Most popular Linux distributions

The new top 3 in the Linux charts are Manjaro, the high-flyer MX Linux and Mint. A major change is noticeable in the Linux charts – old top dogs such as Mint, Debian or Ubuntu are no longer the iron top 3. MX Linux, which emerged from acooperation between antiX and past MEPIS Linux communities, and the first public beta version of which only appeared in November 2016 ,can now claim the second place. But even a Manjaro Linux could drive a Linux Mint off the throne.

This is how you can find your favorite Linux

At least since the end of Windows XP and the end of support for Windows 7, many have been thinking of switching to Linux, or at least using Linux as an additional system. But which Linux version, which distribution? In this article, we will introduce you to the most popular Linux distributions.

Read: Guide to Linux Config Files

Don’t be afraid of Linux

Entering or switching to the Linux world is often more difficult for newbies than initially assumed. The abundance of different distributions alone kills some potentially new users. In addition, Linux has a “professional / hacker” image that makes many shy away. But do not worry: There are enough beginner-friendly Linux versions as shown below.


Lite Linux is based on the stable version of Debian / Ubuntu and is clearly aimed at Linux newcomers


Antergos Linux is based on ArchLinux and integrates the Cinnamon desktop as a standard, but can also be combined with other desktop surfaces.


Kali is based on Debian but comes with some security and forensic tools, which is why it is often referred to as a hacker Linux.


Parrot (formerly Parrot Security OS) is a Debian-based, security-oriented distribution with a suite of utilities for penetration testing, computer forensics, reverse engineering, hacking, data protection, anonymity and cryptography. The product developed by Frozenbox is delivered with MATE as the standard desktop environment.

Read: Red Hat Based Derivatives: A Comprehensive Guide

antiX Linux

antiX-Linux is a fast, lightweight, and easy-to-install Linux live CD distribution based on Debian’s “stable” branch for x86 compatible systems.


Deepin is based on the Ubuntu distribution. An in-house development that is similar to MacOS is used as the desktop environment. Deepin is clearly designed for elegance and user-friendly operation.

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is home grown and optimized for the i686. Arch is fast, slim, flexible and simple.

Read: How to Install Arch Linux


KDEneon is an Ubuntu-based Linux that relies on the latest KDE plasma desktop and other KDE software.


CentOS is based on Red Hat and is actually a 100% replica of it. But of course without support, certification and its costs.

Zorin OS

Zorin OS is based on Ubuntu and is heavily designed for Linux newbies, so the design of the system is very similar to Windows.


openSUSE is a German independent Linux with a large community and is sponsored by Novell. The then SuSE GmbH was taken over by Novell.


Solus is a home-grown distribution company. It uses a fork of the PiSi package manager which is called “eopkg” within the OS. The self-developed “Budgie”, which reminds of Gnome2, serves as the desktop surface.


Fedora is the Red Hat Community Project, while Red Hat Linux is designed for enterprise IT. Both projects benefit from each other.

Debian GNU / Linux

Debian consists of more than 8,710 packages (precompiled software put together in a convenient format for easy installation on your computer) – and is completely free. Much of the basic tools that make up the operating system come from the GNU Project, hence the names GNU / Linux.


Ubuntu is based on the software made available by the Debian / GNU Linux project. In addition, Canonical offers commercial support for corporate customers and uses the free and varied documentation and support provided by the community in the form of forums, mailing lists and wikis. It is one of the most popular Linux distributions ever because it is very easy to use for beginners.

Read: How to fix WiFi not working on Ubuntu

elementary OS

elementary OS is based on the Ubuntu distribution, but comes with the Pantheon desktop surface, which is based on MacOS in terms of design.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and there is also its own Debian edition. The Distri also has its own package sources and its own desktop environment, Cinnamon, which is heavily based on the old GNOME interface, which has resulted in a huge fan base around the ambitious project.

Read: Linux Mint vs Ubuntu : A comparative overview

MX Linux

A desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on Debian’s “stable” branch. The distribution was created through a cooperation between antiX and the former MEPIS Linux community. With Xfce as the default desktop, it is a medium-sized operating system that combines a sleek and efficient desktop with simple configuration, high stability, and solid performance.

Manjaro Linux

Manjaro Linux is based on ArchLinux. Manjaro Linux is fast, easy to use, and desktop oriented. Many desktop environments are available thanks to community versions.

This is why Debian and Ubuntu are so common

When looking for the right Linux system, you will quickly notice that many distributions are based on Debian or Ubuntu. In the list above, that’s more than half, including Debian and Ubuntu itself. Debian is one of the oldest free operating systems and combines the Linux kernel with the basic system tools of the GNU project. Thanks to its very good stability, it is particularly widespread in the server sector.

The best known of all Debian derivatives is Ubuntu. The Goal of the Ubuntu project is to create an easy to install and easy to use operating system with coordinated software. Since its release in 2004, Ubuntu has been able to steadily expand its fan base and has become one of the most widely used Linux distributions. Ubuntu went its own way with the Unity desktop environment and turned its back on GNOME. Meanwhile the new version of the GNOME interface, GNOME 3 was made available.

For those who want to stay true to Ubuntu, but prefer the original GNOME, should take a look at Ubuntu MATE . The MATE desktop environment is a GNOME2 clone that is constantly being improved.

Linux Mint: In the fast lane

Linux Mint seized the opportunity. With your GNOME fork: Cinnamon hit Linux Mint right on target. Based on the GNOME Shell, Cinnamon combines modern concepts of “GNOME 3” with the traditional “GNOME 2” operation.

Thanks to good ideas and Cinnamon, Linux Mint was able to win over many fans and is therefore one of today’s most popular distributions for a reason. The traditional Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, but there is also a Linux Mint Debian edition.

These Linux versions are particularly good for getting started

Ubuntu is generally very beginner-friendly, and if you don’t like the Unity Ubuntu interface, look no further than the numerous Ubuntu versions with other interfaces such as Ubuntu MATE . Die-hard Windows users will do very well with the Cinnamon desktop interface that Linux Mint has to offer. It is best to test the various operating systems in the VirtualBox beforehand . In the virtual system, a mistake doesn’t hurt either – be it an installation error or a system that doesn’t suit you at all.

Linux is also becoming increasingly popular with gamers

Another problem topic in the Linux area has always been gaming. The game makers only rarely supported Linux. But a lot has happened in the last few years. The well-known game developer Valve has with its SteamOS its own distribution based on Debian – which focuses entirely on gaming. This is also pre-installed on the steam machines. The steam machine was supposed to be used to declare war on the consoles, but this strategy has been discarded for some time. Some developers, not just Valve itself, are still very busy and are porting their Windows games to the Linux platform.

Read: Which games are worth waiting for in 2021

Warning: SteamOS does not offer dual boot options. Therefore, all data stored on the target computer will be deleted during an installation . Different partitions must be created for a dual boot option. If in doubt, test SteamOS beforehand on a virtual system such as VirtualBox .


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Nikolaus Oosterhof

Nikolaus holds a degree in software development and has a strong passion for all things tech-related, especially gadgets with screens. Though he is nostalgic for older phone models, he's a retired gamer and continues to enjoy programming in open-source environments. Additionally, Nikolaus enjoys writing about Linux, macOS and Windows and has experience designing web pages.

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