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So many Linux distributions are available, for a number of different purposes. The proliferation of general, lightweight, and themed distros makes it difficult to choose at times.

Our list of the best Linux distros should help you out. Use the menu below to find a Linux distribution to suit your specific needs.

Check out more specific distros: New to Linux | Visually StunningGeneral |Multimedia Production/Creative | Educational | Raspberry Pi DistrosLightweight/Minimal | Video GamingSecurity and Recovery | Business

New To Linux

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a Debian-based distro, with Unity as the default desktop environment. It’s one of the most popular distros around, and it improves with every release. The latest releases are slick, polished distros, optimized for both desktops, laptops and hybrids.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is now also available as a mobile platform for a select group of existing smartphones and a few dedicated Ubuntu Touch handsets. Newer devices ship with the Convergence software, which enables you to turn your smartphone into a PC via a wireless HDMI dongle.

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Kubuntu

Kubuntu is an Ubuntu derivative that uses KDE instead of Unity as the default desktop environment. Beneath this, it is essentially the same as Ubuntu and is released on the same schedule.

Kubuntu

Mint

Linux Mint is an elegant, modern distro that is easy to use, yet powerful. It’s based on Ubuntu, is reliably safe and comes with one of the best software managers. These days it’s one of the most popular Linux distributions around, claiming to be the most popular home operating system after Windows and Mac OS.

Linux Mint

Mint comes with a wide range of desktop options. You can have the default Cinnamon desktop, or with MATE, KDE, or Xfce. Linux Mint Debian Edition is also available, aimed at experienced Linux users.

Deepin

Deepin is an Ubuntu based distro 5 Reasons Why New Linux Users Will Love Deepin 5 Reasons Why New Linux Users Will Love Deepin There are plenty of Ubuntu-based derivatives that try to solve problems in their own ways, but one distribution that's gaining some special attention is Deepin. Read More  with the stylish Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE), intended to appeal to newer Linux users. It’s simple and intuitive, featuring one of the best system settings panel displays of any distro. DMusic, DPlayer and DTalk are among the dedicated applications.

Deepin

Deepin also features an easy to use software center, far superior to similar tools in other distros.

PCLinuxOS

PCLinuxOS is designed with regular PC users in mind, and features the KDE Plasma Desktop by default. This distribution makes it easy to install drivers, get Office software, edit photos, get online and start using multimedia. Snapshot backups are easily created.

PCLinuxOS netflix

Linux Lite

Based on Ubuntu LTS releases, Linux Lite is a minimal footprint distro, with a clean and simple Xfce desktop, Windows-style.

The aim of Linux Lite is to introduce Windows users to Linux. Its small resource footprint means that you can install it on a PC with a 700 Mhz CPU and just 512 MB of RAM. That’s what we call light!

Zorin OS

Zorin OS is designed specifically for newcomers to Linux, easing the transition from Windows to Linux. The Ubuntu-based distro features, apps that will be familiar to Windows users, and makes it easy for users to run the Windows apps they still need. Zorin OS 9 looks a lot like Windows 7, simply to win some new Linux converts from those leaving Windows behind.

Zorin OS Office

Visually Stunning

Elementary OS

Yet another Ubuntu-based distro, Elementary OS Looking For A Beautiful, Easy To Use Linux Distro? Try Elementary OS Luna Looking For A Beautiful, Easy To Use Linux Distro? Try Elementary OS Luna Elementary OS Luna is a lot more than Ubuntu with some tweaks and a nice theme. Here's what to expect. Read More has differentiated itself superbly since the release of Elementary OS Luna. It features beautiful, simple default apps that follow the OS’s aesthetic appeal, such as Geary for email, Midori web browser, Maya calendar, Totem movie player, and the Noise music player.

Apricity OS

Challenging Elementary OS for the unofficial title of “sexiest Linux distro” is Apricity, which takes a similar approach. Instead of the Windows-esque styling of Cinnamon and MATE, Apricity offers a stunning desktop environment that is more evocative of Android or iOS than anything from Microsoft.

General

OpenSUSE

The OpenSUSE distribution is a general distro for Linux built by the OpenSUSE Project, aiming to be both a great beginner distro and something that appeals to experienced Linux users. OpenSUSE comes with YAST, an administration program that controls installations, package management and more.

OpenSUSE

Fedora

Fedora uses the GNOME desktop environment by default, but users can easily switch to KDE, Xfce, LXDE, MATE and Cinnamon, among others. Custom variations of Fedora, known as Fedora spins, are available for users with particular needs.

Fedora

Debian

Debian is an older Linux distribution which comes with the GNOME desktop environment. However, it’s also available for FreeBSD and work is in progress to support other kernels, such as the Hurd. Debian prides itself on coming preloaded with over 37500 packages, and with simple utilities that make it easy to get more.

Korora

Korora was originally based on Gentoo Linux, and evolved with the aim of making Linux easy for newcomers, but also useful for experts. It comes with a choice of desktop environments, including the Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, MATE and Xfce desktops.

Kororoa Xfce

Slackware Linux

Slackware is a distro built specifically for security and simplicity, aiming to be the most UNIX-like Linux distribution. It’s particularly useful for server management, as it has FTP, email and web servers available to use immediately.

Slackware-SWchord2

Mageia

The French Mageia began as a community-driven, non-profit fork of Mandriva Linux, and features all the major desktop environments. Primarily, KDE and GNOME are available as default desktops.

mageia

SparkyLinux

SparkyLinux is a distribution that has evolved from the “testing” branch of Debian. The main edition comes with a customized version of the lightweight LXDE desktop, with other customized desktops available.

SparkyLinux-sparky36-lxde

Gentoo Linux

Gentoo Linux can be adapted to almost any requiremnent. Its versatility and performance are what sets it apart from other distros. Gentoo Linux also comes with an advanced package management system called Portage.

Gentoo-1-aisbaa

CentOS

CentOS (Community Enterprise Operating System) is a community rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It’s designed for people who want to use an enterprise-standard distribution for free.

CentOS

PinGuy OS

PinGuyOS is both beautiful and ready to use from the start. The Ubuntu-based distribution comes pre-packaged with all the best software for regular use and for network setup, making it perfect for beginners. It features a modified GNOME user interface.

Multimedia Production/Creative

Fedora Design Suite

Save time installing artistic tools and applications to Fedora by simply installing this spin from the Fedora artistic design team. Focusing on art and illustration, and desktop publishing, you’ll find tools like Inkscape and GIMP are preinstalled, along with many others.

Ubuntu Studio

First released in 2007, Ubuntu Studio is probably the default choice for Linux users with creative talents. With the inclusion of the Xfce desktop environment and low kernel latency, everything is geared towards media production.

KXStudio


All of the creative distros listed here offer a good mix of tools, and while KXStudio is no different, it focuses on audio production. Throw in the KDE desktop and you have a digital studio capable of considerable performance.

ArtistX

ArtistX is specifically tailored to artists ArtistX: The Linux Distribution Tailored For Any Artist, Whether Graphical or Musical ArtistX: The Linux Distribution Tailored For Any Artist, Whether Graphical or Musical Read More of all types, from music to graphic design. It’s based on Ubuntu and comes pre-packaged with all the best 2D and 3D graphic design, video production, and audio manufacturing software for GNU/Linux.

Iro

If animation, 3D modelling, compositing, digital painting, and image editing are your preferred multimedia techniques, you need Iro. Without a vast library of tools (like, for instance, Ubuntu Studio) for every eventuality, Iro instead provides a focused group of apps. Add in the stripped back user interface, and you have a distro that can install and get to work with, without the fuss.

Educational

DouDou

DouDou Linux is for young children, with the aim of teaching them how to explore computers and learn from them. It provides games and educational programs suitable for kids aged 2-12 and is a safe environment that parents won’t have to watch over.

DouDou activity-menu

Edubuntu

Edubuntu has been created (thanks to an Ubuntu partnership) to be as easy as possible for teachers to set up, and for kids of all ages to use. It comes pre-packaged with all the best free software for education.

Edubuntu unity3_full

Uberstudent

Uberstudent is a distribution specifically designed for tertiary and advanced secondary students. It comes pre-packaged with software that makes it easy to do assignments and manage tasks.

