Linux is an extremely versatile operating system, suitable for any level of user.
If Windows keeps getting you down, you might be surprised to find that there is a Linux distro perfect for your needs. What’s more, Linux is open source, so it’s completely free for most users, and more experienced users are able to tweak the system to suit their individual needs. Based on the UNIX family of operating systems, Linux has historically been quite user-unfriendly, but these days Linux is more versatile. You’ll find it’s running a wide variety of devices, from standard PCs to Android phones and smart home devices – even in-flight entertainment systems! Linux is everywhere.
Choosing the Linux distro that’s right for you might seem like a daunting task, considering how many different versions are out there! So we’ve decided to put together a list of the best Linux distro for all kinds of users to help you find the right distro for you.
Best distros for beginner users
Linux Mint is a great distro for those switching from Windows or Mac for the first time, having been designed to work straight out of the box with full multimedia support. You’ll find a different kind of desktop environment with each of the three editions that come with the latest version (v19). Linux Mint is based on Debian and Ubuntu which are by far the most stable of all the distros.
Pros: Works out of the box, has full multimedia support.
Cons: There are none!
Elementary OS is a stunningly pretty distro that harnesses the glossy design of macOS, Based on Ubuntu Linux, one of the main draws for Elementary OS (aside from the sleek desktop environment) is access to the Ubuntu packaging system, meaning that any program you need to install can be done with very few commands. Elementary OS is simple to learn and will enable you to become a Linux aficionado in no time.
Pros: Beautiful design, access to Ubuntu’s packaging manager.
Cons: Less configurable than other distros.
Best distros for intermediate users
We couldn’t mention Ubuntu-based distros without including Ubuntu itself! Ubuntu is perfect for the average user who wants a little more configurability than the easier to use Ubuntu-based distros. Ubuntu is updated regularly, with new versions coming out every six months or so. Installing, upgrading and configuring software is super easy using the Debian-based packaging manager. The reason we put Ubuntu in the intermediate category is because you may run into trouble with hardware support for certain systems, especially compared with the truly beginners level distros, so you may find the transition from a Windows or Mac system a little difficult.
Pros: Packaging manager make software installation a breeze.
Cons: Not as easy to get used to as other distros.
Ubuntu is based on Debian, so the distros are very similar. Debian, however, is focused more on the computer programmer rather than the general user. Where Ubuntu streamlines many processes, Debian offers more options in regards to configurability, hence the increased difficulty in installation. Debian certainly is the expert’s distro, compared to Ubuntu, requiring attention to maintenance. Most of the same software can run on each installation, however Debian’s software tends to be more stable and there’s a wealth of software available for programmers.
Pros: Stability, software availability.
Cons: Installation and maintenance my be difficult for some users.
Best distros for experienced users
Arch Linux There is a huge reason we suggest Arch Linux as the distro for experienced users, and this is immediately evident as early as installing the distro. Rather than using an installation wizard like other distros, Arch requires the knowledge of various terminal commands, and requires you to pick and choose each installation component as you go. It is possible, however, to follow a guide, and there are several out there to choose from in order to customize your experience. There are some pretty good guides out there, but we recommend you start here. Other distros built on Arch, such as Manjaro and Antergos, may be more user friendly and easier to install than Arch, so if Arch gives you trouble you might consider starting with either of these.
Pros: Highly customizable.
Cons: Requires terminal command knowledge.
Kali Linux is one of the newer Linux distros and has been designed purely for security and penetration testing. In fact, this distro is designed as an ethical hacking Linux distro. It comes standard with a large number of security-related tools and is targeted to computer security experts, and was not designed with the typical desktop user in mind. Overall, Kali is an intriguing new player in the Linux distro field, but certainly not for the feint at heart.
Pros: Installation comes with tons of security related tools.
Cons: Niche software specifically designed for a certain type of user.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of Linux distros for any kind of user experience. If it’s your first time using Linux, we suggest you choose a distro that fills yours needs straight out of the box – there’s sure to be at least one! You’ll become proficient with Linux in no time, and when you do, you can begin to tinker with your distro to tailor it to your specific needs. These are just some of the Linux distros available; there are literally hundreds – you can even search them all here. No matter what level of user you are, you’ll find a distro that appeals to you, you’ll find a new favourite in no time.