12 Best Linux Distros You Should Use

Out of all the operating systems in existence, Linux (also known as GNU/Linux) is the most frowned upon, and there are a few reasons for the same. While overall adaptability, software support, and user experience remain the most common issues with Linux, OS saturation is also a huge issue. That said, most people involved in Linux treat the overwhelming number of choices as a plus point, as it gives them the ability and flexibility to try out different desktop environments and flavors and, ultimately, settle for what they like the best. However, if you haven’t tried Linux yet and want to start using it for whatever reason, here are some of the best Linux distros you should use and get started with.

1. Linux Mint

Linux Mint has established itself as one of the best distros for beginner Linux users, thanks to Cinnamon’s simplicity (Linux Mint’s desktop environment) and ease of use. It’s an Ubuntu-based operating system that’s good for day-to-day usage and gaming. The Windows-like feel of Mint makes users switching from Windows feel at home and is one of the main selling points of the distro.

Linux Mint Cinnamon

Linux Mint also caters to users who hold system stability of utmost importance. A new version of Mint is released every six months, and it’s usually very stable with occasional bugs. And for those who don’t like Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce are two other officially supported flavors of Linux Mint.

Cinnamon is popular because it uses far fewer system resources than GNOME, meaning it’s easier to run Linux Mint on old hardware with ease – like other lightweight Linux distros we recommend. Unlike Ubuntu, Linux Mint drops support for Snaps and embraces Flatpaks with open arms, and lately, the OS is doing its best to discern itself from Ubuntu. And well, it has been successful in doing the same. Overall, it’s a great Linux distro for beginners because everything just works out of the box.

Pros Cons
Light on system resourcesNew features take time to appear
A great starting point for beginnersCould be a little too basic for advanced users
Great stabilityNot very customizable

System Requirements:

  • 2GB RAM (4GB Recommended)
  • 20GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • 1024×728 pixels resolution display
  • A dual-core CPU

Flavors: Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce
Download Linux Mint

2. Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS is developed by a company named System76, which also sells PC hardware and laptops powered by the OS. The OS was originally made with STEM professionals in mind and comes with NVIDIA drivers preinstalled. Soon, the distro became a hit among gamers, largely because installing NVIDIA drivers on Linux wasn’t the most user-friendly work in the world.

Pop!OS

Pop!_OS is based on Ubuntu and uses the COSMIC desktop environment, which is Pop!_OS’ homemade desktop environment based on GNOME. However, unlike GNOME, it’s a lot cleaner and has got a few neat tricks up its sleeve, like the keyboard shortcuts, which makes Pop!_OS one of the cleanest Linux systems. Overall, Pop!_OS is a great option for budding creators as well as folks who want to game on Linux out of the box.

Speaking of COSMIC, System76 has recently decided to distance itself from GNOME and recode the entire desktop environment in Rust programming language. Rust-based COSMIC was announced a few years ago and is currently about to transition from the Alpha to Beta stages. The revamped COSMIC will supposedly be faster, smoother, and less clunky than GNOME-based COSMIC.

Pros Cons
An excellent choice for gamers and content creatorsNot a cutting-edge distro
A great starting point for beginnersRequires a decently specced PC
Stable, customizable, and feature-rich

System Requirements:

  • 4GB (8GB Recommended)
  • 40GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • A dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: None
Download Pop!_OS

3. Fedora

Fedora is the Ubuntu of the new world. It’s a cutting-edge Linux distro that’s an upstream version of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It uses the same RPM package manager and embraces Flatpaks and App Images, but more importantly (and the selling point of the distro) comes with a near-stock version of GNOME. Fedora is often one of the first Linux distros to embrace the latest versions of GNOME in its beta builds, which comes out every six months.

Fedora Linux

And since Fedora is open-source, it also has a few community versions called Spins. Some of the popular spins are Plasma, Xfce, LXQT, MATE, and Cinnamon. Overall, Fedora might not be the best option for absolute beginners, but it’s great for those who know their way around Linux. Besides, Fedora’s got one of the most active distro communities on Reddit. Hence, if something goes wrong, the group of enthusiasts will always be there for the rescue.

One of the areas where the OS doesn’t excel is with regard to system requirements. GNOME is a heavy desktop environment compared to others. As a result, it needs at least 8GB RAM and a decently powerful CPU/GPU to perform well.

