Five Stunning Ubuntu Alternatives That You’ve Never Heard Of

Christian Cawley 08-09-2015

You’re using Ubuntu, but you want your desktop experience to be a little more… eye catching. While you could always add a new desktop background, or switch desktops completely How To Install The MATE Desktop On Your Linux System The MATE desktop might well be the right choice for you. If you're interested in using the MATE desktop, here are several ways to get it, including on your favorite distributions. Read More , you also have the option of switching to a completely different distro.


We’ve compiled this list of five utterly stunning Ubuntu alternatives for you to watch demos of, and perhaps download and install on your Linux computer.

Why Not Just Use Ubuntu?

Quite simply, there is more to Linux than Ubuntu. This may surprise you, it may not; here at we generally focus on Ubuntu for desktop and laptops, and Raspbian (based on Debian) for the Raspberry Pi Optimize The Power Of Your Raspberry Pi With Raspbian As befits a man with too much tech on his hands, I’ve been playing with my Raspberry Pi recently, configuring the device so that it works to its fullest potential. It continues to run as... Read More , and occasional looks at Kodi How to Set Up Your XBMC Media Center XBMC may have evolved into Kodi, but if you have an old version installed this guide will help you set it up and get started. Read More , OpenElec and other media center distros 5 Options to Consider For Your Next Media Center I've spent the last 5 years of my life searching for it and countless thousands of dollars in the process. I'm talking of course about the holy grail - the ultimate media center. Truth be... Read More .

In reality, hundreds of Linux distros 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 are in daily use; features a top 100 list of the current most-downloaded distros, where Mint, Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Fedora hold the top 5 spots.

Now, if you’re new to Linux, Ubuntu is a very good place to start off. But if you feel like refreshing things while remaining in the Linux environment and making use of the command line tricks 9 Quirky Linux Commands You Need to Know (And Will Love) Make ASCII art, talk to your computer and play text adventures. Your Linux command line isn't just for work: it can be weirdly entertaining, if you know the right commands. Read More you have learned, then spreading your wings and trying a new distro is a good idea.

Of course, you could choose any old distro, but why not do a little bit of research and find one with a stunning GUI to impress your family and friends, and show them that Linux isn’t all about command lines and Unity?


Elementary OS Freya 0.3

Employing Pantheon desktop, Elementary OS Freya 0.3 has an OS X-inspired GUI. Inspired might not be the right word, actually; if you’ve recently switched from OS X to Linux, then the GUI on Freya might just make you feel right at home.

Features include the lightweight Midori browser, which is HTML5 compatible What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] Over the past few years, you may have heard the term HTML5 every once in a while. Whether you know anything about web development or not, the concept can be somewhat nebulous and confusing. Obviously,... Read More , players for photos, music and video and a file explorer with three ways to find what you’re looking for, grid, categories and search.

Elementary OS Freya 0.3 is donationware.

Zorin OS 10 Ultimate

We often dedicated pages to Ubuntu on MUO as it has a popular position as the best OS for switchers from Windows. But is this deserved? Perhaps once upon a time it was, but these days Zoris OS can be considered far more Windows-like.


As well as stated support for Wine and PlayOnLinux PlayOnLinux Brings Windows Games & Programs To Linux Read More , Zorin – which is based on Ubuntu – has a very useful Look Changer tool that enables you to customize the look and feel of the desktop environment. You can use this to either style something a little unique, or make the OS resemble Windows 7, XP, 2000, Ubuntu Unity, Mac OS X, or GNOME 2.

Free and premium versions are available.

Makulu 9 XFCE

Several editions of Makulu are released, but we recommend XFCE, not least because of the features it packs it. Windows switchers in particular can forget about adding the usual office/Steam (which runs on Linux How to Install Steam and Start Gaming on Linux Installing Steam on Linux computers is straightforward, and the result is usually the same seamless gaming experience you had on Windows. Read More )/Wine software as all of these are included in the install (with WPS on offer as the Microsoft Office 2003-esque office experience).

Also supported are Netflix and Popcorn Time Is Popcorn Time Safe? How to Watch Safely Popcorn Time is illegal. If you're thinking of using it, here are several things you should know before you put yourself at risk. Read More , and Makulu 9 XFCE includes a firewall and an antivirus tool (potentially useful if you’re running Windows software!). The GUI is particularly handsome, and with the Variety Wallpaper changer active you can gain complete control over the images that decorate your desktop.


Pear OS

Formerly Pear Linux, this French-programmed distro (based on Ubuntu) is no longer maintained, but you should be able to gain all of the standard day-to-day desktop use from this.

As you can see in the accompanying video, Pear OS takes design elements from iOS and OS X (from the logo all the way to the desktop) including a Mac OS X-style dock and also offers a virtual desktop switcher and everything from menu layouts and fonts to the shade of grey used resemble OS X, arguably more than with Elementary OS.

