Is there a best distro?

Yesterday, I had a good friend ask me What is the best Linux distribution to familiarize myself with Linux? This was not someone who is unfamiliar with technology, or UNIX for that matter, but someone who is one of us, which made the question difficult to answer.

What is the best Linux distribution? Not what is the best distribution for a server or what is the best distribution for a netbook, but what is the best general distribution. This made me step back and think for a couple of seconds. All of the distributions start from the same point. The kernel is essentially the same in every distribution, so that is not a differentiator. All of the distributions contain a selection of rich applications, and many distribution contain the same selection of applications, so that is not a clear discriminator.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I came to the conclusion that there are really only two discriminators between the distributions. Package management and initialization methodology, and neither makes one distribution better than the other.

In many ways, this discussion is like the battle of the editors. What is better, vi or Emacs? While you will get a lot of discussion, they are essentially the same. They each have their mission and their niche to fill. And similarly, when looking at a distribution to learn Linux with, there is no best for a general purpose distribution.

So here is your chance. What do you perceive as the best distribution? Based on past surveys we know that Ubuntu is one of the leading distributions, I want to know what makes one distribution better than the other. Be specific. Be polite.


David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack


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Maybe it's just me............ but I'll keep trying the distros

SergNH's picture

Maybe its just me but I have not found a Linux Distro to convince me to switch over completely. I have tried several over the last 8 years. And none of them have convinced me that they are better than M$ for me. No I am not on here to promote the "wonders of M$". But since XP came out my problems with Windows had been few and 9/10 it has been hardware failure. Yes! I have used Vista too and had no major complaints but will admit wasn't the OS that it was hyped to be. Maybe its cause I have been building my own PC's for the last 15 years. But I have never had all the problems that many other Windows users have had and that Linux users love to state as reasons to switch. And I have found plenty of legitimate free Windows programs to do everything I need to do.

That being said, I love the idea of Linux! I think that its great that there all kinds of distros out there to try for free. I don't believe the masses out there don't realize how much Linux is being used in everyday life. I find it awesome to use a LiveCD or USB to troubleshoot PC's. I just used it to rescue files of a friend's MAC that died. I am one that likes to figure things out but Linux sometimes pushes my patience with that. I have tried several over the years but none have won me over. Why? Well as I just said Linux sometimes takes more work that its worth to solve a particular issue. I've had the Linux version of BSOD. I have had Linux trash my hard drive killing my dual boot of Windows & Linux. Thats why whenever I try it now I install it on a seperate hard drive and launch it from bootup by just hitting one key. I have tried Fedora, Ubuntu, Gentoo? and Linux Mint. I know I have tried others but can't remember all of them.

I hope that Linux use among the average user grows and grows. I see it as a good healthy competition for Apple & Microsoft. That being said Linux still has uphill journey I believe.

Let me explain.... I would never install Linux for my mom. She is a college graduate & a dentist. But Windows is what she knows and still has questions for me on some of the easiest tasks. So being 1200 miles away there is no way I am putting Linux on her PC. So I don't believe its still quite ready for the average user. My mom probably represents a good portion of her age group

For better or worse M$ stepped in the right direction with Windows 7. I have it on a desktop and netbook. It was relatively fast install and is running smoothly on both. Again I don't usually have the problems that others do.Windows 7 may make the decision to switch to Linux not as easy as it might have been. Both PC's bootup in 30 seconds or under. Fast bootup has been a much hyped factor for Linux. Windows 7 has improved on that greatly.

It's the SSD's drives that will make bootup times a moot point. It's making bootup times of 5-15 seconds possible. I tried using a LiveCD installed on a USB thumb drive as having a way to bootup "instantly" to check email......,etc. but it actually to longer to bootup than windows off the hard drive. Why did I do this if I just said that windows 7 boots so fast on my netbook? I deal partially in PC retail and have to setup website accounts for customers. 25-30 seconds in front of a customer can seem like an me!

Linux users love to promote OpenOffice as great free alternative to Microsoft Office. It is but like MS Office most users don't ever need to use its full capabilities. With a Windows Live ID you can use MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, & OneNote for free. It is cloud computing and doesn't offer the full capablities as the install versions but will fit the needs of most users.

I like to tinker and think of new ways of doing things. Thats what drew me to Linux initially. Over the years I've had less reason to go to Linux for a solution. I continue to explore Linux as the new distros come out but just not as often. I say again I love the idea of Linux and always check out the Linux mags at the bookstore. Could I use Linux for my everyday use? Yes! But no distro has convinced me too yet.

