Distro hunting: I am trying to choose a good first Linux distro for a friend. I'm planning to set it up for them, so I'm not worried about having "batteries included".

I would like to go with , since it seems to be small and simple, and I might eventually switch to it myself. However, I'm concerned that it might be too idealistic for someone who just wants to use a computer. Does anyone have an experience report from that perspective?

An example of what I'm talking about is with Wayland vs. X. I'm use to fiddling around with newer technology until I get things to work, so I don't mind dealing with the current shortcomings of the Wayland experience. However, I'm more wary of putting a first-timer on Wayland, since occasionally weird things happen.

@philipwhite alpine is nice, but the desktop experience is a little bit rough because a lot of free desktop stuff has a hard time with musl.

@xj9 @philipwhite
Alpine does have less packages than your more mainstream distro (largely due to the musl incompatibilities), but the it's definitely improving all the time.

I'd recommend figuring out what your friends needs are and seeing if the software is available as a package. Be sure to look for things in the "community" repo:

FWIW, I've been using Alpine Linux as my main distro for almost two years now on a few laptops (and a surface tablet too!). it may take some additional configuration and tweaking (depending on your hardware), but once you get past all that, it just turns on and works. it's quite refreshing.

@paul @xj9 @philipwhite opensuse if you just want to use the computer and not think about it too hard. they have yast, open build service and you can install the majority of your shit through their web page that just triggers yast to do the install.

alpine is all console tweaking but it works fine. anything exotic will be suffering (i had to replace chunks of the seadrive build scripts to run it on my alpine raspi) for a normie.

@paul @xj9 Thanks for the recommendations and perspectives. Sounds like the concern about Alpine is not entirely unfounded, but it might not be enough to prevent going for it.

@philipwhite honestly, having used it for a year or so and being an arch/gentoo person before, I'd say go with lubuntu or kde neon. I know you say you're setting it up for them, but this way they get a stable, well-supported OS and without Herculean effort on your part

@philipwhite If you ask me, I'd suggest Arch or Manjaro.

Arch especially allows you to tailor the distro to your friends use case and hardware. X has proven itself, as has Xfce as a desktop environment once you have some nice icon sets and themes installed.

In the end, it's probably also important to include your friends requirements and needs. And if that's on reliability then I'd stay away from Wayland (but I consider Arch stable enough).

@philipwhite I was looking at other people's replies and I'm surprised no one suggested Fedora. It's the most polished experience that I've seen, especially for people who aren't used to manage a Linux system. Everything is very consistently put together.

I put it on my wife's laptop and she's been using it without much trouble for several months and she doesn't have any Linux experience.

@loke Thanks for the suggestion. Full disclosure: the friend I'm talking about is my fiancee, so you mentioning your wife's experience is very much on topic.

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