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Why I think we should stop recommending Ubuntu to new users coming from Windows
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Rooster 22 Nov
And recommend them Linux Mint instead:

Linux Mint and Ubuntu share a lot in common. However for new users (who come from Windows) there are two big Pros for Ubuntu and one big Con. First, I'll start with the Pros:

1) Ubuntu is the officially supported distro
If a software developer decides to support Linux, usually all of their testing will be done on Ubuntu

2) There are much more tutorials written for Ubuntu, compared to Linux Mint:
When a new user runs into a problem, first thing he will usually do is google the solution. He is guarantied to find way more results when looking for: How to do XY on Ubuntu, than when looking for: How to do XY on Linux Mint.

So far it looks like Ubuntu is the clear winner here. Now for the Con:

GNOME
Please dear GNOME users and lovers, don't start sharpen your pitchfork yet. Yes yes, I know, you love your GNOME and can't see how anyone could ever prefer something like Cinnamon instead. And you know what, I hated GNOME at first, but after using it for a year, I now quite like it too. However, try to look at this from perspective of a user, who is coming from Windows. GNOME is very different from Windows DE and Ubuntufied GNOME even more so. Not to mention, GNOME is opinionated: You either do things the GNOME way, or no way. Even for some basic behavior, if the user doesn't like how GNOME does it, chances are, he will not find it in Settings, but will need to find and install an extension.

So for a new user (from Windows) that makes it: An unfamiliar environment, which you can't easily change to a more familiar one. And because we know how important familiarity with something is for most users, chances are, this plus the fact that it can't be easily changed will lead to frustration and eventually them coming back to Windows.

This is especially true, when it comes to "non-tech" users. I am a Linux enthusiast, so I often tell people about Linux and how great it is. And I already had 4 unrelated non-tech users tell me this:
- "Yeah, I tried Linux, I didn't like it"
- "What do you mean, tried Linux? Which distro?"
- "Linux"
- "Me explaining about Linux and distros"
- "Yeah, I just didn't like it, I'll stick with Windows"

What you have to realize is, that most "non-tech" users don't know what distros are and have no idea that one OS can (from their perspective) look and behave completely differently depending on the DE. That's why it makes way more sense for them to start on Cinnamon, which is made exactly for the purpose of Windows users being familiar with it, when compared to starting with GNOME.



So let's sum it up. On one hand, you have a big Con for Ubuntu which is unfamiliarity of new users with GNOME. On the other hand, you have better support and more tutorials for Ubuntu. However.. Since Linux Mint itself is based on Ubuntu, it is very unlikely that anything a new user would want to do will work on Ubuntu and not work on Mint. As for tutorials, chances are, that a new user will search for "How to do XY on Linux" and not "How to do XY on Ubuntu/Mint anyway, so it doesn't matter that much. I would say those are quite small cons against throwing a new user to a completely unfamiliar, opinionated environment like GNOME.


What are your thoughts about this? Do you disagree with me? If so, I would love to hear your opinion, as I think it is civilized discussions on controversial topics like this, which moves us forward. I promise I will try my best to be open-minded and understand your POV to the best of my abilities.
Ehvis 22 Nov
A year or so back I installed Mint because the MATE windows manager is a mess and I didn't really want to go back to the GNOME UI torture. Played a game, no GSYNC. Which surprised me because the Mint windows manager is supposed to be based on GNOME. But no amount of fiddling could make it work, it simply blocks it from functioning. So bye bye Mint.

So no, I don't think you can recommend Mint when it is just another DE that wants to do things differently and breaks things while doing that. Unfortunately, this seems to apply to everything except GNOME. Even KDE (which I checked longer ago though) decided that it knew better with kwin and subsequently broke variable refresh support. I honestly don't understand why there are so many windows managers / compositors when only one seems to function correctly.
Rooster 22 Nov
Quoting: EhvisA year or so back I installed Mint because the MATE windows manager is a mess and I didn't really want to go back to the GNOME UI torture. Played a game, no GSYNC. Which surprised me because the Mint windows manager is supposed to be based on GNOME. But no amount of fiddling could make it work, it simply blocks it from functioning. So bye bye Mint.

So no, I don't think you can recommend Mint when it is just another DE that wants to do things differently and breaks things while doing that. Unfortunately, this seems to apply to everything except GNOME. Even KDE (which I checked longer ago though) decided that it knew better with kwin and subsequently broke variable refresh support. I honestly don't understand why there are so many windows managers / compositors when only one seems to function correctly.

