I want to mess around with Linux again, recommendations for a noob?

UsandThem

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I messed around with a few different builds back in 1999-2000, but it was never my daily OS, and soon our kids arrived, so I kind of lost interest in messing around with it.

I've looked around at what's currently available, and I think I've narrowed it down to 3 potential options: Ubuntu Linux, Linux Mint, and Zorin OS.

I want something extremely easy to use to play around with, so is one better than the other in that regard? Or is their another variety that I should consider as well?
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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A lot of us in the DC subforum have been using Mint. I don't have a lot of recent experience with other distros, but a lot of Mint seemed fairly intuitive coming from Windows. I don't run it on my main desktops just yet, as each has software that is Windows only, but most of my DC hosts run it, as well a PC I use at work on the shop floor. They've all been pretty great, I've not had to re-install or do any major fixes on any of them in close to 2 years of using it.
 

mv2devnull

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Apr 13, 2010
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LTT video lists all those (Ubuntu, Mint, Zorin, and Pop!_OS) as "beginner friendly":

Can't comment on them. Been using Red Hat family (RHL, Fedora Core, RHEL, CentOS Linux). After decades of command-line use my concept of "easy" is peculiar. (Or perhaps it always was.)
 

pcgeek11

Lifer
Jun 12, 2005
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I have been using Mint for about 10 years with no deal breaker issues at all. It just works in my opinion. Easy and intuitive. I have never had to reinstall a system, although I usually do when they have a major update. They also have an excellent user forum for help if needed. Usually if you cannot find an answer on the mint forum you can search the Ubuntu forum as well since it is Ubuntu Based.
 
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PingSpike

Lifer
Feb 25, 2004
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I just use mint. I have sort of standardized on it for whatever reason. There's a nice feature called timeshift that lets you roll back changes quickly that has saved me already.
 
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repoman0

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Jun 17, 2010
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I use Ubuntu with the DE swapped with regular gnome 3 full time at work. It’s not the most “unique” or exciting choice but it works really well and is easy to find answers for how to do things — which is important when I just need to work and not screw around with my OS. Also not sure if I’m just used to the gnome 3 way of working with windows or what but I find it more productive and easier to switch around than my Windows 10 system at home.
 

lxskllr

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Nov 30, 2004
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I'd download the various *buntus, and check them out in a vm to see which you like. Full featured distros are generally about the same, and only differ in the finer points. Find a desktop you like, and use it awhile. If you then find something irritating, see what it takes to fix it. It might mean tweaking your system, or switching to a different base like RedHat or something.

I use debian with plasma at work, and with xfce at home. The *buntu equivalents would be kubuntu and xubuntu. I like both of them.
 

DAPUNISHER

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I use Ubuntu with the DE swapped with regular gnome 3 full time at work. It’s not the most “unique” or exciting choice but it works really well and is easy to find answers for how to do things — which is important when I just need to work and not screw around with my OS. Also not sure if I’m just used to the gnome 3 way of working with windows or what but I find it more productive and easier to switch around than my Windows 10 system at home.
That can't be overstated for those of us that are casuals/don't immerse ourselves' in the distros, but want to use them. Because of that, I would add Manjaro to the short list. When I first tried it, I was up and running and able to start playing some of my Steam library during the same session. When I had a question, it only took a few minutes each to find an answer, and copy pasta what I needed to make things work.
 

solidsnake1298

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That can't be overstated for those of us that are casuals/don't immerse ourselves' in the distros, but want to use them. Because of that, I would add Manjaro to the short list. When I first tried it, I was up and running and able to start playing some of my Steam library during the same session. When I had a question, it only took a few minutes each to find an answer, and copy pasta what I needed to make things work.
About 10 years ago I had my first journey with Linux for home use (previously I only used it at work). I had chosen Ubuntu for the large user base and forum and that made a huge difference with my experience. I didn't have to post on the forum and wait for an answer. Someone else had asked the questions I had years ago and the answers still applied to current versions.
 

Steltek

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Mar 29, 2001
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If it has been 20 years since you last tried Linux, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Installation is pretty much point and click for most distros these days.

I'm not a hard core Linux user, but rather just want something that just works without having to research a ton of arcane problems. I've always been partial to Linux Mint myself (I tend towards the MATE desktop environment, though I can live with Cinnamon too). They also do a really good job of easing installation for major system upgrades. MX Linux is also a very popular distro, though I was never that partial to it as I just can't bring myself to care much for the default Xfce desktop.

