Quest for the best Linux Distro

Quest for the best Linux Distro

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When I was a beginner, I started my journey with Ubuntu, as most people do. Ubuntu is and will be the entry point for the Linux world. Although I suggest you go with Zorin OS that's something I believe nowadays.

So back in 2017 when I was first introduced to Linux, it amazed me and lit up a spark of curiosity to know the extent of freedom in this open-source world. This eventually led me towards trying different applications and even distribution.

What is a Distribution

A Linux distribution is an operating system built on top of a Linux kernel which has its desktop environment, package manager, software archives and set of exclusive tools which are built to work on that distribution.

There are three main “families” of Linux distributions:

  • Debian

  • Red Hat

  • SUSE

Most other Linux distributions use one of these three distributions as their foundation. Ubuntu comes under the Debian family.

Distro Hopping

It refers to an activity of a person (who uses Linux obviously) of trying out new distributions and their features until they find the right package which suits their needs. In this process, one generally tries numerous distros which differ in various aspects from each other.

Not every newcomer needs to hop on distros. By knowing what your requirements are and what you like you will be able to find the best distro which suits your need. For that, you will need to know what these components of a distro are and how they differ from each other.

Components of a Linux Distro

There are numerous factors to weigh when selecting a particular distribution for yourself. The major ones are the desktop environment with which the distro comes out of the box, the package manager it uses and the software archive it provides.

Desktop Environments

The desktop environment is a set of various tools which decides how the user interacts with the system and the all-over UX of the distribution. It generally refers to the GUI of the system. This is the major deciding factor for people when choosing a distro because DE ultimately means the look and feel of the OS.

A DE comprises tools like toolbars, menus, desktop wallpapers, widgets, and icons. Some of them even ship a set of utility applications like file managers, control panels and network managers.

Gnome is the default environment for both Ubuntu and the Red Hat versions. Administrators using Ubuntu can also use Canonical's Unity Desktop, in contrast to Red Hat. In addition to offering Gnome as a default environment, SUSE Linux also gives users the option to install KDE instead.

Package Managers

As an end users, we use applications on top of the operating system. An application is typically referred to as a package, it can also refer to a GUI application, a command-line tool, or a software library (required by other software programs). A package is essentially a file archive that contains the binary executable, configuration settings, and occasionally dependency information.

Back then when people were geekier than they are now, software was compiled from the source code, you would need the ability to build the software from scratch along with handling all the dependencies.

But today this is not the case, nowadays distributions have created their custom package managers which compile the software from the source and provide the end user with the ready-made binaries to run. This is what the package manager is all about.

There are various package managers. Ubuntu uses the APT package manager which is common in the Debian family, Fedora uses the YUM package manager which is a part of the Red Hat family and SUSE-based distros use the YaST package manager.

The Goal is to Learn

Hopping on distros comes with an added benefit of learning. As we know there is more than one way of doing something, we can learn all the other ways by trying out different distros. The best part here is that we learn to tweak a computer system as customizing things is what differentiates a typical computer user from a Linux user.

So switching between distributions is a great learning opportunity!

Good or Bad?

Distro hopping is for you if you're an aficionado. This will be a fantastic step in your learning journey if you have enough time and space on your computer. But if you don't, your only option is to customize things to your needs by selecting your own set of apps, and Arch Linux is the greatest option for this. We'll discuss this in the future. Till then, Keep Reading, Keep Exploring and Keep Learning.