Which Linux to choose in 2022?
That’s a good question. Because yes, even if Linux has only existed since 1991, it has evolved enormously and above all has been available in different versions which are also called distributions and which each have their own strengths and particularities.
In this article, I suggest that we review all of the current desktop distributions available to beginners so that you can determine if this is THE Linux distro that is right for you to replace your current operating system.
Which version of linux to choose?
- Linux Mint
- Elementary OS
- KDE Neon
- MX Linux
- Linux Lite
- Windows FX
- Qubes OS
- Raspberry Pi OS
- Zorin OS
- What about the other distro?
- How to test all these Linux distributions?
Need to point out that the person installing it needs to know what they need to do, what hardware they have, and will the distro support what they want to do.
Good reading !
Ubuntu – The classic especially in Live USB
I obviously start with Ubuntu, because with Debian it is one of my favorite operating systems. Ubuntu is a Debian-based GNU Linux distribution which, along with Red Hat, is undoubtedly one of the most well-known to the general public with an abundance of documentation.
It was in 2004 that Mark Shuttleworth assembled a small team of Debian developers who together founded Canonical and set out to create an easy-to-use Linux desktop called Ubuntu.
Edited by Canonical, this version of Linux is intended to be easy to use by all and has a good selection of preinstalled tools that will allow you to use it as is. As a confirmed Linux user, I also find my account there.
Ubuntu is an ancient African word which means “humanity towards others”. He is often described as reminding us that “I am who I am because of who we all are.” We bring the spirit of Ubuntu to the world of computers and software. Ubuntu community distribution represents the best of what the global software community has shared with the world.
On the interface side, Ubuntu defaults to GNOME, which gives it a look that Windows users won’t mind, but if GNOME isn’t your cup of tea, I invite you to take a look at Kubuntu or Lubuntu.
Ubuntu is primarily designed for beginners and therefore is very suitable for people inexperienced with computers. It is a fairly reliable system that has all the benchmarks of a Windows or a macOS, from managing updates, to the file manager, including the desktop and its taskbar.
The community is quite large and you will find no hassle help if you need it. Note that Ubuntu can be launched live, that is to say, run directly from a DVD or a USB key without having to install it, which can allow you to make up your mind before adopting it definitively.
Ubuntu exists in several versions which are released following a well-established development cycle (in April and October each year). By default it works with Gnome, but if you opt for Kubuntu you will have the KDE desktop manager. With Ubuntu MATE you will have the MATE environment found with Linux Mint. And if you opt for Lubuntu you will have a much lighter environment with LXQt. And if you want to go even further in saving machine resources, Xubuntu will be your friend with the Xfce window manager. So it’s up to you to choose the GNU Linux distribution that best suits the performance of your machine.
Ubuntu was the first operating system to commit to releasing versions at a predictable rate, every six months, starting in October 2004. In 2006, Canonical decided that one in four versions, every two years, would benefit from long-term support for large-scale deployments. This is the origin of the term LTS, which designates stable and maintained versions.
Most of my tutorials and the tools I present on my site work on this GNU Linux distribution.
- ✅ For beginners
- ✅ Easy to install
- ✅ A pleasant graphical interface
Linux Mint – My best especially if you are wondering which distribution to choose for an old PC
Linux Mint is my second favorite GNU distribution. Based on Ubuntu itself, it comes with a sleek desktop environment and will work straight away when installed.
As with Ubuntu you can try it live and it also integrates full multimedia support including proprietary codecs to play audio or video formats, proprietary plugins such as flash and Realplayer and also proprietary Nvidia or ATI drivers which are not free either and that most of the time people have a bit of trouble installing under other distributions. Its development cycle is modeled on that of Ubuntu.
It is therefore a Linux which is even easier to learn and which has above all a conservative approach to updates and package installations, thus reducing maintenance and regressions.
Linux Mint is less popular than Ubuntu, but from my perspective this GNU distro is better than Ubuntu when it comes to robustness and speed.