If you don’t subscribe to the idea that OS X represents a visual high watermark for GUI design, then much of this may leave you cold, but if you want a Mac-like experience without the Mac-like price, then Pear OS is an option without having to resort to building a Hackintosh Tech Recipe: Optimum Hardware Components for a Perfect Hackintosh Thinking of building a Hackintosh? You can make a Mac Pro for half the price of the real thing. I put together a custom Hackintosh using information gleamed from several Hackintosh enthusiast sites. Even with... Read More . Beware, however, that there will be no future updates.


Built from scratch and featuring the Budgie Desktop, Solus (previously evolve OS) is a sweet-looking OS which takes inspiration from Android’s material design and adds to it.


The focus with Solus is productivity; it is an OS that “gets out of your way” to let you get on and do what you need to do without notifications and nags to change, edit and fix things. What’s also interesting about Solus is that the developers seem to have a focused idea of what they’re trying to achieve, and release the OS without the distraction of multiple releases for servers, mobile phones, etc. This alone makes it worth your while to take a look, with the shiny GUI a pleasant bonus.

So, Are These the Most Gorgeous Distros?

What do you think? Which stylish Linux distros would you recommend for lovers of visually pleasing operating systems? Or would you simply install a different desktop? Tell us in the comments.

Related topics: Linux, Linux Desktop Environment.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. ylinux
    May 28, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    Can I just wipe out windows from my Asus laptop (uninstall windows) and install linux? I heard that windows laptop has hardware incompatibility with linux os. True?

    • ylinux
      May 28, 2016 at 10:42 pm

      They say I have to buy a linux laptop because of that hardware compatibility issues between linux os and windows laptop. True?

      • Damon
        July 11, 2016 at 10:42 pm

        Nope, Just boot from usb and on the "install" application of the live desktop just select to "wipe hard drive and install xxx" (xxx=whatever distro you use) Make sure to backup everything you need before you do this.

    • Paul Anderson
      October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Current Linux distributions should go straight on without issues. Linux Mint is one of the finest for those new to the world of Linux. I use Mint 17.3 Cinnamon on my Acer Aspire 5336. It found eveything: wifi, audio, brightness control etc.

  2. Ronny
    January 26, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    I'm an old school linux guy, to hear this you maybe think that I like gentoo but nop, I always think that linux is the really OS future, not for the false sense of security because any os haves vulns and exploits that carries to automatization (malware) but linux really handle the performance great, I own two laptops a Mac and an Asus computer because my job I have to install windows, but my love is on linux always, with the Mac OSX is a beautiful OS but it uses so many resources that I can't even virtualize in peace a simple linux server or a windows server, so my next move is to move to linux in the mac and take advantage of the performance and virtualize windows. In my linux choices the number one is for linux Mint, ubuntu haves many pink and purple colors for my taste and the new ubuntu releases in my opinion lacks of really differentiators I look ubuntu like games of sports you always have the same, at the end you maybe see a couple of interface changes but no much.

  3. Zebediah Boss
    December 20, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Peppermint 6 is a great OS - It Just Work. The Forum Support is also Excellent - very important when choosing an OS. Highly Recommended

    • Christian Cawley
      December 23, 2015 at 8:30 am

      Worth checking out, thanks Zebediah.

  4. Anonymous
    November 4, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Elementary, Zorin and Pear are as much Ubuntu alternatives as Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu or Mint. They all basically are Ubuntu wearing a different desktop environment. At least Solus has been independently developed from scratch.

  5. Anonymous
    September 11, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Hey ho! I suppose there’s a Linux to suit everyone.

    Yup. Wonderful isn't it?

  6. Anonymous
    September 11, 2015 at 3:07 am

    Solus is still in Beta. Last time I checked (a couple of days ago) they still didn't have printing sorted out. They are a small crew who have, with the best will in the world, missed every deadline they've set themselves.
    Of the rest, only elementary Freya is worth bothering with.

  7. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    The only real alternatives are Slackware or *BSD's - the rest are simply a variation on the same "progressive" ideology.

  8. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Pear OS is no longer in development. I don't know if they plan on resurfacing any time soon, but for right now they haven't been around since late 2014.

    Solus is going to be a solid distro as it matures, but with a sparse repository (though the devs work as fast as possible to get needed software in) and not be able to add third-party repos, I'm going to sit on the sidelines for a few months and watch developments.

    deepin is another distro that is easy on the eyes, responsive and pretty!

    Anyone try the beta to Ozon OS: The Nitrux and Numix folks got together and created this beauty based on Fedora.

    • Anonymous
      September 14, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Pear OS isn't active as Distrowatch says but you can try "Peach OSI" if you looking for an "OS X-like" interface:

      Solus is independent distro and they develop an independent desktop environment (and everything else) from scratch. It could be the reason for delay.

      Gentoo, Slackware and Arch are made for expert Linux users. I don't recommend these for beginners. BSD could lack of features... (It depends on your requirements.)
      Debian isn't well for an average user but it's perfect "raw material" for other distro.

