Tips for choosing a GNU / Linux distribution

When a new user approaches the world of GNU / LinuxYou are often overwhelmed by the number of options you have to choose from. That is why some confusion is often created, so in <° Linux, we will give you some tips to keep in mind when you go to choose.

GNU / Linux distributions

There are many websites that talk about the subject, even some, like Zegenie Studios, help you choose which distribution of GNU / Linux you should (or can use) use, through a fairly simple test. I particularly recommend them. But in reality, we must be very clear about some factors to take into account when we are going to choose one distribution, and I think the first one is, the need we have.

Luckily with GNU / LinuxNot everything is black or white, and there is something for all tastes, of all colors and many flavors. Let's see some tips that can be useful to us.

Expand your knowledge.

A fundamental factor. We must be very clear to what extent we dominate certain topics when choosing a distribution and that is why, the first thing we have to do, is to document enough about some characteristics of GNU / Linux, mainly how your file system works and everything related to disk partitioning.

To avoid something unexpected happening to us, it is best to try to apply the knowledge that we can acquire, in a Virtual Machine. In it we can install, partition, test and break anything, without risk of losing any data.


In general, if we are beginners, and in addition, we come from others Operating Systems as Windows o Mac, It is logical that we want something easy, intuitive and that works the first time. Taking into account the type of user, it would also be recommended that the installation process be as simple as possible.

Distributions like linuxmint, Ubuntu, openSuse o Mandriva, they provide us with a relatively simple installer, which allows us to have our system installed in a few steps.

Software available.

It is almost always possible to find the same amount of software in all distributions, but some of them have a wider catalog to choose from, many times, thanks to the community itself or to third parties.

We must also bear in mind that due to legal problems, many distros do not include Software that is not 100% free for certain areas of the planet, and we could be limited in that regard.

Ubuntu and its derivatives, for example, has one of the largest and most complete repositories that exists, but also has the famous PPA (personal repositories), which further expand your catalog.


One of the many reasons, why GNU / Linux is used, it is because it allows to recover certain hardware that today, may seem obsolete. With every release of Operating Systems as Windows o Mac, more features are required for these to work properly and unfortunately, not all of us can afford to update our computer every time we Microsoft o Apple you fancy.

There are distributions oriented to that old computer that you have abandoned in a corner. In addition, we can give it other uses, and with a little knowledge, we can have our own home music, data or web server.

PuppyLinux, Crunchbang are some alternatives that we should have on hand for computers with less than 128 Mb of RAM.

Desktop Environment.

En Windows we always have a single Desktop Environment. Its appearance can be changed, but in the end we cannot choose another. One of the issues that new users are unaware of is that in GNU / Linux, we can choose more than one Desktop Environment, and even install several of them.

Each of the distributions has a Desktop Environment default.

  • Ubuntu »Gnome
  • openSUSE »KDE
  • ZenWalk »Xfce.
  • Crunchbang »OpenBox.

And so with all. But this does not mean that we can remove the one that comes by default and use any other.

If we want complete, powerful and beautiful desktops, we must check out Gnome, KDE and Xfce. If we want something light LXDE or E17. If we want something minimalist, we can opt for Fluxbox, Openbox, IceWM and other window managers.

The same distro, but with a different flavor.

If we already know that Desktop Environment we want and can use according to the performance of the PC, we only have to choose which flavor to try.

There are distributions that offer derivative products, which contain certain packages and modifications, to be used by Designers, Musicians, Artists, Educators, Writers, Gammers and even adapted for other devices beyond the PC.

Ubuntu, Fedora Among some others, they have options that meet certain characteristics, meeting certain requirements depending on what you want to perform.

Community and Support.

One point that we should not overlook is the community movement around the distribution that we are going to choose. The more users, the higher the level of bug reports and the possible solution to them.

Debian, Ubuntu, LinuxMint, Fedora, and openSUSE among a few others, have large communities with help sites, forums, and chat channels in various languages.

To end.