- ✅ For those new to Linux
- ✅ Easy to configure
- ✅ Reliable and supporting proprietary hardware
Solus – Fast Linux
Solus was designed for Desktop use only. Solus is intended for everyday use (surfing, multimedia) as well as for people who work from home and need office tools. LibreOffice is also included in the install. Developers will also find their account there with IDEs like Atom or Visual Studio Code or even tools like Git already present.
If you are a graphic designer or musician, you will also find animation tools such as Synfig Studio , Musescore or even Inkscape or Shotcut . Finally, gamers can easily connect their controllers and start playing games available on Itch.io, Lutris or Steam .
- ✅ For beginners
- ✅ For creatives
- ✅ For small machines
elementary OS – The too pretty distro
elementary OS is based on Ubuntu so it looks a lot like it in terms of accessibility. But it has a very slick look resembling what you can find in macOS. It’s nice what… but not only since it embeds all the general public software that you could need: Epiphany, a super light web browser, an email client, a calendar, an iTunes clone, a darkening video player the rest of the screen when you play the video (theater mode), a photo library without forgetting their home AppStore which will allow you to install whatever you want.
You will understand, elementaryOS does not bring anything technologically extraordinary, but it is an excellent GNU distribution for normal people who have a classic use of their PC … Surfing, office automation, multimedia … etc.
- ✅ Hyper general public
- ✅ With everything you need to operate “out of the box”
- ✅ A very sober and pretty design
The new KDE Neon is the GNU Linux distribution developed by the company behind the KDE Desktop Manager. We can therefore find KDE in a number of versions of Linux. KDE Neon is therefore a distro which is based on the latest Ubuntu LTS and which includes the KDE Plasma window manager.
This open source distribution which uses the KDE Plasma environment is very similar to Kubuntu, but the difference is in the freshness of the KDE tools available. The rest of the OS is managed by Canonical since it is Ubuntu behind.
Contrary to what one might think, KDE is light and very pleasant to use, because its library of tools, whose name often begins with a K, covers a lot of different needs.
- ✅ For beginners, even more with the KDE Plasma desktop environment
- ✅ Hyper stable and long term (LTS)
- ✅ The richness of the KDE application ecosystem
Pop Os – Perfect for beginners
Based on Ubuntu, Pop! _OS is a commercial (but free) distribution of Linux designed for creators. Whether you are a musician, graphic designer, 3D modeler, science researcher or writer, PopOS will satisfy you. The OS that uses GNOME Shell offers intelligent window management that saves time, different workspaces, keyboard navigation and more.
No personal info collected, and the drive is encrypted by default. Note that for gamers, it is also an interesting GNU distribution since it manages AMD and Nvidia GPUs out of the box. What also makes it possible to charm people who like deep learning, with the presence by default of CUDA and Tensorflow.
- ✅ Easy to install
- ✅ Imagined for creators
- ✅ Great for gamers
Whether you are an experienced user or a perfect beginner, Manjaro based on Arch may be the distro that will suit you since its mission is to offer the general public a professional quality OS, i.e. hyper stable ( as a Red Hat would be), efficient and easy to access. The fact that it is based on Arch is a guarantee of quality in terms of its code and also a very serious monitoring of updates including security although it is in rolling release, i.e. with cycles of very close development.
Manjaro users will find that they also have full control over their PC, meaning the ability to customize every graphical aspect of it to selecting the updates you need.
- ✅ Based on Arch Linux
- ✅ Accessible to beginners
- ✅ Hyper customizable
Deepin is a Chinese distro which was released in 2004. Based on Debian, Deepin mixes open source with proprietary tools like Spotify or Steam as well as tools from Wuhan Deepin Technology company like WPS Office or CrossOver from CodeWeavers . Now there are some other cool GNU Linux distributions for people who REALLY want to learn about Linux in depth or just want to put it on a server.
