computer learning.

Here's a link to one of the first instructions I've found in ubuntu forums:

I've been playing with PCLinuxOS for a few days now and it has not been nearly as complicated as ubuntu. I did have questions regarding screen resolution in PCLOS but because of my newness to Linux.

ubuntu seems to have a nicer profile and I'd love to be able to spend some time with it but not at its complexity level. I don't want to have to go through all of that code language and configuring just to get the screen resolution to a common level especially when some drivers and files won't install that might correct the problem. In the first few minutes I've seen more failures in ubuntu that I have with PCLOS. Actually I have yet to have a PCLOS failure.

Post sentence:
As it usually happens I'll probably start seeing a few failures in PCLOS for a while because whenever I post anything good about something in these CNET forums things start magically screwing up. It happens consistently

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Hardware is the deciding factor
by 3rdalbum / October 17, 2006 12:30 AM PDT

Distros have varying hardware detection - some things work perfectly on one distro but not on the other, and vice versa.

Ubuntu worked perfectly out-of-the-box on my first Linux computer, and almost as well on my current computer. Resolution was perfect. I tried PCLOS and its default settings resulted in an X server error - I set it to Vesa but even then the resolution was still low.

I've seen many posts about screen resolution on the Ubuntu forums, but very few of them are difficult. (note: putting "sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg" into the command-line and following the prompts is what I'd class as normal difficulty, with the classic xorg.conf editing way as "easy" difficulty)

I'm not sure what you mean by "restrictions in the package manager". Have you got the Multiverse and Universe repositories enabled? (System > Administration > Software Properties). Although the officially-supported packages are few, the unsupported community packages are plentiful; these are in the Universe repository.

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Restrictions apparently are non-free...
by MartyLK / October 17, 2006 8:19 AM PDT

drivers. I tried to install a needed nVidia driver but it was restricted and it couldn't be found.

I tried to install an AMD K7 package. It was restricted and couldn't be found.

In all likelyhood though I think I'll need to install ubuntu to get adjustability and configurability rather than just running the LiveCD.

As far as command prompts, I have zero experience with such programming and can't even install an external program successfully no matter how hard I try because it's always different from one distro to the next. Exaample:

This one was the instructed one but didn't work:
rpm -i <package name>

This one is something I came up with but did work:
rpm -i /home/user/package name

Even though the package installed from the second example it didn't work correctly.

I've seen this also:
rpm -i -home-user-package name

These are of course simplistic for package install. When trying to configure something I'm horribly lost.

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Ubuntu doesn't use RPM
by 3rdalbum / November 2, 2006 12:04 PM PST

Ubuntu's native package format is .deb, not .rpm. So you shouldn't use RPMs - they're unlikely to work anyway.

If you can't find the programs in the repos, and you can't find DEBs for them elsewhere, you can convert RPMs to DEBs with Alien. Install the Alien package from the repositories, and then you can convert the RPM to a DEB by doing "sudo alien <packagename>".

With Ubuntu, you need to activate the Universe and Multiverse repositories, which contain the nVidia drivers. These are not activated by default, because they are not officially supported by Ubuntu.

Just go to System > Administration > Software Properties and click the checkboxes to activate. It asks you if you want to reload the package list; click OK.

You might need to activate those extra repositories in order to get to the Alien package.

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Here's another example of my exasperation...
by MartyLK / October 17, 2006 2:03 PM PDT

I have PCLOS installed on a hard drive. I want to install ubuntu on a separate partion of that very same hard drive. It gives me the option. Then it puts forth a table with sectors and wants me to choose which sectors to install to. Here's what the sectors are on a 20GB hard drive:

hda1 = ext3 - 5.85GB (this one has PCLOS on it)
hda 2 = Extended - 13.23 GB
hda5 = Linux swap - 1.07GB
hda6 = ext3 - 12.16GB (this is part of PCLOS)

Here's my response: ???????????!!!!!!!!!!!