One thing I do encourage you to do is to install and configure Timeshift as soon as you are up and running to do your backup snapshots. This is especially true if you plan to mess with installing and/or upgrading proprietary drivers, some of which still don't play well at times (nVidia, pointing at you here...).

That said, I totally agree with @lxskllr , install Virtualbox and boot up a few different distros and try them out. Who knows, you might find your Windows replacement out there somewhere.

I've personally been considering purchasing a copy of Crossover Office and just ditching Windows altogether. Win11 may just finally provide the push I need to do it...
 
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zir_blazer

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Jun 6, 2013
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If you're into masochism you could try Arch Linux and follow the manual installation procedures. It was my first serious Linux experience and it was rather easy, assuming you got time in your hands to read the Wiki to solve most of your issues.
 

UsandThem

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Thanks to all for all the tips and suggestions.

Due to some unfortunate events that happened a day after I posted this, I likely won't begin trying out some of the distros for several weeks, but once I do I'll post any updates in this thread.
 

Iron Woode

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Oct 10, 1999
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I messed around with a few different builds back in 1999-2000, but it was never my daily OS, and soon our kids arrived, so I kind of lost interest in messing around with it.

I've looked around at what's currently available, and I think I've narrowed it down to 3 potential options: Ubuntu Linux, Linux Mint, and Zorin OS.

I want something extremely easy to use to play around with, so is one better than the other in that regard? Or is their another variety that I should consider as well?
I use Ubuntu for my server. I am by no means a linux expert but it was easy to setup and run.
 
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Red Squirrel

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I sometimes distro hop to try different things but I always find myself going back to Mint. I find it's probably the most polished and usable. Even as someone that works a lot with command line when it comes to server stuff and in some cases often codes my own stuff, when it comes to a desktop I just want something that works and where I can do most things in the GUI and overall just something that's no BS to deal with.
 

Iron Woode

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I sometimes distro hop to try different things but I always find myself going back to Mint. I find it's probably the most polished and usable. Even as someone that works a lot with command line when it comes to server stuff and in some cases often codes my own stuff, when it comes to a desktop I just want something that works and where I can do most things in the GUI and overall just something that's no BS to deal with.
here is an interesting video:

 

damian101

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Aug 11, 2020
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Why is that? Sell it to us.
Just overall very nice defaults. It uses KDE Plasma, which is not available for Linux Mint (anymore), the most complete Linux DE in my opinion. Cinnamon is also a very nice DE, which is the default for Linux Mint.
I can also recommend trying out UbuntuDDE, which uses the Deepin Desktop Environment.
 
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DAPUNISHER

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Searching for Feren led me to: https://distrowatch.com/
They have a ranking system and lots of distros listed.
I too ended up there, when I was looking to take Linux gaming more seriously. Not surprised Manjaro is number 2, it was easy to get gaming on. Never heard of MX, will have to download and demo it.
 

Shmee

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I like Xubuntu in general.
 

crashtech

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I guess I am comfy with things that use apt, I suppose that's Ubuntu and its derivatives. Otherwise you have to learn the particular distro's method of installing and upgrading, which in my limited experience is a lot what most of what user intervention consists of.
 

mikeymikec

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May 19, 2011
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My permanent move to Linux started with Lubuntu 18.04 LTS (which I was happy with).

Then when 18.04 reached the end of support, I upgraded to Lubuntu 20.04 LTS (which I wasn't happy with, stuff broken out of the box such as printing / export to pdf, VLC going zombie: I eventually got it all working, then an xscreensaver update made the screensaver-settings app crash every time I started it). I think Lubuntu is in a poor state because 18.04 had a lot of legacy stuff and >18.04 is a fresh start for the desktop environment in a lot of ways, but IMO it's just not ready yet.

Yesterday I blew LB 20.04 away and changed to Kubuntu 20.04 LTS. Admittedly I'm less than 24 hours into this one, but I've got all the basics going again. The only PITA so far was something as simple as 'show hidden files' in the file manager (Dolphin), it must have taken me 20-30 minutes to find a solution for and now I know the answer I have to say, that's the weirdest, most convoluted way to get to a simple option that I think I've ever seen. However, KB seems to work out of the box which is a lot more that can be said for LB at present.
 
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lxskllr

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I wasn't impressed with lxqt. No major problems, but it didn't feel particularly light to me. I preferred the older lxde. Plasma's a nice desktop, but it's a bit like flying a plane. Lots and lots of options, and not always where I expect them. Your description of showing hidden files doesn't sound right though. Should just be open the menu, and check the [Show Hidden Files] checkbox. Similar to Thunar at least.
 

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