For beginners, choosing the right Linux distribution or distro can be a daunting task with the wide range of options available. As each distribution has its own set of features, strengths, and weaknesses, which can make the decision-making process overwhelming. In this article, I will talk about some of the best Linux distros for beginners, while taking into account their user-friendliness, community support, software availability, and hardware compatibility.
Factors a Beginner Should Concern While Choosing a Linux Distro
Choosing a Linux distribution as a beginner can be overwhelming because of the many available options. Here are some factors beginners should concern about while selecting a Linux distro:
- User-friendliness → Choosing a more user-friendly distro that is easy to install & use, such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint.
- Hardware requirements → Make sure that the Linux distro you choose is compatible with your computer’s hardware.
- Purpose → Take one according to your purpose, for instance, whether you want it for desktop purposes or Server purposes.
- Community support → Having a strong and bigger community can help a beginner with faced challenges to overcome.
- Security → Security is important for any OS. So be sure to choose a secure one.
- Pre-installed software → Some distros come with pre-installed software that saves the trouble of searching and downloading.
- Software availability → Check the availability of software in the distro’s software repository, and ensure that the software you need is available.
- Desktop Environment → Choose the one with a Desktop environment you find easy to use and visually appealing.
- Updates & Customizability → Choose a Linux distro that has a reliable & frequent update schedule. Also, find one with more customization options if you are into more customizing options.
Top 10 Linux Distros for Beginners
In the following article, I will discuss the ten best Linux distros advised for beginners with their official download page link. I will provide their key features, also pros & cons so that you can get a clear idea about them.
Anyway, you can read the Comparative Analysis of Distros to get a comparable overview of them.
The most popular & well-heard Linux distro is the open-source OS Ubuntu. Maximum new users who are switching to Linux OS try Ubuntu due to its ease of use, user-friendly interface, large community, wide range of software & lastly, all the free features.
Click here to visit Ubuntu‘s official download page.
Key Features of Ubuntu
- Large software repository → Ubuntu has a vast repository of software packages that can be easily installed and managed.
- Regular releases → It has a fixed release schedule, with new versions released every six months, and Long Term Support (LTS) versions released every two years.
- Server support → Ubuntu is also popular as a server operating system with support for a wide range of server applications.
- Strong security → Features like AppArmor and default-enabled firewall have made Ubuntu security-focused.
- Community-driven → It has a large and active community of users and developers who contribute to its support & development.
- Free & open-source distro.
- Lots of free software in the software center.
- Vast community.
- Lots of flavors to suit users’ needs.
- Compatible with most of the hardware.
- Not very useful for some specific programs (Labview, Proteus).
- Need manual installation which a new user may find challenging.
- It may have some compatibility issues with certain programs or devices. Also, some drivers may not exist in Ubuntu.
- The repository may not be up to date with the latest versions of software.
2. Linux Mint
Linux Mint is a perfect Linux-based distro for beginners due to its Windows-like familiar interfaces. Moreover, it performs great with older hardware and gained improvements over Ubuntu over time. The popular Linux Mint edition is the Linux Mint Cinnamon.
Click here to visit Linux Mint‘s official download page.
Key Features of Linux Mint
- Multiple desktop environments → Linux Mint is available with a choice of desktop environments, including Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce.
- Multimedia support → It includes a range of multimedia codecs and plugins, making it possible to play a wide range of audio & video formats.
- Community-driven → It has a larger user & developer community.
- Wide range of tools & utilities → It has a wide range of tools & utility applications.
- It has an update manager which allows users to choose the level of updates they want to apply.
- It provides guides to install and configure the system.
- It comes with all the essential applications, with no requirement for any additional configuration or installation.
- A developer can customize appearance and behavior using themes, icons, widgets, applets, desklets, and extensions.
- It is compatible with most hardware from low-end to high-end.
- Might not be compatible with all programs or games.
- No proprietary drivers such as NVIDIA, ATI, are not included but can be installed via Drive Manager.
- Some software may be outdated due to less frequent updates.
3. Zorin OS
Zorin is an easy Ubuntu-based OS, so you don’t need to learn anything to get started making it a perfect match for beginners.
Click here to visit Zorin OS’s official download page.
