I might have made some mistakes and Typoos, please comment me to fix that and I will do it as soon as possible even in my tight schedule to make better articles and I could progress in making newer articles to help you out in some problems if the Article is helping you.
Also this is a large Article. So please make sure you have time to read or you may take breaks in between and continue reading if you can remember what you read before.
This is not a warning just an info, that its large to read.
So I know there are few people who are simply new to this Linux.
This article might help them know whats there and help them choose their first Linux Ditro instead of downloading 10+ distros and testing each one of them and making the computer in trouble if the installation wasn't properly done and, usage of Internet.
So let's start with very basic. An operating system can be considered as vehicle. You are the driver aka user in the OS.
OS aka Vehicle has many parts...
Like Engine (kernel), and other things like the color, wheels type, windscreen curves, etc.
So the Engine is the kernel. Kernel is Linux.
Linux is a kernel, which means using Linux Engine you can make Various vehicles like Ubuntu, Manjaro, Zorin, POP!_OS. Which also means Using Linux kernel you can make various distros like the list above.
What is Distro? Distro is the short form of Distribution. Basically any OS based on Linux kernel is called as a Linux Distro or Linux Distribution. Like Ubuntu is a Linux Distro made by Canonical.
So, Linux kernel based OS are Linux Distros having various different parts like DE, Apps, Package Manager, Windows manager, Display manger, Boot system, etc.
So you might be searching OS depending on following factors:
- Architecture (32 bit and 64 bit)
- Lightweight-ness (Either Ram intensive or Lightweight, is it for gaming or slow computers)
- Beginner friendly or not
- Package manager
- OS size
So there are a lot of DEs to use in a Linux distro. Most of the distros come with a DE when downloaded. Actually OS are downloaded as .iso file format which can be said a bundled version of the full OS, but not exactly its called bundled. OK, not to confuse or change track, let's continue.
So each DE has a unique look and features.
DE is the Desktop Environment acronym. Desktop Environment is the kind of responsible thing for GUI, A DE contains a unique interface like GNOME has Dash whereas XFCE4 has windows like panel. DE is very important if you want your Distro to run with a visual based GUI.
Let's dive into few major DE which might help you filter out the list of Distros you have now to try.
GNOME is a medium RAM using DE, medium is something like usage of 2GB ram. GNOME has a unique dash feature. If you try Ubuntu LTS, i.e, Ubuntu 21.04 (as of the time when this article was written), you will get the official disro with GNOME. In the interface you can see a small status bar like strip on top of the screen (Sorry that I can't provide images cuz I don't have and My PC doesn't support the Hardware Requirements given by Ubuntu). And in the top left of the strip you will see activities which when clicked a different screen appears with applications in it with workspace feature. This is a feature in GNOME. And hey, GNOME 40 is being released with a special tweak and major change, I got the news like that and it's better you check it out (not a sponsor).
You can use Themes to make it much cozy for better user-friendliness and it uses GTK as the GUI. So you have to choose GTK theme to use. Don't worry an article will come on how to use Themes especially GTK themes.
RAM usage: Medium usage
Lets come to a mature yet lightweight DE in Linux DE history. XFCE is said to be one of the most lightweight, less resource eating animal, in spite being lightweight its very mature and it has a lot of features that resource using DEs give, and its very customizable. This doesn't mean that XFCE is the king and its better than GNOME, it means that GNOME is best in one way and XFCE is best in the other way.Its so lightweight that it has a hardware requirements given by the developers is just 512 MB ram and its ran so smooth (using 15 MB ram in my PC). Its customization is a little ahead and better than GNOME in my onion. You can customize almost anything in XFCE. XFCE is a Windows like looking DE. The default XFCE look coming with Xubuntu is like a panel (taskbar in Windows) is on the top of the screen (Can be be moved and also can be made into 2 different Panels, that is it has a multiple panel feature) and you can use Whisker menu if you want to access applications much better. I use XFCE in Zorin OS Lite edition version 15.3 with a nice looking customization using some CSS in the GTK file and a theme called Materia and Papirus Icon Theme and default cursor theme. Windows manager is the another kind of responsible thing for the window buttons and the titles, that is the frame of a window. In my experience the Panel is a separate app, almost everything are parts and have separate things, like panel has a command
xfce4-panel with flags to use and do some things and
xfce4-terminal to play with the Terminal.
