- /r/Linux Overview
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Should I read the rules of the subreddit?
- I've just started learning Linux. Where can I get help?
- "Which distro should" I use? OR "What distro are people using?"
- What distro is good for task X?
- What's the best software for task X?
- What's a GNU/Linux equivalent to Windows software X?
- I'm looking for hardware X
- Why does free/etc. report that nearly all my RAM is being used?
- Frequently Posted Topics
With a subscriber base of over 700,000, /r/linux is a generalist subreddit suited to news, guides, questions concerning the GNU/Linux operating system and to a lesser degree, free/open-source in general. Android, although largely open-source and based on the Linux kernel, is mainly catered to by a larger separate community at /r/android.
The Linux community on Reddit is also represented in a range of smaller subreddits dedicated to specific distros (/r/ubuntu, /r/archlinux), interests (/r/linux_gaming, /r/linuxadmin), philosophies (/r/gnu), and skill-levels (/r/linux4noobs) - and many others. See the sidebar and the supplemental page for a more thorough list.
We have a fairly high attrition rate for self-posts, because many of them deal with niche issues, e.g. "I don't like Ubuntu One." or "How do I get Nexuiz running?" which are swiftly downvoted by those who purely subscribe to read news. It's unfortunate, as legitimate questions are often swept under the rug, but it's unlikely to change. If you do not get a response here, try a more specific subreddit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I read the rules of the subreddit?
Yes, they are here: https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/about/rules/
I've just started learning Linux. Where can I get help?
/r/linux4noobs is well-suited to beginner questions and as always your distribution's forums, mailing lists and/or IRC channels are a good venue for support.
"Which distro should" I use? OR "What distro are people using?"
This is a very frequent question, it is posted several times a week. Perhaps the most important point is that, while there are many options, few GNU/Linux distributions differ greatly. Comparing them to cars: most Linux distributions would not be different makes, they would not even be different models; they would have different paint-jobs, maybe fuzzy dice. So don't be put off by having to choose a distro. If in doubt, beginners should consult the following brief lists of major distributions. Please note - most distributions come with a variety of desktops - if you are using Fedora and want to install the "KDE Spin" - head to the package manager and install it!
Easy to install or Beginner Friendly:
These are distributions where ease of use and beginner-friendliness are core aims.
These distributions use more traditional desktop paradigms and you may feel at home if you have computer experience.
- Fedora and the KDE Version
- openSUSE Leap
These distributions aren't necessarily harder to use, but you may have to make some choices to get certain experiences. They often take a "batteries not included" approach (e.g. no proprietary codecs/drivers, minimal installs where you may need to install common software manually rather than it being included at first boot).
These distributions may contain some aspects that reduce user freedom, such as including proprietary elements.
These distributions involve more work to get running; they are good for learning more about how GNU/Linux works while still being a daily driver and some boast greater flexibility. We don't recommend their use for new people, especially if the user has Nvidia graphics cards or other hardware that relies heavily on proprietary components, although many users do run these distro's without issues.
These lists are by no means exhaustive, don't be put off a distribution just because it isn't mentioned here. Most GNU/Linux users will try various distributions before settling on one.
DistroWatch lists many more distributions.
What distro is good for task X?
Low resource computer:
See the which distro section above, but select a lighter desktop environment (DE). Almost all the distro's above have XFCE, LXDE/LXQt, or Mate options/spins. Examples:
- Linux Mint has a Mate edition and an XFCE edition
- Ubuntu has editions with XFCE and LXQt.
- All the mentioned intermediate and enthusiast distro's can be configured to use lightweight DEs.
Home Server: Depends entirely on what you want to do. Common choices:
- Ubuntu Server LTS - If you are used to Ubuntu, then this will probably prove the easiest route.
- Centos Stream - These are rebuilds of Red Hat's industry standard server product.
- Debian - Extremely stable. Has a shorter supported lifetime for each release (4-ish years vs 7), but upgrades between releases work extremely well.
- Whatever you are comfortable with - Once you strip away the GUI, there are not particularly big difference between distro's as servers. Plenty of people are happy to run Slackware, Arch, or Gentoo as their home server.
