How to make a newbie friendly open source distro

This is really an aftermath of the “I just saw this item on ZDnet” topic.
And , be WARNED , there may be some ‘tongue in cheek’ items.

Lets make a table of new user issues versus which distro or app addresses them best

New User Issue ••••••••••••••••• Best Distro or App

default security ••••••••••••••••• OpenBSD
easy GUI •••••••••••••••••••••••••• Android
easiest install •••••••••••••••••••• Mint
easiest CLI •••••••••••••••••••••••• Nushell
awareness •••••••••••••••••••••••• Ubuntu most widely known , or Android
users vote ••••••••••••••••••••••••• MX
hardware compatable •••••••••• “AHS” or “Edge” editions
best apps •••••••••••••••••••••••••• Debian or OpenSUSE
stable ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• FreeBSD
best package system ••••••••••• Gentoo / Portage
simplest updates •••••••••••••••• Rolling release distros

Now, all we need to do is to put together the best parts of each of the above, and we have
our much desired new user distro.

In the words of my greatly admired programming mentor
" Its a SMOP " … Simple Matter of Programming

You may have noticed that Linux does not dominate my list of best open source for new users.
That may be the essence of the problem


Everyone will have their favorite distro as an answer to each of the above.

One answer that comes to mind is similar to lists of the best programming languages and Python. It has been said that Python is the second best programming language for everything. And that’s what makes it so popular. It does lots of things pretty well.

Many people have distros they love and others they love to hate, but I think Ubuntu would be highly ranked for each of the items on the list. That could make it the best overall choice.

If people are worried about the big, evil corporation doing something bad with it. Well, it’s open source and we could always fork it. It’s already been forked like 100 times into other good distros.


But I have all of that, it is called the Windows App? Just kidding guys!!!

Yeah, they are making a good effort. Especially hardware.
If they could just crack the video card scene…

If they could just make Windows open source…
The big issue with Win in future is going to be code bloat… it makes for huge update times. May be the real reason they are going to cloud.

I can’t comment on most of this stuff, because I am really only familiar with Ubuntu, and I have only tried Ubuntu and EndeavourOS (and I don’t think this project should be Arch based). I have never used Portage, although I have heard of it. APT seems to work well.

However, I do want to say this: the package system is unlikely to matter much. These users coming from Windows will likely use an application to download apps (after all, they are already used to that) - and so as a result whatever package system we use will be hidden by that.

Of course, we would give them to ability to use it directly via the command line, for those that want to do so.


It is a source of a lot of hangups that newcomers find difficult to work around. For newcomers the package system need to work without fiddling, every time,

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Like many users of Linux I choose one Linux mint and very happy with it for over the last 12 years having jumped ship from Ubuntu so a lot of the things listed don’t really effect me.
Only exception was looking at docker bar for an ex Mac user converting but did not do what I wanted so in the end just spent a little longer teaching the client the mint interface


Good list of items for new users @nevj.
Two more items come to mind that might be very helpful for new users.
Dual Booting – If a new user knew he/she could easily switch between Win and Linux in order to test out the new Linux but still be assured that they could boot back to Win until they were comfortable with Linux or just keep both.
Backup / Recovery – Even today, probably many Win user do not backup either their system or data. And maybe Timeshift would work for system. Mint has an easy GUI backup for the Home directory, but it also places the backup in a folder in /home that is excluded from the backup procedure. Of course, I don’t like the idea of the backup being placed in the same area being backup.


Cannot see that happening!!! Although Windows has been mighty friendly on giving away there OS lately!!!

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Not sure what you mean here… I haven’t had issues with video cards on Ubuntu since around 2015 when I had a hybrid Graphics Laptop (switchable between Intel GPU for when on battery, and NVidia GTX970i when powered by mains). I did manage to get a kludge working, i.e. “Prime” - but switching required logging out of, then back into, X. Windows drivers allowed dynamic switching…

I’ve been running mainly Ubuntu (but also Pop!_OS) since forever with NVidia GPU (GTX650Ti OC, GTX1650 “Super”) and also AMD (Radeon RX 6800/6800 XT / 6900 XT) and in BOTH cases, all these cards just work out of the box on recent versions of Ubuntu - I don’t even have to do anything - Ubuntu pulls down the proprietary drivers (for NVidia) or installs the OSS drivers for AMD / Radeon - and they just work…

That doesn’t happen on Debian or Fedora…

I think that only really happened properly from about Ubuntu 18.04 - before then - you had to enable “Additional Hardware” in your Package Manager GUI and manually select…

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Yes, there is a vast difference between having a spare old computer to try linux on versus having to setup a dual boot.

Missed that . Super important.
I have seen Timeshift in Mint… it is at least friendly.

Overall Mint or Ubuntu or MX probably go closest to meeting the more important items on that list.
That doesnt mean we cant do better in future.
dont forget hardware solutions


OK, you say they have now got it setup even for very new video cards. That is great.

What happens with very old cards that nvidia no longer provides propietary drivers for.?

I’ve no idea - I’d say it would depend on a bunch of different things - and - I don’t really have anything older than a GTX650 (which I bought circa 2012/13 - mostly recently used it with “Folding at Home” at the start of the covid pandemic - it worked - sure I had to tweak some stuff for CUDA - but that’s not a new user thing anyway).

I have an old AMD mobo with a dual core AMD cpu with two NVidia GT series (not GTX - circa 2008) in SLI mode - but I really couldn’t be arsed hooking it up to an ATX power supply and booting - for purely academic reasons… I guess I should toss it out - but - I NEVER toss stuff out! :smiley: Hence why I still have a Sparc IPX lunchbox system (doesn’t run needs a new NVRam battery and HOSTID).

I had one of those with SunOS.

The old card issue is this,.
Around about kernel 5.18 the kernel developers changed the interface for device drivers. Every device driver had to be modified. Every device maker in the world just did the minor modification and got on with it… except nvidia… they refused to modify their older drivers… It affected the nouveau drivers too, because the nouveau drivers ‘borrow’ bits of the nvidia code.
So, a whole lot of older nvidia cards stopped working with new kernels… that happened to me, and I eventually gave up and purchased a new AMD card… then ran into issues with Debian not supporting the new card.
So why cant some Linux body put pressure on nvidia to do some simple mods to their older drivers?

For thousands of users of 10 year old computers the choice is

  • use a very old kernel
  • buy a new video card, preferably not nvidia
  • stop using Linux
    There is no Linux distro that can fix this problem… it is a kernel issue.

There’s a famous video of Linus Torvalds using 4 letter words and flipping the bird at NVidia… probably more than 10 years ago… Nothing’s changed… Except that nouveau is getting better… If I was still using NVidia card, I’d probably still opt for the proprietary stack…

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If nvidia had wanted to go out of their way to disable Linux on older computers, they could not have done a better job.

I dont know how BSD gets on… do you?

I’ve only really ever used BSD on Intel GPU on older thinkpads…

Nvidia is in the business of designing graphics cards for gamers, they could care less about Linux.
Have you priced some Nvidia cards lately?

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I dont intend to buy one. It will be amd or intel in future.

What are gamers going to do when MS goes cloud?
They may end up with Linux.

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