Beginner tips and directions for using the beaglebone black

Hello Beaglebone experts,

I would like some basic guidance on how to approach the beaglebone from the hardware and software point of view.

Before i start my query list ,let me say that i come from a embedded hardware background,mostly worked on bare-board projects in close-loop motor controlled applications,i am relatively new to operating systems.I have used linux once for my basic networking and file handling needs two years back.

I purchased the beagle-bone black to mainly to do two things:
*To familiarize/learn myself with linux and its basics features.
*Learn to interface external hardware with the BBB to perform time sensitive tasks.(like control a pulse width of an H bridge,PID control loop corrections).

Now for the quiry list:
1.Which version of linux should i run on the BBB.I searched many forums and the community seemed to have a mixed review between Debian,mintOS,ubantu and red-hat free edition.
2.Which programming language is most easiest to use when working with the BBB.Python,C/C++,Java ? I have mostly used C and assembly,so will persisting the the same be useful?I found some useful tutorials on the beagle bone black here but it is it is done in Python.
3.My final end project is to develop an on-grid inverter using the BBB,so the BBB will act as the main CPU which will interact with the other peripherals like a slave MCU(via SPI),a PT100 sensor via an i2C bus,run a 20x4 -8 bit LCD display directly from the Beagle bone black.I plan to use the dedicated PRU unit of the sitara for some of these activities.
I would like to know,What are the prerequisites for doing this project? I know the learning curve for this project is big,but with a good starting point i am sure i will be able to get out a working prototype soon.

Many thanks,

Debian seems to be the most up to date OS thanks to Robert Nelson I use it exclusively. Whatever your most comfortable with as all are supported, It’s linux after all. If you try this you need some type of battery backup system to prevent file system corruption. the micro HDMI connector on all of my BBB boards is flaky at best. Your mileage may vary. I am using a i2c display because of this poor choice of connectors. Good luck on your hardware adventures.

So, I did want to point out that the toptechboy tutorial is not for the latest Rev of the BBB Wireless. In the latest, the hardwire Cat5 connector has been dropped, in place of all Micro- (no longer mini-) USB or WiFi connections. Pretty minor change, but you should know for your project.