Why It Doesn’t Matter Which Linux Operating System You Use

Austin Luong 27-03-2017

The world of Linux The Best Linux Operating Distros The best Linux distros are hard to find. Unless you read our list of the best Linux operating systems for gaming, Raspberry Pi, and more. Read More is rather diverse in its offerings, especially compared to the likes of Windows or macOS. If you’re not happy with the desktop you’re using for example, it’s easy to change it to your liking, or do away with it completely The 12 Best Linux Desktop Environments Choosing a Linux desktop environment can be difficult. Here are the best Linux desktop environments to consider. Read More . As a result of this though, there’s always going to be arguments about which of them is “better”.


For example, user-friendly Linux operating systems What Is The Easiest Version Of Linux To Learn? With each day that passes, more and more people are giving Linux a try. It’s free and it can hold its ground against both Windows and Mac, so why not? And maybe you want to... Read More are sometimes snubbed by Linux geeks due to petty and overly technical reasons. While they mightn’t go as far as to discourage them, there is little respect for the likes of Ubuntu and Mint Linux Mint vs. Ubuntu: Which Distro Should You Choose? Linux Mint and Ubuntu are two popular Linux distros, but which is best? Should you choose Ubuntu or Linux Mint? Read More for example.

But as it turns out, all this really isn’t necessary as long as you don’t split hairs. For the most part, Linux provides a good experience, regardless of how you decide to run it. Whether it’s an Arch system, or Elementary OS It's Time to Try Something New: Elementary OS Loki Elementary OS isn't your typical Linux distribution. Some would say it isn't a distro at all. But is Elementary really a usable alternative to Windows and macOS as its developers claim? Read More , it doesn’t really matter. So use whatever Linux operating system with pride.

Standing on the Same Shoulders

Despite the variation between Linux operating systems, they all share a common ground with each other. This goes past the little differences like how they install software Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? A key difference between the main Linux distros is the package manager; the differences are strong enough that it can influence your choice of distro. Let's look at how the various package managers work. Read More . To see what your programs are really running on is to see the extent to which they’re similar.

The Linux Kernel

Every Linux operating system is built around the same kernel What Is a Kernel in Linux and How Do You Check Your Version? Linux is an operating system, right? Well, not exactly! It's actually a kernel. But what is the Linux kernel? Read More . It’s one of the largest factors of your system that determines performance, along with whether or not your computer runs on the distribution of your choice. Since it has all the drivers and resource management needed to run programs properly, any differences above this are mainly superficial.

linux kernel


And fortunately for everyone, there isn’t much variation on that front, regardless of which Linux operating system you use. This means that you should expect performance and compatibility to be relatively the same. Yes, there are extremely lightweight operating systems 8 Lightweight Linux Distros Ideal for Intel Atom Processor PCs Don't let your Atom-powered laptop gather dust. Install a lightweight Linux distro and enjoy mobile computing once again! Read More such as Lubuntu. But as it turns out, a lot of their properties can be achieved with the current system you’re using.

Core Programs

It isn’t just the Linux kernel that’s the same. Along with this, many Linux operating share a lot of the same software The Best Linux Software and Apps Whether you're new to Linux or you're a seasoned user, here are the best Linux software and apps you should be using today. Read More . It’s easy enough to install whatever programs you want across the system of your choice. This makes sense — it’s still Linux after all.

homogeny linux

If you’ve ever used a different distribution, you’ll see that the same programs are available, pre-installed. LibreOffice Is LibreOffice Worthy of the Office Crown? LibreOffice is the king of free office suites. It's unlikely to replace Microsoft Office in a business environment, but it's an excellent alternative for casual users. Here's what's new in LibreOffice 5.1. Read More is a staple of many of them for example, along with GIMP GIMP: A Quick Walkthrough Of Everyone's Favorite Open Source Image Editor Read More . These similarities go even deeper than just the desktop software however.


The reason why Linux is sometimes called GNU/Linux is because of the core software behind every Linux operating system. The essential programs that you don’t really notice, like the BASH shell Top Websites and Books to Transform You into a Linux Command Line Hero The Linux command line is an extremely powerful tool -- but it can also be intimidating. Use these websites and books to get a handle on it. Read More , and even basic command line tools to copy files — all of them come from the GNU Project.

core utils linux

It also supplies something called a C Standard Library called glibc, which ensures that programs written in C will run on Linux (there are others, such as the Windows C runtime library, but that’s for another story).

Many, many important parts of your Linux system are made by GNU as free software Open Source vs. Free Software: What's the Difference and Why Does It Matter? Many assume "open source" and "free software" mean the same thing but that's not true. It's in your best interest to know what the differences are. Read More . Without them all, you’d be left only with a kernel, unable to run any programs. It also means that despite how different each operating system is, they’re still standing on the same shoulders: Linux and GNU.


Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Exactly

Thanks to the similarities between each Linux operating system, it’s easy enough to change each one to your liking. There are a number of desktops you can choose from, along with many themes 9 Beautiful Alternatives To The Default Linux Icon Sets Here's how you can switch icon sets, and which ones I recommend trying out. Read More . As such, nothing is stopping you from stripping your Linux system down to the bone, and likewise, filling a minimal one to become fully fledged.

