Tips for picking a GNU/Linux Distribution

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
May 10, 2017
Updated • May 10, 2017

Distrohopping is a term some like to use for switching from one GNU/Linux distribution to another frequently, rather than sticking to one system. I’m no stranger to this, I’ve installed nearly every major and popularly known system you’ll come across – twice.

However, through my time trying all of these various distributions, I’ve learned a great deal and finally settled (I think) upon where I plan to stay, so I thought I’d share some tips for picking your long-term system, as well as some ideas depending on what you enjoy.

Package Managers

Many distributions exist that utilize the same package managers, such as Debian and Ubuntu based systems using dpkg, or the RPM package manager which is the Linux Standard Base format used by many distributions such as Fedora, Red Hat, OpenSUSE, Mageia etc.

However, each of these also uses different tools to interact with these package managers, such as Apt and Apt-get for Ubuntu, Zypper for OpenSUSE, and DNF for Fedora. Some people prefer one over the other; I myself rather enjoy Zypper the most and adored OpenSUSE for a number of years, but have recently started to really love pacman from Arch Linux.

So, the first thing that I feel anyone unsure of what distribution to use needs to consider is what package manager and related tools do you find yourself most comfortable with? Do you have a preference? Are there things about various package managers you don’t like?

Another detail that should be considered in connection with the package managers, are the distribution repositories. Some distributions have massive amounts of packages available through their various repositories, others have very little. Some distributions with a huge amount of packages are Debian, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Arch Linux (if you count the AUR) and Trisquel . However others such as Dragora and Chakra have considerably less according to this Wikipedia page which I can’t vouch is entirely accurate, but is good for an estimation.

Now granted, even if a package is not in your repositories, you can build from source as well as other installation means, but it’s something to consider if you’re someone who just ‘wants it to work’ with your system, and doesn’t want the hassle of having to scavenge for packages.

Ease of installation

The vast majority of GNU/Linux distributions come with graphical installers, and are all relatively similar in their setup process; however not all.

Last night I made the switch from Manjaro to Arch Linux, after I decided I didn’t like a lot of the bloat that came with pre-setup distributions anymore, and wanted the freedom to start from the ground up.

The installation from the time I booted off the LiveUSB until I had my desktop environment and all the software I could think of that I wanted at the time, took around 2-3 hours; the actual Arch install took less than an hour, but then setting up my graphical environment and getting what I wanted all set up took another couple hours.

Arch Linux is setup via command line, and there is no officially supported method to install via GUI.

Another one that I have done that is both time consuming and not new-user-friendly is Gentoo . I’ve spent probably an entire day setting up Gentoo, especially since I decided to build my own Linux kernel rather than use a premade kernel.

Then there was setting up the graphical environment...and don’t even get me started on compiling LibreOffice and Firefox from source. Better to go binary on those, unless you intend to start the process at 6AM and are fine with your machine being a brick until bedtime...

Manjaro, Ubuntu, Debian, OpenSUSE and countless others though, all have very friendly installation software, and take very little time. My last major distro was Manjaro, and with my laptop running an SSD it would take about 15 minutes until I could be in my system and happily clicking around.

So, if you are scared of a CLI installation process; avoid Arch Linux, Gentoo and others like them, and stick with the others. However, the satisfaction of building your system from the ground up and being able to say, “I made this. I customized this, this is MY system as I want it, not how someone else feels I should have it,” is also a very satisfying feeling to be considered!

Desktop Environments

You can install almost any environment on any system, with very few exceptions. However, some distributions only come with certain environments prepackaged. You won’t find the Desktop Environment called Budgie in any official Fedora spin! So your next step once you have considered the package manager you want to use, is to figure out your desktop environment you want, and see if perhaps there is an official flavour of a distribution that uses that package manager, for that environment.

I opted for Cinnamon in my Arch Linux install, after falling in love with it on Manjaro (which as a Cinnamon flavour in their community releases section.)

Your Hardware

Another obvious but important thing to consider is the hardware of your machine. I wouldn’t recommend you putting KDE5 Plasma with Gentoo on your Pentium II box. First off, I’m not even certain it would run properly, but you’d probably use all of your RAM and CPU power just getting to your desktop if you even made it; nonetheless compiling huge packages from source – good luck.

So depending on your hardware, you may want to stick with lighter setups like LXLE , or even potentially small distributions like PUPPY .

Moral and Political Views

I personally have no objection to using proprietary software (usually after I look into it, if I’ve not encountered before) on my system; however some users do. Some distributions are strictly designed to not use any, and resort in a purely open-source environment.