Key Features of Zorin OS
- Windows-like interface → Zorin comes with a customizable user interface that resembles Windows, making it an easy transition for users switching from Windows.
- Software availabilty→ It has a large software repository of over 60,000 packages for installation. Moreover, it includes Wine, a compatibility layer that allows some Windows applications to run on Linux.
- Software requirements → It has relatively low system requirements.
- Education edition → It has an education edition that is specifically designed for use in schools and other educational institutions.
- Built on Ubuntu, known for its security & stability.
- Extensive customization options for the user interface.
- The paid version, Zorin OS Ultimate, includes additional features and support options.
- Additional customizations come only in the pro edition.
4. Linux Lite
Linux Lite is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Ubuntu LTS, designed to be user-friendly and efficient for older hardware. It comes with a lightweight Xfce desktop environment.
Click here to visit Linux Lite’s official download page.
Key Features of Linux Lite
- Lightweight → Linux Lite is an extremely lightweight OS version of Linux.
- Minimal system requirements → It has very low system requirements, making it suitable for older or less powerful computers.
- Simplicity → It is a simple OS that brings several in-house utilities specially designed for new users.
- Wide range of customization → It provides essential software & features with lots of customization options for the users.
- Ideal for older hardware.
- Friendly desktop.
- Super lightweight & fast.
- Not a fancy-looking or visually appealing desktop.
- Legacy menu-driven desktop.
5. Elementary OS
It is a popular Linux distribution that aims to provide a user-friendly, fast, visually appealing operating system for desktops and laptops. As an Ubuntu-based Linux distro, it’s fully customizable.
Click here to visit Elementary OS‘s official download page.
Key Features of Elementary OS
- AppCentre → A centralized app store makes it easy to download & install new applications.
- Pantheon Desktop environment → A clean & intuitive interface that includes a dock, a customizable sidebar, and a search for finding things.
- Privacy → includes app firewall, privacy mode to disable tracking, & a tool for encrypting files.
- Freya & Loki → are two major releases of Elementary OS, where Freya was released in 2015 based on Ubuntu 14.04 & Loki in 2016, based on Ubuntu 16.04.
- Free & visually appealing open-source software.
- macOS-inspired user interface.
- Easy to use, lightweight, & designed to run on low-end hardware.
- Focuses on enhanced user experience.
- Limited software availability.
- Slow update cycle.
- Small development team.
- Limited user community.
6. Manjaro Linux
Manjaro Linux is an Arch Linux-based popular Linux distribution. It is designed to be easy to use and accessible for new users, while still providing the power and flexibility of Arch Linux.
Click here to visit Manjaro Linux‘s official download page.
Key Features of Manjaro Linux
- Rolling release → Manjaro is a rolling release distribution, which means that users get the latest updates and packages on a regular basis.
- Arch Linux compatibility → It is based on Arch Linux, which means it is compatible with the Arch User Repository (AUR) & can use many same software packages as Arch Linux.
- Multiple desktop environments → It comes with a selection of different desktop environments, including Xfce, KDE Plasma, GNOME, and others.
- Package management → Manjaro uses the ‘Pacman’ package manager, which is a powerful and flexible tool for managing software packages on Linux.
- User-friendly & stable.
- It is free & open-source.
- Users are allowed to choose their preferred desktop environment due to multiple available options.
- As it does provide any stable release, its updates may introduce instability and compatibility issues.
- Some hardware may require manual installation of proprietary drivers or firmware.
7. MX Linux
MX Linux is a popular Debian-based Linux distro. It is designed to be lightweight and user-friendly, while still providing a powerful and flexible Linux environment.
Click here to visit MX Linux’s official download page.
Key Features of MX Linux
- Based on Debian → MX Linux is a Debian-based Linux distro.
- Multiple desktop environments → It comes with a selection of different desktop environments which allows users to choose the environment that best fits their preferences and needs.
- Live USB/CD → MX Linux can be run from a USB or CD without needing to be installed on a hard drive.
- Extensive software selection → It includes a large selection of software packages including popular applications such as LibreOffice, Firefox, and GIMP.
- Lightweight, fast & responsive.
- Stable & reliable.
