Further Into Open Source

The recent article "Getting Started with Open Source", covered some options for trying out Open Source operating systems, namely Linux. The article did talk about Ubuntu, which many people will relate to as being Linux. The thing is, Ubuntu is not the only choice. It is just one in thousands of what are called "distributions", or types of Linux.

As Linux is free to use and change, you could imagine that a lot of people have done just that-- and they have. There is a type of Linux out there for almost every imaginable purpose. So the raw variety available can make choosing which one to use a little difficult at times. Which is best for home learning?

Most standard desktop Linuxes come complete with the basic types of software most families would need. And anything not there can be installed at a later date. So there could be worse choices than just arbitrarily choosing Ubuntu. But, there are choices which might be better suited for home learning.

One feature to look for in a distribution is that it has a live DVD version. As discussed in "Getting Started with Open Source", that will allow you to easily take it for a test spin to see if you like it and to see how it works on your machine. But having a live version is fairly common, so you might not need to worry about it.

Apart from that decision, two distributions are likely to fit with home learning needs in the majority of cases. Those are Linux Mint and Ubuntu Studio. The rest of this article will describe them and the reasons you would want to look at them.

Linux Mint

For your average family needing standard tools, Linux Mint is a ready choice. LM has ranked number 1 in popularity for a lot of the memorable past. A good part of this interest has been because Mint has a simple, familiar and easy to use look. There are actually more than one version of the distribution, but most of the interfaces could be compared to a clean rendition of a classic version of Windows.

The ease of use goes beyond just the decor. The mechanics of Mint are based on Ubuntu (for what it is, Ubuntu has been quite popular as well), so the standard programs available have been used by a wide base of people and, therefore, tend to run into fewer issues. Mint has additionally fine-tuned things, especially its environment, so that it is smoother. For one example, printing can often be troublesome with Linux, but I have found that Mint is generally as successful, or more so, at printing as comparable older versions of Windows.

Having come from that Ubuntu base, LM shares the programs available to Ubuntu. This means that, not only are the standard packages there, but a quite wide variety are at your choosing.

Ubuntu Studio

Not everyone needs just the basics. Depending on the style of learning your family follow, Ubuntu Studio might be the better choice. Since the decision simply means a bigger download, it does not make a huge difference in terms of resources, though the bigger download means more disk space will be needed (this makes a bigger difference for older computers, because most newer ones should have far more capacity than necessary). The other potential problem is that these types of programs will need more memory and a faster processor, which will once again have greater effect on older systems.

Studio has some of the basic learning programs one would expect, but was put together as a collection of tools especially for multimedia. For families with learners doing online projects, this includes programs for making music, audio recording, creating graphics, editing videos and performing page layout. US is one of the longer standing distributions in an area where many have come and gone.

The important part here is not that the programs are merely together in one place for convenience. That is helpful, but the other thing is that they are generally configured. The person using the software will not escape settings by any means, but a lot is already in place compared to if a person were to download everything cleanly. Music related software can be especially complex, so this can specifically meaningful with all of those programs which might need to work together.

So between Linux Mint and Ubuntu Studio, there are two choices in good standing for use in family learning. Both distributions have been around for a good while and both have been tried. They both have feature sets that could support different needs and types of learning. LM would be a solid choice for those needing basic tools for general purpose and possibly more traditional approaches, where US would specialize for possibly more project oriented work. As well as requiring higher spec machines, US is going to require more effort and understanding to use effectively. If neither has the overall chemistry that you feel your family is looking for, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. If that is the case and you feel ok with technical information, Distrowatch has a huge listing and resources that might help you find that certain special something.

Further Into Open Source original article at learningwilds.net

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