Linux newbies get a helping hand

An online quiz that helps users choose between desktop Linux distros is popular with companies and individuals, say the designers

A quiz that helps people decide what version of Linux to install on their desktop is attracting thousands of hits daily even though it's still in beta, according to Zegenie Studios, the Norwegian open source consultancy responsible for the quiz.

Daniel Eikeland, a project leader at Zegenie Studios, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the Linux Distribution Chooser quiz has been getting around 40,000 hits every day for the last week. The people that are reading the quiz appear to be both home users and company employees seeking advice on what desktop Linux distribution best meets their needs.

"We get a lot of feedback from individual users, but have also had feedback from people saying, 'We're part of a company that is looking into desktop Linux, thanks for pointing us in the right direction'," said Eikeland.

The quiz asks users a number of questions, such as whether they plan to use any wireless devices, how they rate their technical skills and whether they are installing the operating system on a desktop or portable computer. Once the quiz is completed it recommends one particular Linux distribution and lists a number of alternative distributions together with the criteria they failed on.

A final version of the quiz will incorporate the feedback it has had from users and will probably be available in the next month, according to Eikeland. The update will include a couple of new distributions such as OpenSuSE and Ark Linux, but Eikeland said it is being careful to not add too many distributions as this would confuse users.

The quiz is aimed at people that are new to Linux, but Zegenie Studios is currently working on a version of the quiz for more advanced users to help people choose what Linux distribution to use for other purposes such as for a server, handheld device or firewall. While the beginners quiz was quite easy to work on, as people tend to ask a limited set of questions when choosing a desktop Linux distribution, the company is finding it more difficult to write the advanced quiz, according to Eikeland.

"I've spent a lot of time in different Linux support forums and found that people often ask the same questions to find out what version of desktop Linux to use," said Eikeland. "But there are hundreds of advanced Linux distributions so it's really hard to get an overview of all the options that there are."

Eikeland expects that a beta version of the advanced quiz will be available next month.

The Linux Distribution Chooser quiz is available on the company's Web site.


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