This does not mean that I now dislike the other distros I have fallen in love with. My desktop computer runs Ubuntu Feisty and my laptop runs Fedora 7. The desktop in my office will soon run Sabayon.
Two weeks ago I facilitated a five-day workshop on Linux. The principal goal of the workshop was to teach participants how to install, configure, and maintain a Linux-based computer system. Only two of the eighteen participants had previous experience with Linux. The rest were all newbies.
I didn’t want the participants to experience only one distro, so I taught them to install and configure three popular Linux flavors, namely PCLinuxOS 2007, DreamLinux 2.2, and Ubuntu 7.04. The main reason why I chose these distros is that they use different desktop environments. PCLinuxOS uses KDE, DreamLinux runs XFCE, and Ubuntu utilizes the Gnome system. Another reason is that these three flavors use the same package manager. It is my personal opinion that Synaptic is the best of all package managers on the planet.
The participants found PCLinuxOS to be the easiest to use, DreamLinux as the most beautiful, and Ubuntu as the hardest to master. It is most probably because PCLinuxOS looks and feels very much like Windows XP that the participants (who are all XP users) found it intuitive. They also commented that the PCLinuxOS Control Center really makes managing the system almost effortless. They also noticed that all the hardware worked perfectly after installing any of the three distros.
I also taught the participants how to use common free and opensource applications for word processing (Writer), presentations (Impress) spreadsheets (Calc), web browsing (Firefox), email (Thunderbird), image manipulation (Gimp), playing audio (Amarok) and video (Kaffeine).
The fact that flash, java runtime environment, mp3 and other proprietary codecs are installed by default in PCLinuxOS and DreamLinux, the participants did not find any problem at all when they watched youtube videos, run Chikka, play music, and visited their favorite sites. They didn’t even notice that they were there. Thus when they switched to Ubuntu, they found it a bit tedious to install flash, j2re, and all the necessary codecs to play music and videos when both PCLinuxOS and DreamLinux worked out of the box.
It is beyond the scope of this short post to list all the advantages and disadvantages of the three distros, but based on my experience with my workshop participants, I think it suffices to say that PCLinuxOS and DreamLinux are probably the best distributions to use to introduce new users to Linux.