A DISTRO is a specific GNU/Linux operating system vendor package. Additionally, a distro can also be a set of open source components and software assembled together. In the Linux user community, there is a raging debate as to choose between which distro for linux is the best. The arguments are biased between which distro is the best for first timers and new users. To get a better picture, we shall set aside all the bias and look at it from an analytical point of view. However, it is important to note that even with a critical point of view, it is almost impossible to point out a specific distro as the best because the one you or someone else chooses is dependent on their needs. Our analysis is on the distro usability (ease of use) and the look and feel of the user interface (design). The distros we shall look at are on this list, because they meet the following criteria.
1. Be user friendly
2. Have out of the box apps
3. Have an app store in one form or the other
4. Have a user interface that is somewhat modern, if not modern
Let us look at each criteria in-depth.
This is the most critical factor we have to consider. Imagine you are a user who just downloaded a distro; you install it into your hardware in the hope of using it only to find that it is more or less like mathematical algorithms that require a physics or mathematical PhD to decipher. An ideal distro must be easy to make, i.e. easy to use. If you require a big-rocket science manual to navigate through a distro, it fails the user-friendly test. The major reason why a distro must be user-friendly is because; most users are accustomed to simply sitting at a Windows or OS X desktop and commence use immediately. Making a distro hard to use is extremely unlikely that anyone will use it frequently or even like it.
Let us look at a simple scenario. You download and install a distro, try to check your email inbox, only to find that the distro does not have an email client. Therefore, you decide to do it online, you search for the web browser only to come up void. You then decide to use your mobile device to check your email and listen to some music from your computer as you do that, then, no music player. For a distro to be on our list of OK, if not good distros, it must have the above features or apps pre-installed. The list of these out of the box distros grows shorter and shorter each year and you might want to check each distro for your specific out of the box app needs
Adding an application to a Linux operating system is no mean fete; here is where an app store comes in. If you consider the fact that most users today are accustomed to easy to install applications on their mobile devices, it makes sense that a distro without an inbuilt app store will not be a favourite. One of the oldest app stores is synaptic. App stores make it easier for users to add software to the environment.
If you take any modern device today, be it a mobile phone, smart TV, game console and many more, you will notice that all of these devices have a very modern UI (user interface). Users are very fond of the swank UI and the desktop is no exception. A distro must be enticing to the user. It must have an easy to use, but unique interface. In fact, today, most users choose a distro by checking the user interface.
With the criteria’s above in mind, let us examine some of the three top distros. It is also important to note that the distros made it to the list only because they pass all our tests.
If we were to take a critical approach at Ubuntu Linux, we would say that it is and has been -the king of the user friendly kingdom. In my view, Userfriendly on this distro is as easy as they come. It is intuitive and logical. Ubuntu unity, the most powerful search tool on an UNIX desktop also comes as an addon to this distro.
If Ubuntu Linux is the king of all distros, Linux mint is the prince. Because it is a variation of Ubuntu (based on it), it benefits greatly from the reliability and stability, but with a more eye candy approach. Unlike Ubuntu Linux, the Linux mint takes a more standard approach to the desktop and that is what makes it stand out in the desktop metaphor.
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This is a relatively new distro from China. It takes the powerful Linux desktop and transforms it into artistic beauty, but with the same level of userfriendly features. If you have heard of the GNOME 3 desktop, Linux Deepin is a completely awesome and marvelous retool of it.
Now that we have listed three of the top contenders for the best distro, let us check each to our set out criteria and give each of the distro a score and rank. We shall call this as scoring. We shall rank from first to last in the criteria we have discussed and then total them all to see which one comes out top with the winner being the distro with the lowest score.
The user-friendliness of a distro depends on the user, so it is a bit hard to say which one is the best. Additionally, my best may not be your best, so look at all of them, and make a sound decision on the one that suits your sense of style. Here is how they rank:
Why does the mint make it to the top? The mint has the taskbar, start menu and desktop icons and an almost zero learning curve. However, it is important to note that both Linux Deepin and Ubuntu also have an almost zero learning curve so the Mint barely made it to the top on this one.
All our three distros have the prerequisite apps and this makes it extremely hard to be a judge in this category. However, it is important to note that Linux Deepin comes with the finest office suite solution: the Kingsoft Office, which they (the developers) hope to change to LibreOffice this year (2014). Each of the distro has a default music player as below:
Out of the three music players, Banshee has the most features. For the best interface, Dmusic is the choice. Moreover, if you are looking for reliability, Rhythm Box is the best option.
If we were to score them, this is how they would rank:
For a new user, an app store can make them a continuous user or a sour badreview spiting user. Therefore, the app store has to be one of the criteria we use to rank our distros. Each of our three distros has its own approach to the app store as follows:
All the app stores have the Ubuntu Software Center as their backbone. This sounds a bit odd, but the reason why the software center falls at tail end of our list is that it is extremely slow regardless of the computing power of your hardware. Here is how we would rank them:
While the app stores functions in an almost similar manner, there is a reason why Deepin made it to the top, actually, two folds. It has an easy to use and navigate interface and the other is it loads faster than the other two.
When it comes to the category of user interface, it is safe to say that Linux mint is not a contender. The desktop is a bit outdated and even on a computer with very powerful graphics, the desktop still looks like a Mac one from the 1990’s. This is not to say that the desktop is not appealing. In the interface category, this is how the distros rank:
Linux Deepin makes it to the top of the list because it uses GNOME 3 to generate a combination of the GNOME and the OS X to make a beautiful interface that makes you feel as if you are looking at a beautiful piece of art.
Although it is a bit rudimentary and biased towards my overall outlook that is dependent on my needs, this is how the distros rank overall.
For new users, Linux mint is the best choice. However, most of the distros we have looked at are top notch and you cannot go wrong with any of them. If you are one of those people who love artistic desktops, Linux Deepin is the best choice. If you want to strike a balance between ease of use and beauty, Ubuntu Linux is your best pick. When you are looking for simple one without the artistic desktop or interface, then Linux mint is your best choice. Choosing a distro will largely depend on your needs and preference.
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