I recently started JAVA programming and I would like to start learning Linux programming simultaneously. I run a mac and I am planning to use Oracle VM VirtualBox to boot linux. What kind of Linux OS is the easiest/simplest to begin programming in? (Should I get ubuntu?) and, Is Oracle VM VirtualBox OK, or should I use another virtual machine? Any good links to courses or guides for beginners? I have a early 2011 MacBook Pro, 2.2 i7,4gb ram. Thanks.
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I would go with Ubuntu (or any of its derivatives like Kubuntu) as it offers a huge community (e.g. at http://ubuntuforums.org/ or the askubuntu part of the stack network) that is really helpful. Also, many blog posts etc. deal with Ubuntu. As you are new to Linux, this is what you should look out for.
On the other hand, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu so many posts about Ubuntu probably remain valid.
The question regarding the VM: Oracle VM VirtualBox is probably a good choice as it easy to use. Just do not forget to install the guest additions (https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch04.html).
You should be more specific about the "Linux programming" part. Many people think of low-level C (or C++) programming when reading that term.
I think this is a matter of opinion. Also, take in account there is hundreds of posts in Internet informing about the differences between distributions. http://lifehacker.com/5889950/how-to-find-the-perfect-linux-distribution-for-you
Anyway, I agree with the link, I am also a beginner and using Linux Mint.