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Almost all new Linux wanna be guru (read as users who want to switch to Linux) asks a question:

I want to switch to Linux completely from Windows XP SP2. Which Linux version will be best - Redhat, SuSE, or other? I use my PC for:
Browsing Internet
Watching DVD / MP3
Writing CD/DVD

I’m also willing to spend a small amount of money if required to purchase Linux version.

Short answer is none. I can’t suggest *distro* name.

Long answer:
Linux is all about choice and freedom. There are different Linux distribution exists with different goals. It is good idea to define your goals and select Linux distribution as per your requirements.

I like Redhat and Debian for server as they are rock solid stable and comes with good binary packaging system. Some will swear up by Knoppix Live CD.

Some people like Suse and other recommends Ubuntu. There are others who like to compile everything from scratch (Gentoo).

  1. Consider following factors while selecting Linux:
    • Games
    • Your Linux skill level
    • Linux as server / network admin workstation
    • Running Linux on a new Hardware / Laptop
    • Running Linux on an older machine (486/PI/PII/Celeron)
    • Multilingual support (Hindi / Japanese language user interface)
    • Running Linux on Office PC for email and office work
    • Community support
    • Commercial support
  2. I recommend that you try out at least some different distributions. Go to distrowatch.com and look out What's Hot and What's Not
  3. Make sure your hardware is compatible with Linux. Download Live CD (list of all Live CD) and see if your hardware is compatible with Linux.
  4. Make sure good community support exists for your distro (for example check out Ubuntu community support forum)
  5. Get a good Linux book that teaches basis of Linux
  6. Learn how to use search engine to find out solution to the problems
  7. Learn to read man pages effectively and Linux commands to help you navigate
  8. Contact your nearest Linux user group (LUG) and see what other members recommends
  9. Ask a questions whenever in doubt, join Linux mailing lists and forums. When posting questions to a forum / newsgroup it is good idea to format the question and it's content in a proper way in order to get a good answer. Make sure you provide all information while posting a question. (See more guideline - how to ask questions the smart way)
  10. Finally you can always donate a small amount of money to your favorite distro and/or to any other open source project.

Further readings:

Surely, there are dozens of other reasons to select specific distro, so please do share your views and suggestions :D