Is 2014 the year you play with the penguin?

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2014 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Xubuntu, TAILS, SUSE, Red Hat, Lubuntu, linux, DouDou, Bodhi

If you've never tried Linux or are looking for a new distro to try then check out's top 7 distro list for 2014.  If beauty is what you seek then Bodhi is a good choice as it has modified the Enlightenment window manager into something a little more manageable. For Ubuntu users there are two variants you could try, Xubuntu for desktops and Lubuntu for older less powerful laptops.  For the security conscious there is TAILS, which automatically routes traffic through TOR and constantly deletes any tracking info from local storage as well as being specifically designed to run from a bootable USB drive.  For the geeky parents out there, or for those looking for a very simple to understand distro is DouDou.  It comes preloaded with an array of childrens learning software and Dan's Guardian to somewhat limit internet sites of a nature unsuited for the very young. 

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"The Linux avalanche is rolling and gathering mass and momentum. Linux won, so what's next? Amazing growth is what's next: we're at the bare beginning of the Linux juggernaut rolling into existing markets and blazing into new ones. All this growth and progress is the result of years of hard work by tens of thousands of people and billions of dollars of investment. It has reached critical mass and there is no stopping it."

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January 17, 2014 | 02:18 PM - Posted by AMDbumlover (not verified)

for a linux newbie please stick to ubuntu[unity preferably], you'll need to find help online and using other distros will make it hard.

January 18, 2014 | 01:37 AM - Posted by Branthog

To be a little more accurate:

If you work with Unix and for some reason you haven't used linux yet or you live most of your life on the command line with whatever your system of choice is, jump in with whatever distro you like. I'd advise Debian. It is robust, stable, highly configurable, not filled with flashy candy, and is very compatible with a Unix aficionado's mindset. Debian has been my go-to for desktop and heavily abused servers for sixteen years, now. You may alternately find Slackware, Gentoo, or FreeBSD (not actually linux) worth consideration, too.

Otherwise, Ubuntu is a well-supported, well-maintained distro with a massive community in which you can seek assistance and build up your experience and education with linux. It tends to be a little more prone to problems as their distros evolve a bit faster, but it is derived from Debian, so comes with a lot of inherent stability and a consistent system layout. It's also a good distro for bringing other people you know into Linux, because if they're put off by the command line or a less grand GUI (like XFCE, etc), it has a lot of eye-candy and glitz. Once they get some experience and can appreciate the rest of the system, they can shut that garbage off, change window managers, or explore other distros.

Fedora/Redhat, Suse and plenty of others are also really solid, but I'm not sure I'd advise those for people fresh to linux and with no unix background.

It's really amazing how far we've come in the last fifteen years, though. It wasn't long ago when you had to screw with your ModeLine and X86Config to get your desktop to align with your large monitor resolution or you had to spend two weeks screwing with ALSA or alternatives to get sound to work on your system. Hell, half the time you had to tweak and compile your kernel from scratch just to get basic compatibility with your hardware.

It still requires a lot of tweaking and debugging and a real enthusiast attitude to get a lot of things working or to fix problems that pop up when one release regresses certain fixes, which can be frustrating and even I get frustrated by it now that I'm older and need to be working on code I'm paid to care about rather than spending hours or days debugging things I'm not paid to care about, but damn if it hasn't come a long way.

Source: Unix and Solaris enthusiast and professional since 1998 (about the same time 'apt' came to be, when it was renamed from 'deity' -- woo!).

January 17, 2014 | 03:35 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I concur with AMDbumlover. I'm no fan of canonical, nor of the unity GUI, but there's more Ubuntu specific aide available online than for other flavors of linux.

never rm -rf /

January 18, 2014 | 01:38 AM - Posted by Branthog

Also, never accidentally do find on /proc :P

January 17, 2014 | 04:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Linux Mint petra Mate/cinnamon works just fine, and Unity OMG NO! And search engine page ranking is what makes researching hard, for the novice, to data mine around the crap website click bait that hinders the process of finding the helpfull information! Wikipedia does not help very much also, just look at Wikipedia x86 microprocessor description tables, they do no even list the microprocessor address bus widths, along with the total absence of complete cpu die pinouts! there is plenty of information on the web for all Linux distros, but the lack of a common published Linux based nomenclature, and glossery of Linux terminology, makes it hard for the uninitiated to Know what Linux based subject matter to use in searching for the right help!
The last decent OS user manuals and general user manuals, went the way of the DODO, like the TRS-80 Model III, and the orginal IBM PC, that got the whole PC ball rolling in the first place. If you really want to see what thorough OS manuals really look like, go look at some of the old IBM, and Burroughs mainfarme manuals, that had in them as standards: complete glossaries and dictionaries of OS specific terminology, including complete Mata language descriptions of every available programming language, and a primer on how to use/interpret the metalanguage/metalanguage diagrams used to describe the programming languages that the mainframe makers provided with their mainframe computers! BNF(Backus–Naur Form), and Burroughs "railroad" diagrams, are examples of metalanguages! Most of the old mainframe manuals came with primers for the novice, on how to use the manuals, with plenty of examples of proper use, good luck finding that on any of the unedited hyperlinked based unmanaged HEAPS of non-cogent, non orginized under proper subject headings, birds nests of broken links to the information that users need. "Link not Found" is a more likely result on these so called Knoledge bases, and forget the search engines, those are becoming more for delivering Ads, than providing proper links, without Hours of data mining, and loads of false leads to nothing but a few cryptic lines, surrounded more by ads.

