What other factors might influence my choice of Distribution?
Some of the points raised on the previous page are relevant to
the decision-making process e.g. the choice of which distro to try will
be, in part, determined by the
type of hardware you have. However, further factors to
are as follows:
Your Level of Linux
If you have never used Linux before, you probably want to choose a
distro which has a simple installation, which installs and configures
applications using a slick graphical interface.
However, if you have a friend that is knowledgeable about Linux, we
strongly recommend you
use the distro they use. Although there is an enormous amount
help freely available over the internet (via FAQs, HOWTOs, USENET (a
global Internet discussion system), linux forums, support websites
etc), nothing beats hands-on support. Choosing the same
will make it easier for your friend to help you.
Bear also in mind that popular distros will have a larger userbase, and
more users, and therefore more people who have solved any problems you
Availability of Software
This factor is best illustrated with an example. Let's take
software package NoMachine NX client (a Linux terminal client; software
which lets you make secure, remote connections to enable users to
access remote Linux and Unix desktop sessions).
The developers of NoMachine NX make versions available for distros that
use RPM, DEB, and as a compressed tar file.
RPM and DEB are
examples of package management formats, which are used by package
management systems; free software tools which install, update,
uninstall, verify and query software packaged in that format.
Package management systems make installing software a breeze.
Some systems even detect if a program depends on other code and checks
if that has already been installed. If not, it automagically installs
it for you.
However, if you are using a distro that doesn't
use RPM or DEB (in this example), you must install the software
manually yourself, using the compressed tar file. Any
modifications you make (such as installing a new version, removing the
software) must also be done manually. It's fair to say that
you intend on trying out lots of new software, packages are more likely
to have been built for the more popular distros.
The Programs you want to
There are tens of thousands of programs that run under
Yes, tens of thousands, with the vast majority being available for
free! The selection of software is one of the key choices
the individual or organisation which is creating the distro.
the user's perspective, it is preferable
the distro comes with every type of program that he or she wants to
run, saving the individual time to find the applications on the
You may want the distro to select the best-of-breed applications for
you, and therefore may want to steer away from distros that install
every application under the sun. Alternatively, you might be
of user who just loves trying out new software. Distros such
are ideal for this type of beginner, as it comes supplied with over
18,000 applications. That should keep you occupied for at
Every distro will come with at least one version of the Linux
kernel. Generally, when a new release of a distro is released
will use a
relatively new version of a stable kernel. However, many
longer maintained, or only updated rarely. This can mean they
with an old version of the Linux kernel, which may not support all of
For example, if you want to watch digital TV on your Linux machine, it
is advisable to choose a distro that comes with kernel version 2.6.x,
as it is much more likely that a driver for the tv card will come
supplied with the kernel. That's not to say that you can't
the hardware to work with older releases of the kernel, only that it'll
be harder. We like the Nebula digital tv card, it's a great
of not working at a computer. Getting that
card to work with say kernel version 2.2.x or 2.4.x was harder than
using kernel 2.6.x.