DEV Community

Cover image for What's the most beginner-friendly Linux distro?
Madza
Madza

Posted on

What's the most beginner-friendly Linux distro?

There are hundreds of Linux distributions out there each varying in their purpose of use and the level of expertise the user needs.

There are tools like DitroWatch to help users narrow down their options, but, still, choosing the right one could be quite a challenge.

What are some of the Linux distros you would recommend to users switching from other OS with no prior knowledge?

Top comments (101)

Collapse
 
miguelmj profile image
MiguelMJ

Most people say Ubuntu-like distros, but personally like Manjaro better even for beginners. Ubuntu might have more resources online, but Manjaro has a better out-of-the-box hardware compatibility. It is easier to maintain software updated with its package manager, while repositories in Ubuntu quickly get old.
I started with Mint and even installed it for some non-techie relatives that wanted to try. Mint is really, really good and It's a perfect choice for beginners, but I firmly believe that Manjaro will provide them with the same or more ease at the beginning while allowing them to use the latest software available.

Collapse
 
xxnickles profile image
xxnickles

I don’t think recommending an Arch based or any rolling release distro to a beginner is a good idea. These distros are close to bleeding-edge, and if anything goes wrong with an update, it is not going to be pretty. I agree with the majority of the comments, the way to go to get you started is an Ubuntu based distro, maybe something like Pop!_OS or mint are good sweet spots. Then go for other alternatives once you have some familiarity with the system

Collapse
 
miguelmj profile image
MiguelMJ

Well, If anything goes wrong with an update it's not going to be pretty in any distro. I agree as well with Ubuntu being a great start. I just find that Manjaro, even being Arch based, is not as likely to require driver installation or to give you obsolete software.

Thread Thread
 
matthewsalerno profile image
matthew-salerno

Manjaro does a pretty good job. But I agree with both sides here. Rolling release will certainly cause issues for you at some point, but I don't think it's as big a deal as it's made out to be. Manjaro does a good job keeping things stable and I think anyone taking their first steps into Linux should expect their first os to be more of a sacrificial learning os than something they can count on (until they get a feel for troubleshooting).

Thread Thread
 
xxnickles profile image
xxnickles • Edited

The idea of recommending a "friendly" distro to get started is precisely avoid the "sacrificial learning" part in the beginning, and let the person expand its horizon with time. You cannot expect a newcomer form another OS to stay if you put it to deal with too much stuff from the beginning. Also, a great deal of people just want to "do stuff", not focus on maintaining the system. I am not saying the Manjaro or other rolling-release distros are bad options; I just would not recommend for a beginner unless it has some technical background (which we should never assume is the case), based in the fact the rolling-release concept is something that is not a thing for a common user in other OSS and you have to understand it from minute 1. In those terms, I do believe recommending distros that have similar approaches (and even appearance) to Windows/Mac is often a better advice. Curiosity will come with time and they can eventually move to more "customizable" distros if they want to.

As an aside note, if we are talking about the first distribution for a technical savvy person who wants to really learn, maybe vanilla Arch will be a way better recommendation. But this kind of "beginners" are a minority and the idea is give advice that applies for the majority.

Collapse
 
rajeshpachaikani profile image
Rajesh

Yes. First time I tried Manjaro an year ago everything worked out of the box. Then an update broke nvidia graphics driver and WiFi driver. I fixed those issues with an Ethernet connection but it will scare away most new users.

Collapse
 
dni9 profile image
DNI9

I'm using rolling release for a year and half now, haven't faced a issue with package update, and about manjaro it's pretty beginner's friendly because they make sure packages are stable unlike rolling release.
anyway the best way to learn is to face errors and fix it yourself or if you're too afraid then you can always go the stable distros.

Thread Thread
 
patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt • Edited

There have better conjectures on whether holding back packages for a week gives that better stability.

Anyway, my experience with Manjaro was so far so good, and it was a few months too; before I switched to vanilla Arch (and sometimes Xubuntu or Mint).

Collapse
 
patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt

Firstly, I do recommend people start with Arch (not Arch-based), if they dare - it's not wrong; and older kernels do have worse drivers, anyway. Also, ArchWiki is so good, if they ran into any probems.

Also, first issues in Linux probably won't be instability or crashes, but rather WiFi and graphic cards. It's more that they will find manuals and helps and communities or not...

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for the insight 🙏❤

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Great insight, thanks for sharing 😉👍

Collapse
 
abhinav1217 profile image
Abhinav Kulshreshtha

Most user friendly distro is the one you use the most. Newcomers get stuck up in this silly question but the reality is just this simple, pick up one and use it, open browser and google the issue and get to work. Once you learn the basic on one distro, switching to any distro is really easy.

