If you’re new to Linux, it can be hard to decide which of the many distributions (‘distros’) to use. If you’re interested in moving to Linux because Windows is running slowly and you don’t want to replace your hardware, this short post is aimed at you. Trying Linux is EXTREMELY easy and commitment-free, you can just download it onto a USB stick and ‘live-boot‘ from it: this means you’re running from the USB stick – you don’t even need to install it on your hard drive! Then, if you like it, you can either install it over Windows, or alongside it (‘dual-boot’), so you can use both operating systems (or, if you don’t like it, do neither!)
Traditionally, most people searching for a first Linux distro went for Ubuntu, a very popular, easy-to-use distro with lots of users, and therefore lots of support available online. Although regular Ubuntu is still a good choice in many ways, it is not as lightweight as it once was, so users with older hardware may find it just as slow as Windows. Ubuntu have also signed a deal with Amazon so that typing into the integrated search bar in Ubuntu’s default desktop will bring up Amazon results. This is easy to switch off but still pretty uncool in our opinion!
Our current choices of Linux distro are Ubuntu MATE for older/slower PCs (generally seven years old, or more), and Ubuntu GNOME for slightly newer ones. We believe these two offshoots of plain Ubuntu provide an intuitive user experience for anyone coming over from Windows or Mac, plus the software choice is good – you can use any Ubuntu/.deb program. If you’re a Firefox or Google Chrome user, both are available for Ubuntu and identical to their Windows/Mac counterparts.
You can generally use Linux entirely through the GUI (Graphical User Interface – folders and windows etc.), as most people do with Windows or OSX, but many users find learning a few terminal commands improves the experience. If you’d like to learn more about Linux, including using the terminal, we recommend the edx Introduction to Linux course.