What are the best Linux distributions for beginners?
I have been asked this question a number of times by It’s FOSS readers. I often answer to this question with Ubuntu, Linux Mint, elementary OS or other less known Linux distributions based on Ubuntu. The discussion often revolves around Ubuntu vs Linux Mint.
But last month an It’s FOSS reader, David Barr, asked me to suggest best Linux for beginners that are not based on Ubuntu or Debian. That question results in this article where I am going to list some beginner friendly Linux distributions not based on Ubuntu. These are best suited when have already started to use Linux and you want to use something else. something that is not in *buntu domain.
Non-Ubuntu Linux distributions for beginners
What are the criteria to define a ‘beginner-friendly’ Linux distribution? For me, it spins around the following:
- Ease of installation
- Hardware compatibility
- Running out of the box
- Useful software installed by default
- Available community support
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So, here we go with the list. For the sake of mentioning, this list is not in any specific order.
Antergos is my latest favorite Linux distribution. Antergos is not really a new distribution. It was previously known as Cinnarch and was providing Arch plus Cinnamon desktop combination.
Based on Arch Linux, Antergos has its own easy to use installer (still in beta) which makes the job of installing easier. It comes in 6 desktop flavors which you can choose at the time of installation with GNOME being the default in the live version.
Antergos has partnered with Numix theme which further enhances its looks. Runs out of box with enough applications to keep you going. A lot has been thought about branding of the OS as well and it is quite visible in its website and a good looking forum. The community needs to grow more to provide more support. There are not many tutorials available specifically for Antergos, forget about blogs specifically focusing on Antergos.
For the reasons of simplicity to use and focus on brand management, I have termed it Ubuntu of Arch Linux world. And it indeed has the merit to become a good alternative to Ubuntu for beginners and experienced alike.
2. Manjaro Linux
While we are talking about Arch Linux, we have another Arch based Linux distribution that have gained a huge fan following recently. It is beginner focused and comes in KDE, XFCE and Net desktop environments. Other flavors like GNOME, LXDE, Mate etc are also available from community.
Manjaro also provides its own installer for easy installation. Default installation has most of the software already installed. For more software, it also has a GUI based software managers.
The most interesting ting about Manjaro Linux is that it is yet to see its first stable release, but it already has a cult following for its aim to make Arch Linux usable for newbies. The goal is evident from the tagline “enjoy the simplicity”.
Fedora has often been termed as the true Ubuntu competitor in desktop Linux world. Like Ubuntu is backed by Canonical, Fedora is sponsored by commercial Linux provider, Red Hat. Similar to Ubuntu, there are several Linux distribution based on Fedora.
Fedora also provides its own installer and plenty of applications installed by default. It also has its own graphical package manager for beginners to install software easily.
As per DistroWatch, Fedora is the third most popular Linux distribution.
Korora came into existence ten years back with the desire to “make Linux easier for new users, while still being useful for experts”. Initially based on Gentoo, in 2010 Korora was re-released as a Fedora Remix.
Apart from the default Fedora repositories, it also ships various packages, media codecs and proprietary software that helps to make it run out of the box.
Korora comes in five official flavors, GNOME, Cinnamon, KDE, Mate and Xfce.
If you are apprehensive about Fedora and want to try something more friendly, Korora could be worth a try.
PCLinuxOS has been the most popular choice among beginners to Linux in the previous decade. Don’t get me wrong, it is still popular but not the same anymore. The newer Linux entrants tend to go more for Ubuntu or Linux Mint than PCLinuxOS.
PCLinuxOS was initially based on Mandriva Linux but over the time it got evolved on its own and doesn’t based on Mandriva anymore.
It comes in different desktop flavors with KDE being the default. It also has a huge number of applications and games installed by default. Synaptic is the only graphical package manager for installing new software.
openSUSE is the open source, community based Linux distribution backed by commercial Linux provider SUSE.
With its own installer, openSUSE provides option to choose desktop environments among KDE, GNOME, XFCE and LXDE. openSUSE comes with a number of applications installed by default and is hardware compatible with most vendors.
It also has a huge community providing support, tutorials and documentations.
While might not be the most ideal beginner friendly Linux to start with, it is definitely worth a try if you have even slight experience of desktop Linux.
How do you like this list of Ubuntu alternative Linux distributions for beginners? Which one of the above do you think could be the Ubuntu (or Debian) competitor?