I select hda2 and click forward. It says something only a scientist can understand. But mainly it says I have to choose a swap partition and a "/" partiton.

I don't want to erase PCLOS but it won't let me keep my selection. It doesn't seem to want to use the unused part of the hard drive to make the two partitions.

So, since it wants to be so complex, the only option is to not install.

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Extended partition is a container
by Owyn / October 17, 2006 10:51 PM PDT

hda2 is a container partition for logical drives. In particular, hda2 contains hda5 and hda6.

You can only install to primary (e.g. hda1) or logical (e.g. hda6) drives.

You will need to resize(reduce) hda6 to create free space for another partition for Ubuntu.

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Exactly! Now what was it you just said?...
by MartyLK / October 18, 2006 3:52 AM PDT

The particular hard drive in question has two partitions on it. They were created on Windows and the first partition about 9GB is NTSF. The second partition about 9GB is Fat32. I did this in an attempt to install Windows on the NTSF partition and PCLOS on the Fat32 partition.

Windows wouldn't install so I gave up and decided to just run PCLOS on it. The two partitions are still there though.

As far as resizing, I didn't see anything in the steps that was obvious for a resizing option.

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I found how to least one hda, hda6.
by MartyLK / October 18, 2006 4:15 AM PDT

I clicked to resize it. It was about 12GB and I halfed it. I resized to 6GB. ubuntu is currently installing. 3 mins remaining.

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No success in keeping PCLOS...
by MartyLK / October 18, 2006 4:57 AM PDT

ububtu boots just fine and ironically the screen res was higher than it needed to be on the particular system. But PCLOS no longer boots.

The particular system ubuntu is installed on is about a 5 year old eMachine T1220. It has integrated graphics and at the time it was new was the lowest line. However ubuntu booted up with a 1280 X 1024 @60Hz res on an old 15 inch monitor. And it would do this right from the LiveCD. I had to set to 1024 X 768.

My newer Geforce 6800GT enabled machine boots at only 1024 X 768 on a 19 inch modern CRT.

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Ooops. I will help you later, unless someone else chimes in
by Owyn / October 18, 2006 5:10 AM PDT

The PCLOS boot problem is probably caused by the Grub install with Ubuntu. Should be repairable without re-installing PCLOS.

The Geforce 6800GT works great in Linux with the nVidia drivers. Again, easy to fix.

You should take a look at EasyUbuntu and browse the Ubuntu book before moving ahead. EasyUbuntu will simplify a whole lot of things for you.

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I'm not certain PCLOS didn't get lost when...
by MartyLK / October 18, 2006 5:48 AM PDT

the partition was formatted. Two parts were formatted...hda5 and hda6. I selected to resize hda6. But of course I was shooting in the dark because I didn't know I was doing to begin with. So in all likelyhood formatting hda5 erased something of PCLOS.

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Ok. Will need some info to proceed.
by Owyn / October 18, 2006 10:47 AM PDT

Ubuntu was probably installed in hda7. hda1 and hda6 should still contain the original PCLOS files but the lilo ( I will explain that later) links have been lost.

What I need you to do is to start a linux terminal session.

Applications -> Accesories -> Terminal

And then, I need you to type some commands in the terminal window and report the results of those commands.

The commands are:

# List Hard Drive partitions
sudo fdisk -l

# Report mounted partitions
mount | grep hd

# List grub configuration file
cat /boot/grub/menu.lst

The lines preceeded by # are comments and not needed. The lines following the comments can be copied and pasted into the terminal window.

After you have executed the commands you should be able to select all the lines in the terminal window by clicking at the last line and then scrolling up with mouse to first line. Then right click in the window and select Copy. You can then Right Click, Paste the lines into the message body box in the forum.

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Also "Other operating systems" show up in GRUB...
by MartyLK / October 18, 2006 6:01 AM PDT

when PC starts and PCLOS isn't specifically stated but clicking the "Linux" of the other OS will bring an attempt to boot PCLOS. It just won't continue because a message pops up saying files can't be located.