UberStudent

Raspberry Pi Distros

Raspbian Jessie

muo-linux-raspbian-jessie-gui

The default operating system for the popular Raspberry Pi is Raspbian Jessie 5 Ways New Raspbian Jessie Makes Raspberry Pi Even Easier to Use 5 Ways New Raspbian Jessie Makes Raspberry Pi Even Easier to Use Following the release of Debian Jessie in July, the Raspberry Pi community has been blessed with a new release of the Raspbian variant, based on the "parent" distro. Read More , produced in-house at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and based on Debian. This ARM distribution features a bunch of programming tools, such as Scratch, aimed at helping newbies get started with coding.

Kano OS

Similar to Raspbian is Kano OS, also built on Debian, but with greater focus on coding, this time for children. Here, a more intuitive user interface provides all of the tools a child needs to get coding with the minimum of fuss.

Lightweight/Minimal

Lubuntu

Lubuntu is a lightweight distro based on Ubuntu that’s perfect for laptop usage. It uses the minimal desktop LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) and comes with lightweight applications designed for energy-efficiency and speed. It’s great for most older computers, netbooks and mobile devices as it uses minimal RAM and has low system requirements.

Lubuntu

Xubuntu

Xubuntu is an Ubuntu derivative that uses the Xfce (XForms Common Environment) desktop environment, meaning it is elegant and lightweight. It’s great for laptops and netbooks as well as desktops. Because it is light and uses few system resources, Xubuntu is perfect for older computers.

Xubuntu

Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Puppy Linux Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Puppy Linux Here, we'll be taking a look at a distribution of Linux that is famous for being able to run with very little hardware requirements, Puppy Linux. Puppy Linux isn't based on another distribution; it is... Read More is a distribution that’s really small and can be run entirely from RAM. This means Puppy Linux is great for older computers, even without hard drives! It is also easy to use for malware removal.

Manjaro Linux

Manjaro Linux is a fast, easy-to-use, light-weight distribution based on Arch Linux. It aims to give all the benefits of Arch Linux, with more user-friendliness and accessibility, making it easier on newcomers. The Xfce desktop is the default, but other options are available.

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a distribution designed with experienced users in mind. This lightweight minimalist distribution aims to keep things simple, and uses a rolling release model for updates. It features a custom-made package manager called “Pacman”, which makes it easy to build, modify and share packages.

archlinux-logo-light-90dpi.d36c53534a2b

Tiny Core

Tiny Core Linux is an extremely light, modular distribution noted specifically for its small size (currently 15 MB). It is built on the Linux kernel and uses BusyBox and FLTK (Fast, Light Toolkit).

TinyCore tc_020_trm

Bodhi 

This Ubuntu-based Bodhi Linux distribution comes with the lightweight and beautiful Enlightenment desktop. Bodhi is extremely customizable, with themes and apps readily available to expand on the light beginnings.

Video Gaming

Steam OS

Gaming on Linux is becoming increasingly popular, and while you can easily install the Linux version of the Steam digital download service on Ubuntu, you might prefer to go all-out and install Steam OS. This is a gaming-focused distro, optimized for gaming performance, with proprietary graphics and sound drivers built in, along with the Steam client.

steamos_desktop

Steam OS is the distro used on the Steam Machines, so if you’re building your own, you’ll want this.

Ubuntu Game Pack

Giving you the ability to play almost 6000 games, the Ubuntu Game Pack comes with Steam built in, along with PlayOnLinux and Wine for Windows games. This is based on Ubuntu 14.04, and is a great choice if you want to just install your new OS and start gaming right away!

Play Linux

Based on Ubuntu 15.10, Play Linux is an optimized distro that enables you to use Linux as a gaming machine thanks to the Auto GPU installer tool. This basically streamlines the problem of installing a suitable graphics card driver, enabling you to just play the games.

SparkyLinux – Game Over Edition

Various editions of SparkyLinux are available, but this game-focused one is probably the most useful. With an LXDE desktop and a host of preinstalled games, you’ll also find Steam, PlayOnLinux and Wine preinstalled. That’s a vast library of free and premium games at your fingertips!

Security and Recovery

Kali Linux

Formerly known as BackTrack, Kali Linux is a penetration testing distro, widely used in the online security community. This Debian-based Linux distribution makes it easy to perform digital forensic tasks.

Parted Magic

Parted Magic is essentially a disk management tool, with hard disk partitioning and copying as primary tools. It also makes it easy to perform data recovery and secure erasing.

PartedMagic

GParted

GParted is a single-purpose distribution, designed to make it easy to partition hard drives using a graphical interface. Linux users will be familiar with the standard version that appears in many distributions. This version is a standalone, dedicated OS, however, ready to run as a live CD. Need to perform some disk management without booting into your computer’s operating system? Use GParted.

gParted

TAILS

TAILS is a distribution that revolves wholly around the concept of privacy and security. It is a live operating system you can use from a DVD, USB stick or SD card, so that you can be safe using any computer and leave no trace of your activities. All internet connections are routed through TOR (The Onion Router) for the best possible anonymity, and cryptographic tools are readily available to protect all your communication methods from prying eyes.

TAILS

Business

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a commercial derivative of Fedora, designed with enterprise customers in mind. There are a number of variants and addons, and certification is available for both administrators and applications.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

SUSE Linux Enterprise

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is designed for business use and is therefore enterprise-ready from installation, making it easy to work with a variety of office programs. It’s flexible enough to run on a variety of devices, but is reliable enough for extremely critical processes. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server edition is also available.

SUSE Linux Enterprise

Tell Us Your Favorite Distros

This is just a snapshot of the top Linux distros currently available. We’re literally just scratching the surface of what’s out there, so why not tell us about your favorite Linux distribution and why you love it?

Last Updated: 14 October 2016
Updated By: Christian Cawley

  1. Federico
    October 29, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    En los ultimos tiempos estoy utilizando Voyager Linux .

  2. PIZAP foto pizap
    October 28, 2016 at 9:33 am

    hi
    it is very nice

  3. linoobx
    October 26, 2016 at 10:34 am

    If I'm not mistaken, deepin moved base to Debian Sid now.

    • VeridisQuo
      November 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Yeah changed to Debian as of the 15.1 release.

    • VeridisQuo
      November 3, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Yeah moved to Debian as of the 15.1 release.

  4. Ron Ablang
    October 19, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    I just want one that will make the built-in wifi work. Any suggestions?

  5. Andrew Gulak
    October 17, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    No Antegros? No Ubuntu Ultimate? Seems like you listed about everything else but the kitchen sink and those two hard hitting distros.

    • 1randomguy
      October 23, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Antergos is basically a preconfigured version of Arch Linux. I think thats the reason...

      • NothingDoing
        October 29, 2016 at 9:24 am

        Then what about Apiricity.They are just the same and even Manjaro is simply a pre-configured Arch version.

  6. jasray
    October 15, 2016 at 3:32 am

    Interesting . . . I've noticed the phenomena on MUO for about three months.

    The comments are all old comments; maybe a year or two old which means the articles were previously written and supposedly researched in the past. Then, the new writer adds something and claims the article is "new" with fresh information.

    In this instance, we have the following:

    Top 12 Linux Distros For 2014
    http://www.the12list.com/2015_01_01_archive.html
    Attributed to MUO.

    Oddly enough, the writer here includes Pinguy which is basically dead:

    "Thinking about killing off Pinguy OS. It is costing me more to run than I get from the project. The project is a sink hole."

    No information is provided for any distro, so a reader doesn't know that different programs come with different distros. It may be somewhat disconcerting to a user to discover Elementary OS doesn't include full office suite like Libre Office.

    It would be funny to watch a user go to Deepin and discover the site is in Chinese.

    For any user, there's so little information for any one distro that he/she wouldn't know the huge security difference between Ubuntu and Mint.

    GParted is considered a desktop distro? [Yes, I read the single purpose clause, but what would be the point in using it with Windows--plenty of free partition programs for Windows.]

    Parted Magic isn't free, open source software. It's payware. Quite expensive, actually.

