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Linux distributions comparison

As a Windows developer, I want to start developing on Linux - developing web apps using NetBeans, Ruby etc. I'm confused as to what to use - Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Lubuntu/Fedora/Debian...?! Why are there so many distributions of Linux? What's that about?

Appreciate it if someone could guide me on this.

Update: Thanks for all your answers. I installed Ubuntu and after about 30 minutes, the mouse freezes! Still looking for a fix :(

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migrated from Jul 23 '10 at 23:27

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by Sathya, random Jul 24 '10 at 3:00

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Zabba, I'd suggest that you look at Super User or elsewhere for general information about Linux distributions, e.g. what they are, what distinguishes one from another, what the major (and minor) options are, and so on. – David Z Jul 23 '10 at 23:00
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I just installed Linux Mint (first installation of Linux for me). Being a Windows developer, I'm so far very happy about it - I'm trying to learn Python, Vala and Mono on it. And as far as I understand it - NetBeans should work on most Linux distros incl. Ubuntu and Mint (which is based on Ubuntu).

Story about the many distros - I guess, since the source code is freely available, many people will decide to make a distro that fits exactly their needs...

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Yeah, thats making some sense - so a distro is really a linux base and then it has various software on it, pre-installed, right? – Zabba Jul 23 '10 at 22:54
Aye. Since there are different desktops (gnome, KDE etc) - they are usually distributed with in several variants. Some - like Ubuntu and Mint - look Window'ish while some are text-based and so on. – Goblin Jul 23 '10 at 23:01
Linux Mint would give a familiar look to Windows users(the mint menu esp). As it is derived from Ubuntu, its support is a super-set of ubuntu & mint community. Netbeans & Ruby runs file too. – nahar Jul 23 '10 at 23:53

Well, it's always a personal choice. I suggest you to start with Ubuntu 10.04 because of 1 rule:

Bigger the community, better the support.

Netbeans 4.1 works on Linux (for sure in Ubuntu)

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If I wanted to install Netbeans for example, would it work on any Linux distribution or would I need some specific dist? – Zabba Jul 23 '10 at 22:46
@Zabba: Your choice of distribution does not affect which programs you can run. So Netbeans will work just fine on any distribution. – David Z Jul 23 '10 at 22:48
The community size argument is sound. Altough I use Centos 5 myself these days, I think ubuntu is a really good starting point. – tovare Jul 24 '10 at 1:38
B/w always good to know what most people use: – thegeek Jul 24 '10 at 15:28

Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Lubuntu are all based on Debian, the distribution I favor for my servers. They all have shorter release cycles than Debian and have an integrated desktop system.

For development machines I also would recommend Ubuntu because I like Debian and you get early updates through the shorter release cycle.

If you are developing through a virtual machine like virtual box, you could run several different distributions on your windows host and use your windows netbeans ide to connect to the headless (no desktop system) virtual machines.

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Since you're a Windows user I would recommend that you install cygwin and donwload a UNIX tutorial to star practicing, once you feel comfortable with the basic commands then you could do the move to Linux.

Ubuntu (Linux for Human Beings) is the best distribution to start.


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I think, going directly to Ubuntu is a better idea. – zengr Jul 23 '10 at 23:03

Netbeans 6.8 and 6.9 Installs perfectly in Ubuntu 10.04 and CentOS 5 and certainly many others. You can get the combined Java JDK+Netbeans installer

As others mentioned Ubuntu is the friendlier desktop when coming from Windows. Other distros have different purposes

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