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Which Distribution of Linux Should I Use?

Jeremy Morgan on September 21, 2019

So... which version of Linux should I install on my brand new machine? Click here to vote! I'm often asked this question: "Hey, you're a Linux du... [Read Full]
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Nice one, Jeremy... lemme add this one:

I Want to Save Myself The Headache

Use Ubuntu

 

Pop has had fewer headaches for me so far.

 

I've been using Pop too, but didn't see it on the lists in the article.

My profile is: user who wants to migrate away from Windows and all that baggage.

I've really enjoyed Pop OS, it made it to switch.

I've been looking at POP, but I haven't tried it. As a rule I only included distros in this article that I've spent real time with over the years.

It's on my list.

After only 4 months of usage, I really like POP. So far I had zero problems.

 

I only had headache using Ubuntu. When something breaks in it, seems like your diving into a mess of stuff you can't relate and can't find what is really breaking your system. I had more joy using Fedora. But that's my experience, I've met people which had far worse experiences using Fedora.

 

I've been satisfied using Ubuntu without Unity and using LXDE instead (Lubuntu). Unity is absurdly slow and a memory hog.

 

Ubuntu and no Headaches? Sounds nice but is far from reality 😂. I switched because of their unreliability...

 

Just curious why you didn't put Manjaro on here. It's the easy to use arch. Ease of install is great.

 

My reasoning for that is I don't really know much about Manjaro and I wanted to only speak to distros I have experience with. I actually read an article about Manjaro and spun up a VM with it last night. I may play around with it and add it to the list. An easy to install Arch could be pretty appealing.

 

It really is. Your Linux/bsd history is almost identical to mine over about the same amount of time. I've finally settled on a desktop distro. I'd never use it for a server, but it's great to have a full desktop distro after clicking a few buttons and then have Pacman, pamac, and sure right there. It's really the best Linux experience I've had in YEARS.

Nice. Yes, pacman is one of the things I really love about Arch. It works so consistently easy. I know others have had issues with it but I've been really lucky apparently.

I would like to add, if you're looking to play games on Linux, Manjaro is your best choice. Thanks to Manjaro Hardware Settings installing the proprietary drivers for your GPU is a breeze. Plus you get all the Arch goodness, including the support if can't find a solution on the Manjaro Forum, the Arch solutions work exactly as well.

I have had, and tried a ton of distros. I have used Fedora for the longest (26, 27 and 28), tried Debian, Ubuntu and PopOS, even Kali (for... reasons). And none compares to using Manjaro, it has been a great experience so far, and the first distro that made me completely switch from Windows.

 

Used to use Fedora but a year or so ago switched to Ubuntu. Great drivers, auto-updates and everything just works :) So yeah, if you don't want to spend time on configuring your OS, go with Ubuntu.

 

Also worthy of note: Ubuntu has dropped Unity since 18.04 (so the April 2018 Long Term Support release), running gnome 3 instead.

 

I was going to say this exact thing.

 

Solus is a nice one for beginning linux users.

 

+1 for Solus! I enjoyed my time with Solus during my quest for a distro.

 

Yep. Couldn't be any happier with it. 🙂

 

Interesting you list Alpine as a security distro (and it is: there's sod all on it you could use as a tool for exploits...) but not as a minimal install. Everything I've seen Alpine used for the selling point has been container size.

 

I am currently using Linux mint for Android development in android studio everything works fine now. I had a lot of issues in Windows, mainly while building,but now I am happy.
Should I switch to Debian or fedora,are they even better?

 

If Mint is working for you now, there's not much to gain other than small differences. Mint is Debian under the hood. So you're using a different GUI over Debian now.

I used Mint for a long time and really liked it. It's very solid and looks nice to boot.

 

hello, I don't understand.
what do you mean by "Linux Mint is Debian under the hood"?
in today's date, you meant Linux Mint 19.2 Tina Cinnamon based on Ubuntu is configured like Debian OR Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 Cindy Cinnamon is Debian under the hood?
thank you
awaiting your reply

Ubuntu is actually based on Debian, so, Ubuntu is Debian under the hood, so, Mint is Debian under the hoodie-hood...

In other terms, a syllogism: Ubuntu is based on Debian, Mint is based on Ubuntu, so Mint is super-based on Debian :)

Yep, and you can even get LMDE which is directly based on Debian

 

For a "Windows-like experience", you recommend Mint or Debian. As a long-time Windows user, I don't find either of these to be very Windows-like at all.

What do you make of distributions that were specifically designed to resemble Windows? Like Elementary OS or Zorin?

