Updating: For our readers for developers and sysadmin we have added the enthusiastic favorite openSUSE to our list. Read on at number 8 for more information!
If you can not tolerate the lax security of a Windows computer, but macOS is far too superficial, allow us to introduce you to Linux. It is simply the ultimate open source software. The operating system started out as exclusive to ordinary x86 desktop PCs, but has since become part of everything from Android phones to Google Chromebooks.
Linux is based on the Unix family of operating systems, which became well-known in the late 1970s. It has been taken over by various software developers and changed into various distributions & # 39; or & # 39; distro & # 39; s & # 39; All Linux distributions at the top use the Linux kernel, which can be considered the heart and soul of the operating system. The different desktop environments for these distros are then built around it.
The best Linux distributions are tailored to specific types of users. For example, Ubuntu is very easy to use because it is designed for newcomers. Arch Linux, on the other hand, appeals to experienced users who can use the Terminal to type commands to perform tasks such as installing apps. This guide focuses on choosing the best distros overall.
Linux, Windows or Mac – which is the best for you? Watch our guide video below:
1. Elemental OS
Probably the most beautiful distro in the world
Smart designed and looks great
Excellent desktop environment
Not many pre-installed apps
If you're looking for a distro that takes you as far away as possible from the image of a nerdy hacker type bashing away at a terminal interface, Elementary OS is what you need. It is probably the most attractive distro in the neighborhood, with a style similar to that of macOS. The excellent desktop environment of this operating system is known as Pantheon and is based on Gnome.
The latest version of Elementary OS is called Loki, which is not just that bit nicer and nicer than its predecessor Freya, has its own application installer UI called AppCenter. It is a wonderfully easy way to install apps outside the terminal, which is convenient because not much has been installed in advance.
However, basic OS is bundled with the Epiphany browser, the Geary email client and a few standard & # 39; apps. You may need to add more programs, but this is easy to do with the integrated AppCenter, which includes paid programs specifically designed for the operating system, such as Quilter for novice writers or Spice-Up for composing of presentations. The inconvenience of buying and downloading additional apps is compensated by Elementary OS & # 39; Elegance.
You can get started with Elementary OS here
2. Linux Mint
A strong option for those who are new to Linux
Ideal for anyone who switches from Windows / Mac
Good media support from the packaging
Impressive amount of customization options
Linux Mint is a great & # 39; standard & # 39; distro for new Linux users, because it contains much of the software you need when switching from Mac or Windows, such as LibreOffice, the favorite productivity suite of Linux users. It also has better support for native media formats, allowing you to play video & # 39; s, DVD & # 39; s and MP3 music files from the package.
You can download three mainstart flavors from Mint 19, each using a different desktop environment, the top layer of the interface that allows you to modify elements such as the appearance of windows and menus & # 39; s. Cinnamon is currently the most popular, but you can also opt for the more basic MATE or Xfce.
Linux Mint 18.3 was the last release for an official KDE version. Unfortunately, this is no longer available with Linux Mint 19, but it can still be installed on version 19 if you miss it.
Although Timeshift was introduced in version 18.3 and for all Linux Mint releases, it is one of the main features of Linux Mint 19. Timeshift allows users to restore their computer from the last functional snapshot.
All these desktop environments offer a variety of customization options, so you can download a few and boot as a Live CD before starting the installation to see which works best.
You can get started with Mint here
3. Arch Linux
Arch Linux or Antergos are real Linux options
Huge potential for customization
Antergos represents a more user-friendly spin
Arch Linux itself is not for the faint of heart
If you are willing to try a slightly less user-friendly distro, Arch Linux is one of the most popular choices out there. With Arch you can customize your build using the terminal to download and install packages, and it is particularly useful for developers and people with older machines who may not want unnecessary packages to take up space.
Of course, this was the way all Linux distributions were set up, but there are now much more user-friendly methods available. There is even such a version of Arch Linux, called Antergos (see above). Antergos comes with more drivers, more applications and a whole range of desktop environments to change the appearance of the system. The goal is to hold your hand and get started right away from the first installation with all the basic functions, but it is still Arch Linux underneath.
The hardcore crowd may be involved in packages like Antergos, but if it saves those newer Linux hours from potentially frustrating fiddling, we are all for it.
The Antergos graphical installation program can guide you through the installation process and start you up to the Gnome 3 desktop environment. It can also use the Cinammon, MATE, KDE and Xfce environments if you want. Antergos does not come with an office package, but you can install this and other programs through the wonderfully named Arch package manager & # 39; pacman & # 39 ;.
