In the last articles we have taken care of the computer on which we now want to install Linux. My new laptop has already arrived and you either have an old unit you want to keep using or a new one on hand as well. Now there is another important question to be answered: Which Linux suits you and your computer best?

Not all Linux is created equal, you may have heard that already. There are different variants with names like Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Debian. These variants are called distributions and differ in appearance, pre-installed applications and settings options.

Recommendation for beginners

For those who do not want to invest a lot of time in the search, we offer a shortcut here:

  • If you haven’t used Windows before or are willing to get used to a different operating concept
    Ubuntu Linux
    is a good and widely used choice.
  • If you want it to look similar to Windows, choose
    Linux Mint
  • If your laptop or computer is a bit older and the previous variants seem too slow when you try them out, you might want to consider
    Ubuntu Mate
    might be the right choice for you

You can now jump directly to the next section and trust our recommendation, or go to the “Advanced” tab for a more detailed explanation.

I will keep the explanation short. There are numerous Linux variants, some of which hardly differ for beginners. If you want to familiarize yourself with the variety, you can find the right distribution for you with the help of the “Distrochooser”(https://distrochooser.de/de) and some questions.

What is important in the selection for you as a Linux beginner*.in important? 1. the system should be easy to use, preferably similar to the ones you know. 2. software, such as drawing programs, video editing, etc., should be easy to install. 3. the distribution should be stable, which can be a problem with open source projects, if only a few people are involved. 4. help should be available quickly in case of problems, with problems being solved by the developers.inside should be avoided.

I found the switch from Windows to Ubuntu quite easy, and we had similar experiences in our IT café. Linux Mint is visually reminiscent of Windows right after startup, for example with a program bar and a start menu. Getting started is also made easier by a small “guided tour” and videos. This means that requirement 1 is fulfilled.

Ubuntu and also Linux Mint, which is based on Ubuntu, already have frequently needed software such as a browser, mail program, etc. preinstalled. Additional programs can be installed later via an app store, as known from mobile devices. There are also a number of free games. Thus, both meet requirement 2.

Ubuntu has existed since 2004 and is constantly being developed further by the Canonical Foundation. Linux Mint has also been around for a long time, since 2006, and the number of supporters is large. So the risk that no one will continue to work on the open source projects is very low. In addition, both operating systems are tested a lot by volunteers and problems with updates hardly ever occur. Through various channels, for example forums or a search engine, you can quickly find help with problems. Requirements 3 and 4 are therefore also met.

However, Ubuntu Linux and Linux Mint make certain demands on the computer. In the following sections, we describe how you can test whether the systems run on your computer. If there are any problems, it offers,
Ubuntu MATE
to try it out. It has similar advantages to Ubuntu, but uses a different user interface that runs fast even on older machines.

Prepare installation

To install the selected distribution on your computer, you must provide it on a boot medium; this can be a CD or a USB stick from which your computer can “boot” at startup. I recommend using a USB stick as the easiest way.

Download the latest version of the distribution from their website. You should get a file with the extension .iso. With the software Etcher from Balena, balenaEtcher for short, you can turn the USB stick into a boot medium. The software is available for Windows, MacOS and Linux. Just download, install and start. The software is unfortunately only available in English, but easy to use.

  1. Click “Flash from file” and select the previously downloaded .iso file.
  2. “Select target” click and select the USB stick (recognizable by the memory size of a few GB, gigabyte – usually between 8 and 32 GB).
  3. Click “Flash!” and wait until the distribution has been transferred to the USB stick.

This prepares the USB stick for testing and installation.

Is everything running smoothly?

Now the computer can be started from the USB stick. Insert the USB stick and start the computer. If Linux doesn’t appear now, you’ll first need to get the computer to use the USB stick; this will be a bit more technical. By default, the computer is set to first search for and start an operating system on the hard disk. To make this äIf you want to change the settings, you have to interrupt the computer before booting from the hard disk and select the USB stick for booting. The variants are manifold, therefore I refer to an explanation at heise.de, the article is this way. Does it not work directly? Then feel free to ask us for help!

If everything worked, now boot Linux from the USB stick. You will be greeted and asked if you want to go directly to the installation or start Linux (from the stick). Now you have the opportunity to test if everything works smoothly; for example: is the picture of the webcam captured, can data from SD cards be loaded with the card reader and does the WLAN or the Internet via cable work at all?

To try it out, you choose to start Linux. Some applications are preinstalled, for example the Firefox browser. The browser can be used to test the Internet access, webcam and microphone, for example, by starting a free video chat. To test the SD card, simply insert a card into the reader; the device is usually detected automatically and when the card is inserted, a file browser opens with the contents. Of course, you can also try out the other programs.

On to the installation

With the creation of a USB flash drive or other boot media running your chosen Linux, you are ready to install Linux in the next step. By booting Linux from the stick, you can also be sure that your computer’s hardware is supported. For me, installing Linux was a bit of a hurdle, and I did a little research on various steps. It is important to me that my data is secure. You’ll find out how to do that in the next blog post in the series.