Linux is that operating system you maybe heard about, but the store sells
computers with Windows pre-installed, maybe some Chromebooks (Google) or
even Macs (interestingly MacOS is BSD Unix with a NEXXT desktop). But 80%
of the internet, massive companies and serious computing - all run on Linux.
As with anything, do some research. There is a ton of ever changing information, including video tutorials, about switching to Linux. If you want a new kettle or washing machine, then you look, compare features, explore the controls. Even more so if you are looking for a new car! A computer is much more than a waffle iron, you owe it to yourself to understand the terminolgy and at least some of the issues at stake.
Linux for the home is a bit of a different matter. An academic or government supercomputing cluster has a different purpose and interface than what your everyday user would use or expect. It is notable that all of the top 500 computers in the world run some kind of Linux.
- Broadly speaking there are 4 major “family groups” in Linux:
- RHEL (IBM/RedHat) - for commercial use (runs 60%+ of the world). For the smaller user they provide free editions with CentOS and Fedora.
- Debian - is by far the biggest family with hundreds of derivatives, the most well-known being Ubuntu (which also has commercial editions) and Mint.
- Arch - is more advanced and in its "raw form" hard to manage. In this stable is Manjaro and also Antergos which make Arch more user-friendly.
- SUSE - is another commercial line, with free options like OpenSUSE or KDE Neon.
- For deep guru neckbeards there are Gentoo and Slackware which have been around since day one of Linux, but are designed for those who breathe kernel code and may have a preference for strong coffee and fast-food deliveries.
»DistroWatch keep tabs on close to 1,000 of the galactic cloud of various Linux distributions out there. Their top-hits scores can be taken with a large bag of salt.
If you want to really get into Linux, let me save you from tearing out your hair and filling buckets with tears. Start with »Mint and the Cinnamon desktop. MATE is also good. Maybe try both and then choose. But stick to Mint!
Once you have a few years Linux experience under your belt, maybe move to »Manjaro. It is quite different, but by that point you can handle and appreciate those differences. Also of note is a Debian derivative that seems to be free of the ever-contentious systemd is »MX Linux.
As for all those other distros - go ahead and look, run them in a virtual machine (VM), try different desktop managers (Cinnamon, MATE, Gnome, i3, KDE Plasma, XFCE, OpenBox, Budgie, LXDE - there are about 20 now). But as you explore you will soon understand why I repeat the “Mint, Mint, Mint” mantra so much.