    As I recall, MUO recently needed some writers who would love to write for the team. I guess, if all one has to do is copy/paste old articles, add a few screenshots, don't check facts, don't determine the activity of the distro [a number of the distros listed haven't been updated for at lease one year], and get paid to pretend an article is fresh with valuable information, that would be some easy money. However, advertisers will soon discover the facade, and all the money will disappear--along with MUO.

    • Harry
      October 17, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      I've used linux as my main system for years and I don't know what the "huge security difference between Ubuntu and Mint" is.
      Could you elaborate?
      Currently using ChaletOS. A stylish version of Xubuntu.

    • dragonmouth
      October 17, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      @Jasray:
      The article is not meant as a complete guide to each and every distro mentioned. It lists the distros that MUO staff thinks most users might try and enjoy. Even DistroWatch does not provide the information you want. For a complete description of the distro, you need to go to the distro site.

      Speaking about providing more information. It would have been nice if you provided more of it about "the huge security difference between Ubuntu and Mint." Even though I have used both, I don't know what you are talking about.

    • A41202813GMAIL
      October 17, 2016 at 11:42 pm

      A - Starting By Checking The Date Of The Very First Post Is The Quickest Way To Establish How Old An Article Really Is - Not A Problem For Me,

      B - The Almost Disappearance Of The Several Daily Old Newsletters With A List Of The Most Recent MUO Articles - I Feel That Is A Problem,

      C - The Disappearance Of The Home Page With An Endless Listing Of The Most Recent MUO Articles ( Last In, First Out ) - I Feel That Is A Problem,

      D - The Changing Of The Single Article Page To A Never Ending Train Of Consecutive Articles Might Be A Problem For The Majority - Not For Me, I Discovered A Way Around It.

      ---

      I Am Really Curious Though, Since These Changes Started:

      E - Is The Number Of MUO Visitors Just About The Same ?

      F - Is The Number Of MUO Comments Just About The Same ?

      G - Is There No Foreseeable Problem In This Nowadays MUO Paradise ?

      As I Said, I Am Really Curious.

      Cheers.

  7. Lou
    October 14, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Christian Cowley:
    Sigh...... Very bottom of the article, in teeny tiny font, "Last Updated: 14 October 2016"
    The Updated by shown in an ever smaller font.
    If an article is worth re-posting, please exhibit a bit of courtesy and identify it as a repeat at the very top of the article. Many would find it very helpful if the changes, updates, revisions, corrections or whatever were noted at the top as well, and highlighted within the body of the article.

  8. Patrick
    August 3, 2016 at 6:33 am

    I know this is an older article, but I can relate. My laptop was completely useless running Windows 7 for two solid years before I first tried to install Windows 10 and give it a try.

    It crashed halfway through the installation, giving me the same blue screen I'd seen a thousand times before.

    Lesson learned.

    So I switched to Linux! My friend is big into computers (as am I now) and is a Linux/macOS user. The first distro I tried was Xubuntu 14.04. I loved it and used it as my daily driver for half a year, before I started to get bored of it.

    I switched to Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon two days ago and love it. It's now my go-to distro for any new devices I'm going to set up.

  9. old toothless byter
    July 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Wrestling with jumping overboard from Win7 before win10 sucks it dead, and wonder a) what is the lifespan/update frequencies of the most reliable/dominant Linux, and what does one do if and when your version goes away? I would likely keep using familiar WinXP/7 under a VM within Linux if possible, but would like to see Linux versions that are consistent and logical, rather than "touchy feelie" copies of the worst parts of Apple/PC dumbing down. Sure I'm old, but my wife's Macbook w/o mouse is vexingly obtuse, hard to navigate or even learn without an Apple kid there, and I worked fine on the original Macs circa 1985 so don't get me started. The biggest mistake was deciding every OS advance called for abandoning the familiar Desktop/GUI/navigation of previous versions, forcing users to relearn from scratch how to do everything they already knew from 5-10 years before.

    • spyjoshx
      October 25, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      In answer to your first question, if you use any major distro(Ubuntu-based,debian,opensuse,fedora etc.) you will get updates for life. I don't know much about fedora or opensuse's update system, but Ubuntu releases updates twice a year. You will be pretty much covered. Ubuntu's spinoffs are great for pretty much any hardware you throw at them. Lubuntu is perfect for old junky computers that need new life, Xubuntu is good for older computers but focuses a little more on beauty (XFCE that Xubuntu uses is extremely customizable) if you are looking for a classic windows experience for semi-new PCs, go for Linux Mint. Mint is a spin-off of ubuntu, so you will be getting the same updates more or less. True eye-candy for elite PCs that acts like windows is Kubuntu. Hope that helps!

  10. Celyle
    June 30, 2016 at 4:24 am

    Debian is my go-to. I'm used to it and it has everything, as bleeding edge (the "sid" repo) or mature(the "stable" repo) as you like. A determined newbie would do well with the MATE desktop on Debian stable. But I've had excellent results also with Arch, CentOS, and Knoppix. So grateful to the thousands of developers who gave us all this stuff. Not happy with Puppy or SuSE. They're too weird and relatively hard to maintain and customize.

  11. olegabrielz
    April 28, 2016 at 11:25 am

    First of all: CrunchBang (#!) is dead. Corenominal have moved on to new projects. The #! community did go together and create bunsen labs as a way of continuing the #! philosophy. There are other spinnoffs, but from what I know: Bunsen Labs is the one that are closest to what #! was. Bunsen labs is the ressult of the CrunchBang community.

    Arch is my choice of linux flavor. It takes some time to get up and running. But when you first get it up and running, you have a system that does the job no matter what you throw at it. I do want to check out gentoo when I have the time. It looks promesing from what I have read. I like the DIY-distros. It's like lego. You put together just the pieces you need, nothing more. Giving you a extremly fast and reliable system.

  12. ivan
    April 22, 2016 at 10:02 am

    which is best for office use?
    file/folder sharing, Libre Office, multimedia viewing for low specs hard ware?
    there are lots of distro but i dont know which one is for me and my colleagues...

  13. Baagad Billa
    August 12, 2015 at 11:30 am

    IMHO, Linux Mint with Cinnamon is the best option for users coming from Windows and want some familiarity and enough online community support.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 17, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Why Cinnamon in particular?

      • Alan
        January 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm

        It has an "Aero" flavor to it. I've used it, and it is nice looking, but it is a little more resource intensive. I use remote desktops, and Cinnamon almost refuses to load over network.

        It's a "desktop" desktop. Probably not really a good idea for a server, either.

        • Ed
          April 6, 2016 at 11:53 pm

          Cnnamon can have issues with some video cards. Proceed with caution! I put it on my laptop, and wound up switching to Xfce.

  14. apagajewski
    August 6, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I'm a fan of Apricity OS. I think it looks pretty great out of the box, and it's also based on Arch. Apricity OS uses some kind of a Gnome environment with changes that are supposed to make it faster and prettier than stock Gnome.

    • tiago fernandez
      August 13, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      you fool! Because your comment I had to search for apricity os and gaved me a linux heart attack! This means i have to quit Haze OS, elementary and deepin, for APRICITY OS!!! Thank you for the heart attack!

      ps: heart attack is a joke, its a expression for how much amazing it looks.
      pps: thx for telling me about apricity os, is now my new favorite linux.

    • Joost Canters
      October 31, 2015 at 1:44 am

      Yay! Thanks!

  15. Aurel F
    June 18, 2015 at 8:22 am

    usually i use raspbian /bodhi and of course my favorite -knoppix :)

  16. jamesedwarddev
    May 25, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Ubuntu and Linux Mint are popular choices for newcommers. As well as Elementary OS.

  17. Michael
    May 22, 2015 at 4:25 am

    I am a novice Linux user and after reading about some of the distributions available, I'd have to say I am inclined to choose Arch Linux initially. Choosing a distribution that is as easy as possible to setup appears to create a glass house with a very poor foundation and little to no incentive to learn deeply. I abide by the general rule that you should learn one level of abstraction deeper than the problem you are looking to solve. A great way to get there with an operating system is to simply configure it from scratch with solid documentation for instances where you get stuck.

