Today I tried out Handy Linux, a true Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution from France. It comes with a modified XFCE interface and is touted by its developers as being beginner-friendly and easy to use. I found it to be both. Handylinux-1.6.1-686.iso at 1.15GB was downloaded; the server was slow, with the best consistent rate being 250kbps using my wifi modem. It proved to be worth the wait. I burned it to dvd and installed the system in a little less than ten minutes on my old Lenovo G560 laptop. The graphical install menu is easy to follow and offers the convenient feature of erasure the root partition prior to install. This eliminates a need to break out dban or to use the dd command for a clean install (especially useful for those users who wish to get rid of NTFS). My hardware was detected promptly and appropriate files retrieved automatically. Partitioning proved straightforward and quick even though I always choose Manual. GRUB 1.99 boot loader is the default. Install pauses to offer the usual choice of MBR or root and User and password update, this took less than three minutes. Overall, it is one of the easiest installs this distro-hopper has experienced. In the Handy Linux main menu, apps are categorized under six tabs -- internet, places, multimedia,office, games, and something called "raiders." Software Center and Syanptic are both offered. Skype is included. I prefer a more traditional menu. So, a laucher for the Whiskers Menu and the Workplace Switcher I added to the panel along the bottom of my screen. Right-click the panel and voila! choose your options. Lack of eyecandy and graphics effects my deter some, but remember this is a distro aimed at beginners. This seeming lack does newbies the favor of not distracting from the meat and potatoes of Linux. I find it appealing. I do not like Stable and prefer the US Debian mirrors over the French, so I took advantage of a script limited to true-Debian distros that makes post-install tweaks a breeze -- smxi. In doing so, I noticed this distro does not seem to like chaining commands with &&. I had to break up the commands to install the award-winning script as follows: cd /user/local/bin wget -Nc smxi.org/smxi.zip unzip smxi.zip smxi Files are up-to-date at present (no upgrade is necessary), so I continued on to change repo to Debian Testing (and update), then Miscellaneous Tweaks, Advanced Tweaks; from which I chose Change-Debian-Mirrors to my choice and then Restore-sources.list. I then quit smxi and added via APT some of my favorite applications, like GIMP, geeqie, iceweasel and others. Handy Linux is arguably the handiest beginners' distro out there at this point in time. It is certainly the easiest debian-based distribution I have encountered for install and networking. I recommend it!