I set a shortcut, that is the F12 hey will run
xfce4-terminal --drop-down to open a drop down terminal from the top and i can minimize it by pressing the same key and open it again. This makes me use terminal and immediately switch to another window and again use the terminal immediately with just one simple punch on the F12 key.
KDE is another medium ram using DE based on QT instead of GTK. You can use QT themes and other things to use with KDE. I personally has tested it once and fond very hard to use. It was so lagging to use any app. But the GUI and the animation, transitions was amazing. I wish I had a good PC to at least run KDE and Firefox so that I can browse and use KDE alongside my main Distro. It has a lot of Apps inbuilt like Konosle as the KDE terminal, Konquor is the KDE Browser, etc. There is an inbuilt settings app which has a customization section with many many options like enable and disable each and every aspect of KDE. Almost everything was customizable and uses a lot of smooth and nice animations and Transition. The cursor has a loading animation, that is when you click on an app we can see the cursor pointer and a rotating (loading) cursor below that, but in KDE the App's icon will be displayed with an animation (Its better you get a visual feel of it somehow).
So we have medium GTK based DE - GNOME and Lightweight GTK based DE - XFCE and also we have Medium ram using QT based DE - KDE and then, lightweight QT based DE - LXQT. LXQT is still in development but it has reached the stage of You can definitely use it. But its still like a 14 year old boy for a 25 year old guy. The guy is XFCE. XFCE is mature than LXQT but we can't compare both because LXQT is very amazing in one way and XFCE, well, the other way. LXQT is still amazingly customizable nearing XFCE's customization features and its more lightweight than XFCE. You can use it if you download it.
And see those info which I gave was based on my opinion. You can either choose which one to try first, yes. You have to try many until you get one and I gave this info for choosing which one to try 1st.
Package manager are there for various different repo containing various types of apps with various types of file formats. Like Debian based Distros like Ubuntu has the firm support of using .deb files which are like packed apps which should be unpacked using a package manager and install it.
We have the apt-get package manager which is used in Debian and its derivatives. And a more friendly and better version of it named apt came which served same purpose but with a better interface. You can simply use the
apt install <appname> to install an app which you have to replace
<appname> with the real app name as stored in the repo to properly get the correct file and install it. APT is used in Ubuntu based distro too (even I use it, cuz I have Zorin which is Ubuntu based) and I feel very convenient using it.
So I will finish rest of the things shortly as I don't know about them but want to introduce them.
SNAP is used in various Distros, its available for almost all distros like Ubuntu and derivatives (I have it and I can use it in my PC).
Flatpack is another one, LOL!! (I don't know why I said LOL).
Its used in RHEL based distros.
What is RHEL? RHEL is the short form of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, its derivatives are Fedora, etc.
So each distro has their own .iso files to be downloaded (if they provide and you get it) and can be written and booted.
But each of them has a file size and you may need internet to download it. And its better you have more than its required internet so that if it wants to get any extra things to download you can do them.
Zorin OS Lite 15.3 - 2.2 GB
Zorin OS Core 15.3 - 2.0 GB
POP!_OS 21.04 - 2.3 GB
Fedora 33 - 2 GB range
Linux Mint latest version as of this post - 2 GB ranged
I don't know about others : (
We have at last seen many things. This is something like a bad article that you can get the info by just searching it in the internet but it took me years to complete my research and understand well and I'm still in the situation on getting to know a different thing that makes me to get another Distro to be downloaded. This article is just the compilation of many info that you may get by searching. This article is may not be a waste of time instead its a booster for you to get started in choosing a Linux distro for you. Also you won't conclude with just internet searching and getting a distro, you have to try one to understand it much more and search again for a better distro based on the new understanding.
Hopefully this helps you.
It took me so long to finish typing and I have to take break for my fingers...