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  1. #1

    Plz Help me choose a distro.

    Hi everyone.

    I'm currently using Windows 8 and thinking of switching to Linux. I'm a Science Student (Physics Major). I want to make a switch because Windows 8 works cool on fresh installation and after a few months now, everything looks messed up now. All those errors and application frequently crashing.

    Here are my requirements:

    - Chrome. It is a must. All my bookmarks, extensions are synced to my gmail account. I'm comfortable with Chrome cuz I've been using it for 2 years now and can work with 'least possible clicks.'
    - A good plotter. A software that can do graphs for me.
    - Office Suite.
    - pdf reader
    - LATEX or TEX editor.
    - 7zip
    - Music and Video (it should play mp3. Ubuntu doesn't support mp3 or DVD video). And good video converter.
    - bittorrent client.
    - Stable.

    It should have tools to configure my system make it work the way I want. Ubuntu Unity has a very limited preferences to select and I'm stuck.

    And I don't know nothing about my computer architecture. It runs x32 and x86. But x64 gives me some kinda error.

    And the distro should support tarballs. I don't see a Next-Next-Next-Next-Finish Wizard when I double click on tarballs. But most sites only give me tarballs. How do I install new softwares?

    Plz don't suggest Scibuntu. I don't like Ubuntu.

  2. #2

    Because you're a scientific student, I may suggest Scientific Linux, it's based on RedHat.
    Because you want to MP3 and DVD, I may suggest a not restritive distro like LinuxMint, but you don't like Ubuntu (is it the whole Ubuntu philosophy ? The .DEB package system ? Or only Unity ? Because LinuxMint doesn't provide Unity)
    Because you want to .TAR.GZ a lot, needing a lot of different library versions, I may suggest a do-it-yourself rolling release, like Gentoo, Arch, or even LFS if you've got the skills.

  3. #3
    What don't you like about Ubuntu?

    Just because "Ubuntu doesn't support mp3 or DVD video", doesn't mean that Ubuntu cannot play MP3s or commercial DVDs. Have a look at

    How did Windows 8 get in a mess? With enough fiddling Linux can get in a mess too.

    It is unlikely that you will find, ready-made, all you requirements in one distro. You will have to do a little work to install them.

    Bittorrent can MAKE problems. If you take a computer to a repair shop with Bittorent installed they will probably go nuts. As much as it allows you go dive into other peoples' hard drives you retrieve, say, music or DVDs, it allows other people to dive into your hard drive and try to infect it with malware.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Hello and Welcome! I moved your question to the Newbie section, as you may get more visibility here.

    All of your requirements (Chrome, Office suite, etc.) are either installed by default or easily obtained via your chosen distros package manager.
    And the distro should support tarballs. I don't see a Next-Next-Next-Next-Finish Wizard when I double click on tarballs. But most sites only give me tarballs. How do I install new softwares?
    Tarballs aren't designed to be double-clicked for installation. Those are compiled on the system from the programs source code, and then installed on the machine.

    As for choosing a distro, take a look at DistroWatch. Any of the top 20 distros listed in the Page Hit Rankings should suit your needs. And most of them have the option to either run them from a LiveCD or LiveUSB.

    New users, read this first.
    New Member FAQ
    Registered Linux User #463940
    I do not respond to private messages asking for Linux help. Please keep it on the public boards.

  6. #5
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Hi annadaprasad

    Ubuntu is great if you work on it a bit. Install gnome session fallback to get away from unity
    vlc player will platy your mp3 and dvd
    download the restricted extras, addons and codecs via synaptic
    synaptic is valuable tool to rake in a lot of software and you can add more repositories:
    medibuntu, google (chrome), opera, enable canonics
    latex is available and a host of scientific apps
    libre office is a free office suite
    tar.gz balls can be installed manually (configure > make > sudo make install)
    evince is an universal reader and can do pdf
    also adobe reader can be installed
    transmission is the native bit-toorent client and vuze can also be installed
    chrome webbrowser can be installed
    a lot of software sites supply the .deb packages made for ubuntu especially and give you advise on how to add their repository to synaptic
    in fact you'll find that you will have no reason at all for not using ubuntu.
    I tweaked mine for days and I'm happy with the outcome;
    now it doesn't look anything like the way it first appeared and I sacked unity (that is for grannies).
    for tweaking you can install ubuntu tweak, gconf editor, dconf editor, gnome-tweak-tool.
    So have another go and spend some time with it and keep asking if you get to a problem


  7. #6
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Alabama, USA
    You should put Slackware at the top of your list, it comes with more installed packages than any other distro. It comes standard with 10 different window managers kde, xfce. fluxbox fwm etc. With slackware you will be able to make it as you wish.

  8. #7
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Russia, Nizhny Archyz
    What's about systemd in slackware? I wonder, how much this distro would be virgin, without ugly unusable things that makes your work like hell.