Pros Cons
Cutting-edgeLearning curve for a beginner
Great for stock GNOME loversRequires a decently specced PC
Great for gamers and content creators
Excellent community

System Requirements:

  • 2GB (8GB Recommended)
  • 15GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • A 2GHz dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: GNOME, KDE Plasma, Xfce, LXQT, MATE, Cinnamon, LXDE, SOAS, and i3 Tiling Window Manager
Download Fedora

4. Manjaro

If your friend says, “I installed an Arch-based Linux OS in just a few hours,” they are probably referring to Manjaro. Arch has always been an inconvenience for new Linux folks, but Manjaro makes it easy to taste Arch. It’s one of the best Arch-based Linux distros that comes in three official flavors/variants — KDE Plasma, Xfce, and GNOME.

Manjaro Linux

Like Fedora Spins, Manjaro has lots of community versions like Budgie, Cinnamon, and MATE too. Hence, you are not devoid of choices in this case. That said, Manjaro isn’t a pure Arch-based system because it isn’t as cutting-edge as the next option on our list. Manjaro has its own repository where all updates from Arch are merged and pushed later. Stability is of great importance for Manjaro, hence, the new packages from Arch are thoroughly tested before they are merged into the OS.

If you’re confused about which flavor to choose, GNOME, KDE Plasma, and Budgie are great if you have a decent PC. However, if you are running ancient hardware, we recommend Xfce or MATE as they use far lesser system resources.

Pros Cons
Makes installing and trying out Arch easySlower update releases than Arch or EndeavourOS
Comes in a variety of flavorsKnown to break sometimes
Great hardware support

System Requirements:

  • 2GB RAM (8GB Recommended)
  • 30GB Disk space (80GB Recommended)
  • A 2GHz Dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: GNOME, KDE Plasma, Xfce, Budgie, MATE, Cinnamon, Sway, and i3 Tiling Window Manager
Download Manjaro

5. EndeavourOS

If Manjaro’s “Endeavours” don’t align with your philosophies, EndeavourOS gets a lot of things right for an Arch-based distro. It offers you the flexibility to choose whichever Desktop Environment you like, has the Arch DNA in its veins, and offers quick package upgrades.

Endeavour OS

For starters, it comes with a customized Calamares installer, which makes installation easy. EndeavourOS does not have “flavors,” instead it prompts and asks you to select the desktop environment of your choice in Calamares during the installation. Besides, EndeavourOS has a great community and is a stellar alternative to Manjaro, or even Arch, for that matter. If all you need is a great rolling distribution, you cannot go wrong with EndeavourOS.

Unlike Manjaro, in which new packages from Arch take at least three weeks to make it to the system, updates to EndeavourOS arrive at the same time as pure Arch Linux. Also, the overall bloatware on EndeavourOS is less compared to Manjaro, which makes it one of the cleanest Arch-based distros out there.

Pros Cons
The closest cutting-edge OS to ArchLearning curve for a beginner
Lots of desktop environment optionsFrequent Arch updates might break the system or introduce bugs
Great community
Calamares installer makes it easy to install

System Requirements:

  • 4GB RAM (8GB Recommended)
  • 10GB Disk space (50GB Recommended)
  • A dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: Xfce, Plasma, GNOME, MATE, Cinnamon, Budgie, LxQt, LxDe, and i3-wm
Download EndeavourOS

6. Elementary OS

Yet another Ubuntu-based distribution, Elementary OS is known for its rather striking resemblance to macOS, which makes it a great starting point for folks who want to switch to Linux from macOS.

Elementary OS

Elementary OS has a few great homemade apps that look great and work well. In fact, distros such as Pop!_OS use Elementary’s store, and that’s a testament to the effort the Elementary team puts into developing one of these best Linux distros. Overall, Elementary OS is a user-friendly and good-looking distribution that gets most things right.

For starters, Epiphany is a decent browser available on Elementary OS, and apps such as Photos, Music, AppCenter, and more all feel like they actually belong to the OS because they’re consistent. The wallpapers are some of the best you can find in any distro, and the dock and animations make the distro a visual treat.

Pros Cons
Consistent design languageFor absolute beginners; Mediocre to advanced users may not enjoy
Great set of preloaded appsNot cutting-edge
Easy to installThe AppStore is mostly empty

System Requirements:

  • 4GB RAM (8GB Recommended)
  • 40GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • A 2GHz dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: None
Download Elementary OS

7. Zorin OS

Windows users make up a huge chunk of the crowd that switches to Linux. Hence, one of the top priorities of a few Linux distros is to make them feel at home. That’s exactly what Zorin OS does with its impeccable UI experience. Its clean, polished UI does give out the feeling of a completely revamped experience while still retaining the bits of Windows UI to comfort ex-Windows users.

Zorin OS

Zorin is Ubuntu-based but looks/feels quite unlike Ubuntu both in terms of looks and functionality. There’s also a Lite version that can run on weaker hardware. All in all, Zorin has great documentation and posts for beginners to get started, and more importantly, it is completely free and open-source.

