Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Most computer users have heard of Linux, but not that many have actually tried to use a version of Linux on their computer. Apart from the obvious fact that Linux is unfamiliar to many, there is also the problem that there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of Linux versions (known as distributions) to choose from. So where does a first-timer start?
The best approach is to pick one of the ten most popular versions of Linux and install that. In most cases, the more popular a Linux distribution is the more likely you are to find support online.
Saying with any certainty which are the ten most popular Linux releases is not completely straight forward - there are too many variables - but a site such as Distrowatch maintains a list of the Linux distributions being talked about the most on the site. Using this we can build a relatively good list of popularity:
1 - Ubuntu
One of the best known versions of Linux, founded by SA's Mark Shuttleworth. Ubuntu is easy to install and designed to be relatively easy for first time Linux users. Ubuntu is very versatile, running on servers, desktops, laptops and netbooks. New versions of Ubuntu are released every six months and the current version is Ubuntu 10.10, otherwise known as Maverick Meerkat. The next release will be in April 2011, named Natty Narwhal, and will feature a number of big changes from the current edition.