    Waking up for the last 15 years and logging onto a perfectly functional Windows machine has simply become boring. The focus on GUI's and simplification in Windows is just not to my liking. It sacrifices efficient workflow and user-empowerment in an effort to 'dumb down' the operation of the computer. At the corporate level, I find the result to be fairly frustrating and quite expensive when end users are not able to complete complex tasks on account of their not being a button to click to do of the work for them.

    I'd prefer to spend more time learning and be a more efficient computer user in the long-term and would like to find a community that is more command-line-aware. The lack of transparency in Windows puts me at a bit of a standstill and doesn't really give me much incentive to learn the system at a deeper level.

    It is hard to become a strong computer user when so many people around you have never heard of the run command in Windows. I ask someone to run a specific program that is already and am met with a blank stare. I need a community of users that is significantly different than that and won't be completely lost when attempting to find a program (or that pretty much folds when the start menu disappears).

    • jamesedwarddev
      May 25, 2015 at 10:55 pm

      You would think it works like that, but it really doesn't. With Arch, there is enough to do, that you're most likely to just blindly follow the wiki. As well, you may find that you don't like it. The best course of action is to load up VirtualBox with Arch and Ubuntu/Mint/Debian/OpenSuse/InterestingDistro, and compare them there. Ubuntu usually only gets a bad rep when more experienced users have a need feel especially l33t and put others down or from those who hate the unity layout. And you can install any desktop you want. (from your post I assume you'll probably want to try KDE, but I'd recommend giving Gnome3 and Cinnamon/Mate a shot, again, use VirtualBox) I used Ubuntu for a while and I did 95% of my configuration/work from the command line. There's an amazing community to help when you get stuck and plenty of resources. It's also nice if you feel lazy on a whim and want to use the GUI. If you want to learn, google linux from scratch or try linuxacademy.com. Or better, run Arch inside VirtualBox on an Ubuntu host. Anyways, I just wanted to caution you because Arch can be a pretty big turn off. And the educational benefit in terms of understanding how the OS/kernal operate isn't as great as you may think. Good luck.

  18. ThatGuy
    May 17, 2015 at 10:10 am

    If Linux was truly better than windows performance wise, it would be 20x more popular. But it's not, if you check FPS count on video games, windows runs twice as good as Linux. Only reason people would use Linux would be for showing off how they can actually install Linux, and to use the terminal. There is no other reason I can think of. Now if Linux would improve in performance, I would definitely go for Linux!

    • Brian Howell
      May 28, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      That's not true at all. If popularity was solely determined by the ability to perform, Ashton Shepherd would have a bigger music career than Kellie Pickler, and Sam Rockwell would be a bigger box office draw than Vin Diesel, and Ron Paul would be President of the United States instead of Barack Obama. Those things are not true for the the same reason: market success is more a product of massive amounts of advertising than anything else. Similarly, the fact that Windows is more popular than Linux on the consumer desktop today is because Microsoft has spent billions of dollars keeping the Windows name in front of everybody's eyes. As a result, for better or worse, they've held on so far to their market share due to their early headstart 30 years ago in the race to the desktop, and their willing to be flexible to get there, unlike Apple's all-or-nothing approach to marketing. Because of its dominance so far on the desktop, most games are built for the Windows market, not because game companies prefer Windows as a development platform, or because Windows handles graphics better than Linux, but because most of the gamer market has Windows machines. If every game was built for Linux, Windows would have a similarly difficult time shining with those games that were simply backported to it, instead of specifically built to work with it. If Windows is so much better at processing graphics, why, then, does Pixar produce its movies on LInux workstations? But I told everyone in 2001 that Microsoft's sun was setting, and that in 20 years it would be the General Motors of that day: bloated, aimless, and wondering where it went wrong. General Motors, in fact, wouldn't exist today as a single entity if it weren't for a government bailout. The market said "no." The government said, "We don't care what the market says." My prediction is coming true. Linux IS the most popular operating system in the world today, running over ninety percent of the servers in the world, running the show beneath almost all of the industrial machines and consumer appliances on the market, and, in Android guise, dominating 78% of the world smartphone market so far in 2015. On top of all of that, Google's Linux flavor for the laptop, Chrome, has shipped on the #1 bestselling laptops on Amazon for the last three years. Linux is here to stay. The consumer desktop will be last domino to fall because the market share of the personal computer has already peaked, so commercial end user development of Linux has become focused on other form factors. But Microsoft's, and, for that matter, Apple's competitive joyride in the personal computer market will continue to become a grind for both companies. When Microsoft starts developing its software for other platforms, you can't help but smell the Blackberries. I discovered Linux back in 2000 or so, and switched completely to Linux as consumer, educator, artist and businessperson back in 2008. I've switched 70-year-old retirees to Linux, saved them hundreds of dollars, and breathed new life, user-friendliness, speed, and security into their machines than they have ever know in a computer. They love it. That's the future of the desktop, right there, be it sooner or later. Like it or not, Linux is the future of computing at every level. It will not be denied.

    • Alvin James Trail II
      June 11, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      LInux is pretty damn popular...Amazon the number online store in the entire world, process the orders only through linux machines..the reason why I know this is because I work for them. Just imagine if they ran their orders on a windows system (ie, freezes, blue death screen, etc) Windows is not always a good business decision to run a corporation and sometimes for home users like myself.

  19. Stephen Cox
    May 17, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Spare me the absolute garbage people trot out again and again about Linux being Free, Somebody has to put in the effort to make anything work and unless I am mistaken any Programmer simply cannot walk down to the local supermarket and get their weekly groceries for nothing or free rent or houses.
    So it costs them, Time is one thing we cannot recover once you have used it it is gone forever.

    I know damn well I will not fix somebodies car or motorcycle for nothing with thousands of hours of training that never ends and tens of thousands of Dollars invested in Tools and Equipment (well over 100K now) I know and expect others to charge me for their Time, Efforts Expertise and outlays and I will do the same yet we are as an Industry called Thieving crooks by many and the retail side Dealerships called often in the US "Stealerships" yet do these same whingers work for nothing, Not likely so why do you expect something for nothing to be perfect and carry on when it isn't.

    So do not complain about Microsoft charging money for hundreds of thousand of Manhours of effort to supply you something that does what you need it to.

    Cars now run Http protocol Canbus systems linking anything up to 86 micro computers to do anything from turning on the lights to activating windscreen washers and wipers etc etc so Technicians is a correct term for what were once "Mechanics" for now we are much more than that, Network specialists, Electronics technicians, Mechanical engineers and much much more.

    So how dare any of you Expect to get anything for nothing when I know full well you would have all hopefully worked for a living and charged people in the industries you worked in for services and products Yet you expect to gain the fruits of others efforts for nothing with so called open Source software.

    But to expect others to do so smacks of the attitude of people who expect Governments to continue stealing money from those who will work and give it to those who will not.

    Such arrogance from end users always whinging something does not "Just Work" when they havent put their hand in their wallet in the first place and only put the hours in because they think they are getting something for free.

    There is a reason why Linux will never gain traction,It will not pay the Bills for those who actually write the code, In too many cases those same people are far removed from the average person they cannot understand why people cannot fathom something that is second nature to them and it does not help that the same disconnect is also widespread among the Technical Writers Guild who write the How to's and Owners manuals.

    They simply do not understand things that are so much second nature to them that it does not rise above a subconscious action or response which means for those without the same background it is as clear as the Martian Language would be.

    So if people want a Linux that will actually work then cut back all the stupid spinoffs concerntrate on one effort and be prepared to actually pay for it, Until then get used to Deja Vue as you experience Computer OS Groundhog Day with your supposedly No Cost OS, What's your time worth??

