So many choices
There are many Linux distributions (distros) out there, and I am often asked: “I have a ‘xxx’ computer, and I am just starting out (or I know something about Linux), what Linux distro is best for me?” Making that decision is very difficult for the person and for me making the recommendation.
There are several things to consider when choosing a Linux distro:
- Your computer: If it is an older computer, there are Linux distributions that can handle older hardware.
- Level of Expertise: How technical are you with the operating system? Beginners may not be comfortable using the command line in a terminal (and memorizing commands).
- What do you want to do with the OS: Linux can do a lot. Do you want to just browse the internet? Are you looking for something to program applications? Are you into creating graphics or videos? There are distributions for all of those and more.
Let’s take a look at some Linux distros
Here are some for the beginners out there:
This is one for beginners and more advanced users. It is great for security and privacy right “out of the box”. If you have an older computer, this is not the distro for you.
Some great things about Pop!_OS
- Full disk encryption is the default
- Great for gamers
- Minimal programs are installed. Choose your favorites from the Pop!_Shop (their custom intuitive app store).
- Compatible with Nvidia hardware and ships with the proprietary driver for the hardware.
- Hybrid graphics to get the most out of your hardware.
- Keyboard-controlled desktop.
- Only 64-bit – older architecture is not supported
Ubuntu is another good choice for a beginner’s Linux distro. It also has a “software center” to download programs from, making it easy for a beginner to decide the programs they want.
Good things about Ubuntu
- Good Wi-Fi support
- Gnome improvements make the system easier to use
- Both short and long term distributions—long term distribution is stable and has 5 year support lifetime.
- Wonderful documentation on the Ubuntu site
- Loaded with many programs—some programs you might want to replace with others
MX Linux is a great starting point to get into Linux when you have older hardware. There are three different distributions of MX Linux to select from; Fluxbox (which is good for older hardware), KDE (which supports great graphics using the Plasma desktop) and XFCE (a middle weight desktop).
Positive things about MX Linux
- Choice of desktops for hardware and usability to choose from.
- Based on a stable version of Debian, which is known for its solid reputation in the Linux community.
- A collection of powerful and handy “MX Tools” that cover a range of actions from Boot Options to Repository management.
- Support for 32-bit (older hardware)
Just one drawback
- With older hardware, the load times are long
More advanced users
For those Linux enthusiasts that have experience and like to get their hands dirty at the command line, there are several distributions that you might want to take a look at if you haven’t already.
Arch Linux is known for its bleeding-edge technology. Users get early-bird access to beta software and other software that is pending release on other systems.
Advantages to installing Arch Linux
- Light-weight desktop
- Rolling distribution—you get the latest updates fast!
- Totally customizable
Something to consider
- Skeletal operating system (when you start off)—you have to install most everything you want from the command line.
An Arch based Linux distribution that is new, but has a lot of great features.
Advantages of using EndeavourOS
- The online installer that lets you choose between the Gnome, KDE, Deepin, Budgie, Cinnamon, Mate, LXQT, i3 desktops.
- Nvidia’s hardware is fully supported.
- EndeavourOS ships with many of the desktop essentials, unlike Arch’s bare-bones approach.
- One of the distro’s best features is the welcome application that has links to documentation, and several crucial post-installation tasks, including the ability to add popular apps such as Gimp and LibreOffice
- There is no graphical package manager.
Summing it all up
“What Linux distro is right for me?” The answer depends on you, the hardware you are using and what you want to do with it. I hope that I have given you a few options that are out there. Becoming adept at Linux will make you safer online and protect your privacy. The journey towards not being locked into paying for software begins with knowledge of this open source world.
Do you have a “favorite” that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments below.