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Why I think we should stop recommending Ubuntu to new users coming from Windows
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Salvatos 22 Nov, 2021
Much like Arcadius, I installed Ubuntu for others back when I used Ubuntu, and now my mom runs on Mint MATE (I use MATE on my laptop and Cinnamon on my desktop). Both flavours of Mint are similar enough to classic Windows in layout to get used to quickly when it comes to navigation, making the learning curve less steep, and instructions for Ubuntu often apply to Mint as well so the support argument isn’t one I find compelling in this case.

I would add that there are in fact DEs or themes whose main goal and purpose is to mimic the UI of various Windows editions, so if that’s what the user needs to be comfortable with their computer, let them have it.
NotGeorgeCostanza 22 Nov, 2021
As a lifelong Windows user, my honest opinion is that, whatever distro Steam decides to use (it's already decided), that stands the greatest chance of breaking single digit adoption rates for Linux.

The closest thing we have right now is Arch Linux Manjaro. Steam OS 3.0 is going to be based on Arch. Valve is recommending people do their testing on Manjaro.

With that said, when Steam Deck finally appears in the hands of the masses, you'll begin to see Linux numbers rise, particularly Arch Linux numbers.

When that happens, the tutorials will happen. The internet will be inundated with questions and answers from Windows users just trying to get their Steam games working on Linux, and they might have questions regarding installing various other desktop software in Manjaro.

And hopefully, we will establish Arch Linux as basically the next big thing side by side Ubuntu in terms of userbase. My guess is, eventually Arch Linux will dominate.

Does that mean I think Arch Linux is the best? How should I know? I'm just a Windows user. But I can tell you from my experience, that the moment I had to use YAY in a terminal, I became **very** confused, and I'm still confused even til this day. YAY produces lots of errors and confusion for me. I don't like it, and I think a lot of Windows users will also not like it.

I think recommending Arch Linux is probably the best decision since it stands the best chance of dethroning Ubuntu, and that's just based on logic, not my personal opinion whether or not I think Arch Linux is good. I actually rather dislike Linux on the whole, but I'm pretty open minded and will learn it if that's the direction things seem to be going, which it does.
dubigrasu 22 Nov, 2021
Depending what you understand by Arch.
Plenty of new users (and especially tech-inclined tweakers) will be delighted by what Arch Linux has to offer, is one of the purest Linux experience in that sense.
But recommending vanilla Arch Linux en-masse to new users is a dangerous proposition. Arch based, is a different story though, and that's probably what you meant.
mrdeathjr 22 Nov, 2021
Quoting: dr_jekyllAlso: Arch is not complicated and will not crash all the time


Last edited by mrdeathjr on 22 November 2021 at 9:09 pm UTC
Dennis_Payne 23 Nov, 2021
I don't think it matters. My wife uses Windows but has been able to help my son when he was having trouble on his Fedora box. For most things anyone can use a modern distro. If people can only understand Windows, we wouldn't have smart phones or chromebooks. However convincing someone to try is difficult and if their application/game isn't available they don't see a reward.
g000h 23 Nov, 2021
My elderly parents owned a Core2Duo iMac, bought many years ago on my suggestion as a better option for them than using MS Windows. (They were scared of viruses and malware and from my experience with Windows, Mac seemed a simpler and safer way forwards.) This worked out fine for the better part of a decade, until their iMac was left behind, and couldn't be upgraded any more within the Mac ecosystem.

At this point, they were interested in moving, maybe to a different OS, but at least something up to date and working. I suggested to them that I would set up a Linux machine for them, and they could try it out and see how they got on with it. As a Xmas present, I handed over the Linux PC, and gave them a little training on how to navigate the desktop. I also assisted them with things like moving their files, arranging their photo collection and music collection. Also, a backup solution was sorted out by me.

As computer users, they are amongst the worst you could imagine. They struggle to follow the most basic instructions. I still haven't managed to successfully train them how to use a file manager properly.

However, they can get around the DE fine - They can find their files and open them. They can launch programs, browse the internet, launch the backup software, run the software update, read their emails, work on documents and spreadsheets, scan paper and print things out.

They are using Debian Stable with Gnome 3.3 desktop environment, and they are not struggling with it. They are practically the least-capable computer users you could imagine.

They use:
LibreOffice, BackInTime, Firefox (with uBlock Origin), Thunderbird, Gnome's Software Manager, Gnome's Nautilus file manager, VLC player, EOG (Eye of Gnome) image viewer, Rhythmbox, MPV player, Shotwell photo manager, Simple Scan.