Others, such as Devuan, were created because of the creation and integration of systemd into other distributions such as Debian, and many feel that goes against the UNIX way of doing things. So, if you are the sort who has a preference on these things, you will want to consider this in your search.


There is a lot to consider, and stability is definitely another major one. Some distributions are what we call “Bleeding Edge” because they use the newest of packages as they come out; such as Fedora.

However, others such as Debian choose to wait and test for great lengths of time before releasing updates in order to maximize stability (unless you’re in a testing branch, I’m referring to stable branches.) So, if you want a system that is far less likely to ever crash and you are totally fine with being potentially quite a few steps behind in the latest updates, that’s an option. Or if you are willing to risk breakage, incompatibilities, and are willing to fix problems as they arise but want the latest and greatest; that’s an option to consider too.

Final Words

When it comes to choosing what distribution you want to settle upon, there is a lot to consider. My home (again, I think) is going to be Arch Linux. I am enjoying pacman and the AUR, I love the lack of bloat since I built my system myself from the ground up, and I get near bleeding-edge updates. Granted that Arch has a history of being unstable if you don’t stay on top of it, but that’s no issue for me personally.

A great way to find out about distributions you may never have heard of is a website called Distrowatch  which has a ranking system, and shows recent distro releases.

What about you? What are you using, and why? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Tips for picking a GNU/Linux Distribution
Article Name
Tips for picking a GNU/Linux Distribution
Mike has put his thoughts when it comes to choosing a GNU/Linux distribution into words, and looks at a lot of factors you may want to consider.
Ghacks Technology News

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Phase said on July 30, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve tried Linux mint a few times. Would be willing to spend the time to “really” learn it if not for these problems;
    no video catch view (it is nice to capture a movie to watch later when offline to be erased after watching),
    not a fan of latest Firefox (it’s real bear to get an older Firefox),
    and the lack of an easy to use firewall (ip tables? Come on, you guys are really smart and you can’t make a firewall that always auto starts, shows all traffic incoming and outgoing with options).
    And last but not least, asking questions after diligently searching first. Even being respectful when asking a question people will often be nasty. Gee whiz, ya would think that people would gladly show how smart they are to “us” newbies who are “very” grateful for an answer.

    Sorry, if kinda off topic. I would love to get away from windows.

    1. A different Martin said on July 30, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      I’m a Linux noob and not an expert at downloading videos on any system, but try this:

      In Linux Mint, install the Pale Moon browser (basically, an updated and optimized fork of old-school, pre-Australis Firebox) using the Pale Moon for Linux Installer (pminstaller), which you can find here:

      Install the NetVideoHunter extension, version 1.20, from here:

      Install the DownThemAll extension, version, from here:

      Configure the extensions as you see fit, and make sure you put their toolbar buttons somewhere handy on one of your bars. (Mine are on the menu bar, where they don’t steal space from the location bar or search bar.)

      When you start playing a video that NetVideoHunter can capture, its blue toolbar button flashes for a short while. Click it (right away, or later on, after it stops flashing), select the video you want to download, and download it.

      Otherwise, the Links tab or (more often) Pictures and Media tab of DownThemAll’s “Make Your Selection” window sometimes pick up videos that NetVideoHunter can’t capture.

      I’m running Linux Mint Cinnamon 18.2 “Sonya” as a VirtualBox guest in a Windows host right now. In Mint, I had already installed Pale Moon 27.4.0 (x64) using pminstaller and “installed” the above extensions when I copied and pasted my Pale Moon profile from Windows to Mint. And I just successfully downloaded an MP4 video using NetVideoHunter in Pale Moon in Linux Mint.

      Again, I’m no expert at downloading videos. I’ve snagged MP4s, MKVs, FLVs, MPGs, WMVs, and maybe some other formats I’m forgetting. There are certain streaming formats I don’t know how to get because they’re delivered in a succession of discrete chunks. And I don’t know how to get YouTube HTML5 videos. I have a friend who uses a (paid) Applian Replay Capture Suite utility in Windows to get these. It seems to work, but Applian frequently dings its customers for upgrades to individual utilities. (There are one or two free updates per utility, and then you have to cough up some dough for an update, at least if you want to be able to handle the latest changes on the media-serving side.) Plus, I’ve spotted at least two different types of installers/updaters for the seven Applian utilities I’ve installed/updated for him, like there’s no co-ordination between the teams working on the various components. It’s a minor but unwelcome annoyance. (I imagine it would be kind of like the Control Panel versus Settings annoyance for Windows 10 users.)