Just my thoughts here and please remember I have not bashed Linux in any way.I have not tried to convince any to go with windows. These are just my reasons why I have not switched over. YES I did pay for windows 7 but I bought the family pack with 3 licenses which averages out just over $49 per PC. Thats a price I was willing to pay. And finally, as for the term "average user", if your posting on here..... you probably aren't an average user.

Mint for the newbie; Debian for the more experienced user

Anonymous's picture

For someone who has never used Linux before, I would always recommend Linux Mint. It just works. For those who are willing to invest a little more time, go with the distro that so many others (including Mint, ultimately) are based on...Debian. I was amazed at what a light footprint Debian has with an XFCE DE as compared to Mint and still VERY functional.

simple answer

Travis Elliott's picture

The best are Mint, crunchban, and archbang. In that order

Suse 11.3 kde.

Anonymous's picture

Farted around with Ubuntu, got it to work. Didn't like it, tried Mint. Mint wouldn't boot due to video error after 2 days. Back to Ubuntu. Tried Kubuntu. Didn't like the "Gifted high school student" look of either Gnome or KDE on buntu. Tried Opensuse. It has the polish and professionalism that you only see on Mac or Windows. I recommend KDE suse.

PCLinuxOS 2010

Tux Torch's picture

I started off with Ubuntu full out blown away my Windows XP. Only used Ubuntu until the 10.04 Edition came out. I hate how much it has changed and things that worked before are not working in this one. So I jumped ship to PCLinuxOS Gnome Edition 2010 and I haven't been happier!

Everything works out of the box, for newbies I suggest the KDE edition as to me KDE is more Windows like and Gnome is more Mac like.

I'm still trying to decide myself if I like Gnome or KDE better than the other. It's a tough choice. But other than that PCLinuxOS has everything that I had on Ubuntu and honestly I think my machine is faster!

For me, Linux Mint 8 takes

Anonymous's picture

For me, Linux Mint 8 takes first place. I had some issues with Linux Mint 7 that fortunately have been resolved "out of the box" with the release of Mint 8.
As for Netbook distros, Eeebutu 3. I haven't had any major issues so far, and can't wait for version no. 4 final which is due to be released quite soon. (version 4 is currently still in beta stage, for those who are interested in testing)

Pardus and Linux Mint.

johnh3's picture

I must say I think Linux Mint and Pardus are the best Linux distros avaible today.
Most because you can see a DVD movie etc.. Without install any meda codecs.
They work "out of the box"
If you prefeer the KDE desktop choose Pardus. And if you like Gnome then choose Linux Mint.

Ubuntu is fine to if you got some knowledge how to install the codecs yourself.

Arch Linux

Marko788's picture

Arch Linux,Linux Mint,PARDUS Linux,Crunchbang #! and Archbang.

you can not go wrong with these,with Arch Linux and Archbang you have the most up to date system all the time.With Mint you have peace of mind Pardus
is beautiful and functional and crunchban and archbang are just awesome.

MInt for ease .. Debian for stability

Sachin Garg's picture

I have used many linux distros (started with Red Hat 7.1 long back ago) including RH, ubuntu, mint, pclinuxos, fedora, debian, suse, mandrake and many more. I found that mint is best for newbies as well as simple home/office users. in fact it is the perfect M$ replacement for everyday computing. The only problem with it is if you have to compile a lot (and unsafe) of code... or you like to play with scripts and binaries mint became unstable and unreliable. So for advanced users and developers i'll recommend Debian.

+1 OpenSuse...

Anonymous's picture

I've tried Ubuntu, Debian, Slax.... None as OpenSuse.... it's the best I've tried, It's pretty simple to handle it and the YAST is awesome! even, opensuse for servers is excelent, I really recomend it!!

+1 Fedora

emmeppi's picture


for experts

for noobs
Ubuntu or Mint

for server

hey, here a lot of slakware & Mandriva fans, I thought that were a little out nowdays ;-)))

I have tried many different

Anonymous's picture

I have tried many different distros, Arch, Ubuntu/Kubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Sabayon, Puppy, Salix, Zenwalk... and what I've noticed differs in addition to what you mentioned are installation method (easy gui, compiling from source, ect...) as well as what desktop environment is the distribution most focused on (Salix = XFCE, Ubuntu = Gnome, ect...). Personally I think there is no "best distro" in general but instead there is a "best distro" for each individual.


mith's picture

For me Gentoo is the choice, because it is highly configurable and I can perform optimizations not only for the kernel, but for every part of the operating system while still using a package manager. I always get the newest updates just in time, so my systems are always up to date.



