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SO OVER MICROBLOAT! (Microsoft) Newby question

Hi all,

I did some preliminary noodling around this site but wanted to narrow my search for a suitable start point for my research...if that makes sense.

Here are the specifications for my current machine:

OS Name Microsoft Windows XP Professional

Version 5.1.2600 Service Pack 3 Build 2600

OS Manufacturer Microsoft Corporation

System Manufacturer Sony Corporation

System Model VGN-A270P(UC)

System Type X86-based PC

Processor x86 Family 6 Model 13 Stepping 6 GenuineIntel ~1594 Mhz

Total Physical Memory 512.00 MB ......................(Note: I am upgrading to a pair of 1GB Cards from Crucial)

Available Physical Memory 123.77 MB

Total Virtual Memory 2.00 GB

Available Virtual Memory 1.96 GB

OK, now on with my question. I have had enough of Microsoft products, but I get the fact that the world pretty much runs on this stuff. Ideally what I am hoping is that I would be able to find a linux based OS that would replace the Windows crap I am currently running. I have already gutted the office products in favor of OpenOffice.org products and am very happy with that. I am thinking that when I finally upgrade the memory on this laptop, I would do my research and perhaps switch to a linux based platform instead.

What I am hoping for is something that is more or less "plug and play" I am by no means a guru, I do ok with current applications, but am hoping to find a ROCK stable, user friendly, easy to assimilate, linux OS for my Laptop. Something that does not require a ton of linux experience to use efficiently. Ideally it would be a 1:1 swap with the Windows OS that I am using now.

If any of you can point me in a direction to start my search I would appreciate it. Names of distros, places to do research that are written for the newbie etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Comments

  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    The terms user firnedly and ROCK stable will never go together properly. The more that any system attmpts to assume the user's needs (AKA be user fiendly) the more potential failts are added. The only way to get a ROCK solid operating system is if a human does all management and disables all assumption mechanisms on the system.

    As you have probably read from other threads on here, the push in ubuntu 9.10 to add more user-fiendly and cutting edge features has compromised it's stability. In my opinion the most stable distros you can get that fit the plug and play and userfriendly needs would be Ubuntu 9.04 or linux mint.
  • OK, Now this is good. This gives me something to start chewing on....tell me, what about "opensuse", and "Mandriva" Are thes two worth looking into for an end user that really does not want to do much tweaking. I am truly just looking for a good stable, friendly platform to work from. Maybe it would help to say, that I only really use the laptop for Surfing( youtube etc. included), word processing, basic office operations. (Demonstrations, spreadsheets) Chatting either on G-mail or Yahoo, and watching DVD's while on the road.I will go check both of your suggestions, but for others that may answer, please know I am a real cherry when it comes to Linux so a platform that will grow with me as I learn more would be desireable too.
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    Like Mfillpot said, for those who want a Linux distro to install that doesn't require tweaking Ubuntu 9.04 and Mint are two of the best to choose. I'd start with Mint because it has all the extras already added. Suse and Mandriva require a bit of tinkering before they have all options working. Best thing would be to download a LiveCD and boot it up and see if it works to your liking.
    Surfing the internet - no problem
    Basic Office Operations - The OpenOffice Suite can handle most of what you can throw at it, it just doesn't have all the advanced features of the MS Office suite. Although it does what I need it to do.
    Chatting on Gmail - Although I've never tried it, it does come up on my igoogle.
    Watching DVD's - no problem.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    Opensuse and Mandriva are built more for the corporate user than for a casual user, they do require more setup and administration that you may be willing to give, but I know a few people that think the world of mandriva so I would say to give it a try. Don't forget about the original recommendations because those will be far easier to use.

    As for you needs pretty much all of the distros fix your needs, the only difficulty will be dvd playback to address that you will need to make sure to install libdvdread and libdvdcss on your chosen distro.
  • Two other superb Linux distributions that are "beginner friendly" are SimplyMepis and PCLinuxOS. Both use the "Windowsy-looking" KDE interface and most everything works out of the box.

    There are literally hundreds to choose from, so most people narrow it down to a choice of the desktop environment (Gnome, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, Enlightenment, or none at all), package management (how software is installed), and for a newbie, community support is a major, extremely important factor. Ubuntu, Mepis, and PCLinuxOS certainly have awesome support forums! Friendly, patient, helpful, and fun. If you choose Linux Mint, your best bet is still the Ubuntu support forums, since Linux Mint is Ubuntu with "green paint" and multimedia codecs pre-installed.

