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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

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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 Why Windows XP Users Should Switch To Ubuntu 14.04 LTS "Trusty Tahr" Why Windows XP Users Should Switch To Ubuntu 14.04 LTS "Trusty Tahr" If you're still trying to dump Windows XP but haven't found an alternative yet, Ubuntu 14.04 is a great choice. Read More , 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

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Linux Mint also makes the list because it is the most popular Ubuntu-based derivative, and it’s also the most talked-about distribution Is Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" The Ubuntu Killer? Is Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" The Ubuntu Killer? The latest version of Linux Mint, the 17th release codenamed "Qiana", is out! It's a great alternative for people leaving Windows as well as those who just don't quite like Ubuntu. Read More 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

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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 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 , 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 Why I Switched From Windows 7 to Elementary OS Luna Why I Switched From Windows 7 to Elementary OS Luna Bye bye, Windows. Hello, Linux! Here's what convinced me that eOS Luna is a better bet than Windows 7. Read More . 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

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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 Arch Linux: Letting You Build Your Linux System From Scratch Arch Linux: Letting You Build Your Linux System From Scratch For Linux power users, it's highly desirable to be able to completely customize your system. Sometimes, that can be best achieved from the start -- by piecing together the components that you'd like to include... Read More 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

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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 Linux Distros For The Paranoid: What Are The Most Secure Distros? Linux Distros For The Paranoid: What Are The Most Secure Distros? If you're a Linux user, security was probably one of the benefits that made you switch from whatever operating system you were using before. Linux has a great reputation for being one tough nut to... Read More . 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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