Jagosix's picture

Hello People. I have been trying various flavor of linux distros for years. I'm always comparing them to Windows (XP, Vista, 7) & MAC OSX. I look at the ease of use, configuration, application availabilty..etc.. all the things a Window/MAC user needs. Now don't fool yourself into thinking people are going to install some linux distros like Windows or MAC. It's not happening.

That said, My experiences with the distros have been very educational, informative and Fun. Out of all the distros that I've tried (I've tried plenty over the years), the top distros in my category is as follows.

1. PCLinux OS
2. Ubuntu
3. Mepis
4. Linux Mint
5. GOS 3.1

Now people don't get your panties twisted, these are my personal best. Some of you might or might not agree. Do what works for you. My kids prefer Ubuntu . I prefer PClinuxOS. I also have a MAC that doesn't have OSX installed. Instead it has Ubuntu for the PowerPC. It works great. It found all the hardware and installed without any hiccups. How many linux distros can install on a mac (G4) and PC while maintaining ease of use? Not many. But hey, enjoy whatever distro you can use.

I Vote For PCLinuxOS

Deris Alam's picture

For myself a linux newbie (lazy to learn all unix command)PCLinuxOS were superb among other linux flavour. Installing it's on pendrive or hard drive were smooth.

Thanks for the developer who make it happen for m$ user.

You nailed it.

jasonkoyne's picture

Love GOS, Mint, Ubuntu and PC Linux OS (except PC Linux OS is a stupid name haha).

PCLinuxOS is not a stupid

G2D2's picture

PCLinuxOS is not a stupid name; it helps make Linux newbies (who have used only Windows) less hesitant to try out a new OS.Heck, I would just have called it "PC Linux" and left out the "OS"...most newbies don't know what that is.

I'd vote for Mint here. I

Anonymous's picture

I'd vote for Mint here. I used a handful of distros when I was finding my way around linux and I kept going back to Mint.

I've converted a few windowsers with it and I think it works well enough out of the box to keep most people happy.


Guerau Cabrera's picture

I learned Linux with Red Hat 6.. and extended my knowledge through most of the 7.x. I think the key to learning the system was that the graphical interfaces were not so great, and the hardware I had available sucked. Also, dependencies weren't resolved automatically so I had a lot of frustrating nights trying to install many things. I learned the essence of compiling, and lost my fear of really SCREWING SOMETHING UP. If it's a windows machine and you screw something up, I really wouldn't know how to fix it without re-installing. On Linux, basically you need a running system, network access and a terminal... everything else can go (except ls and ftp maybe), and you can rebuild your system.

So the point is, even though I am a big fan of Kubuntu, I KNOW what's going on because I had to sweat it like the pros on a command line. I think any distribution that requires a bit of studying and dedication is a great way to learn.

(don't even ask me about IPCHAINS!)

There are no 'the best' distro, they just BEST!

ajhwb's picture

I hate to say what the best Linux distribution, based on my work, i use Debian based system to develop some of my applications, one of Debian purpose is to provide stable system, so they don't always use new version. It's the trade-off. For new version and features, i try another distro: Fedora. Bring new version and features for me with a lot update/patch every day ;p.

I think, you can say what the best distro if it satisfy your need!

Best Linux distro ?

Anonymous's picture

It has to be Mandriva. Everything works, music, video it goes on and on. I just plug the new feature in and Mandriva knows what to do. I am addicted to KDE 3.5 so I have to take care with this installation. More experience and help out there for Mandriva. I'll place my Mandriva desktop up against any other Linux desktop and any Mac or Windows machine.

vote for linux mint

MT Krivas's picture

vote for linux mint

Debian sid has always been

Anonymous's picture

Debian sid has always been my choice, the occasional hiccup but the continuous stream of updates means i don't have to worry about making big jumps from version to version like in ubuntu.

Debian could do with a bit more bling.

Linux Mint 8 - to draw Windows uses over!

