December 26, 2011, 8:32 PM — If you're among the lucky ones to receive a new PC this holiday season, rejoice. There are few things as exciting as the potential of a brand-new machine.
Assuming it's not a Mac--or a machine with Linux preloaded--Windows almost certainly came installed on your device. If you're a Windows fan, that's great--you're all set for an operating system, then. If not, the hard part is choosing what to install instead.
In any case, the world of free and open source software has you covered, both for an operating system and for just about any other software you might need. Where to begin? Here are six suggestions.
1. Ubuntu Linux or Linux Mint
If you're not crazy about Microsoft Windows, or if you'd like to have an alternative on hand, there are countless Linux options you could try.
Among the two most popular, though--and the ones most agree are best suited for new users--are Ubuntu Linux and Linux Mint.
Ubuntu, of course, was long the No. 1 Linux distribution out there, and rightfully so. It was the first to put Linux on the "map" with mainstream users, I'd argue, and it still offers a really nice, easy-to-use open source operating system. The latest version of Ubuntu is "Oneiric Ocelot," or version 11.10, which can be downloaded for free from the Ubuntu site.
Linux Mint, however, has recently usurped Ubuntu's No. 1 spot, largely because of Canonical's decision to begin using the Unity interface by default in Ubuntu. That's been less than entirely popular with many longtime users, in particular, giving Mint a new boost.
Mint is a great distribution as well--also very focused on ease of use--and it gives users a number of choices for the desktop environment they want to use. So, for flexibility in your computing environment, you won't go wrong with Mint.