When I freed myself from windows quite a while ago, but I realized also quite a while ago that people usually only recommended the same Linux distro over and over again for beginners: Ubuntu.
Now I ain't against using Ubuntu, but I think we need to clarify what makes a distro "beginner friendly".
- Ease of installation GUI
- Ease of installing software
- Ease of use
So you noticed I mentioned software a lot. That's because I find that's what drives most users away.
Let me start off with Ubuntu and Debian on a whole.
Installation is about the easiest thing with Ubuntu. Just type in your name, what you want your username to be, passwords, and weather you want it to full install or share the disk. Simple.
Ubuntu has plenty of software in the store, but it's pretty limited. You can find a lot of software on the internet, but you're gonna have to go searching for it.
Question: How many of us newbies have downloaded an installer from a website only to find out it's for Windows?
It's not that it is hard to find thing for Ubuntu, its just it ain't easy either. Lots of it too has to be added as a repository,usually involving a terminal, which is a nightmare for Windows users.
Also you have to almost always run:
When installing software from the command-line.
Ubuntu is extremely easy to use! Which is why most people say it's great for beginners. But I am gonna say this, if you don't like the Unity desktop, or don't like Gnome, you have to go install another desktop from the terminal... which is just an invitation to drive newbies away.
This is where mainly everything you read on the web I am about to contradict.
When you lookup on the internet "Arch Linux", the main thing you hear, is:
"Arch Linux is not for beginners"
Arch Linux is notorious for it's hard installation. Ironically because of that people have written dozens of Gui and Semi-GUI installers which make installing it a breeze. Here is a few I recommend:
There almost a dozen desktops to choose from in Arco Linux B and the installer is super simple. You can also choose min or regular. Min comes with only basic of software, regular comes with a bunch.
Also has a bunch of desktops to choose from installer is super simple as well
Basically the same thing as the others, has a very user friendly installer, and like three desktops to choose from
This is a close as straight up installing arch as I would say you as a beginner should try. There is basically every desktop there, you can choose exactly what software you want downloaded as well... BUT! It is a semi-GUI so no mousey-mousey here people... keyboard only.
So funnily I find that the most techy way of installing software is also the easiest. There are 2 main ways to install software on Arch:
- Graphical AUR helper
- Command-line AUR helper
I recommend you use the command-line installer.
Isn't that what you just said would drive away beginners?
Yes, but it balances itself out. For one, if you installed Manjaro or Arco to look up software all you do is:
Where PROGRAM-NAME is the name of the program you want installed.
If you didn't install those 2 (which for beginners you should) all you have to type is
sudo pacman -S yay and you are finished.
You can basically
yay games yay browser yay whatsapp
Yes you saw right, WhatsApp is in the AUR. Basically anything is in the AUR. There is thousands upon thousands of applications in there.
Here is a full example of an AUR install. (See if you can catch the little joke I put in here.)
[nico@niners ~]$ yay opera browser 14 aur/fifth-git 0.5+ggfcad9c2-2 (+0 0.00%) Browser that carries the best features from Opera. 13 aur/opera-mobile-emulator 12.1-1 (+0 0.00%) (Orphaned) Emulator of Opera Mobile browser. Discontinued. 12 aur/opera32 45.0.2552.898-1 (+2 0.02%) A fast and secure web browser 11 aur/yandex-browser-ffmpeg-codecs-opera 0.0.2-1 (+2 0.01%) symlink for opera-ffmpeg-codecs package to be used with yandex-browser 10 aur/fifth 0.5-1 (+7 0.00%) (Orphaned) Browser that carries the best features from Opera 9 aur/certbot-git 0.31.0.r3.gec4c03fa6-1 (+26 0.00%) A tool to automatically receive and install X.509 certificates to enable TLS on servers. The client will interoperate with the Let’s Encrypt CA which will be issuing browser-trusted certificates for free. 8 aur/otter-browser-git 0.9.99.r149.g6d9a7f72b-1 (+30 0.01%) Browser aiming to recreate the best aspects of the classic Opera (12.x) UI using Qt5 - git checkout 7 aur/opera-beta 63.0.3368.22-1 (+33 0.00%) A fast and secure web browser and Internet suite - beta stream 6 aur/opera-legacy 12.16.1860-4 (+34 0.00%) Fast and secure web browser and Internet suite - legacy (pre blink) version 5 aur/opera-developer 64.0.3401.0-1 (+86 0.27%) A fast and secure web browser and Internet suite - developer stream 4 community/otter-browser-nowebengine 1.0.01-2 (2.7 MiB 12.7 MiB) Web browser aiming to recreate the best aspects of the classic Opera (12.x) UI using Qt5 without WebEngine support 3 community/otter-browser 1.0.01-2 (2.8 MiB 13.0 MiB) Web browser aiming to recreate the best aspects of the classic Opera (12.x) UI using Qt5 2 community/opera 62.0.3331.66-1 (62.3 MiB 219.7 MiB) A fast and secure web browser 1 community/certbot 0.36.0-1 (448.8 KiB 2.1 MiB) A tool to automatically receive and install X.509 certificates to enable TLS on servers. The client will interoperate with the Let’s Encrypt CA which will be issuing browser-trusted certificates for free. ==> Packages to install (eg: 1 2 3, 1-3 or ^4) ==> 2 [sudo] password for nico: resolving dependencies... looking for conflicting packages... Package (1) New Version Net Change Download Size community/opera 62.0.3331.66-1 219.68 MiB 62.34 MiB Total Download Size: 62.34 MiB Total Installed Size: 219.68 MiB :: Proceed with installation? [Y/n] y :: Retrieving packages... opera-62.0.3331.66-... 62.3 MiB 1373K/s 00:46 [----------------------] 100% (1/1) checking keys in keyring [----------------------] 100% (1/1) checking package integrity [----------------------] 100% (1/1) loading package files [----------------------] 100% (1/1) checking for file conflicts [----------------------] 100% :: Processing package changes... (1/1) installing opera [----------------------] 100% Optional dependencies for opera opera-ffmpeg-codecs: playback of proprietary video/audio pepper-flash: flash support upower: opera battery save [installed] :: Running post-transaction hooks... (1/4) Updating icon theme caches... (2/4) Arming ConditionNeedsUpdate... (3/4) Updating the desktop file MIME type cache... (4/4) Updating the MIME type database... [nico@niners ~]$
So what happened here? I typed
yay opera browser which made it look up all the references to opera browser in the AUR. It then asks you which one you want installed. I typed in my number, then it started the process. Yay then told me how much disk space it would take, and asked me if I was willing to sacrifice it. After that it asked for my password, and installed it for me.
You can also install the Snap Store, which is just like Ubuntu's software center.
The second way is to install something like Octopi, or Pamac, which is a graphical alternative to Yay. I do find Yay is more reliable, but these are great as well.
- Ease of use It really depends on what desktop environment you choose. Which is really why I recommend you check out Arco or Manjaro, and if you are up to it even Anarchy, because you aren't tied down to just Gnome, or the Unity desktop.
Okay, I hope you enjoyed this article. I'm going to be making a few of these comparison articles for beginners, so follow me if you wanna get updates on those. And don't forget to comment down below about your opinion!