Besides, Zorin OS also has a Pro version that costs $40, and for that price, you get more desktop layout customizations, preloaded apps such as GIMP and Blender, and the ability to share your mouse and keyboard across computers. Now, we wouldn’t recommend going all out on the Pro version, since most of the paid features can be added by using extensions. However, for what it is, Zorin OS is definitely one of the cleanest and best Linux distros out there.

Pros Cons
Made with Windows users in mindLimited customization options in the free version
Clean and consistent user interfaceUpdates are slow to arrive due to the Ubuntu base
Easy to install
Great for browsing and creating content
Has a Lite version for old hardware

System Requirements:

  • 2GB RAM (4GB Recommended)
  • 40GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • 1024 x 768 resolution display
  • A 1GHz dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: None
Download Zorin OS

8. Garuda Linux

Garuda does things slightly differently than other best Linux distros on this list. For starters, contrary to the regular Linux kernel, it uses something called Linux-zen kernel, which claims to significantly improve the overall system and gaming performance.

Garuda Linux

The centerpiece of Garuda Linux is its UI. It gets lots of modern elements with gradient coloring splashed across the OS. Garuda Linux is based on Arch and follows the same rolling release pattern. It’s offered in multiple flavors; some of the most popular ones are GNOME, Cinnamon, Xfce, and MATE.

The flagship Garuda variant comes with a heavily customized KDE Plasma and is offered in two editions — Dragonized and Dragonized Gaming. The latter includes all the apps you’d need to get started with gaming on Linux such as Steam, Lutris, Heroic Games Launcher, & more, which makes it one of the best Linux distros for gaming.

Pros Cons
Cutting-edge, thanks to its Arch baseCould be a bit too overwhelming for new users
Highly customizable KDE Plasma interfaceHigher system requirements
Gradient theming and icons look fantastic out of the boxPerformance and stability issues due to Arch updates
Dragonized Gaming edition brings all gaming tools for you
More optimized Linux-zen kernel for better performance

System Requirements:

  • 4GB RAM (8GB Recommended)
  • 40GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • A 2GHz dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: KDE Plasma, GNOME, Cinnamon, Xfce, MATE, LxQT, Wayfire, Sway, i3 WM, Qtile, and KDE Lite
Download Garuda Linux

9. Solus

Solus is a rather underrated Linux distro. The OS focuses keenly on developers, gamers, and content creators by including the tools required to get started with development, gaming, and content creation. The flagship flavor of Solus OS uses their in-house Budgie desktop, which is one of the cleanest desktop environments you can try.

Solus OS

What makes Solus different is that it doesn’t follow in the same footsteps as other Linux distros. It’s an independently developed distro with a completely different user experience compared to others on this list. Although, if you do not end up liking Budgie, you can switch to other desktop environments, including GNOME, Plasma, and MATE.

Because Solus is an independent distro, it uses its own package manager called Eopkg. It’s quite similar to Apt in Ubuntu but may have a learning curve since the commands are a bit different from the regular Apt commands. However, if you don’t end up liking Eopkg, you could always use Flatpaks and Snaps on Solus. All things considered, it’s one of the best Linux distros out there.

Pros Cons
Independent OS; Doesn’t depend on any other OSEopkg has a shallow learning curve
Highly customizable interfaceSlow development pace
The Flagship Budgie desktop looks great out of the boxLack of software in repos
Comes preinstalled with a few tools for developers

System Requirements

  • 8GB RAM (Recommended)
  • GeForce 760 and above graphics card with at least 2GB of video memory.
  • 40GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • A 2GHz dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: KDE Plasma, GNOME, MATE, Budgie
Download Solus

10. Ubuntu

In the end, we have something that you would have found in the first two entries had you read this list a couple of years ago. Ubuntu started off with the goal of making Linux more accessible and easily installable than Debian, which was then’s Arch Linux. And, for the most part, it succeeded in achieving that goal, only to succumb to a corporate illness a decade after.

Ubuntu Linux Distro

Don’t get us wrong, Ubuntu is still a great operating system, but it has lost the bling it used to have a few years ago, and a few weird and poor decisions are to be blamed. Without getting into the details, Ubuntu uses GNOME by default, which is a tad bit customized.

Ubuntu uses Snaps for package management, and the latter is the reason the Linux community has started repelling it. They completely dropped out-of-the-box support for Flatpaks, as we mentioned in our Ubuntu 23.04 features list. Although it’s a good starting point for a complete beginner, we would argue there are better Linux distros to try than Ubuntu.

Ubuntu also raised a few privacy concerns when it started preinstalling Amazon and sharing data with the same a few years ago. Most of the users accused Canonical (Ubuntu’s parent company) of tracking user activity by installing spyware, and it made people lose trust in Ubuntu.