    • Brian Shields
      June 14, 2015 at 3:47 am

      I HAVE ONE WEB ADDRESS FOR ALL YOUR LINUX CONCERNS which also debunks your obvious misconception on how linux works stephen cox (www.distrowatch.com) this site offers all linux fanactics a one place stop and shop for just about any distro you can think of plus each distros homepage offering endless forums for beginners and experts alike stop dogging on linux when you purchase a car do you not pick one that best suits your combined needs and wants why can't the same also apply to your personal computer im running mint linux right now i went to distrowatch read pages on many versions of linux distros decieded to give it a try and downloaded the iso for free then burnt it to a disc whats the catch threre is none the hope of opensource is for anyone who wants to improve said software can know that thier voices will be heard and tended to so that it may become better without the constant oversight of people who are only concerned with stock options and shareholders such is microsofts practices and apples mentallity of it's either ours or you don't use our os your way of thinking is the exact reason why when you goto an electronics store when you check out they do not ask which os you would like today why should windows be the only option when we walk out of that store and quite frankly i find it insulting that a company gets to dictact what os my computer has on it when i drop a little chuck of change on that brand new computer or next time i buy a car maybe i should just expect to walk away with the assumption that i dont get to pick the color i want just think if you didn't have to buy that computer with windows preloaded on there it would be on average about one hundred dollars cheaper you think microsoft just gives it's preloaded versions for free nope passed onto the consumer your philosphy has holes or does it after all from what you have posted it seems to me you would rather have something to blindly click without knowing how it actually works funny thing is i have fixed hundreds of computers that have consistantly been infested with malware spyware viruses and countless other problems yet on linux i never have had to even run a virus scanner as a matter of fact im not even sure i currently have one loaded on my system some would say unwise but its my computer so i'll run it the way i see fit lastly for give my grammer mistakes i have wasted enough time forgive me for having some distaste on the thought of correcting my grammatically issues to someone who seems to be a drone to the masses

  20. Tatsu
    May 16, 2015 at 4:33 am

    P.S., the "relevant to Linux" is a typo and should read "irrelevant"..

  21. Tatsu
    May 16, 2015 at 4:30 am

    Let me suggest to all the people having commented after ReadandShare... Let us stop talking about Windows here and just talk about Linux and BSD. The distro reviews above are good, and informative. We are all lovers of restriction-less free software, incl. OSes, even though they are not always supported by commerce oriented proprietary enterprises. I started my programming experience in C/C++ and Delphi with Windows 95 and my excitement started with Windows NT and ended with Windows2000. Then, I turned to Linux, which was a disaster at that time, but has now become a surprisingly stable and versatile OS, Just amazing. When having read ReadandShare, my feeling was "Phoo, people with this kind of ideas still are around..", and I was surprised to see the Linux vs Windows argument started. Hardware drivers ( video and printer ) and application implementation ( address bar )? They are all relevant to Linux, which refers basically to its kernel. Windows fans, please let us be alone here. Windows is fine but in my opinion, it always involves commercial and strategical restrictions and frankly, has never been worth the pay since Windows2000. In case the pay matter might be misleading, let me add that, in my impression, Linux/BSD Os/Application developers are real programmers who love the computer, and believes in the power of software, and so, their target software are to fast, efficient and rock-solid. This is why I rely more on Linux than on Windows. Hope some people agree with me...

  22. Cristiana Nicolae
    April 11, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    I've tested several Linux distros, including Ubuntu, but on my PC I have installed Zorin OS and I am very pleased with it. I don't miss Windows at all and I recommend it to everyone.

    Well, the only thing that I can criticise about this Linux distro (and I think is valable for most distros) is that I can't play my favourite game - Sacred Underworld - not even with all the tweaks done on PlayOnLinux/Wine. The only practical solution for me is to play it on my friend's PC (which runs Windows 7).

    • Anonymous
      May 5, 2015 at 6:11 am

      Cristiana
      SteamOS might be worth a look at if you enjoy gaming. If they get the Directx to Opengl working things could get interesting !

  23. charlie
    April 4, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Hi Guys,
    I'm a linux noob and I'm loving every distro I have tried, with the exception of Fedora, which for me is too cutting edge .
    I too have a multi distro stick with Tails, Kali, Ubuntu, and have just wiped clean my new laptop and installed Pclinux os on. I have 2 other systems, my new system has Ubuntu and my old system has win 7 on which I'm considering wiping and switching to linux completely. This is mainly because of Privacy and Security issues. I have also switched to startmail instead of a so called free email.

  24. Geo
    April 2, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    This is a great introductory article for those who are considering exploring the avenues of the Linux world. Many of the contributors here, me included, are mostly old hands at Linux, have found a distro that appeals to them and uses it. I use Ubuntu 14.04 LTS for my day to day work and Fedora [Latest], currently F21, for my experimenting and software trialling. It all works for me and does what I need it to do. It may not be your cup of tea but that is why there ARE so many different flavours of Linux. I don't think this article was ever meant to be exhaustive, but a taste of what is out there if you are new to Linux. Let's encourage that! I think the overarching view that should be adopted is that "Linux is NOT Windows". With that mindset, a journey of discovery into Linux will be an enjoyable learning experience.

  25. Al E. Gator
    March 28, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Here's a vote for a beginner distro: LXLE. http://lxle.net/

    LXLE is based on Lubuntu which is an Ubuntu OS using the LXDE desktop environment. It is designed to be a drop-in and go OS, primarily for aging computers. Its intention is to be able to install it on any computer and be relatively done after install. At times removing unwanted programs or features is easier than configuring for a day. Our distro follows the same LTS schedule as Ubuntu. In short, LXLE is an eclectic respin of Lubuntu with its own user support.

  26. Mack
    March 27, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Ubuntu seems to always hit the top of the list. Yet this is a Linux version that needs to be avoided at all costs until one knows how to change it. It's full of spyware and breaks away from the "Free" beginnings of freely available software. Free means to be able to choose, freedom from being spied on not free in monetary terms. Use Ubuntu now and Canomical (the company behind Ubuntu) knows what you are searching for, Amazon knows what you are searchng for and you will get ads served to you. This is NOT what Linux should be about. Avoid it! Use an Ubuntu based alternative such as Mint.

  27. Afifi
    March 21, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Beautiful post you wrote here. but actually it is very confusing to me cause i am new to linux and searching for the best system to start with.
    and after reading all these i can't choose what is best for me as a simple user mainly surfing the internet and using simple application (not supported with linux) so help me here guys.
    Thank you

    • Geo
      April 2, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      Afifi, I think your best bet would be to try the LiveCD versions of some of the popular distros. That way, you are getting a feel for the platform without actually installing anything onto your computer. Simply boot off the CD and play!

  28. Mike S
    March 16, 2015 at 3:52 am

    I personally like Linux Lite. I installed it onto a few older guys computers and a couple of them got me to wipe windows off completely for the space. These guys just need email, a browser for news and Shotwell photo manager for their photos. Plus they need to watch videos. They like the speed of startup and shutdown and the ease of the system.
    I am having problems with UEFI right now.

  29. Greg H
    March 7, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Hi All! I am a newbie to Linux but fascinated by the concept of it. I'm also apprehensive of converting to it, being a long time user of Micro$oft distros. I am encroaching on 60, (not that age has anything to do with it), but we all learn differently and at our own pace. (Mine somewhat slower perhaps). It is probably out there in the ethereal somewhere, ( I haven't managed to find it yet), but a copy and paste approach to, for example, the 'get' command for adding a 'printer' if it wont automatically find it in the setup. Most do, some don't. Perhaps if this option came with the distro itself, it might give newbies like myself more confidence to convert to Linux. Hope I'm not grasping at straws or wasting time. Thanks for your patience.

  30. Ben S
    March 5, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Thanks for this excellent exposition of the many Linux choices. The world of open-source computing is fascinating and the list of great distros increases every day. People get stuck on their Windows OS, just as I get stuck on my Ubuntu OS - we all want and need a stable PC for daily use. But there's a lot of fun in investigating how many different ways there are to put together a computer and its human operator. I'm aware of many of these distros, but many of them here are new to me. This list is going to be fun to go through - thanks again!

  31. Grimbrow
    March 2, 2015 at 2:11 am

    I knew there was a lot of Linux distributions, but damn that's a lot of selection! New to the Linux scene, but recently installed lubuntu on an old windows xp laptop I got free with reaaaaally low specs. It definitely had a learning curve, but I knew that going in. I think a lot of people assume their computer should work like a microwave--just plug it in, push buttons, and you're done! But a computer is still more complicated than that, even windows and android, although we often don't notice it as much because its more familiar or something. I do like that I can use Linux while saving up for a more powerful computer, then I'll probably give Mint and some others a try.