Note that if it is only the graphical interface that you like and you want to avoid data collection.
- ✅ Very polished interface
- ❌ Attention, collection of personal data that goes to China
Based on Arch, Garuda Linux is another GNU Linux distribution maintained by a handful of developers around the world, which installs very easily and lets you choose the desktop environment that suits you from: KDE, Xfce, GNOME, LXQt -kwin, Wayfire, Qtile, BSPWM, i3wm and Sway. We are far from the spirit of a commercial distribution here and that’s good!
Garuda is quite pretty, with lots of themes and modern graphic effects. The default file system used is Btrfs which is the hottest file system around with good error tolerance, repair and native compression (zstd). Garuda also integrates an automatic snaptshot system which allows you to boot from the last 5 backups on Grub. Great for going back in case of wrong manipulation.
Garuda is also provided with all the tools necessary to make it work like its AppStore, a Game Center to install games, not to mention tools for Grub, to manage the network (and create hotspots)… etc. This distribution works on a rolling release principle, that is to say that it is constantly kept up to date and the kernel has been specifically optimized for office use, video games and multimedia.
- ✅ Use Btrfs
- ✅ Excellent performance
- ✅ The robustness of Arch
Fedora Workstation – A Foolproof Linux System
In its version for desktops / laptops, Fedora was designed primarily for developers or people who do office automation. If your thing is multimedia or video games, it is still possible, but you will be less comfortable. Fedora is a distribution as understated as Red Hat, which offers a GNOME-based desktop environment, ideal for staying focused on a task.
Obviously, Fedora offers all the tools and development languages right from the installation and you can quickly set up your code on repositories which will then be offered to the whole community. Who says work machine, says need for virtualization and Fedora integrates GNOME Boxes which allows you to launch virtual machines simply to test your code, without forgetting the possibility of putting in containers (dockeriser as we say) your applications in OCI images (Open Container Initiative). Fedora is also renowned for its excellent level of security.
- ✅ For developers
- ✅ Stable
- ✅ Clean look
MX Linux is designed to combine a sleek and efficient desktop environment with high stability and solid performance. MX Linux, based on Debian, offers the Xfce, KDE or Fluxbox environments for installation.
MX’s graphical tools, available by default, but also through the GNU distribution repositories, provide an easy way to perform a wide variety of tasks, while the Live USB and snapshot tools add impressive portability and remastering capabilities. .
- ✅ Several environments available
- ✅ Accessible for beginners
- ✅ Good performance
OpenSUSE – So 2020 ????
openSUSE is old Linux, but still current. It is intended for more office applications, but also multimedia. Surf the web, watch movies, send emails, write documents… etc. openSUSE integrates by default Libre Office, Firefox and multimedia tools like Amarok for music or Digikam for photos.
You can run openSUSE with KDE, GNOME or even Xfce or LXDE if you are looking for lightness. It is a stable distribution and easy to use for beginners. There are several versions of openSUSE including a “rolling” version which allows you to continuously benefit from the latest updates.
- ✅ Several environments available
- ✅ Accessible for beginners
- ✅ Good performance
Linux Lite – A lightweight linux distribution
Linux Lite was created to allow Windows users to switch to Linux without being too traumatized. So it’s a simple Ubuntu-based OS, bundled with familiar, easy-to-use software: Skype, Steam, Kodi, Spotify and also LibreOffice.
- ✅ Windowsiens won’t change their scenery
- ✅ Light
- ✅ Secure and easy to use
WindowsFX – The Windows Clone
WindowsFX is a Linux distribution which both in its interface and in its execution offers to imitate Windows 10. It therefore has the appearance of a commercial distribution but rest assured, it is not. This is primarily a copy of the Windows GUI, but also support for .exe and .msi as well as the default addition of Linux applications that people on Windows are familiar with: Edge, Skype, Visual Code, Teams… etc.