I recently tried Zorin and was very pleased with the overall experience - it's like Ubuntu when I'm in the shell, and like Windows when I'm on the desktop, which is just what I've always sought after.

I did have some hardware problems initially, but it seems to me everyone has that with Linux, unless they specifically bought the hardware to match the OS? (Sadly, this appears to be one of the ways that the Linux experience will never really match the Windows experience.)

 

Elementary looks more like Mac and behaves more like os2. It's nice enough. I had a few issues when I ran out on a backup box.

 

if you want Windows like Experience on Linux Mint with Cinnamon then try Feren OS.

 

Good information. I just started looking into Linux after watching one of Chris's videos and researching distros. I even learned how to install Lubuntu and Linux Mint through a USB! Currently, my old laptop has them both installed. I'm really just playing around to get the feel of it.

There's a lot of good documentation out there.

 

Curious why Debian is in the first category and not the second one. My PC hardware is less than 8 years old and I still have to add the nonfree firmware to my Debian installs for graphics to work. To me that means it doesn't "just work".

 
 

Very nice overview.

From beginning of epoch, I've sticked with Debian because it is actually the easiest (opposite to what many people believe) and the most comprehensive distribution (and also cutting-edge if you go with sid). And more recently (like 6 or 7 years ago...), Arch, for some other reasons (structure, philosophy, organization, customization that is like mandatory, but actually made simple for not-so-newbies people, and well thought). Actually, for a newbie I think Fedora is a great option nowadays too (I've never been a huge fan of KDE anyway). I am not old/patient enough to have tried Slackware or Gentoo, I don't think we could modernly recommend it. I tried FreeBSD but, never used it much. I like the general idea and philosophy, I'd love to have more time to dig into it. For most server purpose nowadays, I go with Ubuntu LTS, because, it's is basically Debian, and am tired to argue with sysadmins when they don't understand why do I ask Debian while there is Ubuntu (sysadmins nowadays, not sure they don't actually even know that there is Debian) -___- :D

CentOS, I don't know. I've mixed feelings with this one. First of all, I dont know it too much. Second, I always had problems with it. I think Debian is better (or maybe FreeBSD) for server purpose.

edit I also used to use SuSe. Actually, like 10 years ago, was not so bad, super easy, good hardware support, etc.. But super heavy and slow if you use desktop stuff. I felt this distro rely too much on Java UI things and it doesn't feel super native/natural. I think this is why Ubuntu won the fight (but after on, they came up and enforced the infamous Unity...)

 

I would like to clear one thing.

Putting Fedora Rawhide among Arch or Tumbleweed makes little sense as the latest stable Fedora release would be a more likely choice. Both Arch and Tumbleweed are still officially stable whereas we never suggest that you actually download and run Rawhide.

Yes, you might need it for building future Fedora packages or testing compatibility, but actually running it is still risky (although I know a fellow Fedora developer who runs it on desktop). Fedora already moves based on 6-month cycles so it mostly has fresh software versions in it.

 

I used puppy Linux from usb to boot corrupted systems and backup data. Used Ubuntu previously on desktop and familiar with bash, then went with Linux mint on laptop with GTX1050Ti with dual boot. It drained battery too fast like 5 hours on windows but 2 hours on Linux. Powetop like tools gave 30 mins+ only. Now switched back to windows on laptop. Any suggestions regarding trying a new distro with battery life as priority but have good features/drivers.

 

I made very good experiences with Xubuntu (= Ubuntu using XFCE) and I use it since 14.10 (=2014) as my main desktop os for work and at home.

The XFCE desktop is clean, simple and configurable and integrates flawlessly with the Ubuntu environment.

I never had any dist-upgrade related issues and all my devtools run fine.

 

The last time I give up to use Linux because it hard to install the usb network driver. In windows you just doing a single click only. But in Linux I dont know it is too hard. As you said Linux Mint is good like Windows. Perhaps I can try it ?? The Linux that I used last time is Parrot Linux.

 

Have you tried MX for new users?, I've heard good things. I've used a mix of Arch, Void and Gentoo for the past 10 years so, when asked for a Distro for new people is sometimes difficult. Do you have experiences with Steam and Lutris out of the box in various distros? sometimes some 32bit libs that Steam uses couse troubles.

 

I haven't tried MX but I'll add it to my queue of things. I'm not really a gamer so I haven't tried Steam though I might with my next machine.

 

This is a great read - thank you for writing it!

I'm trying to choose between Gentoo and Slackware, but I find it hard to compare them. Any advice?