When I resized hda6 it was about 12GB and I resized to 6GB. I should have resized to 7 or 8 that way I'd know which partition was being used. If I had seen a 7 or 8GB partition I would have know that was the free space partition. As it is I saw 6GB and that could have been the used part.

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What is "Easy ubuntu"? I thought it was instructions...
by MartyLK / October 18, 2006 6:08 AM PDT

but from just the little bit I read it seems to be a download of ubuntu.

All I need to understand is what the four drop-down boxes are in the install process of ubuntu. And then know what I am to select in these drop-down boxes.

In the process of resizing hda6 was I supposed to back-step and also resize another hda? Maybe hda5 or hda 1?

Simple things like this that it doesn't say. You are pretty much left to guessing what to do.

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Responding from Ubuntu Live CD
by Owyn / October 18, 2006 12:02 AM PDT

Hi Marty. Bit delayed getting back to your comments but I wanted to make sure I had re-checked my info first.

I don't usually work from a Live CD but making a point of working from Ubuntu Desktop 6.06-1 for this session.

"I'm not too impressed with it. There are too many restrictions in the package manager."

PCLOS and Ubuntu provide the same default package manager, apt-get + Synaptic. The underlying packages are very different (rpm vs deb) but the user view is very similar. Other package managers are available, but, they all work off the same repository set for their distros.

One big difference between PCPLOS and Ubuntu is how many packages are included and configured in the base. PCLOS is very rich, Ubuntu is relatively sparse.

In particular, the Universe (Community Supported) and Multiverse (Commercial, non-free, e.g. Sun Java) repositories are not included in the base. As mentioned in another message use System -> Administration -> System Properties to enable the additional base repositories.

" ubuntu help forums aren't much in the way of help. In my query for screen resolution help I did a search on the subject and found queries from other posters that have answers that take a person to a whole new level of computer learning.

Here's a link to one of the first instructions I've found in ubuntu forums:"

"My Screen Resolution Is Wrong
If your screen resolution is incorrect, click System > Preferences > Screen Resolution, and select a new resolution from the combo box.

If the box does not show the resolution that you want, refer to the recipe showing how to reconfigure your X server"

From System -> Help -> Ubuntu Book

The notes you were looking at were what to do when changing preferences does NOT work.

"I've been playing with PCLinuxOS for a few days now and it has not been nearly as complicated as ubuntu. I did have questions regarding screen resolution in PCLOS but because of my newness to Linux."

As I mentioned in another message in this topic, PCLOS is a better getting started distribution for new to Linux users. The pre-configuration by Tex is top notch.

"ubuntu seems to have a nicer profile and I'd love to be able to spend some time with it but not at its complexity level. I don't want to have to go through all of that code language and configuring just to get the screen resolution to a common level especially when some drivers and files won't install that might correct the problem. In the first few minutes I've seen more failures in ubuntu that I have with PCLOS. Actually I have yet to have a PCLOS failure."

I am not sure what you mean by failures / faults. You definitely do not need to go to a terminal to complete normal tasks in Ubuntu. Learning basic Linux console commands is well worth the effort but not necessary to use Linux.

Hope this helps.

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They're all good!
by 3rdalbum / October 15, 2006 7:50 PM PDT

I use Ubuntu, so I know that it's a good distribution, especially for new users. It's also designed so that a new user will be able to learn a bit about Linux too, rather than have the whole system be a kind of "black box".

SimplyMEPIS is also good, and I've heard a lot of good things about PCLinuxOS. If you don't mind paying money for a distribution, Xandros is unique and easy to use, at the cost of being a bit old-hat. If you're coming to Linux to have a look at the great technologies being developed for it, then stay away from Xandros.

Stay away from Linspire and Freespire. Sure, they have all the restricted formats available out-of-the-box, but it's just not worth the shackles these distributions place on your wrists.

SUSE/OpenSUSE might not be the best distribution to get your feet wet in, but it's the easiest to obtain - seems like every Linux magazine has it on their coverdisc 5 times a year.

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