      Anyway, I’m sure someone else at gHacks knows a lot more than I do about the ins and outs of downloading videos from the Web, but the above approach works for me a lot of the time. As I mentioned, YouTube videos are getting to be pretty problematic with the switch to HTML5. At some point, I’ll do some research on it, but I’d appreciate tips from other gHacks readers (for both Windows and Linux). I came across this recent article on how to download YouTube videos in Linux, but haven’t followed up on it:

      How To Download Youtube Videos Using Linux

      I don’t have a clue how to properly set up a firewall in Linux (or do advanced firewall configuration in Windows for that matter), so I can’t help you there. I’m behind an NAT/SPI router and have Windows 7s firewall turned on with its default settings (as modified by a couple of application and utility installers). Maybe I’m being complacent.

      I can only think of one question I asked in the Linux Mint forums, and I got friendly, well-intentioned answers. (The problem turns out to be a conflict between Linux Mint Cinnamon 18.1 and 18.2’s desktop themes and VirtualBox’s Linux guest additions. When you install the guest additions, certain “Start” menu categories stop populating. That’s a problem that only coders, preferably the developers themselves, can fix, so I don’t fault the people who responded to me for not having a definitive answer. I successfully registered for the Linux Mint bugtracker with the intention of reporting the bug, but it wouldn’t let me log on, and the people who run the bugtracker never got back to me. Now that’s a real problem.)

      Final comment: The downside of installing Pale Moon using pminstaller is that you also have to update it separately, also using pminstaller, instead of having it automatically included with everything else in your one-stop-shopping software update manager. But I’ve tried a bunch of Linux distros in VirtualBox, and so far the only one that included Pale Moon in its repo was Manjaro, which is based on Arch. So unless non-Arch-based distros start adding Pale Moon to their distros, you’d be stuck with a separate updating step in most distros anyway. That’s still a vast reduction in discrete updating steps compared to Windows 7.

      I hope some of this is helpful — and I’m open to corrections and better ideas.

  2. A different Martin said on May 12, 2017 at 9:02 am

    I’m a Linux noob who’s trialed maybe 12-15 different distros in VirtualBox.It’s not the perfect way to try out distros, because running them in virtual machines can introduce its own additional set of hassles and potential complications, and some distros simply do not work and play well with VirtualBox. With that caveat in mind, I can say that Linux Mint Cinnamon has been the least alien to me as a longtime Windows user, has caused me the fewest hassles, and has been the most resistant to update-induced borkage (maybe along with Chapeau Linux, surprisingly).

  3. Jake said on May 11, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Mx-16 is great distro for just everyday stable use..

  4. Jason said on May 11, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Here are some questions I ask myself when considering a distro:

    -Ease of installation? (Is it graphical or text based? Do the developers take a moral stand against proprietary media codecs?)
    -What is the release strategy? (Is it a rolling, semi-rolling, or static/fixed release?)
    -How much software is in the repository?
    -Which package management system does it use? (See Mike’s commentary in the article)
    -Is the distro completely upstrream (i.e. it’s not based on any other distro)? If not, which distro(s) is it based on?
    -How active is the development? (And how likely does it seem the project will still be around in a year?)
    -How active and friendly are the user forums?
    -Which desktop environments are pre-installed with the distro?

    In my case, I start with the last question. I choose the DE that interests me and I look for distros that install that DE automatically together during the distro installation. (This is a more foolproof way of installing a DE than doing it by yourself manually, because the distro developers will usually have configured the DE to integrate with their system.)

    Once I have my shortlist of possible distros, I then look at all the other questions and settle on something.

  5. Hujew said on May 11, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    MX-16.. brilliant beginner (or not) distro….

  6. Rotten Scoundrel said on May 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    LibreOffice 5.3.3 Released, Works Better with Microsoft Office Documents

    ‘Nuff said! :)

  7. mike said on May 11, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Moving to Arch from Manjaro purely to avoid pre-installed system bloat is no longer an issue with manjaro-architect installer. You can install bare bones system and build your own system inclusive of all the mhwd tools and pacman-mirrors.

  8. ivan_soman said on May 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Moral: Arch and Manjaro don’t see my second video card and I should spend a few days to fix it (if it’s possible).
    Moral: Manjaro driver installer sometimes breaks system by installing wrong drivers.
    Moral: new linux kernels in Manjaro have problems with some firmwares (with my intel i915 at least).
    Moral: Ubuntu does not have BFQ i/o scheduler and has lags of copy/delete files operations for that reason (on some hardware at least).
    Moral: linux distributions have bobtailed energy saving preferences. You can use Laptop Mode Tools if you spend months to learn how to. Especially if your English is bad.
    Moral: You will strike with a lack of libs even in Ubuntu (exfat, 32 bit libs for WINE, mesa or Steam), testdisk and so one, I can go on and go on).
    Moral: Hibernation does not work properly for most laptops even now (welcome to install patch with TuxOnice and again spend hours or days for that).
    Moral: Bad ACPI configs of distributions can do work of some laptops is very bad. You should read and fix it by hand.