 

I've used both, I like Gentoo better and is the one I've used for longer, I'm writting from Gentoo actually. Slackware uses older versions and has no official dependency manager wich to me is a dealbreaker nowdays, I don't want to deal with dependencies and personally don't care to take care of it, you can always get a non-official one but why tho. Gentoo has a bad rep as being very hard to install, but to me is just like Arch, compilations may take a while but you don't have to be watching the screen, you can do its thing while you sleep, and you can install it from any existing Linux so you can do it at your own pace and even between reboots, you just chroot and keep going, and after your first you just backup /etc and keep your /home separated and you are done, Gentoo install in a few minutes and let it compile before you go to bed in the monring it should be almost ready. Kernel config can be hard if you haven't done it but genkernel can make it automagically if you are not ready to do it manually (I recommend the automated way in your first install on new PC and then play with it manually), you can even use the automated one as starting point to start "cleaning". I thing the rep of Gentoo being hard is mainly to scare new people and for Gentoo users to feel powerful, is not that hard, just follow the excelent handbook. Aside the install, is rock solid. To me, the only reason to move away from Gentoo is that gets boring, in a good way, after 5+ years from your last install, almost no trouble (I say almost just in case, I can't recall any incident) you can get the hop itch, fool around with other distros but I always get back to the trusty Gentoo. Is also worth mentioning that big packages have binaries too, so if you don't think compiling Libreoffice is worthwhile (I don't) you can just install the binary. I certainly don't recommend Gentoo to everyone, you have to be kinda weird for it, but if you suspect you may be weird enough to say Arch is not enough control or lightweight enough; welcome! :)

 

Picking a distribution is tricky, it's often times down to a personal preference, like choosing what to eat or what car you drive.

First off, I love the article! My experience with Linux has been similar, I started ~1996 with Slackware on floppies, and my first CD distros were the ones I ordered online through cheapbytes. I was a Slackware user for years then recently (2012-2013) switched to ArchLinux. Like the author, I preferred to customize my software setup.

Now, for your question. Slackware to me, has always felt like traditional Unix, while Gentoo is much more progressive. This is just how it "feels" to me, if I had to select one for you, I'd look at other things you prefer to get a feel of which type of user you'd be.

 

As I said I used Gentoo for years. It usually took me a whole weekend to install.

But back then, the performance advantages were great, and I really wanted to dial it in.

These days, I don't find it worth my time to compile everything. Optimized or not, I don't notice a day to day difference that's worth that kind of time.

My move to Arch was based on the fact that I still wanted to hand pick everything that goes into my system and optimize it, without spending an entire weekend.

That being said it depends on how often you cycle machines. If you're planning on putting together a system that you'll use the next few years, that time spent might be worth it because a Gentoo system well done is really, really solid. I just ordered an i9 64gig workstation that I know I'll use the next 5-7 years and I'm considering putting Gentoo on that one.

As far as Slackware, I haven't really used it in so long I don't have much of an opinion on it. There were things I really liked about Slackware, but package management wasn't one of them.

 

Even a beginner should use Arch linux if they are into Computer Science. The manual installation system actually does a good favor to the user.

 

Don’t forget about Kali for pen/security testing.

 

Absolutely. I have used Kali pretty extensively, but no other distros, and I'm not really a pentest expert, so I didn't include that. But it is a pretty neat distro, even if it's only value is grouping in the tools you can use that you may have never heard of.

 

You could also mention Qubes OS in the I Want a Secure Desktop section and Manjaro which is really popular.

 

About cutting edge stuff: What is your view on Debian testing?

 

DeepIn is a mention as its shipping with huawei laptops after they ditched windows

 

Great suggestions. I'd add Void and QubeOS as pointed out in other comments, but also NixOS.

 
 

Surprised you didn't mention Manjaro (Arch with an easier install) or Pop!_OS (More responsible Ubuntu with better out of the box hardware support).

 

ParrotSec OS? :) But I'm now leaning towards looking at Pop

 

The following would be a worthy mention too:

  • Elementary - For someone who like the aesthetic of Mac/Apple
  • Sabayon - For those who like gentoo (rolling distro), but don't like compiling packages
 

Great article, tnx! :)

I like Kali Linux, too. It's very good for Penetration Testing and installation and setup are pretty straight-forward :)

 

You didn't mention Deepin. What do you think of it ?

 

Nobody mentions KDE Neon? :)

 

Maybe not a "use" or even a distro but how about a mention irt 🐧 Linux From Scratch! 👴

 

Yeah I probably should have mentioned that. I may add it to my article. I did an LFS install a long time ago. It was fun and pretty educational. That's even more hand-rolled than Gentoo!

 

I started with debian (school stuff) and then I've discover ubuntu and pop os. Ubuntu it's pretty nice to use

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