      Actually I tried a couple distro because I don't like Unity DE and Canonical's attitude about advertisement (I mean integrated Amazon search engine). I'm using Linux Mint but it's power-hungry and I want to change. I checked these:
      - Bodhi Linux: lack of features (what I'm looking for)
      - Mageia: lack of features (what I'm looking for)
      - Elementary OS: beautyful, barebone [I like it]
      - wattOS: ugly
      - Peppermint: lack of features (what I'm looking for)
      -LXLE: lightweight and full of features [I like it]
      - SuperX: unique KDE [I like it]
      - Point Linux: somehow it isn't so good
      - Manjaro: lightweight [I like it]
      - Solus: power-hungry, lack of features (what I'm looking for)
      - Bella OS: power-hungry
      - ChaletOS: you can tailor Windows-like design [I like it]
      - Neptune: power-hungry

      I tried start Zorin OS from my thumb drive but it haven't worked. I downloaded 32bit and 64bit versions of Zorin OS 9 (because I rather like LTS or rolling release version). I used md5sum without any issue. Do you have any idea what is the problem?

      There are some other distro on my "to-do list": Deepin, Makulu, Antergos, Linux Lite, Lubuntu, Netrunner, KaOS, Vector, PCLinuxOS, Handy, LinuxConsol

      I have a little bit slow notebook and these are my opinion. It could be different from yours because we have different taste/thoughts/requirements...

  9. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    I don't get it! If I wanted an Operating System to look and feel like Apple's or Microsoft's or Google's, I'd just use theirs! I'm more than happy with Ubuntu (after a few small tweaks).

    • Anonymous
      September 11, 2015 at 3:04 am

      I don’t get it!
      You got that bit right.
      It's not about what it looks like, it's about what's under the hood.

      • Anonymous
        September 11, 2015 at 8:41 pm

        lol Then I still don't get it! If "It’s not about what it looks like", then what's wrong with Ubuntu? :/

        Hey ho! I suppose there's a Linux to suit everyone.

  10. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 6:35 am

    There are a lot of distros around. New users might consider MINT or Ubuntu or Lubuntu or Linux Lite. All these are based on Ubuntu and are easy to use. More advanced users might consider Debian or Fedora or even Arch and its little brother Manjaro. Arch is a rolling release and updates to the latest software. A bit more work to get going and maintain but great. People with a bit more ram and CPU power who like a more Windows experience and while Zorin OS offers that might consider Kubuntu or MINT kde.

    Windows and OS X are great as is Chrome OS. However Linux offers users more flexibility and control with their computer. Older computer with 1gb or less ram? Linux Lite or Lubuntu or Puppy Linux. Concerned over Windows 10 and privacy then Linux should be where you go and yes that includes Ubuntu. (turn off the scopes)

  11. Anonymous
    September 9, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Personally im love with Linux Mint - Ubuntu based, but faster, better updates, by default better repositories for free and safe programs and updates. Perfect programs for basic daily use and theres 4 desktop versions to choose, depenting on needs and computer:

    - XFCE for old computers
    - Cinnamon for daily "Windows users"
    - KDE for tweak maniacs
    - MATE... This one i personally havent tried

    Install takes 15-20 minutes and everything works, Java, Flash etc. (Facebook, Youtube etc.), every single part. Insanely easy and safe to use, good for people who doesnt know anything about computers, who just want to use it, who doesnt even understand theres something else than Windows. All versions are fast and reliable and community big and beautifull :)

    I dont have lots of experience about other Ubuntu alternatives, but Mint is the one who basicly stole my heart from Windows. I havent used Windows for 3 years (no reason) and i do lots of stuff with computers daily. Now i had to install Windows for gaming computer, BUT... What can Steam do in the future??

  12. Anonymous
    September 9, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    "Of course, you could choose any old distro, but why not do a little bit of research and find one with a stunning GUI to impress your family and friends, and show them that Linux isn’t all about command lines and Unity?"
    User CAN "choose any old distro", and with very few exceptions, any of the 280+ distros on the DistroWatch Active list will provide the user with a "stunning GUI to impress your family and friends". The five distros mentioned are not the only ones with stunning GUIs.

    I would suggest Sabayon and PCLinuxOS as other distros worth considering.

    From all the information I've checked, the development of PearOS/Pear Linux has stopped in February, 2014. DistroWatch lists the status as "Inactive"

  13. Anonymous
    September 9, 2015 at 7:07 am

    I love MLED :light and stable, works well. As far as the installation itself is concerned, MLED's main audience are users with a bit of Linux and Slackware experience who want a rock-solid desktop with a full set of applications where everything works out of the box, so they can be immediately productive. Once MLED is installed, even Joe Sixpack or his french counterpart Madame Michu can use it without even giving it a second thought.

  14. Anonymous
    September 8, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    I like Peppermint OS: It's light, fast, and works great and looks great. I've been using it for a couple years now for what few things I can't get done with Chrome OS and Android.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 9, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Peppermint has been getting a lot of love among our commenters! Anyone else using it?