You can get started with Arch Linux here or Antergos here
One of the most popular distributions for good reasons
Very accessible for beginners
Security and stability of LTS version
Lubuntu spin is ideal for PCs with low power
Ubuntu is one of the most popular flavors of Linux and together with Mint it is highly recommended for Linux beginners, because it is particularly accessible.
New versions of Ubuntu are released every six months. At the time of writing we are at Ubuntu 18.04. Every year the developer Canonical comes with an LTS (long-term support) version of Ubuntu. These guarantee a five-year warranty on security and general maintenance updates so that you can continue with your machine without the hassle of fully upgrading every few months. Standard releases are only supported for one year.
The current LTS version of Ubuntu (18.04) uses the Gnome 3 desktop environment, which is less familiar to Windows and macOS users.
There are variations on Ubuntu that use different environments, such as Lubuntu, which uses a minimal desktop environment based on LXDE and a selection of fast, lightweight applications. This puts much less pressure on system resources than the graphic-intensive Unity.
You can get started with Ubuntu here and Lubuntu here
A distro for privacy-conscious
Emphasis on safety and privacy
But maintains a user-friendly user interface
Something of a niche OS
Tails is a privacy-oriented Linux distro with the aim to hide your location and identity as much as possible. Even Edward Snowden used it.
The operating system routes all of its Internet traffic through the anonymizing Tor network, which is designed to prevent data from being intercepted and analyzed. Under all security measures it is based on Debian Linux and the GNOME desktop is used, so the interface is still clear and user-friendly.
Tails is not for everyone, but this niche OS gives you some peace of mind when you worry about all the troubling privacy-trampling legislation that is adopted today.
You can get started with Tails here
6. CentOS 7
Output of Enterprise version of Red Hat Linux
Built for stability
Ideal for a server
Not so great for everyday desktop use
CentOS 7 is a community outgrowth of the Enterprise version of Red Hat Linux, and the focus is on stability rather than constant updates. Just like Red Hat, security updates and service updates for CentOS are postponed for up to 10 years after the first release of each version.
CentOS is designed to be super reliable and that is why it is an excellent choice for a server. It is not really a good bet for someone who is looking for a new operating system for daily use on their desktop PC or laptop.
On the positive side, you can enjoy having fun for nothing – packages that have been compiled for the commercial version of Red Hat Linux are fully compatible with CentOS, so you can use them for free.
You can get started with CentOS here
7. Ubuntu Studio
Spin on Ubuntu focused on audio and video production
Good alternative to expensive production software
Support for audio plug-ins and more
Still gives access to packages in the main Ubuntu OS
If you want a recording studio for home music or a video production workstation without the thousands of pounds related to industry standard software, consider installing Ubuntu Studio.
This officially recognized taste of Ubuntu Linux is designed for audio and video production, as an alternative to paid software such as Pro Tools. Support for audio plug-ins and MIDI input is built-in and a virtual patch compartment is pre-installed.
The Ubuntu Studio repositories have access to the packages in the main Ubuntu operating system, as well as a few digital audio sequencers. The greatest strength lies in recording audio via tools such as the JACK Audio Connection Kit.
You can get started with Ubuntu Studio here
Primarily focused on developers and sysadmins
Very polished distro
Can create your own version of the operating system
OpenSUSE is known as SUSE Linux and later SuSE Linux Professional and is intended for developers and system administrators. For that reason it is extremely strict for security protocols.
The operating system is divided into two main divisions: openSUSE Leap and openSUSE Tumbleweed. Leap uses the source code of SUSE Linux Enterprise, making it much more stable. New versions are released roughly once a year and are supported for three years, making Leap perfect for business applications.
Tumbleweed (pictured above) is based on Factory, the main development code base of openSUSE. It follows a rolling release model – in other words, packages are made available for download once they have been tested in Factory. This means that Tumbleweed contains the latest stable applications and is good for daily use.
The operating system uses the glossy KDE Plasma desktop, which is perfect if your machine can handle the more advanced graphics functions.
One of the more polished Linux distributions in the neighborhood, openSUSE is consistently ranked in the top five distros at DistroWatch.com. In addition, with the SUSE Studio Express website, you can create your own version of openSUSE, complete with customized pre-installed software packages, desktop and system settings.
You can get started with openSUSE here
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