Comparation of Ubuntu14, Linux Mint17 Cinnamon and CentOS7, from a Linux Beginner

On mid Dec, 2014, after thinking twice I decided to remove Windows 8.1 from my laptop (Dell XPS12). Instead I want to install linux on it. I’m a Linux beginner and a web developer.
I want to record the reason I want to change to Linux and the comparation of three Linux system in this post. I may update this post later, since I’ll learn more about Linux as time passes by.

I hope this may be useful for you, if you are a Linux beginner like me:)

Till Dec 2014, The personal reason I want to transfer to Linux is:

  • Although I know it can be very tough, I really want to learn linux/unix since I need to improve my system configuration skills. Plus working in commind line is kind of magical to me :)
  • I’m tried of some “special” configuration that only windows have. Compared to using mouse to click all around screen, Linux can achieve functions in terminal with one line of code.
  • Although I think compared to Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 has improved speed a lot, Linux(At least Ubuntu and Linux Mint) still runs faster than Windows 8.1. And most of them are lighter than Windows, allowing me to drop any program that I don’t need.
  • I currently have a mac mini that I’m very satisfied, but I don’t think I should buy a macbook for now, basic on finicial reason. Plus my current laptop (Dell XPS12) is a very good one. It has lightweight and good hardware. The only trick part is it only has 120 SSD storage. For a Linux system it is good enough buy for Windows 8.1 it has some problem, since Windows itself is very large.
  • I don’t need Windows-Specialize software very offen. For example, I have a MSOffice2011 on my mac mini, which is good enough for me. As a web developer, I just need my favorite development tools/programs, such as Eclispe & JDK Support,Sublime Text and databases such as MySQL or MongoDB. They all work weel on Linux, plus linux has very good support for Python and Ruby.
  • A very personal reason is the display of my laptop has a little bit problem under Windows 8.1 (Or its configuration software). It has black shadow occationally. This problem disappears when I change to Linux.

I started from `Ubuntu14, to Linux Mint17 Cinnamon, to CentOS7, then back to Ubuntu14. I had a long and hard time configuring each system on my laptop and VirtualBox. During configuration process, I got a chance to learn these system’s speciality.

I choose these three system because compare to other Linux system, they are popular so as a beginner, I can easily get support when I have any problem during configuration process.

Now I want to make a very simple comparation of these three systems, from a Linux beginner’s perpective, with very personal thoughts.

Ubuntu 14

Pros for Me

  • Most familar. I started to use Ubuntu when I was in college based on class requirement, so I can start using it very fast.
  • Perfect community support. Ubuntu, since it is one of the most popular Linux system now, has great community support. Almost all questions I have can be answered. This is very important for Linux beginner like me.

  • Great software support. Although Linux don’t have a large software market like Windows or MacOS, Ubuntu has very outstanding software market that you can install with one-click. More important, among these three Linux systems, the installation process in Ubuntu has least probablity of rising problems. In most cases you don’t need to change other files to isntall something. Even when you need to do extra configuration, there is always online guidence for you.

Cons for Me

  • Almost no compilance for a Linux beginner. This is a great system for you to get into the world of Linux.

Linux Mint 17

Pros for Me

  • The interface of Linux Mint is so similar to Windows 7/XP, so if you are a previous Windows user, you won’t have too much trouble on it.

  • Linux Mint is based on Debian and Ubuntu, so it can almost run all software that Ubuntu has with one-click. Actually, I feel Linux Mint is almost the same as Ubuntu. So if you have a problem, the solution for Ubuntu should normally work in Linux Mint.

  • This may depends, but Linux Mint 17 runs faster on my laptop thatn Ubuntu 14.

Cons for Me

  • I’m not very sure if this only happens in this version, but some programs in Ubuntu have problem in Linux Mint. For example, Okular is not working well in my Linux Mint. This is very bad for me becuase I need annotate PDF a lot. However, most of programs should be safe in Linux. People who don’t care pdf annotation can just skip this point :)

CentOS 7

Pros for Me

  • Since CentOS is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), I tried this system to experience RHEL. Compared to Ubuntu and Linux Mint, which are very GUI-friendly, CentOS tends to be more enterprise-oriented. I do feel CentOS is very powful for all-purpose configuration. I was given a list of installation options at the beginning of installation process. This list ranges from Minimal Installation to Server Installation to Workstation Installation.

  • Since program installation process in CentOS needs more terminal configuration comparing to Ubuntu, I was pushed to get more exerise in understanding Unix command and functionality. Although for a beginner it really takes time to solve this problem, I really get a lot in this process.

Cons for Me

  • As the pro above pointed out, CentOS needs more configuration in terminal, compare to Ubuntu and Linux Mint. This do cause some trouble for a Linux beginner, for example, me. And some configuration problem is hard to get solution online, because compare to Ubuntu and Linux Mint, CentOS tends to be more Unix-Skill-Oriented, and the community for CentOS is not as large as Ubuntu (But it still has a pretty good community!) So here is a trade. I can get valuable experience by solving a configuration problem in CentOS, but this really costs much more time, comparing to Ubuntu.

  • CentOS has less similarity with Windows comapre to Ubuntu and Linux Mint. This may affect Window user.

  • CentOS gives you lots of freedom to congifure. This can be view as pros or cons. As a beginner, I’m confused because of it. However, this is definetely great for a Linux expert.

  • CentOS doesn’t have as many official software support as Ubuntu. Some software website has installation file specially for Ubuntu, but not a lot for CentOS. You may need to download tar.gz files then install them.

As a conclution, as a Linux beginner, all three Linux systems are great for me, and I can learn a lot from using them.
However, considering I have some urgent study plan going on, I finally decided to use Ubuntu to save some time. If you don’t worry about time, and really want to learn Linux regardless of hard work, I highly recommend CentOS.

I’ll continue to learn Linux/Unix skills using Ubuntu. I may turn to CentOS after I get more skills to reduce time cost. I’ve already enjoyed working in terminal, and I’m looking forward to know more!