Best Linux Desktop: Top 10 Candidates: Page 2

The best Linux desktops for both newbie and advanced users, focusing on desktop ease of use and Linux tool set.
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Also see: Top 10 Linux Desktop Candidates (slideshow)

SolydX – When it comes to a fun-to-use Debian experience, I've found it hard to beat SolydX. This distribution is available both as SolydXK (KDE edition) or as SolydX using the XFCE desktop. SolydX provides you with all the control you could want without having to configure much of the system out of the box.

What really sets this apart from other Debian distributions for me is that I can choose to go with a release based on either Debian Stable or Debian Testing, depending on what I'm in the mood for. For me, the Home Edition based on Debian Testing was where my heart is. What drew me to SolydX was its update pack philosophy: A rolling release distro with controlled, monthly update packs so I don't need to update my computer every day.

Bundle this with the fact that I'll never need to re-install it due to its rolling release nature, and SolydX has proven to be a very good distribution for someone who wants stability without losing out on available software packages.

One issue I ran into that is worth noting: the network manager wasn't managing my wired connection out of the box. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but it's worth noting that if you wish to use the network manager, you may need to add those connections manually.

PCLinuxOS – I'll admit that in the early days of PCLinuxOS, I was a bit of a fanboy. It was the first distro using RPM packages that didn't make me want to throw my computer across the room. PCLinuxOS was interesting in that it was among one of the first newbie friendly distributions to really get hardware detection right. 3G cards are no problem with PCLinuxOS. Perhaps you wanted proprietary drivers for your video card? Again, PCLinuxOS nailed it with regard to providing great proprietary drive support.

PCLinuxOS boasts good things from the Mandriva project, such as a very solid control panel. And their community, though smaller than Ubuntu's, is phenomenal. In addition to providing a great distro, and a newbie friendly community environment, PCLinuxOS also offers a great Linux "Webzine" dedicated to its users. I love it – its task-based content shows PCLinuxOS users how to actually use the distro to get things done.

Lubuntu/Xubuntu – Old computers (newbie) – My final recommendation for newer Linux users is actually two derivatives of Ubuntu. Lubuntu (LXDE desktop) and Xubuntu(XFCE desktop). Each of these shares the same goal, to allow you to run an Ubuntu base with a lightweight desktop environment.

If you're married to the idea of Ubuntu, but don't want the system overhead that can come from a more robust desktop, these two distros should be on your short list. Both distributions share a menu driven system, complete with network manager, basic desktop controls and access to any basic tweaks one might wish to make to their system.

The downside is that neither of these two distributions offer much in the way of "flash." That said, both of these distros can be installed on older hardware which can extend the life of an older PC by years.

Best Linux Desktop: Experienced Enthusiasts

Not everyone is a newbie. Some folks using Linux today aren't looking for the "easiest" distribution out there. Instead, these individuals might be looking for the following instead.

  • Speed: Not just a speedy boot time, but an overall lack of system bloat.
  • Control: Experienced users often want the option to dive head first into a conf file, then customize the changes they want for their individual systems. Serious examples of this might include Arch Linux, Gentoo or Slackware.
  • Ready to use: I like distributions that are ready to use out of the box, yet allow me to enjoy a rolling release.

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Tags: Linux, Linux desktop, Linux desktop distro, Best linux desktop

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