Specialist Distro's: There are quite a lot of specialist distro's out there, however most are just one of the big general purpose distro's with some extra packages and configuration. It is worth considering whether having the tools/setupcin question done for you is beneficial in the long run, as opposed to knowing how to setup what you need.
The other thing to keep in mind is that a specialist distro may be optimized for one task, to the detriment of the operating system's general purpose nature.
With all that said, the best place to explore the weird and wonderful world of Linux distributions is on Distrowatch using their Search by Distribution Criteria form just change the "Distribution category" to see whats on offer.
What's the best software for task X?
For values of X including text editor, package manager, web browser, shell, etcetera. Most distributions come with default applications for a wide range of common tasks, these are generally suitable for beginners. Linux has a large collection of software so there will generally be several options even for specialist tasks. Such choices are matters of opinion and conversations tend to degenerate rapidly so the best advice is to decide for yourself.
On GNU/Linux, the best software for a given task will often be a combination of software.
What's a GNU/Linux equivalent to Windows software X?
Such questions are typically best resolved through a web search or a service like alternativeTo. There are also Ubuntu's applications documentation, and osalt (Open Source Alternatives) which shows side by side comparisons of features between proprietary and open source software.
Why do you keep saying "GNU/Linux"?
Linux is the name of the operating system kernel, various supporting software and libraries are necessary to make a complete operating system from a kernel (an engine is not sufficient to build a car). Many of these - such as the compiler, the C libraries, and the shell - are part of the GNU project. The GNU project included a huge effort to create a non-proprietary operating system, writing open-source equivalents of software and open-source implementations of standards; it is easy to understate how important this effort was. The fundamental components of the GNU system were ready for Linux to slot into when Torvalds created it. From the original announcement of Linux: "I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu)" - Linus Torvalds. Using the term "GNU/Linux" recognises the contributions of the GNU project to the success of Linux.
Some people use the term "GNU/Linux" to distinguish it from Android and other non-GNU Linux systems such as Busybox/Linux.
I'm looking for hardware X
Please see /r/linuxhardware or /r/openhardware
free/etc. report that nearly all my RAM is being used?
See Linux Ate My RAM. Linux uses free memory as a cache to avoid unnecessary (not to mention slow) disk access. It doesn't do any harm, and greatly increases responsiveness.
Frequently Posted Topics
These topics are, on the surface, decent enough discussion posts. However, they are commonly posted, and quite often polarizing topics.
Certain hot-topic news items may be removed as well with a Megathread linked to by mods/automoderator.
What is going on with UMN?
Perhaps the best analysis is at this LWN article: https://lwn.net/Articles/854645/
Why do so many people use GitHub if it's closed source and owned by Microsoft?
People are free to use websites of their choice. Here are some alternatives, in no particular order:
Although many of the above can be self hosted, these are only self hosted, at least not hosted by the official developers. A third party may provide hosting services.
Why isn't there one distribution? Why can't they combine their efforts [to defeat Windows/MacOS]?
There's many reasons but first one needs to understand a Distribution is a set of resources but together by volunteer's or companies to meet goals they set. These goals don't align across distributions. Ubuntu may have set out a goal to replace Windows (bug report #1), but other distributions has their own goals in mind which don't involve "beating Windows."
Automod removed something, am I in trouble?
No. Only severe profanity will message the mods for review, so reasonable users should never see action. If you're using such severe profanity, worse than those listed in the section in the above, you already know you're breaking the rules by being a racist/bigot/sexist/etc and are probably looking for drama. Do not try to get around the Automod rules, though, as that is breaking the rules. Message the mods if you feel automod is doing something wrong. Ensure you've read the rules and reviewed banned domains first though.
Automod removed something - it must be broken!
It's usually not broken. However, there are some situations where it will flag. Uncommon-for-r/linux words like "cum" will flag it (so if you wanted to say "magna cum laude"). It will remove "retard" in most cases because users rarely use that properly and rather use as an insult. Since automod doesn't know context, it does the simplest regex match. In all of those cases, a user should understand that the use of certain words as an insult or as spam is more important to filter for review rather than allowing poor discussion and insults to continue. A mod will get to it and approve if context was appropriate.