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Some would argue that Ubuntu Linux is the only choice when it comes to a GNOME based distribution. I disagree, there are half a dozen solid GNOME based distributions available to users. These include Linux Mint, Fedora, CentOS and Mandriva. One thing to keep in mind is that each of these distributions make available both the GNOME and KDE desktop environments. You are not restricted as to what desktop environment you use, and in some cases they do each equally well, I simply find these distributions do GNOME better than KDE so I've included them here.
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Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and uses the GNOME desktop environment by default. Like Ubuntu, the Linux Mint desktop is a slightly modified GNOME desktop. The biggest difference between Linux Mint and Ubuntu, aside from a much better looking default desktop, is the additional configuration tools, developed by the Linux Mint team, specifically for Linux Mint. These tools include:
- MintAssistant: Set a root password and/or display quotations in the terminal window.
- MintBackup: Single file backup of your home directory.
- MintDesktop: Specify the nautilus mode, setup desktop icons and remove splash screens from supported applications.
- MintNanny: Can be configured to block specific websites from your children.
- MintUpdate: Similar to the Ubuntu update system but gives the user the ability to choose which packages to update based on security level (1-5).
- MintInstall: One of my favorite aspects of Linux Mint! MintInstall really sets itself apart from the basic Ubuntu install system with the addition of screenshots, user ratings and user comments to the install system. These additional features are built on top of the already solid Ubuntu install system. MintInstall uses the Ubuntu repositories by default as well as giving the user the ability to install packages from the Linux Mint repository. This repository contains packages built and certified by the Linux Mint developers.
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Fedora is known as a cutting edge distribution. Fedora is a RPM based distribution (package management) while Ubuntu and Linux Mint are DEB based but you won't encounter any differences here provided you use the GUI's provided with each distribution to install software. One of the biggest differences between Fedora and the other two distributions is the versions of the packages available to you. Fedora tends to test and make available more "cutting-edge" packages, giving you access to the latest and greatest features, but on occasion this will result in bugs in packages that you won't see in the same package on Ubuntu and Linux Mint.
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Ubuntu Forums: The place to be for Ubuntu Linux related issues. This is a very active site and a great community. Overall the members are knowledgeable and eager to help, although the odd flame war has been known to break out here. If you are to bookmark a single online resource for Ubuntu Linux this is it! The Ubuntu forums were originally designed to provide support for Ubuntu Linux users but have since grown to be so much more. Whether you use Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, CentOS or Mandriva in most cases you will be able to find help here.
For additional online resources please visit my article 10 of the Best Online Resources for Linux Beginners. These resources should get you started on your journey to become an Ubuntu Linux expert. Should you have any questions or comments about this guide don't hesitate to post them here and I will do my best to answer. Until next time, keep it open-source!
Other GNOME Distributions and Additional Resources
If you've decided to make the switch to one of the world's most popular Linux distributions (Ubuntu), but are unsure where to start, you've come to the right place! In this guide I will introduce you to the basics of the Ubuntu Linux OS (operating system).