  32. twistyMINDflex
    February 23, 2015 at 2:51 am

    most recomend Linux Mint with Cinnamon or some other Ubuntu derivative for most noobs with descent hardare [Dual core processor/ at least 2 gigs ram]. The visual interface [desktop, GUI, ect] is usually the determining Indicator as to what system resource usage will be like, avoid KDE and Gnome3 on older/ lighter hardware. Xfce or MATE works well on WinXP based systems Enlightenment is good and LXDE is even lighter. Puppy Linux and it's variations have the lightest bang per feature but require more thought to set up[ still very freindly] Been using computers and software since 95 I love to experiment with and build my own from ground up and refurbish older computers which are often then donated. all while rarely touching the command line. Linux provides a means to modernize older hardware and is suprisingly polished in rescent years and the very fact that millions of people can and do, anything they want with the source code translates into a very diversified very malware resistant system. I have not used Windows [except on computers that it came with and often dual-booted] since around 2008. as software begins to influence /controll more and more. it's accessabillty becomes more important.

  33. freemind
    February 22, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    i think linux MATE or linux XFCE are the best choose for old PC's.

  34. ken
    February 19, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Sadly, #! Linux has called it quits. The forum is still up and very active; however, development has ceased.

  35. Dave
    February 11, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    I have yet to find a distro that works without any problems, by the time i have setup a Linux distro, I could have written a book on Linux and how not to wast your time on it.
    I installed Artistx and it would not even download wine it continually said it could not download it,
    After a week and a half wasted 40 minuets windows was back on my machine 30 mins latter
    all worked no pain setting it up.
    Sorry I won't live long enough to see a good working version of Linux let alone use one .

  36. Elio
    February 6, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I would like to suggest you the Zenthyal distro, really helpfull regarding everything about network including OpenVpn and IPSec vpn. I've experienced it during the last year and i assure you that the entire configuration process (apart from custom integration) is totally one-shot: you install it, configure it and forget it. I've build up an OpenVpn 60 Windows, Linux and OS X client in short time and without issues. It's also lite (it can be inatalled on a virtual machine with 512mb ram withou problem). To me one of the best network-based Linux distro

    • Angela Alcorn
      February 11, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      That sounds pretty awesome. Thanks for the suggestion!

  37. Mrs.Rarh
    February 6, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Thumbs up to OpenSuse !!
    Love its desktop environment.

    • DHP
      October 17, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      I have been a big fan of OpenSuse also and it is FREE, not like the Enterprise version they gave a mention to "SUSE Linux Enterprise" , the other one I like for a live test off a DVD or Flash drive is KNOPPIX

  38. Arun
    February 2, 2015 at 5:12 am

    I have deep sense of appreciation for Linux distros - I found Fedora, Trisquel and Debian are really good. I don't have experience with other distros. I am benefited immensely after a switch over from windows that locked my computer curiosity with passwords and commerce.

  39. MFD2HDx
    February 2, 2015 at 1:32 am

    Debox GNU/Linux Live CD is a live hybrid distribution based on Debian and OpenBox. Can be used on computers supporting 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x86_64) instruction set architectures.

    Debox was made with the middle and novice user in mind. Includes a wide range of software: word processor, media players, internet browser, email client, disk utilities, java and few games.
    Also, a plenty of printers, scanners, bluethooth, web cams, digital tv, fax are supported by default.

    Different from the majority of the distributions, the Debox desktop environment does not tightly integrate every component but use various programs and tweaks that give the final result.

    Debox Live CD is full persistence capable so you can store your favorite data on hard disk/USB stick.

    Debox Live CD can run in old computers that have more of 256MB of Ram whith a 700MHz CPU (but strongly advised 2GB of Ram and unleast 2Ghz CPU).

    You can find it here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/deboxlive/

  40. Rey Rivera
    January 31, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I have been using Elementary OS since last year and I must say that I am quite happy with it. I'm also using Win XP (dual boot) despite being end of life. While using XP, my system got infected with some hard to remove viruses (like dealply). I used three different anti-virus products to remove it (MBAM free, Hitman Pro, & another one) but certain registry entries containing the word "dealply" just can't be removed. I even used regedit manually, but to no avail.

    Fortunately, I came across Registrar (registry editor) which I used to manually remove all registry entries containing "dealply". Since then, I developed a phobia against malware and very seldom used XP online.

    Elementary OS gives me peace of mind while web surfing. I don't have to use an antivirus product. All I need to do is run Update Manager and everything is taken-care of. I am always updated on the latest virus there is thru Softpedia News, which distros are most vulnerable, and what actions to take to remedy the situation.

    I still use XP coz I have other programs which are XP only. I am quite happy with my present set-up. All these Linux bashing are really counter-productive. We should be thankful that we are able to download some free OS that are virus-proof! If you don't like it, then don't use it. No OS is perfect, so why not keep both Linux & Windows, and enjoy them both!

  41. Who Cares
    January 30, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Zorin should not really be listed in the 'newbie' category. Or at least a note about it's flawed upgrade process needs to be made (see below).

    Though it's appealing choice simplifying transition to Linux for M$ users, there is a huge flaw in their approach. It's called 'upgrade'.

    I personally faced it when I installed Zorin 5.x for my mom (and she's living abroad). After just 2-something years, Microsoft changed their Skype protocol and forced everyone to upgrade to a new version. Unfortunately, Zorin 5.x is based on an older Ubuntu distribution and doesn't have the necessary libraries (which can't be installed either since that old Ubuntu version is not supported anymore and their repositories don't have those libraries. And you can't realistically update all the necessary dependencies).
    Granted , that's my fault that I didn't check all the documentation for Zorin OS. But it clearly says, to upgrade to a newer version you have to back up your data and re-install the system. Which is unrealistic for my mom, since it needs to be done locally (and she's not an experienced user).

    In this regard Zorin OS sucks big time.

    Btw, the Deepin u r recommending seems to be Japan-based (or something, their main language seems to be either Japanese or Korean or Chinese or whatever).

    • Moz
      February 3, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Deepin is from China.
      Zorin is quite a good system. Keep it up to date by using its synaptic software download manager. By the way Zorin 5 is quite old now. The most recent is Zorin 9.

  42. Hannya
    January 22, 2015 at 6:36 am

    I was na user of SuSE 9.2 for some time and then spent some years away after trying openSuSE and hating it. Then I "migrated" to ArtistX and later Sabayon - the first being a permanent item in my bag as I'm both a (.net) developer and a designer; and the second being the best distro I found post-SuSE.
    That said, I can't say I enjoy my time spent on Linux, specially after being forced at univer to use Fedora (which I hate the most) to dev in C - what sux totally on Fedora! To be very honest, I hate it a lot nowadays and I'm far from finding a distro that pleases me again.
    I just can't find a solid reason to prefer using any Linux distro than to use Windows or OSX, specially now with 8.1 and Yosemite, respectively.
    But I'm gonna try Deepin and probably install it at my mother's pc. After all, Steam now works very well with Linux.

  43. aaron brooks
    January 20, 2015 at 3:03 am

    First off, thank you for this writeup. What a great comprehensive and most importantly modern look at what is available. But good lord. I was halfway interested in the Manjaro distro until I had the misfortune of hitting play on the video. Yes, dude....we all know how to pick a time zone and keyboard style. You didn't need to spend 4 minutes on the setup. Let's see the desktop, let's see the menu, etc... He has bored me out of even wanting to try Manjaro on VMWare. Everything else in this article was wonderful. I grabbed about 4 of the distros and tried them out. I even installed a lightweight one on an old Dell Mini since it's so slow and needed a lightweight OS and it's running beautifully.

    It's like an unboxing video of a twinkie. We know 90% of what we are getting and he was talking about the store he bought it at and the plastic that it came in. Unreal. Love ya author Angela but get someone more interesting than a sand flea to do a demo.

    Ugh...I need to go puke up my La Mesa takeout now.

  44. Pat
    January 19, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Angela, thank you for the most informative article on distros I've ever seen. As a Linux noob, I've rotated from Ubuntu Unity to XFCE to KDE back to Unity and now back to KDE because I have a hard time defining what it is I want for optimal utility and performance on my Chromebook. Your comparisons among the different categories have encouraged me to give some unfamiliar distros a try. Thanks so much!