    Politics: You will spend years to even just use linux distributions properly. Even with Ubuntu.

    P.S. Sorry for my English.
    P.P.S. Of course I don’t speak about programmers who know all that things already.

    1. Rotten Scoundrel said on May 11, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      >> Politics: You will spend years to even just use linux distributions properly. Even with Ubuntu.

      At the Command Line (Terminal), possibly, albeit probably two months max to anyone who wants to learn. It really is not that hard. Also, these days of excellent Unity, GNOME, KDE etc, it is **not at all** necessary to learn CL. Using a Linux-GUI, two days will have one almost as proficient with Unity (Ubuntu) as windows.

      Your other points should be better directed at the producers of the hardware and software rather than the underlying Ubuntu/Linux distro.

      Just think back to when msoft began releasing 64-bit versions of windows and the constant cry of “no drivers for 64-bit” as if it was msoft’s problem for not including drivers for **everything** on the planet.

  9. Tau said on May 11, 2017 at 10:53 am

    If you’re new to Linux I wouldn’t suggest Mint as first distro, I wouldn’t actually consider it for anything. The Debian/Ubuntu installers are simple enough for an inexperienced user, both distro cointains much more documentation (even though it doesn’t change much between distros), a bigger community and actually have a team dedicated to security advicing, and patches are not downstream up from debian. This is a problem that afflicts Manjaro too, in the end there’s little reason to use a distribution that leeches packages upstream with the little benefits of an easier installation (in the case of arch, there are multiple installers available), except in distros where the difference isn’t a preinstalled DE but added security features and so on. Anyway, once you learn a few things you can easily climb up with less handholding flavors if you don’t want to begin with things such as Arch, even though they really are a great opportinity to learn a lot in very little time. Fedora is probably the most unstable distribution, even Arch with testing repos breaks less. The problem with the latter is, unfortunately, that devs did and will do changes because of their own convenience (i.e., systemd, scripts to build packages without verifying them etc.). Many people are also very hostile to new users while being terribly uninformed themselves. The AUR is great but you need to use a decent helper and read the PKGBUILDs and install scripts very carefully.

    Pacman, portage and xbps are probably the best packages managers available. Apt/dpkg are so and so, not certainly the fastest. This is the major difference between distributions, the rest is usually just release type and philosophy.

    My two cents thoughts/rant.

    EDIT: almost forgot about another thing. Distrowatch is BS. They rank them by CLICKS PER DAY, there can’t be a worst index for obvious reasons.

    1. A different Martin said on May 12, 2017 at 9:39 pm

      @ Tau:

      “If you’re new to Linux I wouldn’t suggest Mint as first distro, I wouldn’t actually consider it for anything.”

      As a noob who has found Linux Mint to be the easiest and most problem-free of at least a dozen distros I’ve tried, I’d like to hear why. (I’m not challenging your conclusion. As a noob, I don’t really have the chops for it. I’d just like to know the reasons behind it.)

  10. AnorKnee Merce said on May 11, 2017 at 6:37 am

    For non-techies who mostly do basic stuffs, Linux Mint Cinnamon is quite good and user-friendly, eg just for web-surfing, emails, video-streaming, social media networking, online shopping, installing OS, etc.
    ……. For older computers with limited hardware resources, Lubuntu 16.04 is good enough. It’s 64bit ISO file is only about 800MB(= less features and “bloat”) vs Linux Mint’s 1.6GB.

    Arch Linux is only for techies, eg build your own program/software by compiling from the source code.

    Windows is for non-techies and techies who do basic and advanced stuffs, ie non-free Windows has very good support from hardware and software developers, eg Intel 4k graphic drivers for external TVs and USB 3G modem dongle drivers for mobile Broadband Internet, AutoCAD and Adobe Photoshop are not available for Linux.
    ……. Windows has mostly GUI-based applications/programs = very user-friendly.

    1. dark said on May 11, 2017 at 11:58 am

      AutoCAD > DraftSight, FreeCAD.
      Photoshop > Pixeluvo, Krita.

      1. A different Martin said on May 12, 2017 at 10:52 pm

        @ dark:

        Just to add to what dark said about Wine and virtual machines:

        * I installed IrfanView in Wine in Linux Mint Cinnamon 18 (or 18.1 — I forget) and it seemed to work just fine, albeit more slowly, on a compatibility layer in a virtual machine working with shared Windows data files on a six- or seven-year-old middle-of-the-road ThinkPad.