  9. #8
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Lancashire, England
    At beginning, I assume you want to dual boot with windows 8, to keep it on your machine. Please read up about dual boot. If you really want to remove windows 8 then do so and installa Linux distro However I would strongly advise you use a LIVE LINUX distro to start with. Use them from CD/DVD at first , or download and put onto a USB memory stick with a 'persistent storage area', this means you can change and store the changes.
    Then when you have this base you can chose one for installation and add all the things you want from the repositories.
    I would recommend MINT (Ubuntu based but NOT ubunto style) if you want to use codex video/music etc. as a starter. Or try KNOPPIX (a debian based distro which is very powerfull) but you need to add the proprietery / music bits as a Debian based unit it can be expanded to a very great extend. The big advantage is to try them and tweak to your own satisfaction. Note scientific linux (Red Hat Base) has many existing things you want for your objects.
    Also consider having two distros, one for work say scientific version and a live version such as MINT for entertainment, this has advantage that basic work machine does not get corrrupted. I use OpenSUSE as I like its control system "YAST" (yet another set-up tool) and add the entertainment stiuff by downloading from non-OSS repository .
    try and succeed.

  10. #9
    Sorry if I've mistakenly made the assumption that you're new to linux. If you ARE new to linux, then I would suggest a user friendly distro like Mint. Although I've never used mint before, its popularity speaks for itself. The first thing you should realize is that much of what you'll "like" about a distro is the desktop environment. Popular ones are Gnome, KDE, XFCE, LXDE and Unity. But you can install any of these desktop environments on just about any distro, and just choose the one you want from the login screen. I'll come back to this after I touch on installing software in Linux.

    Another assumption I'm making (sorry if I'm wrong) is that you are Googling for the software you want and are finding download links to the tarballs. This is generally not how you install software in Linux. The best way to install software is using a package manager. In Ubuntu (and probably Mint too), you can use the graphical one called Synaptic. You'll find it in the menu somewhere (maybe "system tools" or something, again I'm not familiar with Ubuntu or Mint). Just poke around the menus and you'll find it in a minute. In synaptic you can just search for what you want and read the description. For example, search for "latex" and you'll find the texlive packages. Just check em off and install them. That's it! Going through your requirements here are my suggestions (all can be installed in a couple clicks with synaptic)

    - Chrome: Use "chromium" (it's the same thing). Or you can probably find the actual chrome too if you'd rather that. Both should work the same
    - A good plotter: gnuplot (but as a physics guy, I'd recommend something like Matlab, Maple, or Mathematica if you can get your hands on it. These aren't in the repositories so you'll need an actual copy. Ask your department's secretary if they have a site license)
    - Office Suite: Libreoffice or Openoffice (though neither is fully compatible with MS Office)
    - pdf reader: evince (my favorite as it supports .pdf, .ps, and .dvi
    - LATEX or TEX editor: texlive will give you what you need to use latex. My favorite editor is geany, but there are many others.
    - 7zip: install the p7zip-full package
    - Music and Video (it should play mp3. Ubuntu doesn't support mp3 or DVD video). Should work in mint out of the box, from what I hear.
    - And good video converter: Not sure what you want here, check out ffmpeg and these AcidRIP, HandBrake
    - bittorrent client: transmission for something simple, or vuze for something more fancy
    - Stable: Most linux distros are pretty stable. Mint or Ubuntu should be fine.

    Getting back to the idea of desktop environment. This is what you'll be interacting with everyday, so you have to find the one you like. Probably the reason you didn't like Ubuntu is that you didn't like its desktop environment (i.e. Unity). I'm not a fan either. But you can install any desktop environment on any distro. I suggest you start with Mint or Ubuntu, and just install them all. You can do this using synaptic. Try gnome, kde, xfce, lxde, cinnamon (you can google to find more to try, but these are some popular ones). When you restart, you should be able to choose which desktop environment to load at the login screen. Spend an hour or two just looking around in the various desktop environments to figure out which one you like the best. In my opinion, this is one of the most important things you can do to have a pleasant experience with linux.

    Good luck.

    Edit: I just realized that I repeated much of what fenario said. Sorry about that.
    Edit: If you ARE new to linux, and you just want to get up and running asap, then stay away from Slackware, Arch, Gentoo, though these are all great distros if you feel like spending a weekend just screwing around. I am an Archer myself.

  11. #10
    Thanks for you overwhelming response. I've got nothing against Ubuntu but I've had bad experience. Back in 2009, I has some version of Ubuntu which was cool. I really liked it. But I used to get some sorta of error like "missing repositories"every time I tried to install through Package Manager that looks like Google Play Store. And someone suggested me to get the latest version 12.04 (a few months ago). I download iso, burn and install. And damn. Where are the missing preferences? No way! Look Windows Control Panel and Ubuntu's System Settings: Windows provide a lot of option to make it the way I want but nothing in Ubuntu (its all sucked up). And Ubuntu was supposed to be more customizable! I know that all those can be done via Terminal (Command Prompt's Ubuntu counterpart) but I'm not a geek. A Physics Undergrad - I like GUI better. And some guy told me that's because of Unity. I don't know what it is.

    As my friend suggested I started with Fedora, but after reading your comments - looks like I'll either go for Mint or OpenSuSE. And will those distro work on my machine which runs x32 and x86 but not x64? And I got a new distro called Mandriva that looks cool. So finally. Which one should I go for: OpenSUSE? Mandriva? or Mint?

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