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I have been using Windows my entire life: '95, 2000, XP and now 7.

I am considering now to switch to KDE Plasma 5. So far all my machines had one of the above operating systems pre-installed, so starting from scratch is new for me.

My question is, does Plasma 5 require some sort of 'background software' in order to run? Specifically, Is the KDE Plasma 5 Desktop Environment an operating system at the same time? Do I have to firstly install Linux as the operating system and then download the Plasma 5 environment?

Further, what is LinuxMint? Am I correct in thinking that this (and more generally any) Linux distribution is a bundle of OS and DE?

Thanks in advance for clarifications

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Any Linux distribution that you pick (except for some "build yourself" ones) will allow you to install and run whatever is needed, with no explicit intervention on your part. I.e., it should "just work".

A Linux distribution is a kernel, a set of basic libraries and tools, and finally desktop environments (yes, there are several around). More about this later.

I'd recommend you look around your environment for some geek willing to set you up (or perhaps a local user group, etc). You will need handholding for at least some break-in period, so go with whatever they use/recommend to make their (vonunteer!) task easy. Yes, there are heated discussions on the best distribution, but they are all made up of the same kernel and more or less the same userland code, and differ mostly in the versions of said pieces selected, some (relatively minor) local patches, administration tools and configuration files, and package management system. I.e., differences are really rather minor. Just make sure to pick a reasonably popular distribution (more users means more polish, a larger community which to rely on).

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Further, what is LinuxMint? Am I correct in thinking that this (and more generally any) Linux distribution is a bundle of OS and DE?

All Linux distributions contain the OS, but not necessarily a DE (or anything graphical at all)

Edit: this is useful for Servers (no unnecessary stuff to slow things down, and less code == less security holes). Also useful for embedded devices - e.g. some WiFi enabled lightbulbs run Linux. For price reasons such devices have little storage, as little as 4Mb for a Linux system.

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