Personally I started with fedora, because I believe yum (and now dnf) is much better package manager than apt-get. These days, I use Pop_OS! for gaming, Manjaro for home use, solus for development. My office had ubuntu-lts, I later got permission for elementary os (The policy allowed for ubuntu lts based only) but since I am working from home, I was allowed to modify script on whatever distro I wanted to use.

Bunch of shell scripts customization, a lot of internet search, and a lot of dedication, will be needed no matter what distro one choose to use.

Collapse
 
abhinav1217 profile image
Abhinav Kulshreshtha

Also, since I distro-hop a lot, I prefer gnome desktop everywhere.

Collapse
 
marcandreappel profile image
Marc-André Appel

True, even though KDE might be very customizable, or the light weight contenters have their merits, nothing could separate me from Gnome 😏

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for the insight 👍😉

Collapse
 
karandpr profile image
Karan Gandhi

Linux Mint.

1.)It is Ubuntu Compatible so anything which works on Ubuntu/Debian works on Mint.
2.)It's based on Ubuntu LTS so it's very stable. 5 years of support is cool
3.)Clem creates forks and maintains software which make sense. Cinnamon & Nemo were created because Upstream GNOME and Files removed features. Likewise Chromium is a native app maintained separately by Mint Team not a snap wrapper like Ubuntu. They didn't bundle Amazon ads when Ubuntu did.
4.)Hardware support. Mint runs on variety of hardware and ships with non-free applications like codecs to make things easier for new users.

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for sharing, I see a lot of love for Mint 💯✨

Collapse
 
thefluxapex profile image
Ian Pride

Hate to jump on the band wagon, but either Ubuntu (or a variation of) or now Deepin. Ubuntu for stability or Deepin for MACOS or even Windows aesthetic familiarity. Ease of use is relative to an individual so I don't see a use in comparing difficulty.

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for sharing 👍😉

Collapse
 
mrinjamul profile image
Injamul Mohammad Mollah

Most people who wanna try Linux, does not face technical problem initially but the new UI which they can't able to get used to. and the second one is the software availablity. Almost, all popular linux-based distros are beginners friendly (except fews). So who came from windows, can try linux mint, Kubuntu, ubuntu kyrin etc. And who are from MacOS can try Deepin, elementary os, etc.
But I would recommend using Ubuntu if you can. As it's stable and well documented. And last, try few distro and see which is best for you.

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for sharing 🙏❤

Collapse
 
snuppedeluxe profile image
SnuppeDeluxe

At first I ask from wich OS he comes. Then I took a desktop, which looks like the old one. So the change isn't too bad for him.
The distro isn't so interesting for non technical people, so if I will get support, I chose a distro, which I am familiar with...

In this case, debian like OS systems...

Collapse
 
patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt

First, I would ask why he wanted to use Linux, lol.

But I don't know what to say for people who only expect more free beer.

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for this 🙏❤

Collapse
 
usamasaahib profile image
🌬️

I would recommend every beginner who's switching from Windows OS to start your Linux journey from MINT LINUX which is based on Ubuntu and is a Debian based OS and very smooth and with user friendly interface.

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Awesome! Thanks 🙏❤

Collapse
 
matthewsalerno profile image
matthew-salerno • Edited

Manjaro will support your Linux learning from cradle to grave. It's easy out of the box, has the aur for when you're not familiar with building from source, and can let you swap out kernel modules easily. That being said, manjaro will remember and build upon all the little mistakes you make in configurations, and eventually stuff can just start to break.
For this reason I'd like to point out Clear Linux. It won't work as a primary computer for most, but if everything you need happens to be in a flatpak or swupd (or of you don't mind building from source but that's not beginner friendly) it makes for an effortless experience. The stateless design helps prevent the issue of old configs breaking things unnoticed. The containerized apps provides further stability. The automatic updates make life easier and helps Linux feel less like a second tech job. Gnome is user friendly enough, although most windows converts would have an easier time in KDE. Of course the glaring issue of app availability will keep clear os from the limelight, but I was surprised by user friendly it was when I gave it a try. Only technical thing I had to do to my install that I would want a newbie to do is disable the ssh service and socket through systemctl.
Edit: just grab Ubuntu and jump in. Picking distros is not especially important and you'll get the best beginner level advice on Ubuntu. Clear Linux is not going to serve you well if you want to learn about Linux because it's so different from the rest and has a tiny community. It's more of a plug and play distro than one that will help you learn.