MrD's picture

I tried ubuntu 9.04 on my low end laptop, but had multimedia issues, mainly flash, that restricted my enjoyment watching catchup tv on the main of sites which used flash to deliver video. A girl I know said to try Mint, things got slightly better but still no joy. Ubuntu 9.10 came out and I tried that, fought briefly to install everything to watch media and the problem was virtually gone! As soon as Mint 8 came out and was tested I slapped that on and have been fine so far.

At the moment, you could persuade a lot of windows users to come over to Linux with Linux Mint! Easy to install, easy to use, almost setup for most pc's after an install. A few things they do themselves with Windows installs like GPU and wifi driver installs. Then when they are comfortable and have read up about Linux in general over time they can try some of the harder to use distros if they so choose. There are however some issues some windows users might not be able to stomach. The loss of some of their games, those that won't work in wine or similar. The need to learn Gimp over Photoshop or Paint.NET. The lack of a really decent video editing software in a similar vein to, say, Sony Vegas. and also the odd small programs they like to use on a daily/weekly/even yearly basis.

I think we're pretty secure now in saying that M$ will never be able to develop and sell another commercial OS again as the tide is about to turn. Their monopoly will end. It's almost time to find a good AV program as the writers target their viruses and malware towards linux users when they inevitably go up in numbers.........

Have you tried Openshot for

Anonymous's picture

Have you tried Openshot for video editing? It's almost as easy to use as Movie Maker.

From someone who has been

Anonymous's picture

From someone who has been using several UNIX distributions since 1993.

Slackware was and is the most reliable Linux distro.
- Pro: Configurable the way you want it. And damn reliable.
- Con: A newbie will be flipping through pages of text to get things working.

Ubuntuu and all these new distros are aiming for users who could really care less about the old school way of configurations, command lines, and non-graphical interfaces. They are looking for a Windows replacement, with point and click functions.

UNIX distributions in GENERAL were not meant to be user friendly. They were meant to be learned, skilled, and owned. Mastering:) It's apparent whose from younger generations and whose from newer, and I think in general its a beautiful thing to see where Linux has come from, and what it has evolved to today!!

And don't forget BSD, the little UNIX that could. Same reliability as Slackware, just slightly less compatible.

Have a great day, and a good discussion!!

I found a lot of linux

rouchi's picture

I found a lot of linux ebooks here!
they have some networking books for the ccna cisco teste too
if someone knows a good site let me know

Linux Is A Weapon Of Mass Instruction

Ricanstruction2001's picture

I love the Linux Kernel and feel Open Source is doing much to help bridge the Digital Divide and to Educate much of our planet.
Ubuntu was the first distro I've tried and fell in love with it.I dumped Microsoft Windows immediately, as I felt only a masochist would put up with MS Windows, and all it's issues such as anti-virus scanners, spam issues, spyware, instability, high costs, etc,etc.
I've tested many other Linux O.S. during the 4 years after "converting" to the Penguin. Ultimate Ed. is a wonderful distro that even works on my HP-Mini-2133 which is probably the lamest netbook around in terms of low processing power. That tiny machines WiFi card picks up TONS of signals, and is pre-bundled with tons of programs. I also have an Acer Aspire 8930G 64 bit laptop, but unfortunately Ubuntu V.9.10 would not produce "sound" nor using Ultimate Edition V.2.2.
There is a very fine new distro being tested by invitation only, called Jolicloud Alpha "Robbie", which I love! It's designed primarily for netbooks, but my high-end Acer works well with it, even playing sounds again! :) So there it doubles with Ultimate Ed. V.2.2. (the Ubuntu does not give me sound however...major dissapointment.)
Mint 6 is wonderful, as is gOS3, that one is a winner as well. I love the "looks" of Sabayon, but I have NOT succeeded in installing it in any of my computers. (3) Open Suse does look great, as does Fedora. The Ubuntu Christian Edition is a very beautiful distro, and it's great if protecting your children from "adult" sites is of any importance to you. Xubuntu's desktop is quite beautiful and it's a great distro as well. Edubuntu is a most promising distro for your children as well.(educational programs are available)
Bottom Line amigos: ANY LINUX Distro is BETTER than any Microsoft Windows O.S. in my opinion, and in these difficult economic times,is available at the RIGHT PRICE! Forget about wasting time and resources with anti-virus, anti-spyware software issues, etc. Linux Rulz!! God Bless Mr. Linus Torvalds and co.....If your a masochist, "Go Ahead, Make My Day"...give your hard earned cash to that billionaire over on the "left coast"....:)

Best Linux Distro

mzsade's picture

Without a doubt, Mint 7, because i am used to Gnome, otherwise it would be difficult to choose between it and Crunchbang. Driver installation is a cinch in both, and there's no need to look for codecs or install anything to play media.

my fave

Anonymous's picture

I love Debian myself. It has challenges which appeal to me. For the novice user though I would probably recommend Ubuntu. I had trouble installing Mandrake a few years ago. Red Hat is ok, its too commerical for me. I say try them all and what works best is up to each user.