January 17, 2014 | 04:47 PM - Posted by Patrick3D (not verified)

I've been "trying" Unix/BSD/Linux off and on since 1995, it has finally reached the point that a clean install will work with 99% of your hardware (current problem area being Bluetooth drivers). Eventually, something always breaks and after 3 days of copy/pasted terminal commands it becomes easier to just wipe it and reload Windows.

If you just need something to run a server or type documents on then Linux is fine. Stay away from it for HTPC and gaming machines. SteamOS will be interesting to see if they resolve many of the current shortcomings in the HTPC environment.

For a file server or basic Internet surfing terminal it's perfectly fine. The big problem is the lack of video driver support, once you install a binary driver things will start to break. Automatic updating on Linux is far worse than anything Microsoft has ever been accused of.

January 18, 2014 | 01:28 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have been using Linux mint for an htpc for several months now. No issues so far. Handbrake works great and XBMC is a great media center.

January 17, 2014 | 05:15 PM - Posted by castlefox (not verified)

I have been using Ubuntu inconsistently since 2010 to start getting away from Windows. Right now I am using Xubuntu, the only thing that confused me was the button toolbar in Xubuntu is hidden by default so I didnt even know it was there for like 2 weeks.

All I know is that I will never buy Windows again unless I have to for work.

January 18, 2014 | 01:30 AM - Posted by Branthog

XFCE is a really great window manager. It used to be heralded as "the light window manager", but it has become a lot more bloated in recent years. Still, it is a terrific little window manager with a lot less crap than GNOME and KDE. I usually install it as my manager on deployments where I plan to do almost all my access remotely or on the terminal. It's a nice little backup "in case I need to fire up a desktop some time" thing to have installed.

January 17, 2014 | 05:23 PM - Posted by castlefox (not verified)

I have been 100% Windows/OSX free since October 2012 and I havnt run into problems that I havnt been able to deal with.

January 17, 2014 | 07:58 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I haven't been keeping up with Suse but good to hear about the extended life cycle:

Brauckmann also announced an increase in the SUSE life cycle from 7 + 3 (seven years of support plus an optional three-year extension) to 10 + 3 to meet the needs of enterprise customers who need stable platforms with long life cycles.

January 17, 2014 | 08:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Being a Linux community admin, I will say yes and no, the year of the linux desktop could had happen years ago but users are lazy or dumb so you need to spoonfeed them.

Debian has been the main distro base for years being the base of 80% of all distros, Linux always been modular so distros never really cared also, Nvidia proprietary drivers always been near Windows ones for performance, Stream
my game existed before Nvidia shield and Steam streaming, ...

Linux is just sometimes slower to follow tech trends but it barely matter since they barely have the time to be mainstream before it could be used enough for basic uses, not bad since things are designed for Windows, Mac and game consoles while we get the end of the stick, hardware support is amazingly wide and for overall apps support if we include old apps/games with solution like Wine, it beat everything, streaming just fix the last flaw remaining.

So if 2014 is the Linux year, we just have been dumbs since 2008 ...

January 18, 2014 | 01:34 AM - Posted by Branthog

The problem with linux and the thing which will continue to keep it from being "the year of linux on the desktop" (a silly notion in an age where we are now told the desktop is dying) is that once something goes wrong or once something unique needs to be setup, it suddenly becomes something exponentially difficult for a general user.

And, of course, there's the support of games.

It has come a long way, overall, but has a long way to go. I'm hoping that the new stubborn direction of OSX and Windows will necessitate and drive Linux to a more robust and mainstream desktop and gaming solution.

January 18, 2014 | 05:49 AM - Posted by snook

Is Lubuntu better for an old netbook than Xubuntu?

I have Xubuntu on it now or should I change it and use XBMC for just a media to TV device. I need it to be fairly stable/easy. I'm going to give it to a friend for hulu and netflix type usage.