Distro Watch: The Best Linux Distributions For 2014

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We’re halfway through 2014, and a handful of Linux distributions have already made a big splash in the community. Which distributions are the best ones for this year? Let’s take a look.

Ubuntu

ubuntu_trusty_desktop

This may seem like a choice all too common, but Ubuntu makes the list for the best Linux distros of 2014 for one main reason: April saw the next LTS release of the most popular distro. With this LTS release, even the desktop version comes with 5 full years of support, which makes it a great choice if you need a solid system that you won’t have to touch anytime soon.

It’s also a lot more polished than the previous few releases, so there’s no reason not to check it out or upgrade.

Linux Mint

linuxmint_qiana_desktop

Linux Mint also makes the list because it is the most popular Ubuntu-based derivative, and it’s also the most talked-about distribution according to DistroWatch. And now that they have a release based on Ubuntu’s latest LTS release, everything is just as polished and enjoyable to use.

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In this year, they’re also sticking to the same LTS base and won’t switch to another base until the next Ubuntu LTS release. This should mean that the Linux Mint developers will have a lot more time to focus on Linux Mint-related things rather than having to concern themselves about the Ubuntu base all the time.

Elementary OS

luna-os-file-explorer

ElementaryOS is another Ubuntu-based distribution that has been picking up some steam. This is primarily attributed to the fact that everything in ElementaryOS is simplified and made elegant, which does make a difference in user experience.

One of our writers, Akshata, has found that ElementaryOS is the perfect Linux distro for her to switch completely from Windows. Some people (primarily power users) might not like the super simplicity of ElementaryOS, but people who just want a system that works will like it just fine.

Arch Linux

arch_downloading

Arch Linux hasn’t really changed compared to years prior, besides a whole lot of updated packages. However, I think that Arch Linux deserves to be on this list because it’s having a very good year. People who are interested in learning more about Linux, or those who want a higher amount of control of their systems have consistently been choosing Arch Linux.

It’s lean, quick, very up-to-date, and the massive amounts of documentation help you set up whatever you please. Even the unofficial beginner’s guide walks newbies through the installation of Arch Linux step-by-step. It does take more effort to maintain than a regular distro, but it can be worth it in the end.

TAILS

secure_tails_desktop

Lastly, TAILS is an interesting Linux distro for this year thanks to all of the NSA spying leaks that have occurred over the past several months. We’ve talked about TAILS before, which is a distribution that places an extreme importance on security and privacy. With TAILS, you will have all the tools you could possibly need to keep yourself safe from the NSA and other spying.

The only “catch” to using TAILS is that the NSA will record anyone who downloads or even looks up the distro and mark them for extra surveillance — but then again, just about anything you do will place you under extra surveillance nowadays. So despite that risk, I still recommend checking it out.

Do You Agree?

These five Linux distros are great choices for this year. I’m sorry if your favorite distro wasn’t on the list, as I had to leave several off as I feel that they didn’t make much of an impact so far this year (such as Fedora who hasn’t released a new version in quite a while so they have time to reorganize themselves). But go ahead and check these out — I’m sure there’s something interesting for everyone in all five of them.

Do you regularly use any of these distros? Don’t agree with one of my picks? Let me know in the comments below!

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Comments (115)
  • ivvan iskra

    Seems like ./c all these different opinions, the practical approach for me is to buy several install disks and see which ones will load on my old Gateway tower ( about 8 or 9 years old ) and then try them out as for different features. Some users report install problems while others have no trouble at all. And other problems too, so hardware is the culprit.

  • br1anstorm

    As a recent refugee from Windows XP, now trying Linux distros on my laptops and desktop computer, I have just come across this site and read the comments with interest.

    While the opportunity to customise Linux is clearly an attraction for those who enjoy doing so, the fact that this so often requires the daunting process of “sudo”, “apt-get” and the command-line is a deterrent for many would-be users. I endorse the comment that any and all Linux OSs should offer accessible GUIs rather than obscure jargon.

    What most users (whatever their skill level) look for is an OS that offers reliability, stability, longevity, and efficiency, and works out-of-the box on most standard systems. It is important to many that an OS can connect and operate wifi, videocards, and other such things without lots of anguish, fine-tuning and resorting to forum-help. Many distros simply don’t deliver this.

    Since many newcomers to Linux are looking to install on older hardware, resource-use is also important. Once a Linux distro becomes heavily loaded down with fancy visuals that need lots of power (Unity desktop?) it becomes less versatile and less useful to many potential users.

    Finally the constant updating/upgrading of distro release-versions, and the need to replace or reinstall, while fascinating for developers and style-geeks, is less welcome to those like me who value stability and longevity.

    All this has led me towards the rolling-release distros, and to the choice of PCLinuxOS as my preferred distro. Not the most fashionable, not a gimmicky effects-driven OS, but a rock-solid (in my experience) distro whose developers – importantly – keep a very careful eye on the software in their repositories, thereby ensuring it is secure and reliable. They also have a user community which is skilled, helpful communicates clearly and in plain language!

    I am also using Mint, which I have found the most user-friendly and capable Ubuntu-based distro. Their recent decision to use only LTS releases as a base for development is a sensible step.

    Inevitably, others will have different preferences. There is no universal or magic distro that suits all. The important thing is to be clear about what matters to you, and then to find the distro which delivers on your priorities.

  • Sailesh

    Hey Danny,
    I’ve Dell Inspiron, with 8 GB RAM, intel core i7 processor (3rd gen), 700+ GB HDD. I’m a developer, use Zend Studio, Terminal, Gedit, firefox, google chrome, filezilla, skype, liber office, teamviewer, mysql workbench daily. I’ve Ubuntu 14.10 OS installed. From booting the system to open any of the softwares mentioned, there is pain in the a**. I earlier had the cracked version of Window8 which was amazing but love to use open source so switched to Ubuntu. Can you please suggest which distro of linux would be better in performance and other aspects too.. I would like to install an OS that beats Window8.

  • Phill_Chambers

    I have used Linux based systems for about 6 years now and have tried quite a few. Ubuntu, of course, leads the charge in compatibility with most types of ware. But I feel another honorable mention is CentOS. It is RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) based and is an excellent choice if you want a rock solid system to actually use securely for any number of online activities. (shopping, bills, etc) I highly recommend it.

  • Rick

    Whats this ?
    Danny S does not know whats a good linux distro, the bests RedHat, Fedora, openSUSE and CentOS and for Science SL-7 Scientific Linux Ubuntu its a joke the Unity Desktop is a joke,
    i have made my Choice for FEDORA/openSUSE or as Server SUSE SLE12 or the RedHat 7.0

    Rick

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.