Let me clarify before the flaming begin. Ubuntu is the best distro for everyday use. I use a number of distros, even tried PCBSD, but when I need a dependable machine for day-to-tasks… I use Ubuntu.
- Ease of Installation: you can have an Ubuntu system up and running in no time. It takes about 15 minutes to half an hour to get the base system installed. It generally recognizes all hardware right off the bat.
- Hardware recognition: I’ve installed Ubuntu on 137 systems and overseen installation on a few hundred more. Ubuntu recognizes and works perfect for most devices. I have had 2 cases in which Ubuntu used incorrect drivers (for video of course). The chosen drivers worked, but had the wrong resolution and poor performance. This was easily remedied by choosing the correct drivers. I have had 1 case in which Ubuntu would not start X. I was still able to install via the command line.
- Ease of use: Almost everything is point-and-click. Change the resolution, disk access, and other preferences with a simple menu.
- Software installation: Apt-get is easy as it is, but throw in Synaptic or Adept and even my grandmother can install Amarok (she likes to boogie).
- Support: This may be due to popularity, but the Ubuntu forums contain the largest and most helpful collection of individuals that I’ve ever come across. Post a question and you will have an answer in about 10 minutes. Also, unlike most help lines, people there actually know how to speak/write English.
- Automatix: Despite recent criticism, I feel that the Automatix team deserves some credit. This handy app gives us a complete system with codecs and all in the least amount of time.
I may have written about Ubuntu’s faults, but despite its shortcomings it is still the best distro for beginners and anyone needing a solid day-to-day OS. Other distros may come close, but they all lack some key component that keeps me coming back to Ubuntu.
- openSUSE – poor software installation and painfully slow
- Fedora – installation is a hassle
- PCLinuxOS – comes close, but hardware recognition is not as good
- MEPIS – great innovations, but not nearly as stable
- Mandriva – used to be great, but has lots of bugs… lots
- Sabayon – very promising, but not as beginner friendly
Ubuntu is as easy to get as is to use. Check out their site to download CD/DVD images or have them send you some free!