Pros Cons
Beginner-friendlySnaps are too slow; No Flatpak support
CustomizableRequires a decent PC to run smoothly
Privacy concerns

System Requirements:

  • 4GB RAM (8GB Recommended)
  • 25GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • A 2GHz dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: KDE Plasma, GNOME, Cinnamon, Budgie, Kylin, Studio, Unity, Xfce, MATE, LxQT
Download Ubuntu

11. KDE Neon

KDE Neon is known to provide a flagship KDE experience, and it delivers! It’s a culmination of the latest from KDE Plasma while maintaining the stability thanks to the Ubuntu LTS base. The latest software from KDE always makes its way to Neon first and is a great way of trying out the latest features that the Desktop Environment has to offer while avoiding butchering the stable feel of the operating system.

KDE Neon

Since Neon is based on Ubuntu LTS, each major release comes with five years of support and a stable tried and tested LTS Kernel. Neon also has some of the best collections of software thanks to KDE Plasma interface, meaning if you’re a creative individual, you could use some of the many tools the OS has on offer to boost your productivity, creativity, and be more efficient in your art.

Although most may like the interface and apps, like any other software, some may find the collection of apps a bit overwhelming. Hence, Neon may not be the distro for you if you prefer minimalism. Overall, Neon is easily one of the best Linux distributions you can try.

ProsCons
Runs Vanilla KDECould be overwhelming for beginners
Comprehensive suite of appsNot the best distro for minimalists
Customizable
Stable Ubuntu Base

System Requirements:

  • 4GB RAM (8GB Recommended)
  • 25GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • A 2GHz dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Download KDE Neon

12. Nobara

Nobara is not a mainstream Linux distributions and isn’t known by many except those who closely follow the Proton Compatibility Layer, Wine for Linux gaming, and Fedora. Nobara was created by Glorious Eggroll, the creator of Proton-GE. Nobara market’s itself as a Linux distro for gamers and creators because it adds and solves a lot of things that a Linux gamer may find annoying and needed.

Nobara Linux

For example, if you’re deeply immersed in Proton and Proton-GE, you may want to install new Proton versions to test for improvements and hence Nobara comes with Proton-QT preinstalled. Similarly, it’s always updated with the latest version of MangoHUD, Kernel patches, has automatic driver installation for NVIDIA GPUs, and comes with things such as OnlyOffice, Steam, Lutris, Flatpak preinstalled.

ProsCons
Lots of important preinstalled bitsIs a distro for Gaming and Creative work; May not be ideal for daily usage
Fedora-based, stable
NVIDIA Drivers are automatically installed

System Requirements:

  • 4GB RAM (8GB Recommended)
  • 25GB Disk space (100GB Recommended)
  • A 2GHz dual-core, 64-bit CPU

Flavors: Nobara Official, GNOME, KDE
Download Nobara

comment Comments 14
  • I favor Manjaro as the number one distro over all, hands down the best if you ever plan on a pci passthrough. This distro definitely makes the process a lot more easier than most distros.

  • Linux Mint was okay for me as a newcomer, and I used it for a couple of years. As as as it being too basic for advanced users, I simply tweaked is as I became more proficient. At some point, I felt that my system was too heavy – or bloated – for what I wanted the system to do, so I ditched Mint for Catbird Linux, and have been pleased.

  • Pop!_OS is my favorite and go to because it has not failed me yet. It just works, and does what I need an OS to do. I am a photographer, so Rawtherapee and GIMP are a part of my daily workflow. Other than those two, I am always using Thunderbird, Spotify, and a broswer. Nothing too complicated, and I decided on Pop!_OS because for some reason, Ubuntu 20.04 kept breaking on me, or issues with installing updates (mostly the latter).

  • Linux Mint “could be a little too basic for advanced users, Not very customizable”. These statements are not true. Mint is a robust system, far from being barebones and it has many customization options! A few examples: without any hacks or third party apps you can change themes, icons, fonts, panel (taskbar) – width, size of left, middle and right zone icons on the panel, window appaearance and disappearance effects, customize context menu in Nemo file manager, size and grouping of app icons in the Menu (start menu), add widgets to the wallpaper and more. Mint is not basic, it comes with many useful tools out of the box, like USB writer and driver manager, for example.

  • I’m a fan of Gentoo and Endeavour myself. Although I’ve been playing around with Rhino lately for fun, and I like it too.

  • Thanks for a nice collection of Distros. The link for KDE Meon takes you to Ubuntu. Looks like a copy/paste snafu.

  • where can i find the desktop wallpaper in that screenshot of pop os? looking for something in that art style for ages and can’t seem to find the exact picture on google, its really nice.

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