Interesting and good to know. Would you say that using GSYNC is important for every gamer? I have to admit, I myself have never even considered looking into it or using it. Then again, I have a 60Hz 1080 Non-GSYNC monitor, so currently I don't even have the option.



Btw, according to this post, it should work on KDE: https://www.reddit.com/r/linux4noobs/comments/kcavlj/nvidia_gsync_list_of_compatible_window_managers/

If that's true, then I'll consider recommending Kubuntu/KDE Neon instead of Mint, as I think KDE is still better DE for new users than GNOME, for the reasons stated in the OP.
Ehvis 22 Nov
Quoting: RoosterInteresting and good to know. Would you say that using GSYNC is important for every gamer?

I suppose opinions vary on that one, but for me it was one of the best things I added after getting an SSD. But I absolutely despise tearing and having an option to keep vsync on and allow a game to dip below 60 fps while remaining perfectly smooth a big benefit.

I really need to take some time to check kde again and see if all issues have been fixed now.
CatKiller 22 Nov
Quoting: RoosterI'll consider recommending Kubuntu/KDE Neon instead of Mint, as I think KDE is still better DE for new users than GNOME, for the reasons stated in the OP.
That's where I am for recommendations for new users. It's the best distro family to recommend, but Gnome is jarring.

I personally switched the laptop that was using Cinnamon to KDE as soon as I'd tried KDE 5 on my desktop (I'd tried KDE in the KDE 4 era and didn't really like it).

Even if you want to use Cinnamon or MATE, I'm not sure that Mint brings much over using the Cinnamon or MATE flavours of Ubuntu.
GustyGhost 22 Nov
I'm long finished trying to carefully frame and verbally package linuxes to people. No matter how far you (or distro and DE devs) bend over backwards to try to 'sell' others on linux, they nearly always write it off with the conclusion that it is not similar enough to Windows.

Essentially, one would need to create a complete visual and functional identical clone of Windows to appease these people, which for obvious reasons is infeasible. I have since adopted a mindset of letting the normies lie in the beds they have made for themselves. In order to use linux, or BSD or whatever else necessitates *some* amount of learning. I have no interest in helping people who are unwilling to help themselves.
eldaking 22 Nov
I just installed Kubuntu for my mom, because Windows 10 with her 4GB of RAM and Celeron was just too slow. I agree that Gnome is too unfamiliar (I also personally dislike it, but I'm not looking at what would be easier for me here).

But I don't think that is a compelling enough reason to choose Mint in particular, or even to move outside of the Ubuntu flavors.
dr_jekyll 22 Nov
I think that in general Ubuntu should not be recommended so much.

I remember when I first tried Linux many years ago.
The recommendations then were the same as today:
1. Use Ubuntu.
2. Use a "stable" distro.

For me the truth could not be further away from what the actual best system choice is:
1. Use rolling-release distros as these will be the only ones really up-to-date.
2. Use the major Desktop Environments (KDE or Gnome), because the small ones can work too, but will have lots of annoying small problems.

Also: Arch is not complicated and will not crash all the time, in contrast to what people will tell you .
slaapliedje 22 Nov
Quoting: dr_jekyllI think that in general Ubuntu should not be recommended so much.

I remember when I first tried Linux many years ago.
The recommendations then were the same as today:
1. Use Ubuntu.
2. Use a "stable" distro.

For me the truth could not be further away from what the actual best system choice is:
1. Use rolling-release distros as these will be the only ones really up-to-date.
2. Use the major Desktop Environments (KDE or Gnome), because the small ones can work too, but will have lots of annoying small problems.

Also: Arch is not complicated and will not crash all the time, in contrast to what people will tell you .
Arch is fine. The problem is that unless you dip into AUR (which can become orphaned and worse to maintain over time) that they don't have a lot of the software people want compiled as binary packages. This is why I usually recommend Debian, as most anything one could want is in the repositories (unless you're like Discord who can't be bothered to keep their package up to date).

But I also usually will set it up for new users and show them how to do updates. Then let them have at it. Much like Windows, the initial install probably just shouldn't be done by average users.
I stick to recommending what I use so that if and when they (those that ask for the recommendation) ask for help I can better guide them. For now that's POP OS and Twister OS.
dubigrasu 22 Nov
No way to tell what a Windows user wants, is not like there's a singular type of Windows user.
Gnome's simplified interface might be what he always wanted but never found on Windows.

Tough question, what distro to recommend, and I don't think there's a perfect answer. Distro hopping a list of distros for a while might be necessary.
But I'd say is better to be a mainstream one and also with a widely used DE, and Ubuntu still fits on that list.
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