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for the insight 🙏❤

Collapse
 
matthewsalerno profile image
matthew-salerno

You're welcome! Just note my edit: if your looking to learn Linux and use a beginner friendly distro, Clear Linux won't help you with the learning part. The rules in that OS don't work the same as almost any other Linux OS and it will almost certainly hinder your learning if you start there.

Thread Thread
 
madza profile image
Madza

This is useful, thanks 😉👍

Collapse
 
payalsasmal profile image
Payalsasmal

Ubuntu will be the best choice for beginners.

But Manjaro is 🔥

Collapse
 
thomasbnt profile image
Thomas Bnt

I really love Manjaro 💚🥰

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for sharing this 🙏❤

Collapse
 
hidvegi_richard profile image
Hidvégi Richárd

For me...

Fedora was the winner!

I was fed up with the constant battle of stability vs bleeding edge.

I wanted a solid base with the latest packages.

I was using arch and manjaro as well but sometimes the updates were #$&@.

My recommendation is the following:

Do not listen to the mainstream!

Collapse
 
patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt

updates were #$&@

Examples? And as a beginner-friendly and a first distro, is Fedora?

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Do not listen to the mainstream!

Solid advice 😉👍 Find one that works for you 😉

Collapse
 
aghost7 profile image
Jonathan Boudreau

You're most likely going to run into issues at some point, so I recommend using a distro with a good community. Ubuntu-based operating systems have been good to me for well over a decade. I will specifically recommend giving Pop!_OS a try (also Ubuntu-based). They've been doing great work.

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for the input 🙏❤

Collapse
 
bruwdweard profile image
BruwdWeard • Edited

I have a personal love for Solus. The budgie desktop is extremely clean. Plenty of app in their "app store". Everything just works great. Honestly there hasn't been anything yet I have had an issue with. Except zoom and I found easy peasy instructions for installing that through flatpak.Its also booting through secure boot (just have to update the signature each time the kernel updates, which isn't often).

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for the share 🙏❤

Collapse
 
cmuralisree profile image
Chittoji Murali Sree Krishna

I would recommend linux mint for complete beginners, it's an debian based and is lighter when compared to few other distros, though it is having less developers still have almost all the software for everyday usage, and finally it comes with a Lts support,

But if you want a flashy or new kind of os, then I would definitely suggest debain ubuntu, pop os, deepin or arch-based, such as Manjaro, garuda, endeavour os, but these are much resource hungry when compared to mint

If you are planning for hacking, then kali is the better.

These were the stuff I have used, so I am giving these as example, there might be a better os

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for the input 🙏❤

Collapse
 
mamamorpheus profile image
MAMAMORPHEUS | 宇宙 (うちゅう) 近日公開

In my opinion it's Zorin OS Core, 15 or 16 it doesn't matter (even tho I'd rather recommend the 16 one if you'd like to have the new stuff that really is interesting) it's a really beginner friendly distro with the best things from both Windows and Mac, and even if the installation and some details are Ubuntu based it really stays original and completely different from every Ubuntu based distros, if you have a bit of knowledge when it comes up to Linux distros you can for Manjaro it has a better out-of-the-box hardware compatibility, oh but don't even consider any arch Linux based because it is made for professionals and specifically people with a lot of knowledge in coding.

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thanks for sharing 🙏❤

Collapse
 
orbatos profile image
orbatos

A "friendly" Linux distribution inherently needs to meet some rather difficult criteria, not starting with shinyness or the latest packages. Here are the most obvious ones:
It must be suitable for any normal use, from business to casual users. Technical users should be supported, but not three primary focus.
There must be both paid direct support and community support available.
It must be consistent and straightforward to carry out normal tasks.
It must have a reliable path to updates that are better to avoid problems and be able to receive critical security updates without delay.
It must be able to function without any of the above for extended periods of time without any of the above.

These criteria soundly rule out any distribution not based on RedHat or Debian, and trend towards Debian based heavily since the IBM purchase.

I rule out Mint and Manjaro for reasons that should be obvious if you actually intend the end user to be successful:
Mint is essentially Ubuntu (or Debian if you choose the LMDE release) with Cinnamon as the default desktop, I have used it and still do not understand the point to introducing more points of failure to have a slightly nicer Debian installer.
Manjaro is based on Arch, an otherwise fantastic technical distribution. But Arch is not supported commercially, is a rolling release and it's configuration is simply put of the scope of normal use.

This really only leaves Ubuntu and it's major flavours currently. Despite the drop in fad appeal, it provides everything necessary. I would suggest Debian, but installation is a bit less refined.

Collapse
 
madza profile image
Madza

Thnaks for the input 👍😉