Best! Schmest!

Norm Mareeba's picture

How about one that just works!

I bought a new laptop recently that was reputed to a bit of a dog, but it had features I really liked. Even the reviewers said that the hardware was better than expected for the price. It came with Vista installed.

Well, I figured I'll blow away Vista and install TinyXP and it aught to fly. Not a bad plan but the Device Manager was full of Yellow explanation marks - meaning no matching device drivers or unknown devices. After much searching I found that the device manufacturers weren't writting drivers for XP any more - only Vista and Win7. Bugger!

OK, I thought, time to go to Linux. I've been moving in that direction for sometime now - getting rid of MS programs and specifically chosing replacements that were also written for Linux.

Off to DistroWatch, and download any distro that was recent, runs 64bit and is for beginners or desktop.

TRIED THEM ALL! Anying based on Slackware froze on the install. Fedora 12 went in nice but wouldn't play some multi-media files due to copyright isues. The Ubuntu distros wouldn't activate my video card enhancements. Couldn't even download Mandriva - Fat32 and "disk full" issue (Fat32 can't take a file bigger than 4GB). Some were just plain BloatWare, some were so bare that I thought I was back in the Win3.1 days.

Anyway, all the distros had errors, one way or another. Install errors, hardware driver prolems, bug reports, crashes, freeze-ups, you name it.

Say what you want about MS and Windows but take any computer, wack in the install disk, and it works.

After two months of trying to find the "Perfect Linus Distro", I'd have to say it doesn't exist.


Sounds Like a Sony Vaio "P" - thinking there are Linux solutions

Anonymous's picture

Even if not the Vaio P, there tend to be groups of Linux users of particular notebook brands/models who help each other get one or another distro running on that model. You need to put in a bit of effort to search for such communities, join, and participate in the ongoing "solutions".

If Fedora's only issue was the proprietary codecs, as someone else pointed out, it is easy enough to find, download and install what is needed for those. Then you could have been off and running...

Don't give up so easily - Linux does take a little bit of effort sometimes, but far less than even a few years ago, and the freedom from M$ is usually well worth it.


P.S.: If that is a Vaio P, there are XP drivers, but you will have to search for them just as you would for Linux - Google is your friend...

missing device drivers

Anonymous's picture

you wanted Windows XP ( now some eight years old - hey, Debian, no worries about the users looking for "much recent software" ). No Vista or Win7 - why not? "They might just work" - hmm? "Show me the money!"
How much time would it have taken to install all missing device drivers in TinyXP? More than reading the documentation and installing the missing codecs in Fedora?
Oh dear..

My favourite distribution is Debian. Why?

Debian is stable. Period.
Unix systems separate the root user and common user - no "sudo" nonsense in Debian. If I type root at login, I know what I'm doing. Being God, that is.

Besides, finding "The Perfect Linus Distro" is a never ending story. Or was it Linux..? GNU/Linux?

The basic question was really good: is there a best distro?
My answer would be:
If you value freedom, choose Debian. If you value ease of use, choose Ubuntu. Whatever your values are, Linux accomodates to them - you just have to figure it out yourself.
Remember, a penguin pecked Linus Torvalds sorely in the hand when Linus was trying to touch it.
Mac OSX and Windows are TV-dinners - Linux is a chunk_of_beef/vegetable/fish/"you name it" you have cook and season to your taste. Oops, correction - Mac comes with a kitchen with appliances to Apples liking which you have to accomodate to your house; "Intel Schmintel".

"Off to DistroWatch, and

Anonymous's picture

"Off to DistroWatch, and download any distro that was recent, runs 64bit and is for beginners or desktop."

And naturally you absolutely needed this version with your "bit of a dog but still +4G memory laptop" then I guess?

"Fedora 12 went in nice but wouldn't play some multi-media files due to copyright isues."

Oh, for the love of...

"Couldn't even download Mandriva - Fat32 and "disk full" issue (Fat32 can't take a file bigger than 4GB)"

Quite, Microsoft really need to replace that format, it just does not work anymore. The file is for DVD!