    -Robin
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    I also agree that SimplyMepis is a great user friendly distro. It also has a great community and forum where you won't be brushed off with terms like "Read the Manual". Like here in the Linux.com forums, there's a lot of hand holding that goes on. Which is good, especially when you are new to Linux. The only reason I left it out at this point in time is because of the transitioning going on from KDE3 to KDE4. Until Warren releases 8.5 with a totally stable KDE4, I'm holding off. Having someone start with 8.0.15 with KDE3 and then having them thrown into KDE4 with 8.5 isn't the best way of introducing a newcomer to Linux. As someone who used KDE exclusively up until about a year ago, it's hard to recommend the current KDE4 to newcomers. Even Warren held off incorporating it into Mepis until now, and I respect his decision on that. The one distro that I watch to see if KDE4 once again becomes useful to me, is Mepis.
    I haven't used PCLinuxOS in a while, but it is also very user friendly, but yet needs tweaking to get multimedia going. At the moment, with Ubuntu having problems with it's latest release, Mint still gets my vote as the most user friendly. Although keep your eyes out for Pardus. This Turkish distro has been recommended to me by some of my German friends, and it also comes fully loaded and very user friendly.
  • Stability vs features... The KISS principle applies. I prefer a distro that is rock stable and allows me to add features as I need them. If you just install a distro, you take a lot of defaults that someone else chooses. You are an individual, not that other guy.

    GNU/Linux on the desktop comes in layers. You do not have to install this distro or that distro to get a particular look or feel. For example, if you like KDE you can get it with dozens of distros. Same with GNOME, XFCE4, and a bunch of others. Most of what you see is the window manager/display manager when you start. You can change both. GNOME and KDE are Cadillacs of desktop environments. They try to do everything whether you need/want it or not. I prefer something like XFCE4 which will do anything I want done and in a lot less bloat. Why copy what you don't like about that other OS?

    I like Debian GNU/Linux because packages are tested very thoroughly before they are put into the stable branch. You won't get cutting edge with Debian stable but you don't need blood all over your desktop. You need a desktop that is reliable. There are 25000 packages in the Debian repository so you can find almost anything you want in there. That really simplifies maintenance. Replace hours of fiddling with that other OS with minutes per year with Debian.

    There are dozens of ways of installing Debian, too. You can install from your own server, a mirror on the web, CD, DVD, USB, fully-automated, etc. It's pretty easy if you just take the defaults. I like multiple drives in RAID so I have to add a few more clicks, but on a newish machine you can be done in 15 minutes, perhaps longer for a newbie.

    Debian has been around a long time and is the base upon which Ubuntu is built.
  • Pogson, I agree! Lately I've gotten brave (or foolish, since I'm still a newbie) and started experimenting with Debian (Squeeze) XFCE4. Wow! It's beautiful, lightning fast, and simple enough even for me. I do hope they develop a little simpler installer, though. But the netinstall was sweet, easy, and fast. It has only what I want and use, and nothing that I don't. I want to shout, "Look, Mommy! I made it myself!" Just like Arch, lol... only simpler and more stable.

    -Robin
  • gomergomer Posts: 158
    There is also an XFCE based build of Ubuntu: Xubuntu.

    Frankly, I understand the want for a clean and simple desktop environement. In fact, this is why I've gone back to gnome, believe it not. I had been hapilly using KDE 3.5 for a long time, when all of a sudden, Kubuntu dropped support for 3.5 and moved me over to KDE4. Wow. What a pain in the but that was.

    I, myself, may go back to XFCE, soon. But before I settle on that, I am planning on trying fluxbox, again.

    In the past, though, I've referred to XCFE as the goldilocks desktop environement. It's ribust enough to be usefull to a wide variety of users, without being unbearably slow and cluttered w/ features and eye candy that you'll never want / need / use.
  • gomer wrote:
    There is also an XFCE based build of Ubuntu: Xubuntu.

    I'm testing the next release of that, Xubuntu Lucid Lynx (Alpha 2 currently). It's not only faster than Karmic was, but seems much more stable. It has the easy installer that I wish Debian had (but it won't be long - Debian is working on one), and it is not nearly as bloated with unnecessary stuff as its predecessors.

    Until now, even the LTS releases of the 'buntu family were built on Debian Unstable. Lucid Lynx (10.4) is being built on Debian Testing, which is hopefully a sign that it will be more stable. I think Canonical should do that with every LTS release.
    I've referred to Xfce as the Goldilocks desktop environment. It's robust enough to be useful to a wide variety of users, without being unbearably slow and cluttered w/ features and eye candy that you'll never want / need / use.

    I like that! Xfce4 is great so far. If it's been awhile since you tried it, have another look. The latest version is light and fast and pretty.

    -Robin
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