What's the best linux distro for a non expert?

I'm not a first time linux user (set up and used openSUSE 10.3 and 11.1 for about a year) but I'm not an expert either.
I thought of giving linux a try on my second computer (an old one, with a pentium4 1.50 GHz processor overclocked to 1.80 GHz, onboard graphics, and just 256 MB of DDR1 RAM, presently running XP SP2)
Heard a lot about ubuntu. However, from my openSUSE experience, I kind of don't like gnome as much as I like KDE.
Hence, I decided to download kubuntu, it's about 50% done now.
I'd like to know, is kubuntu as friendly as openSUSE to a "not so expert" user?
What're the main differences between kubuntu and openSUSE?
Have I made a good choice? If not, would you experts suggest me a more user friendly linux system that'd run on this low-end computer?
I'm sure I won't get compizz, and I don't want eye-candy, I just need something that's stable and user friendly.
Also, I connect to the internet using a Nokia N97 smartphone (USB cable connection to the computer). Would I be able to use the N97 modem on kubuntu? I just seek a "yes/no" answer to this, I'll start a new thread about "using the N97 modem on kubuntu" if I get a "yes".
Thanks :)
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  1. Ubuntu and it's derivatives (Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu) are an excellent starting point for somebody new to Linux. Linux Mint is worth looking at too, imo; it's based off Ubuntu, and is quite user friendly. Fedora, Mandriva, and PCLinuxOS are all nice as well.

    As far as the Desktop Environment issue, you can install any DE on any operating system. You could install Gnome, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, or anything else on openSUSE, Ubuntu... you get the idea. You may want to consider trying one of the other DE's, as KDE is known for using quite a bit of resources. XFCE and LXDE are very lightweight, but may be a bit bland for your tastes.

    As for the differences between openSUSE and Ubuntu, there's really a lot. If you're into terminal use, they use a different package manager, but I won't get into any extreme detail. They're just different distributions made by different minds.

    Here's my suggestion. Download VirtualBox on your primary computer (I assume it's more powerful that the other). Using VirtualBox, you can download .iso's, and then install them as Virtual Machines, running on top of your current OS. This makes it very quick and easy to try out multiple distributions without formatting your hard drive and installing over and over again.

    As for the tethering with your Nokia, I am unsure, so I can't comment.

    Good luck :)
  2. Re the N97 modem question, from a quick google I found these instructions on how to use the N95 under Ubuntu 8.04:


    From what I know of the two phones this should also work for the N97, they both run Symbian.

    I know you wanted black or white but it's looking a very light shade of grey.
  3. No need to repeat the above post, but you only have 256mb RAM. Your best bet is to go with a lightweight DE, such as XFCE and LXDE. They may not look pretty, but they'll sure as hell be fast.
  4. try fedora. you really need a bit more ram. I don't know if there is a swap center near you, but you may try a local pc shop and see if you can pick up a 512 meg stick of good used ram
  5. alouis6 said:
    try fedora. you really need a bit more ram. I don't know if there is a swap center near you, but you may try a local pc shop and see if you can pick up a 512 meg stick of good used ram

    It'll work for the time being with the memory he has. If he feels the need to get more, he always can. I wouldn't try Fedora, but one of it's alternate releases using XFCE or LXDE. I've personally used Fedora with LXDE before.
  6. You can install minimum options when installing... on almost any distro, I believe? I don't really think Gnome will even give you very many problems. I mean as I can tell you are running XP on it currently? Well, even having Gnome on your machine as a desktop environment you are going to at least see 30% performance increases.

    Linux is geared towards servers in the way that it runs. It could very well surprise you how much better it handles a small memory capacity than XP would. As for getting a system that is fast, not going to happen unless you want to shell out money for new memory?

    It's going to be almost impossible to find DDR1 memory in a store, but those little swap and shops should have some laying around. Haha, actually I have two 256MB modules in an old motherboard on the shelf.

    Please note that with specifications like yours the stability of Linux will never be detoured, but by any intensive (video/audio editing, etc.) programs that you attempt to run. I am probably going to end up using the old motherboard on the shelf to set up a little tiny file server or something running *nix. I dunno, it's just going to collect dust probably.
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