Choose the right Linux distro for you

If you want to try Linux there are various facts to consider.

This article want to give you useful info that can help you choose the best Linux distro for your needs.

There are dozens and dozens Linux distro availables, each one has own features.

There are distros most suitable for who has never tried Linux before, those for intermediate users that have a good basic knowledge of the operating system, and those for advanced users that understand the usage of the O.S, own requirements, and own expectations in general.

Linux distros for beginners: Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Elementary OS, Pop!_OS, Zorin, MX Linux.

These Linux distros are “ready to use”, generally you don’t have to install extra drivers and they includes various software preinstalled, they have an easy to use interfaces (Windows or Mac OS X like).

Linux distros for experienced users: Manjaro, Fedora, Debian, openSUSE, Solus, EndeavourOS.

These Linux distros are similar to those for beginners but the default install does not include as much “bloatware”. This requires a bit more customization and research.

Linux distros for experts: Arch Linux, Kali Linux, Gentoo, Slackware.

These distributions focus on being lightweight, simple, and yet far more flexible than most. You have full control from the install process and you will only install what you explicitly command them to.

Choose a desktop environment

A desktop environment (also referred as DE sometimes) is the bundle of components that provide you common graphical user interface (GUI) elements such as icons, toolbars, wallpapers, and desktop widgets.

Linux distros can have various variants, for example Ubuntu and Fedora use GNOME desktop by default but also offer other desktop environments.

You can also install a desktop environment in any Linux distribution by yourself but most Linux distros often provides ISO images for different DEs ready to be installed.

Most popular desktop environments are:

KDE – highly customizable desktop with moderate usage of system resources.

GNOME – modern and polished desktop but uses lot of system resources.

Xfce – “old style” desktop look but offers a pleasant experience, low usage of system resources.

LXQT – is the new version of LXDE, suitable for old hardware, as is focused on using as few resources as possible.

Budgie – modern looks and moderate on system resources.

Rolling release vs fixed release

Rolling release Linux distros provides continuous software updates, allowing users to benefit of the latest features and bug fixing as soon as they are available. These distributions often uses up to date software repositories and can requires less time and effort for maintenance compared to the distributions that follow the fixing release model.

Most popular rolling release distros are: Arch, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Void Linux, Manjaro, Artix Linux, Solus, EndeavourOS.

A fixed release Linux distro is a type of Linux distribution that follows a more conservative and stable release model. In this model, a new version of the distribution is released after a fixed period of time. These releases are often supported with security updates and bug fixes for a longer period of time.

Distributions like Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Fedora follow this model.

The main advantage of using a rolling release distro is that you always have an up-to-date system and you you don’t need to do a version upgrade after some months or years, the main disadvantage is that the system is unstable as many packages have few tests as they are in the latest versions.

Other thigs to consider

There are Linux distros that includes specific software packages installed and/or includes tools, tweaks and optimizations that make them more suitable for some tasks.

For example there are gaming oriented distributions like Nobara, Drauger OS, Ubuntu GamePack and Fedora Games spin, other distributions that focus on multimedia like Ubuntu Studio, Fedora Design Suite, AV Linux.

How to test various Linux distributions

You don’t know which distribution is best for your needs and personal preferences? You would like to explore and test different Linux distributions?

Many Linux distributions offers a live mode so you can try them before install, you just need to “flash” the ISO image with tools like Rufus or Balena Etcher in order to create a bootable USB drive, then restart the PC with the device plugged in (please pay attention to your boot order in BIOS) and choose the live mode.

There is also a fantastic open source software for Windows and Linux called Ventoy. It creates a small boot partition + a storage partition that you can use to copy all the ISO files of the Linux distributions you want to test, you can use a pen drive or external hard disk. Attention: all the data will be erased by Ventoy during the preparation of the USB support! Once you boot from the USB support you just need to select the ISO and the image will be loaded.

Another way to try different Linux distributions is to use a software that allows to create virtual machines, like VirtualBox. You can find ready to use images on Linux VM Images and OSBoxes web sites.

Useful resources

DistroWatch – famous site to keep track of most used Linux distributions.

DistroSea – allows you to try different Linux distributions directly online!

Distrochooser – answer to various questions and at the end the site will suggest you the most suitable Linux distros based on your preferences.

If you already use Linux partecipate in the following poll!

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