XFCE desktop linux

Rather than reinstalling your computer with a “light” system like Xubuntu, say, you could achieve the same effects by getting the XFCE desktop The Best Lean Linux Desktop Environment: LXDE vs. Xfce vs. MATE Tweaking your choice of Linux desktop environment can speed things up a lot. Here we look at three options: LXQt, Xfce, and MATE. Read More on vanilla Ubuntu. The largest gains are made by the differences in desktop environments, since they’re one of the larger components in a Linux operating system.

People who argue that their desktop is better than another because of its looks miss the fact that making any Linux system like theirs is a matter of installing a few themes. Appearance is based off of multiple factors. There are themes for specific parts of the desktop, and putting these together creates something that (hopefully) looks nice. You can even make Linux look like macOS Make Linux Look Like macOS With These Easy Tweaks If you like Linux but want it to look more like macOS, you're in luck! Here's how to make your Linux desktop look like macOS. Read More if you try hard enough.


theming linux

In many cases, if you’re not happy with how your Linux desktop looks, it’s very easy to change. So switching to another operating system because of how it appears out of the box might not be the best of ideas. The differences are surface-deep only, after all.

A Few Exceptions

Aren’t there always? While Linux is generally the same in most cases, there are a few differences that you should take into consideration. Switching to a niche distribution might not be a very good idea for example, and here are a few reasons why.

A Matter of Choice

Looking past small differences, Linux is Linux, no matter how it’s shaped. Each one is similar where it counts. From Elementary OS to Gentoo, it really isn’t important in the end. Either way, you’re helping the Linux desktop How You Can Help Make 2017 the Year of the Linux Desktop It doesn’t matter if Linux achieves world computing domination. What matters is that we can use it today, and it’s awesome -- and now is a great time to take the plunge! Read More .

Which Linux operating systems do you use and why?

Image Credit: Luis Molinero via

Explore more about: Linux, Linux Desktop Environment.

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  1. Mike Walsh
    September 22, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    "People who argue that their desktop is better than another because of its looks miss the fact that making any Linux system like theirs is a matter of installing a few themes. Appearance is based off of multiple factors. There are themes for specific parts of the desktop, and putting these together creates something that (hopefully) looks nice."

    While for the most part (the majority of distros, and the majority of people) that statement is true, I challenge ANYBODY to emulate my Puppy desktops..!

    As a long-standing graphic design hobbyist, I design my own desktops from scratch. I've amassed a huge selection of icons from 1000's of Google searches over many years. I've created many more of my own. Although Puppy CAN use themes, I don't use 'em.....and you probably couldn't emulate my gKrellM setup if you tried, because I built the theme for THAT from scratch, too.....

  2. Oddbrother
    May 23, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    First impressions always count, and they start with:

    1. UEFI boot support
    2. required to make an admin user account with a password upon installation

    Some Puppy Linux distros are pretty lenient with this.

  3. John
    May 20, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    I doesn't matter because most of the Linux "fanboys" are Ubuntu users or one of it's derivatives

  4. jymm
    April 5, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Which distro you use making a difference is a yes and no answer. After being burnt twice by smaller but excellent distros being discontinued, I now stick to larger more widely used and supported distros.

  5. Zhong
    March 30, 2017 at 3:03 am

    Are you guys planning to write more article about FreeBSD?

  6. MF
    March 28, 2017 at 2:37 am

    Right now I'm rocking the latest version of Manjaro. Everything just works right out of the box!

  7. Rob de koter
    March 28, 2017 at 1:04 am

    For the average user there are substantial differences, for example, did you know that Mint has samba already installed and therefore does not only connects to a windows network out of the box but also supports any windows smart-phone. This might not be so interesting for us but it certainly is important for the new user that comes from windows and does not want to bugged with installing additional packages. This is just an example, there is a lot more out there like Ubuntu Studio and many others

  8. Aaron Peters
    March 27, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    While different distros all have their merits, what's more important is using Linux to begin with and being part of the community.

    • Thomas Kainz
      May 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      Couldn't have said it any better. If all those out there would spend as much time promoting Linux to the Window's users instead of wasting their valuable time bashing (pun intended) other Linux distros the computing world would be a much better place.

  9. Colin
    March 27, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I think it does matter which Linux system you use, even if a Red Hat user can use Ubuntu or Open Suse. It all depends on how comfortable a person is using a system. I have dappled with different discos, but find myself coming back to Ubuntu. I am comfortable with using it and know where things are. I have Lubuntu on one laptop, but find it is a bit different enough to have me looking for stuff, instead of just doing something. It comes down to having stuff where you know it belongs and works for you.

    • Michael J Tobias
      March 27, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      I remember dappling with discos back in the 70s. It was a weird wild time.

      • Kelsey Tidwell
        March 28, 2017 at 3:11 am

        Dappling is officially "the scintillating effect across your polyester-clad body, especially concerning gold medallions framed by the open V of a half-buttoned, wide-lapel shirt, caused by light reflecting from a regulation disco ball".

        I'd love to stay and chat but I've got to can tell by the way I use my walk I'm a woman's man: no time to talk.

        Linux will forever stay alive. Later.

      • Johnny Rotten
        March 28, 2017 at 3:23 am

        Riding that train, high on cocaine...
        Studio 54, Debbie Harry, those were the days. Of what I remember of them.