Meanwhile, I use Debian 11 Bullseye and (currently) Gnome 3.33, with proprietary Nvidia drivers, and thanks to Steam and Proton(WINE) tech - I can play most games in my 2000+ collection. (The anti-cheat PVP ones are the non-working titles - at the moment.)

If I want more "up to date" software, then I just need to switch Debian Stable to Debian Unstable (or Experimental) or use backports. Or I could use Snaps or AppImages or compile from source, for bleeding edge. I like having a stable, reliable system, that has a competent team of testers ensuring that the system doesn't break. Also, I like Debian's stance on FOSS.

EDIT: One thing to note, you can install a plethora of Desktop Environments on Debian - Gnome, KDE Plasma, LXDE, Cinnamon, MATE, LXQt, XFCE, etc. If you dislike Gnome, plenty of others to choose from.

Last edited by g000h on 23 November 2021 at 12:58 pm UTC
denyasis 23 Nov, 2021
Quoting: RoosterEven 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.

Is that really a con? Sounds like expected Windows behavior to me! 😋 J/k!

But I can understand the desire for some familiarity. I moved away from Ubuntu when they introduced Unity and to Mint.
I respect Ubuntu. Ubuntu had done more for the Linux desktop/gaming than anyone else, but that doesn't mean it'll always be the best for new users.

If we're looking for something with similar patterns to windows, I can't think of a DE that doesn't have some options to be familiar (start menu, taskbar, system tray). We've even adopted the names!


I end by saying I don't think this actually solves the problem of user not being familiar with Linux. We're mostly gamers here, how do you learn a new game?

What Linux needs more than anything is a proper tutorial. Built into the system on first run. Opt-out.

YouTube/online Tutorials... Nope. 1. People looking for answers are trusting and someone googling YouTube will trust that solution and use it without context, essentially blind, possibly breaking the system. 2. The quality and trustworthiness are dubious. How many times have you found an answer online where the solution requires sudo without a full explanation of how potentially dangerous that is?

I'm not talking about the first run splash screen. Something interactive that takes you through the DE, AND it's programs, including the CLI (when they get to it)

A proper thing built-in to the UI would solve a lot of problems. Including unfamiliarity regardless of the environment.

The problem is that it's not a glory project, it's very hard to implement, and since it has little use beyond me users, most of us likely think it's beneath us.
dr_jekyll 23 Nov, 2021
As some folks here seem to assume that I recommend Arch for new users.
I actually never said that.

I said that there is a lot of missinformation that is repeated over and over again (mostly by people who never even used Arch).

New users could probably use Manjaro, Fedora and some others instead.


Regarding "stable" distros:
I hear it over and again how people praise all the "stable" distros; I only had problems with them (missing functionality and compatibility in software etc.) (I used mostly Debian for years) and in the beginning I did not realize that all of these problems occur because of super outdated packages.

To say it clearly I am not saying that no one should use "stable" distros, but everyone should be more honest about it.
Rolling-release distros are not bad at all and you should not always discourage every new user from using those.
Instead you should also be honest about the major downsides of "stable" distros:
super outdated software, resulting in missing functionality, compatibility issues (I am talking about third-party software and third-party data here), potencial security problems, bugs etc.

Regarding Arch (and other rolling-release distros):
They are not unstable and also not complicated, for the following reasons:
1. A distro that provides official upstream releases of software (like rolling-release distros do) is not unstable, that is simply missinformation, some might even say it is a lie.
2. Configuration etc. can as easy as on "stable" distros, it is all a matter of whether the distro maintainers want that or not.
2.a) This brings us to the specific topic of Arch; the maintainers there don't want it easy (it's a pity, but its their choice). Still using Arch is much easier than I initially thought (because of all the bad comments about it):
All you need to do is the following:
- use a third-party installer, because setting it up the usual way is not so nice
- use pamac (or some other third-party package manager), because pacman does not support AUR and has no GUI
- some packages (very few in fact) need manual configuration (the wiki helps you with that)
- services need to be activated by hand (also wiki)
- Inform about AUR (most packages will work out of the box, but for security reasons users should of course know a bit about building and configuration of software)
- For the very rare case of startup issues:
- Use multiple kernels
- learn how to downgrade packages via console (not as complicated as it sounds)

All in all, the way Arch works is of course not newbie friendly (but other rolling-release distros are and can be), but still it is much easier than people tell you.
Dennis_Payne 24 Nov, 2021
Quoting: denyasisI end by saying I don't think this actually solves the problem of user not being familiar with Linux. We're mostly gamers here, how do you learn a new game?

What Linux needs more than anything is a proper tutorial. Built into the system on first run. Opt-out.
Fedora already has that. I haven't used it so I don't know if it is any good.
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