Welcome to the Linux Foundation Forum!

What Linux OS to start with (Details in post)


I am fairly new to Linux, I've played around with it casually, but I've decided it's time to start learning. I'm a computer science major in college. I think I'm ready to make a full-time switch to Linux on my laptop, as I've been sort of unimpressed with Windows 8. I use my laptop mainly for college work, but I also play games in my downtime b/w classes.

When it comes to choosing an OS, there were far more options than I realized. I've been told Arch Linux is a top pick, and that it forces you to learn Linux. I've also been told it' anything but beginner friendly. So then I found archbang, which seems like they advertise it as arch linux for notebooks, but much simpler (or more prepackaged.) I also liked the sound of Bodhi Linux. I've also been told the lightweight nature of Lubuntu is good for laptops.

I am open to any suggestions. My main goal is to try and become proficient with use of Linux, and it's command terminal.

TL;DR: What OS should I put on my laptop for college use, and to learn linux.


  • arochester
    arochester Posts: 368
    1) Choose the distro that YOU like and which suits YOUR computer, not what people suggest to you.

    2) Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Keep Windows and have Linux by dual-booting. Eventually you might find that you are just using Linux and have no need of Windows, but don't dump Windows yet. You might want to recover it!

    3) Look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_distributions
    There are distros which are:
    Debian based (including Knoppix and Ubuntu)
    Gentoo based
    Pacman based (Arch)
    RPM based ( Fedora, Redhat, Mandriva and OpenSUSE)
    Slackaware based

    Try Archbang. Try Bodhi Linux. Try Lubuntu.

    You might be better to try the "roots" rather than the "branches". Look at and try Slackware. Distrowatch is supposed to be some measure of popularity but (a) it is not and (b) the less "popular" are not the worst

    4) Look at:

  • Ethereal Programmer
    Thank you for the speedy response. The reason I want to avoid dual boot is because I feel I'll default on windows instead of forcing myself to learn Linux. Also I should mention the only one I've played with before is GNOME-based, and I quite liked the layout. The root idea seems smart, as it would be logical to work my way otuwards.

    Also, this will sound silly, but even though I would consider my laptop to be for casual use, I sort of don't want an OS aimed at casual use,even though there are probably no issues with them.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    To really learn the guts within a Linux based distro, I feel it would be best to start with gentoo, debian, slackware or arch as they default to the command line and force you to learn more about the core.

    My course for learning is exactly what you were describing, I removed all occurrences of windows from my computers when I was in college and installed only Slackware. The immediate need for productivity forced me to quickly learn and become familiar with the base system and utilities in order to complete my course work. This may sound bias, but I highly recommend starting with Slackware as it is a core OS, but the full install included everything and the kitchen sink so you are not constantly poking around the multitude of tools to find a preferred tool.

    If you choose to start with slack, then I will try to visit the site more often to help with your questions.


Upcoming Training