For a beginner-friendly distro, try Linux Lite 1.0.0

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For all the media attention that goes to Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, and the other leading Linux distributions, casual observers would have to be forgiven if they have no idea that hundreds of other distributions are out there as well, each with a particular purpose and target audience in mind.

New ones pop up regularly, too, offering yet another fresh twist on the desktop Linux theme.

Case in point: On the same day Microsoft's widely trumpeted Windows 8 made its debut, so, too, did Linux Lite 1.0.0, a brand-new Ubuntu-based distribution targeted at Linux newcomers.

'Created for three reasons'

“This distro was created for three reasons,” wrote Jerry Bezencon in the official announcement on Friday. “One, to show people just how easy it can be to use a Linux-based operating system--to dispel myths about how scary Linux operating systems are; two, to help create awareness about Linux-based operating systems; and three, to help promote this community.”

Linux Lite is particularly suitable for people who are new to Linux, Bezencon added.

Intrigued? Here's a quick rundown of what you'll find.

1. Five years of support

Ubuntu Linux 12.04 “Precise Pangolin” is a Long Term Support (LTS) release, making it a popular choice among business users, in particular. Same now goes for Linux Lite 1.0.0, code-named “Amethyst,” which is based on that Ubuntu release.

2. The Xfce 4.8 desktop

Xfce is a very popular and lightweight Linux desktop environment, as I've noted before, and Linux Lite 1.0.0 includes Xfce 4.8, which includes a raft of powerful features.

3. A battery of apps

Among the many apps bundled in Linux Lite are GParted, LibreOffice Writer, LibreOffice Calc, Firefox, Thunderbird for email, GIMP, the XFBurn CD/DVD burner, the VLC Media Player, OpenJDK Java v6, Mumble Voice Chat, the XChat IRC Client, the Leafpad Text Editor, and Xarchiver. Many more packages can be installed in one click by going to Menu, System, and Install Additional Software.

4. Easy Updates

Aiming to make system updates something that can be accomplished in a single click, Linux Lite lets users simply choose Menu and then Install Updates.

5. Help with Drivers

Because installing drivers can be an issue particularly for those coming from the Windows environment, Linux Lite offers a simple solution: Menu, Settings, and then Install Drivers.

Linux Lite is now available as a free download in a 32-bit version with PAE support; a 64-bit version may come in the future, the project says. If you decide to give this new distro a try, please leave your reactions in the comments.

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