For those of you who feel you have been shortchanged by Microsoft’s new Windows 8 along with it’s metro style interface, don’t worry. There a host of operating systems out there that you can try out for a replacement to your trusty old OS. Below are some of the best alternatives. I am sticking to Linux based systems and prefer not to guide newbies to other Operating Systems such as BSD.
You may have already heard of Ubuntu. It is the first stop you should make on your way to Linux desktop computing. It is the easiest way to get yourself immersed into the world of Linux. But what you may not know is that there are myriad options even within Ubuntu that you can try in order to get your perfect desktop setup.
By default, Ubuntu comes with their in-house developed Unity desktop interface. But just like Metro, not everyone will take to the Unity interface and the blogosphere is teaming with people that don’t have a high opinion of it. So what can you do? You can checkout the other Ubuntu derivatives such as Kubuntu that provides a KDE desktop environment, which is highly configurable and easy to use. You can also checkout:
- Lubuntu – Ubuntu derivative with the LXDE desktop environment. Very light-weight.
- Xubuntu – Derivative with the XFCE light-weight desktop environment.
- Ubuntu Gnome Remix – With the latest Gnome desktop environment.
Although based on Ubuntu, Linux Mint is nowadays considered even more suitable to newbies than the default Ubuntu. Linux Mint has a more complete out-of-the-box experience than Ubuntu by including proprietary software like Java and the Adobe Flash web browser plugin, which are not installed by default in most Linux distributions.
Arch linux is more useful for intermediate to advanced users and has a policy for simplicity. But don’t jump right into Arch as it can be a bit intimidating at first. Despite their motto of simplicity, it isn’t user-friendliness but configuration and software freedom that they refer to by simplicity. You can have a very lean and non-resource hungry system using Arch linux as it allows you to only install -exactly what you require to get your work done and nothing else. You have a choice of all the desktop environments mentioned above. But installation is not for the uninitiated.
You can try a lot of different flavors and mixes to see what works for you best. Which is one of the best things about open source software: choice. In addition, there are a plethora of software available that can replace your traditional Windows based software solutions and some windows based software solutions also have a linux version.