There are numerous Linux distros available for anyone. Thus, there is most likely a distro suited to everyone’s needs. However, the hard part is finding the one suited for you. Due to this, some suggestions are provided below to help aid you in your decision.
Best First Distro for Windows Users: Zorin OS
Zorin OS is a distro that targets new users. It aims to be as simple as possible for any user, but especially those coming from Windows. It comes with great software pre-installed, but not too much to become overly bloated. It features the Gnome Software Center, which has many similarities to Apple’s Appstore. Thus, any software you need is only a click away, and new software can be easily discovered just by opening up the Software Center. The home page includes a featured app every day, allowing you to discover new programs easily.
In addition, it has an amazing app to change the look and feel of your desktop. With just one click, you can choose to make it look like your Windows machine, a Mac (although this option still looks Windows-esque) or the default Gnome setup.
Lastly, it comes in several useful flavors, or variations, to choose from. You can pick Zorin OS core, which is free and comes with everything you will need, Zorin OS Ultimate, which comes with additional pre-installed content and professional support (although there is a catch – this option costs €19), and Zorin OS Lite, which is custom built for older computers that cannot handle Windows or Macs anymore.
Best First Distro for Mac Users: Elementary OS
Elementary OS is often praised as the most beautiful desktop around. It is automatically set up to look and act like a Mac, and has a strong focus on keeping it simple. However, it does not come with the Gnome Software Center, but rather it’s own. Unfortunately, this Software Center is rather limited compared to its’ Gnome counterpart. However, it offers an even more similar experience to Apple’s Appstore, thus keeping it simple and easy for new users migrating from a Mac.
While not as customizable as many other Linux distros, it has a much more beautiful setup by default. As with most Linux distros, they can be made to look however the user sees fit. However, Elementary OS is one of the few that aims to satisfy it’s users as far as looks go, without any changes. Due to this, you can have a gorgeous desktop without doing anything!
Best First Distro For Those Who Are Ready For Something Different: Ubuntu
Ubuntu caters for those new to Linux. It provides an easy-to-learn interface and even comes with the Gnome Software Center. It is by far the most popular Linux distro, so new users are guaranteed support.
While it has a different look and feel from a Windows or Mac, it retains an easy learning curve. It has limited customization options, but is made with beginners in mind. Thus, most users are pleased with it and many even end up finding it simpler than Windows!
It has several flavors (or variations) to pick from, such as Kubuntu, Lubuntu, and Xubuntu. Kubuntu is a version of Ubuntu which features the KDE Desktop Environment. This Desktop Environment (DE for short) focuses on a maximum level of customability, but sacrifices some of the easy learning curve. Lubuntu is a version of Ubuntu which features the LXDE Desktop Environment. This DE focuses on bringing your old hardware back to life. It is extremely lightweight and can even rejuvenate computers as old as Windows XP! However, all of this comes at the cost of aesthetics and an easy learning curve. Your computer won’t be the most attractive in town, but at least you won’t have to buy a new one when it gets old. Xubuntu is a version of Ubuntu which features the XFCE Desktop Environment. This DE also focuses on bringing your old harware back to life, but does not go as far as Lubuntu to do so. Instead, it retains a decent look and remains simpler to use as well.
Best First Rolling Release Distro: Solus
Solus will easily roll you from one year onto another without ever having to reinstall your Operating System. This is due to the fact that it features a rolling release cycle. This means that not only can you update your programs natively, you can also update your system whenever a new component comes out. This means that you can keep your entire system up-to-date indefinitely! Windows has also begun to opt for this policy, as shown by the Windows Creators Update. However, Windows eventually forces this update upon you, whether you want it or not. Solus, as with any other Linux rolling release distro, allows you to update whenever you see fit, even if that means never.
Solus features three Desktop Environments, namely Mate, Budgie, and Gnome. The first Desktop Environment is explained in the above section concerning Ubuntu. However, Budgie and Gnome are not. Gnome is the same desktop that the default flavor of Ubuntu uses, but Solus does not customize the setup as much, leaving it at the default Gnome setup. As for Budgie, that is Solus’ flagship in the DE category. It is a DE similar to Gnome, except for the fact that it’s settings are in the style of a bar on the side of the screen rather than a traditional settings application.
Unfortunately, most rolling distros tend to have more glitches than non-rolling ones. This is because the user is always receiving the newest programs and applications available, and consequently these newer versions of the software have often not been tested as long as the older versions have. Due to this, most rolling distros are not recommended to those new to Linux. However, Solus is an exception. It is known for remaining incredibly stable even though it has a rolling nature to it.
Sadly, Solus does not have quite as much software available as other Linux distros. It includes the most popular programs, but if you are looking for a less known one, you may be out of luck. Thankfully, if you feel you just need a certain application or program, you can contact the developers of Solus and they will at least look into adding the program you mentioned to them into the available software for you to install.
Best First Distro for Gamers: Steam OS
Steam OS is, well, the name kind of says it all. It is a Linux distro that has been specifically tailored for exemplary performance with Steam. While by default only Steam is available and not a traditional desktop, if Desktop Mode is enabled, then you will get your familiar desktop back. After that, it is easy to install anything you are used to in a Linux distro. Using this distro, you can be guaranteed that Steam games will work for you out of the box.
Best First Distro for Those With Old Computers: Linux Lite
Linux Lite is a distro which caters to those with old hardware. It can revive almost any computer, even ones that still run Windows XP. Like Elementary OS, it offers it’s own Software Center called Lite Software. Also like Elementary OS, this Software Center does not offer as many available programs as the Gnome Software Center. However, in contrast to Elementary OS, if one cannot find a desired program in the default software center, another option is available. The Synaptic Package Manager is another software Center (although a simple one that appears to be outdated graphically) which gives you access to any software available in the Gnome Software Center, and sometimes more.
This distro also focuses on the security of it’s users. It features a special application called Lite Updates Notify which gives you complete control over when you wish to update your software, in order to continue to keep you as secure as possible. It even allows you to determine when (or even if) you wish to see update notices!
Once you have settled on your distro of choice, you will finally be ready to install it!