When you want to try Linux, a question comes to mind: which distribution to choose. There are hundreds of different Linux distributions, but here we will try to demonstrate which ones are best to start with. “Linux” is actually a kernel, the core of the operating system .
The graphical desktop, command line utilities, and other parts of the system are separate projects. Linux distributions use open source applications from different projects and combine them into a complete operating system ready to install and enjoy.
Linux distributions are very easy to test. Just download them and use a tool to create a USB drive or burn a bootable DVD. You can then restart your computer and boot from the removable media to use the Linux distribution in “portable” mode.
In this way, Linux will run from the boot device without affecting the previously installed system. If you decide to install the Linux distribution, you can do it from the portable environment.
Experts emphasize that there is no such thing as “Linux”, but rather a multitude of variants, some of which are suitable for beginners – and others less so.
Ubuntu is very easy to use. It offers a simple desktop and even easier installer. Through checkboxes you can automatically install the Flash browser plug-in and various codecs necessary for multimedia support. It also has “Additional Drivers” tool that will detect closed source drivers that may be necessary for all hardware to work and install them easily. This utility is not found in all Linux distributions.
Ubuntu’s popularity lies in the large community it has when it comes to developing . Having a large community behind also involves a large amount of software available, both in standard Ubuntu software repositories and in third-party software repositories known as PPA. Third-party software vendors make sure they support Ubuntu.
Ubuntu also offers a variety of different themes , which come with different desktop environments and applications on the same Ubuntu operating system. You can experiment with other desktop environments, keeping the same foundation with good technical support and software availability.
Ubuntu is considered exemplary in terms of usability and flexibility – for example when integrating media content such as music or videos.
The professional performance of Ubuntu is no coincidence: Behind it is Canonical, a software company that is responsible for the further development of Ubuntu.
- Taskbar and start menu
- Simple operation
- Good driver support (almost everything works out of the box)
- Useful programs such as Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice and much more. are already pre-installed
- Ubuntu’s Gnome interface can be completely configured
- Dual boot works (if you install Windows first)
- Also recommended for advanced users
- X2Go support (move computationally intensive applications to other systems)
Linux Mint is also very popular. It is partially based on Ubuntu, but uses Cinnamon or MATE desktops instead. These are the most traditional Linux desktop environments with a window list taskbar and popup menu. If you’re looking for a simple desktop, Cinnamon and MATE Linux Mint desktops will meet your needs .
Linux Mint used to be a bit more different from Ubuntu, offering multiple grouped codecs for a more convenient user experience. However, Ubuntu now makes installation much easier, and Linux Mint installs them separately (but similarly).
- Taskbar and start menu
- intuitive operation
- Highly configurable (themes, symbols, mouse pointer, background image, window)
- Good (multimedia) driver support
- Printers and peripherals work
- Movies and music are played immediately
- All important everyday programs pre-installed (LibreOffice, VLC Media Player, Firefox, Thunderbird)
- Dual boot (next to Windows) works without problems
If, despite everything, Ubuntu or Linux Mint did not convince you and you want to try something different, you can not miss Fedora. This distribution has some differences with Ubuntu, Mint and many other distributions.
Fedora only includes open source software . Does not include closed source hardware drivers. This can be inconvenient, since if you need them, you will have to look them up by yourself.
Fedora developers also work more directly with open source projects like GNOME, making fewer changes and sending you the latest software for these projects.
The Fedora desktop image is now known as “Fedora Workstation” and is dedicated to developers who need to use Linux, providing easy access to development and software features. The Fedora project releases new versions approximately every six months, and each version supports security updates for approximately thirteen months. To continue support, you will need to update whenever there is a new release.
Fore more details about Fedora 29, refer to our article here.
It is also one of the oldest and most popular Linux distributions. For the vast majority, it is the most stable distribution, although there are other aspects to highlight, such as repositories, package managers, and the community behind.
A lightweight Linux distribution, but in this case it’s ideal for those looking for a slightly heavy-weight distribution that can run on relatively modern computers. As the name suggests, it is a “taste” of Ubuntu that changes the desktop and some of the lighter preinstalled applications.
Xubuntu is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. An Ubuntu derivative that is maintained or supported by a large community that uses the XFCE desktop environment. It is aimed at users with limited resources who are looking for an efficient environment.
It is a very easy to install and use distribution that relies on low system requirements. Ideal for beginners and especially for those who come from the Windows environment as it has a similar desktop environment. It should also be noted that Manjaro Arch uses user repositories, which further simplifies its use.
In addition to Ubuntu and Mint, you can often find Linux distributions developed by a small team, such as the Elementary operating system . Elementary OS offers a simple and straightforward desktop as it features Pantheon, its own custom desktop environment. This is a very different distribution than other Linux desktops, but it may not be as robust and supported as other cited distributions. Elementary requests a donation before downloading, but it is also possible to download for free.
Debian is a great Linux distribution and actually forms the basis for Ubuntu, which in turn forms the basis for many other Linux distributions. Debian is a good option if you want a stable environment, but Ubuntu is more updated and focused on the desktop.
Arch Linux forces you to “get your hands dirty”, and it’s a good Linux distribution to test if you really want to learn how everything works. In Arch Linux you will have to configure everything yourself. It is not recommended to start in the Linux world with Arch, but once you are comfortable with something like Ubuntu, Arch can be a great way to learn the ins and outs of Linux.
Finally, for those looking for security and privacy, Tails is a portable distribution that can fit their requirements. Tails is the operating system used by Edward Snowden, as well as political dissidents and journalists who need maximum protection. It automatically routes your web activity through Tor and provides other security utilities. Since it runs in a portable environment, it ensures that all traces are removed when restarted. It’s not a commonly used Linux distribution, but if you need something solid when it comes to privacy, Tails is the best.