Today I was not in the mood for testing applications and making some review, and although the new Flock 2.0 would deserve my attention, I think I'll cover it tomorrow. So instead of a review or a tutorial, I decided to write something more like a lecture, so you won't need any technical knowledge to read it. Surfing on the web got me an idea: how about an article to pick up a Linux distribution? And, to be more precise, what about an article to explain why Ubuntu or Debian? Since these are also the only two distributions I'm familiar with, here I am, writing this.
I guess most of the readers are already familiar with Ubuntu, but I'm also writing this for new users, which use Linux for the first time. I use Debian for over a year now, but I used both Ubuntu and Kubuntu in the past (especially Dapper Drake and Edgy Eft) and also 8.04 and 8.10 Beta.
To be a little off-topic: regarding Kubuntu, I remember there was a time when I really appreciated this distribution, back in the 6.06 'Dapper Drake' days. And although I'm a KDE user and fan, I don't recommend Kubuntu for those who want a KDE-based distribution: with no disregard to the developers, my personal opinion is that Kubuntu (at least 8.04 with KDE 3.5.9) is the worst choice. Packages taken from Debian have exactly the same bugs which were already filed against them on bugs.debian.org, additions to applications are awefully done, and despite all the talking (including the conference from about two years ago when Mark Shuttleworth said they will focus more on KDE), Kubuntu receives next to no attention lately. But that's just my opinion, maybe yours differs. However, I recommend using Debian Lenny if you want a stable KDE 3.5.9. I'll look forward to see how Kubuntu 8.10 with KDE 4.1 will behave, although something tells me I shouldn't even bother.
Back to our topic. Why pick Ubuntu and when to pick it?
Well, first of all, the already classic, well-known characteristics which define Ubuntu:
1. It has a release cycle of 6 months, the version numbering having the form YEAR.MONTH_NUMBER (8.10 'Intrepid Ibex' is the next version which will be released in the end of October - 8 stands for the year, 2008, while 10 stands for the month number)
2. It's one of the most user-friendly distributions out there; most of the applications are already configured to work out of the box
3. Each release is bleeding-edge and pretty stable
4. It has a great hardware detection system and usually you won't have to install any other drivers after a complete installation
5. It comes with desktop effects enabled by default on Intel graphics card; if you have a powerful nVIDIA you'll have to install the driver graphically, very easy
6. Ubuntu uses the powerful packaging system used by Debian: APT (Advanced Packaging Tool), which is very powerful and easy to use, either using a GUI frontend like Synaptic or via command-line
7. You can enable only the repositories containing free software, or you can use third-party repositories like Medibuntu.org, which include closed-source, patented software too
If you want a different desktop environment than GNOME, I recommend Debian (or some other distribution, I heard SuSE is very good with KDE, Fedora both KDE and GNOME). I think packages in Ubuntu other than the ones which come installed by default sometimes have nasty unfixed bugs. Not once I saw an application which doesn't even start, and not because of some misconfiguration, but because it wasn't even tested well enough to see how it behaves in different situations.
If you want a stable server, I think it's best to go with the LTS - Long Term Release, Dapper or Hardy are both fit, but you can choose Debian too, which is famous for releasing well-tested software.