In short, enough to make a transition to Linux without too much suffering.
- ✅ A copy of Windows
- ✅ Perfect for beginners
- ✅ Capable of launching Windows executables
I like QubesOS, because it is a distribution for desktop computers based on Fedora which therefore integrates all the great classics like Firefox, LibreOffice, VLC, Thunderbird… etc., but which is security oriented. Indeed, Qubes OS is based on xen virtualization and allows you to isolate your processes and applications using virtual machines.
Once QubesOS is in place you can then use the operating system of your choice such as Fedora, Ubuntu or Windows. It’s crazy ! It was even recommended by Edward Snowden for its level of security.
- ✅ Virtualized therefore multi-OS
- ✅ Stability of Fedora
- ❌ For more experienced users
Tails – The Linux of security (to secure you… For the pentest, there is always KALI Linux)
Always security-oriented, I put Tails in this list because it also allows you to run a Linux laptop or desktop with a high level of security and privacy. Tails is an open source Linux distribution that launches live and avoids leaving traces. Ideal for privacy junkies and firewalls. A Windows camouflage mode will dress your Linux in Windows to avoid arousing suspicion.
- ✅ Perfect for privacy (integrated firewall, encryption, etc.)
- ✅ Use the Tor network
- ❌ For more experienced users
Raspberry Pi OS – For Education and Kids
Formerly known as Raspbian, Raspberry Pi OS is an open source Debian-based Linux distribution that provides a functional desktop environment for Raspberry Pi minicomputers. It is therefore designed for ARM architectures, although a Desktop PC version / MAC (Intel) is also available for download.
The OS is light and the desktop environment that is integrated is called PIXEL, a sort of LXDE optimized for the Raspberry Pi. As the Rpi is a machine for developers, Rpi OS integrates dozens of tools for programming.
- ✅ For ARM and Intel
- ✅ Lightweight dispenser
- ✅ For the Raspberry Pi
ZorinOS – What a good choice for a netbook!
ZorinOS doesn’t really market itself as a Linux distribution, but as a competitor to macOS and Windows. Built on Ubuntu, ZorinOS is meant to be fast, graphically beautiful if you like clean interfaces, and gives you all the apps you’ll need to work, study, or even play.
It is also a Linux distribution which is aimed at teachers wishing to offer educational tools to their students.
- ✅ Without doubt one of the most beautiful distributions
- ✅ Perfect for old PCs
- ✅ Easy to use for newcomers to the Linux universe
Have fun !
What about the other distro?
You will understand, this list is not exhaustive and concerns only Linux desktop distributions for the general public. There are so many Linux distros out there that it’s hard to go over them all here.
I am thinking in particular of:
- CentOS / Alma Linux / Rocky Linux
- Arch / Artix
- Crux Linux
- Debian / Devuan
- Kali Linux (for hackers)
- Void Linux
- Zorin OS
- Damn Small Linux
- Puppy Linux
- Suse Linux Enterprise
However, if you are interested in the subject, I recommend the DistroWatch site which ensures the release of all new versions of Linux (and BSD). A must !
How do you know which linux distribution is installed on your PC? It’s easy to find out!
In Linux, just open a terminal and type the command:
This will give you the version of your kernel, but may not mention the distribution you are using. To find out which distribution of Linux you are using (eg Ubuntu), try
How to test different distro without installing them?
Now if you want to try one of these Linux distributions without taking the lead, I invite you to go to DistroTest which offers Linux virtual machines that launch directly in the browser without an installer and which will allow you to experiment all the OS that I just presented to you and much more.
Here, I hope that this small panel of the current year of Linux distributions will have pleased you. Do not hesitate to test them because it is by experimenting that you will form an opinion. Maybe start with something mainstream with a big community like Ubuntu and then when you’re comfortable move on to a slightly less mainstream distribution. In short, train yourself, it’s worth it. Anyway, don’t hesitate to let me know if you see that I forgot any mainstream Linux.