But why waste a write on an expensive DVD for a free beer OS when Vista is just 200$ anyway.

Or why not simply go for the CD version Mandriva at well under FAT32 limit size. Ah yes, the lack of whine adding value.

"Say what you want about MS and Windows but take any computer, wack in the install disk, and it works."

Yes, Im sure this is why Vista 7 runs perfectly well after being installed from a FAT32 USB memory onto some old Neoware CA2 but no Linux does.

Second Linux Mint for newbee

Anonymous's picture

Linux Mint is what got me free of Windows forever! It is based on Ubuntu but has many improvements and enhancements. I've used both 6 (Felicia) and 7 (Gloria) with no issues. It comes pre-installed with all the proprietary codecs.

BTW-you gave up too early on Fedora, it like many Linux Distros come "free" which means no proprietary codecs installed. One quick visit to their package manager would have gotten you all the codecs for running flash, mp3, dvd, etc. in very little time

I'm personally using Mandriva One 2010 right now and it is quite good

If you require a proprietary

Anonymous's picture

If you require a proprietary driver for your wireless network card, then a newbie/windows user needs to do research on the internet (via a winpc that does have a wireless driver) about how he gets his wireless card working on Linux and for many newbies that's a pain (if you don't have a working network card, package manager can't download proprietary drivers/codecs either). Linux Mint 8 is the best distro for me because I can start right away listening to my imported iTunes tracks (m4a), watching my xvid/divx movies, editing my Office docs, surfing the web etc; and it just looks beautiful. Think indeed that Mint 8 is the most attractive and easy to use linux distro for newbies. Ubuntu, in my opinion, is not an attractive distro and not suitable to persuade Windows users to step over to the Linux platform.
Here's my top 5:
1. Linux Mint 8
2. Mandriva
3. Suse OpenLinux
4. Kubuntu
5. Sabayon

Best distro for people who want to migrate from windows

chrisO's picture

May I suggest the New LINUX MINT HELENA ...............

Based on Ubuntu 9.10, but without the problems of installing the codecs, as they are included !!!!
Very easy to use and everything works out of the Box,
Yes there are a few tweaks to do if you want Compiz fusion,to work ,but it is very easy to do.

There are some brilliant apps you can download for freeeeeeeeeee ..from the repositories.
Proven Faster boot up time and shut down than MS7.
Dont Judge Linux that were on the early netbooks ! I have installed Kubuntu KDE 4.3.2 on an EEPC netbook
and I have the revolving cube,wobbly windows and many compiz functions, dont think WIN 7 could match that !!!

wew...nice question actually

zenwalk's picture

wew...nice question
actually if we talk about the good n best distro it's about SUPPORT and Documentation . It doesnt matter what your distro as long you got good support from then it's good.

so, no matter what is our distro. If we dont get support, i believe we will leave the distro we use now

I think that's why Windows still dominating for client side OS.

Im not Angel either demon just human

My Name Is Gaous Afrizal from Indonesia

hard question

Anonymous's picture

No perfect distribution for casual windows users as they seem to be terrified to use Linux. As much as possible the OS has to be fully functional from the time of installation.

For gnome -> Mint
For KDE -> Mepis, PCLinuxOS, Mandriva

linux from scratch .. its

Anonymous's picture

linux from scratch .. its what seperates men from n00bs ..

best linux

Anonymous's picture

Best linux distro is the one you are used to! At least during the first year. After that all are similar and the question becomes: Which is best? KDE or Gnome? And again, the answer is the one you are used to!

Started in 1995 with Red Hat and Slackware, moved to SuSE, then to Mandrake, then back to SuSE, then to PCLinux, then back to SUSE, then to Ubuntu, found it ungly, changed to Kubuntu.... Now I run several machines, all with different distros (SuSE, Mandriva, Kubuntu, plus a netbook with Ubuntu Remix and another with Debian). Yes, I settled for KDE and I love it!


wankel's picture

For the desktop, Slackware is obviously best since no one can mistake it for Windows. With all the crap that is now released in a broken state, Slackware is a relief.

Debian is also best for these who prefer to config less since it is obviously GNU/Linux. And it is so stable that it is boring. That's a plus! I hope Shuttleworth is not able to get control of Debian, as everything he touches turns an ugly brown.

The desktop distros that do not have a commercial hind end are the best.

