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I am in the process of refurbing several older laptop machines for use by a couple college guys we have in training to learn basic web development in python. These are students who intern at my company and are hoping to do some work when the summer comes building simple client-oriented webapps (learning the basics of OOP, MVC webapp design in flask, etc.). We're trying to function as the "practical" side of their education.

I would like to get them set up on these machines we have sitting about, but I'd like to use a linux distro that would have a gui that closely approximates what they are being compelled to use at school (windows.) I don't really have much of a preference as far as GUI goes since much of what we'll be learning together is accomplished on the command line. I just see this as an easier adjustment for them while they are still reliant on a graphical environment.

In the past I'd go straight for Ubuntu, but since they started using the Unity GUI the responsiveness overall can be pretty clunky on older machines, especially since these machines (there are four of them) run the gambit on specs (though all are at least 1.0Ghz and none have anything better than basic integrated video.)

Has anyone had to setup a similar working environment in Mint, bare Debian or Zorin? Thanks.

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closed as not constructive by Breakthrough, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, BBlake, Michael Hampton, Canadian Luke Nov 19 '12 at 21:27

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Why don't you just put Windows on them if the students are used to Windows? Otherwise just let them learn the UI of the distro you choose so they learn something new and practical. –  Ramhound Nov 19 '12 at 14:46
    
What exactly would you consider a Windows-like GUI? Which Windows do you have in mind? You can try Linux Mint if what you seek is having a "start" button on bottom left with list of applications in a task bar on the bottom. If you really want to emulate the Windows look (but not feel) you can opt for the Redmond Gtk theme. –  Jozef Legény Nov 19 '12 at 14:50
    
@Ramhound I'd rather avoid Windows since all the systems they will be working with in our environment are unix based, and familiarity with unix commands and filesys is something we are trying to stress. The GUI is just to help them get things done until they can become familiar with CLI. –  DeaconDesperado Nov 19 '12 at 15:16
    
@JozefLegény I would define Windows-Like along the terms you have - A single start-style menu or at least a windowed environment with context menus (file,edit etc) on every window. Mint was the first thing that sprang to mind for me as well. –  DeaconDesperado Nov 19 '12 at 15:17
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@DeaconDesperado I'm sorry, but I'm voting to close this question as not constructive. Nothing can come close to emulating the experience of another entire operating system. Go with a popular Linux distribution with a window manager of your choice (I find Xubuntu is good, Xfce is very similar to the Windows style), but stress to the students that they should learn the CLI interface. You are not helping them by making Linux more "Windows-like", and that's coming from someone who is a teaching assistant for the UNIX software development class at my university. –  Breakthrough Nov 19 '12 at 16:20

2 Answers 2

Check out ZorinOS. It has a very Windows like feel to it.

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I feel that Kubuntu (KDE visual environment instead of Gnome or Unity) is best one to go with. It has a 'start' button similar to windows, and many other features. So, you could go with it.

Or you could install Ubuntu without unity and then install Gnome or KDE, whichever you wish. You could search in Ubuntu forums for more info on this:

Ubuntu without Unity - One that came out top in the search.

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