I always tell all the people who ask me about some distributionThe only way to know if it is really going to work for you is by trying it. Keep in mind that what may work for me, not for another user, since we probably do not have the same hardware or the same knowledge.

We must be very careful in installing a distribution to test it and that it breaks something in the already installed system or deletes some data. It is advisable to use LiveCD they can run from flash memory or Virtual machines so that this does not happen.

Distros <° Linux: Ubuntu | Debian | linuxmint | Fedora | openSUSE | Madrid
Desktop <° Linux: Gnome | KDE | Xfce | LXDE | open box | E17 | IceWM

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  1.   Leo said

    Good report.
    I tried several, I am attracted to Ubuntu for its ease of installation and use, but I have been using Debian for a long time. It is very good, but I hope that in version 7 they will make the installation and configuration easier for newbies, it would be a good way to expand its use.

  2.   Luis Hernando Sánchez said

    Currently I use Mageia 2 on desktop PC and Ubunto 12.04 on laptop. I am happy with both Mageia with KDE desktop and Ubuntu with Gnome. I have not had problems with either of them, I recommend them to satisfaction.
    Meh I have forgotten a bit about Win 7.

  3.   waKeMaTTa said

    Hello everyone 🙂 Very good article! It has enchanted me. I use Win 7 (because I am a Gammer), and from time to time Ubuntu when I turn on the PC and it is not for playing games. xD

    I would like to try Debian but I am waiting for version 7.

  4.   miniminime said

    But here is a project that helps you choose based on some questions

    I think it helps a lot and easily

  5.   fistri said

    Experiences of the month:
    Acer Aspire One Netbook with Windows XP from 2009. They leave it to me and they tell me that they have never been able to connect to the Wi-Fi, and now that they only want it for the internet, let's see if I can do something.
    I fight a whole day with the damn one: wifi drivers, BIOS update, firewall ... nothing, it's WPA2 issue, which he doesn't like, no password if he connects ... Possibilities:
    1) Reinstall a Windows XP Professional instead of the Home it carries, obviously pirated. This suggested on the web in various forums (it seems that the wifi and xp home is a recurring theme in the Aspire One that ..)
    2) Put a light linux in it.

    Obviously option 2. I choose SolydX. 20 minutes later, wifi working and everything running (codecs, youtube, mp3, movies…) without turning on the console for a moment.
    Free operating system, without hacking at all, clean, updated (and the promise of continuous updating, since it is semi rolling) ... And hey, super happy with it, you can take it to the library and check on the internet what it gives you wins it.

    Reverse case. Family member buys a new laptop, obviously Windows 8 .. He has been trying to install a pirate photoshop for 5 months, he does not want to hear about Gimp. He has no idea how the system is going, he called me the first day saying that he does not see where the programs are, that where the bar is, that patatin ...

    Obviously I've already told him that I can't help him, that I don't understand windows anymore, and less than 8. At first, I offered to install a linux in another partition, he said no. He keeps cursing and having the laptop practically stopped and unused.

    Moral: Long live freedom. Freedom to use what you want…. but also freedom to offer help to those who deserve it. Gone are the years of Microsoft support to friends and family, patches, hacks ... never again.

    1.    lifter said

      Hahaha, excellent comment friend. I've been doing the same for a couple of years. Windows 7? I don't understand, I don't understand… (what a supermarket Korean). But better install a Linux, which is much better and is free and free.

  6.   shamaru said

    excellent contribution friend, I love this world GNU / LINUX

  7.   ferna said

    Excellent post, aseptic and plural in its content as God intended. For me, an Ubuntu user but a lover of GNU / Linux in general, it is appreciated the respect and plurality when it comes to talking about distros and making recommendations. having the ethics of not being biased and partisan, is a merit and exercise that is not practiced in all Linuxeros blog.
    Thanks and best regards

  8.   LEGOLAS said

    Why is the new distro known as Elementary OS not included as an example, which is cataloged by many as the most beautiful GNU / Linux in history ???