  45. Michael
    January 14, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for the helpful overview. I've found Ubuntu very useful in extending the life of "retired" PCs.

    But what might work best on G4/G5 Apple iMacs? They are past their useful life running Mac OS, but they should run some Linux distros well enough.

  46. rflulling
    January 13, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    I want to put them all on a Flash drive to play with and compare functionality. If possible have then be more than bootable ISO. Would be nice to have each instance play nice and let me switch off between each live install.

  47. Rick
    January 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    You should probably include other specialist-type distros in the list, or maybe write another article about them.

    For example, one that I know and am familiar with are KXStudio.

    True, most of these aare based off from one of the larger distributions, but it's nice to have all the necessary packages installed and ready to go. WineAsio in particular sucks at properly setting up.

    Also, I've been looking for a decent, small distribution for small, portable devices that doesn't involve recompiling the kernel just to use the WiFI (Marvell SD8686, I'm looking at you.)

    Puppy and Slitaz are great for small distros, but damn, the desktops are ugly. I'd love to see something with perhaps a Hildon-type dektop as the deffault instead of what these small distros currently use.

    • dragonmouth
      January 14, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      Check out LinuxBBQ distro, not necessarily as your permanent distro but just to look at the desktops they offer. It comes with a choice of 76 desktops and window managers.

  48. RW Driskill
    January 13, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    As someone who has tried various linux distros over the last 15 (+/-) years, let me make some Windows user comments.
    1. I am not a noob. I have been playing with computers since the late '70's.
    2. When using any of the web browsers, the address bar does not highlight and erase the old address automatically, as it does in Windows. This is a turn off for a lot of noobs.
    3. While it is getting better, the install process is still a pain in the butt. The linux crowd seems to think that everyone already knows the difference between sda0 and sda1, and all the other strange naming conventions. I attempted to install a distro last night, on an old system. In attempting to delete and create a new partition, I was presented with an error message about encryption, but no instructions on HOW to fix it.
    4. I know linux is attempting to make the transition easier, but the use of the new, very narrow, no up/down arrows, on the scroll bar is not good. It actually makes it more difficult to view any window, for those of us the don't have a scroll lock on out mouse/trackball. I will admit the the tech preview of Windows 10 is doing the same thing.
    These are just a few of my observations. I am still attempting to find a distro I like, that will run quickly on my old PC, that has a good visual appeal and isn't terribly different from the Windows environment I have used for 20 plus years (Windows 3.1).

    • surge
      January 13, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      1. Cool! I think I started tinkering in '84. Different world back then, eh?
      2. Honestly, I don't even notice the address bar issue. I just know it's going to function differently from Windows, but I am aware it being a turn off for noobs. I still hear it from my wife sometimes.
      3. It could be easier to install, but honestly, just watching a few videos on YouTube before beginning should be enough to coach most anyone through the process. There are many resources available to help the first time user get things installed and set up.
      4. It's fixable, but probably not that easy for someone coming over from Windows. I don't know why they messed with it, to be honest. I'm from the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought.

    • dragonmouth
      January 14, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      @RW Driskill:
      1) same here
      2) In Firefox the automatic blanking of the address bar is a user setting.
      3) I don't know how many other O/Ss you've worked with besides Windows, but you should know that each O/S has a slightly different nomenclature than the others. Expertise in one O/S does not guarantee expertise in another. Before I were to install a new O/S, I would try to read up on the process. Did you reformat the drive before starting the distro install?
      4) That problem is endemic to many O/Ss, not just Linux. With the advent of touch screens, O/S developers decided that scroll bars are a quaint anachronism and can be either downsized or eliminated altogether.

      "I am still attempting to find a distro I like, that will run quickly on my old PC, that has a good visual appeal and isn’t terribly different from the Windows environment I have used for 20 plus years"
      I would suggest Zorin.

    • Grcoeeg
      January 16, 2015 at 4:08 am

      RW Driskill, Like dragonmouth advised ( Zorin ) is really really a good sub for Windows 7 , it is an all in one and ready to go with nothing to add, ( but VLC ). I am using it as I type, I started several years ago with Zorin 6 and have worked my way up to the newest LTS Zorin 9 core. I now have my wife, brother and several close golf buddies using it. My older Dell e1505 and my wifes Dell 1525 work great with Zorin. I use it with a duel boot of Windows 7 of which I only boot to once a month to update and then restart to boot back into Zorin for another month. Once you try it you will be glad you did, this 64 year old is still messing with other Distros on another Dell e1505 I have, but my main squeeze is Zorin....

    • Bilboa Dinkles
      January 24, 2015 at 8:36 am

      Yikes on the Windows 3.1... I could never understand why they designed Windows and Dos without multi-tasking when the technology had already been available since the 1960's with CPM. I was in college during the infamous UNIX-VMS war and became familiar with BSD UNIX running on a micro VAX. For my home system, moment the 80286 came on the scene, ran Mortice Kern's MKS utilities until a decent Linux became available for the home platform... all that being said, I'm now using Fedora and am starting to feel like I'm missing out on something... mostly because the nerds I run with kind of pushed me into it over the years... I'm now semi-retired and looking for something with a LOT of software packages to play with. I'm also not as sharp as I use to be.. so maybe MINT might sooth my aching not-so-little head?

  49. William Peckham
    January 13, 2015 at 4:04 am

    Not very special "specialty" distros up there. What is the best for massive clustering? How about small scale clustering? What would be best for distributed group processing? So many other applications for a versital kernel!

    • dragonmouth
      January 14, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      Check out Rock Clusters Linux for clustering. Also Google "Beowulf Project" Might answer some of your questions.

  50. kt
    January 13, 2015 at 3:31 am

    There were a few neet looking distros I never heard of before on this article. Looks like my old parts pc is going to get some more installs! Right now in my house we're running:

    1. pclinuxos kde on my gaming pc (along with doze 7 on an other hd, hooked to my 60" plasma tv) The linux os boots and runs at least 2-3x faster than the doze hd. And the eye candy is sweet.
    2. pclinuxos mate on my old workhorse pc.
    3. Linux mint cinnamon on wifey's pc.

    I've even converted a 73 year old guy I work with to Mint mate and he loves it!

  51. ReadandShare
    January 13, 2015 at 1:10 am

    Folks have been struggling mightily to give away Linux for free for how long now -- and they still can't persuade much more than 1% of users out there to use the damn thing (however many the different flavors out there)?

    Yeah, Linux fans will rebut the pitifully low acceptance by claiming Android as their own -- instant user base boost -- but it's just not altogether convincing. Android and desktop Linux are completely different experiences.

    After being told by articles like this about how easy Linux is to use this day and age... I have tried Mint and Ubuntu Unity. In both cases, even what should be simple acts of installing apps from their own repositories resulted in failures. Do Linux people not realize how embarrassing this is? Or does this kind of failure actually excite the 'geek' inside them?

    Different strokes for different folks, I know. But something is very wrong when you can't even give away a free product after decades of trying...

    • ReadandShare
      January 13, 2015 at 1:58 am

      I just reread my post. However I feel about Linux... "choice" is a very good thing... and I should have just kept my negativism to myself. I wish I could "undo" my post above, but that is not possible. So... apologies to Angela and everyone here.

    • Good Boy
      January 14, 2015 at 1:58 am

      Your post rings the bell quite loud for the linux folks. Some distros are fine with average Joe for doing something like listening to music, watching movies, browsing and typesetting. But beyond that are not that friendly, and most of the time you need to get into terminal to make things right. I wonder why linux can't get some of windows pie even when the redmon company got its products out of hand, e.g Vista and 8.

    • dragonmouth
      January 14, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      @ReadandSHare:
      "they still can’t persuade much more than 1% of users out there to use the damn thing "
      Do you think that Windows lock-in may have something to do with that? For some users, especially corporate, it may not be easy to switch. Or could it be user inertia? A user has been using Windows for 10-15 years with only minor problems and sees no compelling reason to switch.

