Everybody and their mother is trying to find that perfect computing experience. For many people, this is Windows 7. Other still, OS X. But for those willing to willing to walk on the wild side, invest time unlearning much of the stuff they think is normal from their Windows days, Linux has a lot to offer.

Which distro is best?

I think it really depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want a lot of flashbang in your desktop environment? Then perhaps going with a distro using KDE is a good approach. Something simpler and more straight forward with less option-overload? Consider GNOME or one of the other lightweight desktop options out there.

As for specific distributions however, I find for the new user it really comes down to the following. And note, some of these are based on Ubuntu, some are not.

How To Pick The Best Linux Distribution
Photo by Adriano Gasparri

PCLInuxOS – If using Ubuntu isn’t cutting it for ya, then consider this as a very good option. Highly customized kernel, aspects of the Mandriva core, PCLinuxOS has become a fan favorite for those who prefer something user friendly, but without an Ubuntu-base.

Linux Mint – Some have referred to this as Ubuntu with training wheels. Advanced users will indicate that Ubuntu is already Linux made easy, but there is no doubt that Linux Mint strives to make things even easier.

Simply Mepis – Older than both of the above and I would argue, ahead of the curve in many areas, too. I cut my teeth on Simply Mepis years ago, as one of my first three distributions. After Knoppix, it’s arguably more influential for its various tools provided than any other distribution of Linux for the new user in my opinion.

Which is best for you? Start from the top of this list and work your way down. Each one uses different stuff at the tail end and may end up showing off different levels of compatibility. People that try Ubuntu Linux, hate and then claim that Linux sucks are morons. Fact is, there is a LOT more to the idea of a Linux distribution than merely pointing to Ubuntu. Try other distros, you might just be surprised.