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Reminder on the history of Linux
As a reminder, Linux is a computer operating system created in the early 1990s by the Finnish software engineer Linus Torvalds and the Free Software Foundation (FSF).
While still a student at the University of Helsinki, Torvalds began to develop Linux to create a system similar to MINIX, a UNIX operating system.
In 1991 he released version 0.02 of the kernel. To present it to the world, he posts on the Usenet newsgroup “comp.os.minix”, the following message:
Hello everyone who uses minix –
I’m in the process of making a (free) operating system (just a hobby, it won’t be big and professional like gnu) for the 386 (486) AT clones.
This project has been in the making since April, and is starting to be ready. I’d love to get some feedback on things people like and don’t like about minix, as my operating system looks a bit like it (same physical file system layout (for convenience) among other things).
I have currently ported bash (1.08) and gcc (1.40), and things seem to be working. This implies that I will have something handy within a few months, and I would like to know what features most people would like to have. All suggestions are welcome, but I do not promise to implement them ????
Linus ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
PS. Yes – it’s free from any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It’s NOT portable (it uses task switching on 386, etc.), and it will probably never support anything other than AT hard drives, since that’s all I’ve got :-(. – Linus TorvaldsOriginal message from Linus Torvalds
Version 1.0 of the Linux kernel, the heart of the operating system, was then released in 1994. Around the same time, US software developer Richard Stallman and the FSF made efforts to create a system of Linux kernel. Open-source UNIX-type exploitation called GNU.
Unlike Torvalds, Stallman and the FSF started out by creating utilities for the operating system. These utilities were then added to the Linux kernel to create a complete system called GNU / Linux, or, less accurately, just Linux.
Linux developed throughout the 1990s thanks to the efforts of hobbyist developers. While Linux is not as user-friendly as the popular Microsoft Windows and Mac OS operating systems, it is an efficient and reliable system that rarely crashes.
Combined with Apache, an open source Web server, Linux is present on most servers and equipment (routers, firewalls, etc.) used on the Internet. It is also highly regarded because it is open-source, and therefore modifiable for different uses.
Interestingly, the official Linux mascot was also dreamed up by Linus Torvalds. He also announced in 1996 that there would be a mascot for Linux which would be… a penguin.
Indeed, when choosing the mascot, Torvalds mentioned that he was bitten by a little penguin (Eudyptula minor) during a visit to the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra, Australia.
Larry Ewing provided the original draft of today’s well-known mascot, based on this description. The name Tux was suggested by James Hughes as a derivative of Torvalds’ UniX, while being a shorthand for tuxedo, a type of costume that is similar in color to that of a penguin.
Linux is also present on a lot of different systems and components: cell phones and supercomputers. Android, Google‘s operating system for mobile devices, has a modified Linux kernel, and Chrome OS, Google‘s operating system that uses the Chrome browser, is also based on Linux.
The addition of user-friendly desktop environments, office suites, web browsers, and even games have helped increase the popularity of Linux and make it more suitable for home and business offices. Proof that this operating system is not just for command line enthusiasts.
Lots of new distros (Linux software packages) have been released since the 1990s and you can download all of them for free from their respective official sites.
Among the most famous distributions are MX Linux, Gentoo, Manjaro, Linux Mint and Ubuntu which appear in my ranking.
What is the best linux distribution (desktop and portable – 32 bit / 64 bit)?
So obviously it’s not necessarily easy to choose the Linux distribution that will meet all your desires, but know that roughly, with a few exceptions, they are all equal (at least in my selection). The choice for you will be made more in terms of the desktop environment, I think… GNOME, KDE, Xfce… etc., but also in terms of the performance of your machine.
Because yes Linux is the perfect OS to breathe new life into a somewhat aging computer.
Then, don’t forget that Linux is Linux and it doesn’t matter which distro. So if you are new, I invite you to get this book which will provide you with the basics .