My choice for the main Desktop
I have tested several different Linux Distributions. The major ones include, Open SuSe, Fedora and Mandriva. All are good. Open SuSe is memory hungry. Fedora is a test-bed for the proprietary Red Hat Operating System. Mandriva is robust. I have Mandriva in Virtual Box and I quite like it. Out of all the ones I have tried, Ubuntu with the Gnome Desktop( The latest version called Natty Narwhal has the Unity Desktop) remains my main Operating System. Ubuntu is an African word. Archbishop Desmond Tutu gives the best explanation for its meaning as quoted below:
"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity."
Ubuntu is the most popular of all Linux Desktops thanks largely to its multi-millionaire founder, Mark Shuttleworth.
I find Ubuntu the easiest to work with. All that is required is downloading the cd (about 700mb). Those without a fast internet commection, you can request free CD from the Ubuntu home page. If it is downloaded, the software must be burned as an .iso image using Nero or other CD burning software. After that, put the CD in the CD drive and reboot the pc or laptop. It takes 30 minutes to install. The internet connection, Media, office suite (open office 3.2) work straight out of the box. The Ubuntu repository (a catalogue of all the software available from Ubuntu and third party) contains more than 2000 applications. Installation is quite easy. Click Applications and Software Centre. Look for all the available software and use the install option. Ubuntu also has "Synaptic Package Manager". Just click System, Administration and Synaptic Package Manager. Installation as well as access to file system requires administrative privilege, so you will be asked for password, the same password that you enter when logging in the operating system. Synaptic will show a large number of applications. Clicking on any software, gives a short description of what the software is for. Installation is done by marking the software and then clicking apply. Software can also be installed by using the command "Apt-get install softwarename" in the terminal. For access to terminal, click Applications, then Accessories and terminal. The command must be preceded by sudo. You will be prompted for password. sudo command is ubuntu's way of giving administrative privilege to the user. Software can also be installed from the internet from the software vendor's site. More of that later.
The links on the left provide useful information about Ubuntu.