There are some boutique distros out there that are superb. Pays to look around.

Best Linux Distro - Mint

vickielle's picture

I recently changed from MS to Linux to see what was new, having tried Linux many years ago. To find a new operating system for my home desktop PC I
tried many distros (KDE & Gnome) ...Freespire, PCLinux, Mint, Mempis, Puppy, Open Suse, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva. After trying all these distros the one that worked best for me and my PC was Linux Mint 7 (Gnome). After running the Live CD I had no problems installing the operating system to my hard drive and everything just seemed to work straight out of the box. Many of the other distros I tried were fine but having changing from MS I found Mint to be by far the easiest conversion.
If you are new to Linux then I would highly recommend Linux Mint.

Best linux distro?

Anonymous's picture

I have been around linux for a while and I must say from the first distro I touched to what we have today, there have been tremndous improvements, but when we say best distro, we must consider what use it will be given and who operates it, in my opinion each mayor distro has its own purpose, some are focused on developing, some on networking/server, some are for the general community. On the other hand if you do have programming experience you can modify and customize your own version and adapt it to your needs, but then again what part of the Linux community are we adressing? or are we even adressing some of the Windows community that want to experiment with linux?

In my opinion if we are talking about a general distro that fits the term "best distro" I would have to mention Linux Mint for a couple of different reasons :

1- It is very user friendly and can be configured to be used with most of the popular devices such as laptop webcams, fingerprint readers, graphic cards etc.

2- Linux Mint has a large amount of resources that can be obtained from Debain, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu and can also handle compiling from source packages.

2- Most Linux distros do not work 100% out of the box when you try the live cd. Linux Mint works about 80% on average out of the box with sound, video and all the bells and whistles which is very eyepopping to the newcomer.

3- The initial installation is very easy, does not require a lot of configuration and handles "in MS-windows install" very well which gives the newcomer a very pleasent inroduction into Linux.

4- The option to run dual boot systems with linux mint and windows is almost standard in this distro.

5- and this is in my opinion THE most important point, DOCUMENTATION, it is widely available from Debian, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu and probably some others, most of the sofware used in linux mint comes from these main distros and the help and documentation can be found widely on the web.

Now keep im mind I am talking about this distro because I am trying to keep it as general as possible,think of the general community, newcomers and without going into distros that are specialized for specific purposes

Best Linux Distro

Anonymous's picture

For older or underpowered hardware try Zenwalk. Meets all of my needs and I am happy with it. I also use Ubuntu at work--much better connectivity to the Winblows world.


Shawn Lucas's picture

From what I'm reading, there is no necessarily "best" distro of Linux. There are, however, many favorites. I would venture a bet that most of the favorites are the first distro that people tried, the one that their friends or friends' friends told them about that ultimately pulled them from whatever other OS they were using at the time. I've used Linux off and on for many, many years and I have to say that I'm currently very enamored with Ubuntu. Then again, I've just burned an install disk for Fedora and Linux Mint and I'm in the process of installing them on my system too to see how they differ and if they are better for me. Interesting question.


sgontch's picture

I tried several different ones, and set my heart on Mint though I have to reinstall it twice due to my desire to optimize it before hand. SG

Best Distro

subverted's picture

I have tried many but Ubuntu or debian based distros are the most stable. I would just use stable Debian, but as a GIMP fanatic, I find the outdated version of GIMP under Debian makes it unappealing. I actually currently use Ubuntu Mint. Though I used Fedora for some months. Fedora was my favorite for a long time, just because it was sort of an eccentric distro. Really though, the main attraction to Debian, is simply that most software is made for Debian systems. Like if I want to use Kurso De Esperanto, an Esperanto language learning program, it has a Windows executable and a Debian. It doesnt have a BSD version. I'm rather interested in BSD, but for universal usability, people arent making BSD compatible software otherwise I might have OpenBSD installed. CrunchBang is another interesting Debian offshoot. I have that as a Virtual Machine in VirtualBox. Unless developers of 3rd party software start making it compatible with something other than Debian, Ubuntu distros will be my choice.

As far as I know there is no

Anonymous's picture

As far as I know there is no such thing as a Debian executable, did you meant a .deb file or what, if it's open source software and it was made with posix compatibility in mind it can be compiled on every Unix-like system.

I think you mean Linux Mint.

mahutchinson's picture

I think you mean Linux Mint. Mint is not produced by Ubuntu.