Linux may not be as well-supported as Windows or as popular as macOS, but it’s got one thing that every other operating system doesn’t: incredible versatility. With literally hundreds of different distros to choose from, Linux can be customized and adjusted to suit any kind of user.
The only downside? With such a wide range of distros, finding your favorites can be challenging.
To help you make an informed choice, this article will review best distros for newbies, intermediate users, and Linux masters.
Linux Mint is exclusively aimed at new users and designed with simplicity in mind. Simply put, this distro sets the standard for ease-of-use.
Whether you’re looking to game the day away, stream movies and music, or simply browse the internet, Mint gives you all the apps and components you need to make it happen, right out of the box.
This regularly updated distro gets new releases biannually (every six months, on average), and its design bears a striking similarity to the latest versions of Windows, offering a seamless transition for former Microsoft users.
- Lightweight and stable
- Minimal system requirements
- Great choice for first-time Linux users
- Similar look and feel to Windows
- Too basic for experienced Linux enthusiasts
Originally designed for STEM professionals, but also catching the eye of creatives, gamers, and other users, Pop!_OS is another terrific distro to consider, with a lot of notable features.
Playing games on Linux devices can be a hassle, but with Pop!_OS, it becomes immeasurably easier. Why? Well, Pop!_OS provides pre-installation of NVIDIA drivers, prepping your machine to tackle visually-intensive games and other applications, like video editing and graphic design.
Boasting a crisp, clean, beginner-friendly UI, while also being free of bloat and clutter, Pop!_OS works like a charm for new users. It’s also got all sorts of nifty features up its sleeve that might surprise you as you use it. Quick keyboard shortcuts and auto-tiling will organize your desktop like never before.
- A gamer’s best friend
- Super sleek and streamlined interface
- Impressive array of small but helpful features
- Doesn’t come with many apps and may be too bare-bones for power users
If you’re looking for a super swift, polished, and streamlined Linux distro with a simple interface to rival the likes of Windows and macOS, look no further than Zorin OS.
Aimed mainly at newbies to the Linux world, but also suitable for more experienced users, Zorin is a joy to work with. You can customize it to look just like a Windows or Mac device. The perfect option for those who want to enjoy the flexibility of Linux, but are worried about making the switch from more popular systems.
There are two free versions of Zorin to choose from: the Lite edition for older and weaker machines, and the Core option coming with every app you need to play, browse, create, and work. There’s also a Pro package, bundled with additional features and advanced options.
- Customizable UI can look just like Windows or Mac
- Works well on old and new devices alike
- Helpful guides and tutorials to teach you the ropes
- Some key features are locked behind the paywall
Proving that age is just a number, Fedora continues to be one of the best Linux distros, despite being one of the oldest. Released back in 2003, it’s still going strong, thanks to consistent updates, improvements, and a lot of hard work from the community.
A top pick for intermediate users and developers, Fedora has a lot of points in the “Pros” column, from a large, supportive community of users to regular automatic updates, high levels of security, and an attractive, clutter-free desktop.
Even if you’ve got a device that’s struggling to keep up, Fedora can breathe new life into those old circuit boards, helping you make the most of the hardware you’ve got and potentially saving you some serious cash in the long run.
- Regular updates
- Great community support
- Impressive levels of security and privacy for every user
- A prime pick for pro developers
- Beginner users may be a little bamboozled by this intermediate-level choice
We’ve covered some of the top Linux distros for beginners and intermediate users, but if you have an advanced skill level and years of experience, Arch Linux is your go-to choice.
Bringing a whole new definition to the concept of customization, Arch Linux features its own “Build System” that lets you manually create your very own installation, piece by piece.
Of course, it takes time and effort to make your own OS with Arch Linux, but advanced users who have the necessary time and skill will love how much freedom this distro provides. Unrivaled among advanced distributions, it lets you decide exactly how your system runs, looks, and feels.
- The ultimate choice for advanced users
- Provides unbeaten freedom to build your own system
- Next-level customization
- You’ll need some solid hardware to really get the best value out of Arch Linux
How are Linux distros different?
Each Linux distro, or distribution, is made-up of various open-source apps, packages, and digital components, all built around the same core pillar: the Linux kernel. Essentially, they’re all different mixtures of apps and features, with each one providing its own unique experiences and appearances. Some are built for gamers, others for developers, and many are simply aimed at general use.
How do I choose the best Linux distro?
Picking a distro isn’t easy, particularly when you don’t have a whole lot of Linux experience. First up, we recommend asking yourself some key questions like “What am I going to use my device for?” and “Do I want a system that requires lots of configuration and customization, or simply a ‘plug-and-play’ alternative?” Once you figure out what you’re looking for, it’s easier to find a distro that fits the bill.
Do any Linux distros cost money?
Most Linux distros are free, but some have paid versions or premium add-ons and extras, which won’t interest most users. However, it may be necessary for power users, developers, and others who need to get serious performance out of their device.
Enjoy Your Linux Experience with the Best Distro for You
There are many great Linux distros out there. We should also give honorable mentions to Manjaro, Ubuntu, and Elementary, to name but a few. There are so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find your perfect next Linux install.
What’s your favorite Linux distro? Have you tried any of the options featured in our list? Let us know in the comments section below.