- Open-source & pre-loaded with natively built apps.
- Limited support due to a smaller user community.
- Some software may be outdated.
- Some users may find it too lightweight.
8. Pop OS
Pop!_OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that is developed by System76, a company that produces Linux-powered computers. It is designed to be a user-friendly and customizable OS that is suitable for both new & experienced Linux users.
Click here to visit Pop!_OS’s official download page.
Key Features of Pop OS
- System76 hardware integration → Pop!_OS is optimized for System76 hardware, with drivers and tools that are designed specifically for Sytem76.
- Flatpak support → It includes support for Flatpak, which allows users to easily install and manage a wide range of applications.
- Pop Shell → a tiling window manager that provides a more efficient way to manage windows and applications.
- Gaming-Focused → With optimized graphics driver and tools, Pop!_OS provides built-in support for gaming.
- Privacy-focused with full disk encryption, secure boot, and automatic security updates.
- It is free and open-source software, enabling users free to view & modify the source code as per their wish.
- Built-in support for NVIDIA.
- Limited software selection compared to some other Linux distributions.
- Not as stable as other Linux distributions.
- Limited support for lesser user community members.
9. Peppermint OS
Debian & Devuan-based Peppermint OS aims to provide a fast, user-friendly, and cloud-focused operating system. It works well on older hardware as well as newer computers.
Click here to visit Peppermint OS‘s official download page.
Key Features of Peppermint OS
- Cloud-focused → Peppermint OS includes a range of cloud-focused applications and tools, including Dropbox, Google Drive, and web-based applications like Gmail & Google Docs.
- Hybrid desktop → It combines web-based and traditional desktop applications, offering a unique hybrid desktop environment.
- Customizable → It is highly customizable with a wide range of options available through the Openbox desktop environment & other tools.
- Low system requirements → As it needs low system requirements, it can be run well on older hardware as well as on newer computers.
- It is an open-source operating system.
- It provides a user-friendly interface.
- Peppermint OS is a Lightweight distro.
- Some users may prefer a more traditional or web-based desktop environment instead of the hybrid desktop environment.
- Not as stable as some other Linux distributions.
Deepin is a Linux distribution that originated in China and is based on the Debian “Stable” branch. It is known for its elegant and modern desktop environment and a range of user-friendly features.
Click here to visit Deepin‘s official download page.
Key Features of Deepin
- Modern desktop environment → Deepin features a modern visually appealing & easy to use desktop environment.
- Cloud integration → It includes a range of cloud-based features and tools, such as deepin Cloud Sync, that allows user to sync their files and settings across devices.
- Multimedia support → It supports a wide range of multimedia formats and codecs.
- International support → Deepin has been translated into many languages, making it accessible to users around the world.
- Themable window decoration has made deepin.
- Stable frequent release updates help users to stay security updated.
- Come with a ‘deepin installer’ making it easy for users to install.
- Some users face problems with the Virtual Box.
- While installing using ‘deepin installer’, it asks for location info, which some users feel uneasy to provide.
Comparative Analysis of Distros
To get a comprehensive and comparative overview of the ten best distributions for beginners that have been discussed in this article, kindly go through the following table.
|Distributions||Based On||Default Desktop Environment||Size on Disk||Release Cycle|
|Ubuntu||Debian||GNOME||~15 GB||6 months|
|Linux Mint||Ubuntu||Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce||~10 GB||6 months|
|Zorin OS||Ubuntu||GNOME||~10GB||6 months|
|Linux lite||Ubuntu||Xfce||~5GB||6 months|
|Elementary OS||Ubuntu||Pantheon||~15GB||6 months|
|Manjaro Linux||Arch||Xfce, KDE Plasma, GNOME||~10GB||Rolling|
|MX Linux||Debian||Xfce||~5GB||1 year|
|Peppermint OS||Ubuntu||Xfce||~5GB||6 months|
To sum up, choosing the right Linux distribution can make a big difference in the experience of a beginner user. Even though the choice of the distro ultimately depends on individual preferences and requirements, still choosing a distro with a user-friendly interface, pre-installed software, and excellent community support will increase the user’s adventure. Here, I tried discussing the distros which provide them all.