      "In both cases, even what should be simple acts of installing apps from their own repositories resulted in failures. Do Linux people not realize how embarrassing this is?"
      Have you considered that it may be you, not Linux that is causing the problems? Linux people may not realize how embarassing it is because they may not be having the problem. You don't indicate whether you used a GUI package manager or command line to install the apps. I recently had a similar problem but it was caused by a corrupted install, which can happen with ANY O/S. After a re-install, everything went smoothly.

      Even though I am a distro hopper, I am only a Linux beginner. After having tried dozens of distros, I must say that I rarely have the kind of problems people report. My only deviation from a defualt install is the use of pre-partiioned drives so I know exactly what is where.

      @GoodBoy:
      The use of command line in Linux is as frequent or as necessary as it is in Windows, which is to say not very frequent or necessary. Having said that, command line does provide better control over the O/S, be it Linux or Windows, than GUI.

      I don't know which distros you have tried but most of them, especially the Ubuntu family are very user friendly.

    • trn450
      January 28, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      Linux distributions are making steps toward user-friendliness for the technically disinclined. The lack of adoption is not due to the lack of user-friendliness at this point, however. It's the software availability. Many people require office and a few other proprietary software solutions that are not available. Sure, some of the open-source alternatives have some degree of compatibility, but it's still far from optimal. This is partly due to a failure of the distributions to work together on package management, and partly a rejection of the free and open-source concept by proprietary software developers.

      Having said all that, there is no reason that most general purpose home PC use would be at all limited or even complicated by a Linux distribution. Firefox works the same as it does on PC, e-mail client setup is just as simple (for the few who use them), and you can still enjoy all of the Facebook and YouTube your heart desires without any limitation. On that note, I will be installing Ubuntu GNOME for my grandmother who only needs her computer for basic tasks and grandchildren routinely break her Windows OS install due to all of their downloads. I have no doubt that she'll have difficulty finding the FireFox icon on her Cairo-Dock.

      You are correct about one thing. They are failing to convince end-users that theyr'e friendly, yes. But, most linux users use it not because of it's simplicity, but because for it's power hiddin within the various shells and robust software solutions designed for the CLI. So, that's only partial credit. Steep learning curve, but it is exceedingly powerful. I suggest you spend some time learning before you bash too much.

    • tangelo
      April 2, 2015 at 1:23 am

      That's funny...I've worked in IT all the way up to a data center and as much fun as I have with the terminal sometimes it is a complete utter pain in the ass to operate linux sometimes. Even for someone who's technically inclined unless you've spent a year or 2 playing with linux which I did and learned how to do some of the more difficult stuff you can't be so arrogant as to say not knowing that you have to be in a different level of the kernel to install a video driver makes the end user incompetent in some way. Or the fact that to install one piece of software you have 5 million dependencies you have to install before you can get it to work. These things are not end user problems...they are front end problems. It's not practical to have to spend 2 hours trying to read tutorials for every new task you want to do that's not automated. So no unless you live in a basement and all you do is linux you won't be inclined to do all these things with out much instruction and a decent learning curve.
      Also to suggest that people don't switch to Linux because the market is saturated with other software is a statement that doesn't have much thought placed into it. I've seen plenty of people switch to apple and not all of them are artists AND you have to pay 2-3x as much for a mac where Linux is free! My point is I want to bring your conceit to attention and that just because you like something and it's the way you do things doesn't mean everyone else operates like you. I think Linux is a great os in its own right and probably unparalleled security-wise but you have to be open to the fact that parts of it might and do suck for most normal people who don't want to spend half their day figuring out how to install a video driver, etc.
      For the record my favorites are suse and fedora.

    • Phuzion1
      April 27, 2015 at 12:45 am

      Why post again apologising? Your firs postwas spot on, as was the last reply on your post.

      My Samsung printer won't work on Linux. I am pretty good with computers but not programming. Easily the best in my family. If I can't make a normal printer work how do you think anyone else in my family could? The software is poor and often doesn't work properly. Downloading the OS uses up monthly internet quota and then install fails, download another, same again. Even the big ones like Ubuntu freeze and crash all the time. Linux users talk about Windows as if it doesn't work. Windows runs fine on any reasonable PC. I hate Macs but I know they work well. Linux rarely even works. Even mint had to be installed 3 times before it worked and then I was faced with a terribly ancient and ugly looking interface. Sorry but Linux is a lost cause for anyone who isn't a programmer.

  52. J
    January 13, 2015 at 1:05 am

    Debian "Jessie" is in the testing phase right now, but I run it and it's great! I use Firefox, use my canon printer and wi-fi with out any trouble. I've been using a few varieties of Linux, including Ubuntu (for retarded people), Fedora (good os) but mostly Debian. This is the biggest upgrade I've ever used!

  53. dragonmouth
    January 12, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Korora is now based on Fedora.

    Personally I use antiX Core as a base on which to build a system.
    For something cutting edge, I use siduction.

  54. Dan
    January 12, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    I would recommend a distro with a proven track record for longevity and is still in active development. For instance, as much as I like Bodhi Linux, it is already abandonware. Too often, distros are created to scratch a certain developer's itch. It will gain some traction, but will sputter out when the developer loses interest. Now you are left with a distro that will no longer be updated, with enhancements not found upstream.

    I have played around with many of the distros on this list, but when it comes to committing on a permanent install, I will choose a tried-and-true distro. I had used Lubuntu before but now I am using Linux Mint XFCE. I prefer to use lightweight distros on my laptop. Back when I still had a desktop (about 6-8 years ago), I would install OpenSUSE.

    • jimvandamme
      April 1, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      Au contraire. Bodhi just had a new release!

  55. Anonymous
    January 12, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    PinGuy OS is the best.

  56. bill mall
    January 12, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    great list and info. I have tried at least half of these but nothing comes close to running like windows XP on my older pc except for puppylinux and it's a bit light on the windows xp transfer friendliness. I thought linux was a lightweight o/x?

    • likefunbutnot
      January 12, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      @bill mall,

      The choice of Window Manager probably has a lot to do with your overall feeling of responsiveness. Window Manager software is all over the place; some of them are based on 20 year old, no-frills user interfaces and some of them turn the eye candy up to 11.
      If you're not an experienced hand at using *nix, it can be tough to strike a balance between those two points, but most Linux distros have an option someplace to switch between three or four different desktop interfaces (on OpenSuSE, it's on the login screen, labelled "Session"). You might be an Afterstep guy or an Enlightenment guy rather than Unity Desktop et al and experimentation is the best way to figure that out.

  57. kammak
    January 12, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Third for OpenSuse

  58. surge
    January 12, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    Here's another vote for OpenSuse, although I don't generally recommend it to Linux novices. I steer them to Mint, which I feel has overtaken Ubuntu as the best general purpose distro with a focus on ease of use. Elementary OS has great potential as well.

  59. likefunbutnot
    January 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I typically prefer OpenSUSE for anything where I might actually see a Window Manager but run CentOS for production servers. I have a longstanding (decades-long) antipathy for the Debian project, which has carried over to all things Debian-derived.

    • Bilboa Dinkles
      January 24, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Thank you for your suggestion. Unfortunately, in my mind, stating your general dislike for all things Debian without qualifying your reason for such antipathy actually invalidates your original suggestion. Can you provide some understanding for us? I'd really enjoy hearing it! Even if it just involves your own personal pathology.. there's nothing wrong with that being the reason either.

    • Bob the Builder
      May 9, 2015 at 6:05 am

      I don't know why, but I never got into Debian or Ubuntu either. Maybe it was how sloppy the packages were/are still organized? Maybe it was was because SuSE 9 just worked out of the box and Yast make everything easy (growing pains right now w/ openSUSE should be noted: systemd, Btrfs, KDE5, have all had their share of disrupted users w/ 13.x). That said, you cannot beat it for versatility and freedom of choice. The new LXQt/RazorQT desktop is going to be a winner, esp. if they can port it to RaspberryPi on a SuSE Kernel w/ Yast2 for setup. It lets you run a lot of KDE software in a much leaner environment (Not that you cannot strip down KDE a lot)

      I have used Scientific Linux for whenever you might otherwise use CentOS. Same basic binary code base (they have scientific software in their repository that CentOS doesn't). Since they are run from one of our (US) national labs, they are well staffed and behave like adults. Definitely the boring alternative, and SuSE's repos have plenty of scientific software.

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