        * You can check out Wine-compatibility ratings and reviews for various Windows apps at

        * PlayOnLinux is a free front end for Wine that supposedly makes it easier to correctly install Windows apps in Wine. If it’s not bundled with your distro by default (it is in Chapeau), it can probably be downloaded from your distro’s repository. Lists of supported Windows apps (including games) can be found at

        * If you create a Windows virtual machine in Linux, you’ll need a Windows license for it to stay legal and hassle-free.

        * VMware apparently has a utility that allows you to “export” a bare-metal Windows install to a virtual machine. (I haven’t used it … yet.) With VirtualBox, the process is manual and complicated, and the results are not guaranteed. (You’re probably better off just installing Windows in a VirtualBox virtual machine from scratch.) On the other hand, VirtualBox offers full functionality to personal, non-business users for free and I believe VMware does not. (I think you still can’t take snapshots of virtual machines in VMware Player, which is VMware’s free product. Also, I’m not sure whether Player supports USB 3.0 yet. A lot of the other differences between the paid VMware Workstation and the free VMware Player seem to be of greater interest to sysadmins than to ordinary users, but it’s probably worth checking them out to avoid unwelcome surprises. I’ve never done it, but it’s also supposedly possible to convert VMware machines to VirtualBox format (and vice-versa). If so, it should be possible to export a bare-metal Windows install to a VMware virtual machine using VMware’s tool and then convert it to a VirtualBox virtual machine. I’d be interested in hearing from someone who has actually done this.

      2. dark said on May 12, 2017 at 10:29 am

        All professional developers need to do is develop/port softwares/games for Linux with Ubuntu in mind as standard Linux platform. They can keep their software/game proprietary/closed source/not free. Just make Linux version of software/game available.

        Only minority of Linux users want everything free, developers should let that sink in.

      3. dark said on May 12, 2017 at 10:20 am

        What isn’t available for Linux can be run via Wine or Virtual Machine for now.

        Linux desktop market share is at 2% cuz most dev’s wont develop softwares/games for Linux, most ppl wont use Linux cuz most dev’s wont develop softwares/games for Linux, its stuck in loop essentially. Its the dev’s who are responsible for possibly inaccurate 2% market share.

        Also i think netmarketshare website is being unprofessional or neglecting Linux cuz you can see all the different versions of Windows and Mac and its respective market share, no such thing with Linux, all you see is Linux and its market share 2% when you are suppose to see Ubuntu xx%, Manjaro xx%, MX Linux xx%, etc. Its almost as if netmarketshare admin thinks Ubuntu is the only Linux for desktop lol.
        I wonder which Linux distribution exactly does netmarketshare website watches that they come to the 2% market share conclusion? Makes me doubt the accuracy of Linux market share, 2% could be an assumption by netmarketshare website since they are not bothering enough. Ubuntu could have more than 10% market share in reality.

        But that’s not important, whats really important is for ppl to contact their favorite developers and convince them to develop softwares/games for Linux and break that loop.
        Also most ppl should stop buying windows softwares/games, that should force the stubborn companies into making Linux ports.

      4. AnorKnee Merce said on May 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm

        @ dark

        Most professional Linux alternative software are not as good as those for Windows.
        ……. TurboTax/Quicken and eHospital Systems/Softclinic software are not available for Linux, and likely have no Linux alternative. Many advanced or specialized business software/applications are not available for Linux.

        Similarly, there are very few useful Win 10 Mobile apps at Windows Store because of its minuscule 2% market share.
        ……. In comparison, there are hundreds of useful Android apps at Play Store.

        So, Linux desktop OS has to garner a sizable market share before professional developers will support it, eg be like Google-Android.
        ……. Linux software developers are mostly basement/attic-living hobbyists, eg Linus Torvald, who do not see much of the real business world.

      5. ivan_soman said on May 11, 2017 at 2:46 pm


    2. 420 said on May 11, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Arch Linux and XFCE alone or in some distro FTW , heh

  11. mikef90000 said on May 11, 2017 at 3:39 am

    Overview of my LAN:
    – desktop (x86): Linux Mint 18 Xfce
    – file server / backup desktop (x86): Ubuntu server 16:04, Debian dual boot
    – old laptop (x86): LM 18 (would use Debian but for wireless dongle issues)
    – RPi3 download / torrent server (ARM): Raspbian
    – backup ER-X firewall router (MIPS): EdgeOS (Debian derivative)
    – wireless access point (MIPS): OpenWRT
    – ISP supplied router (CPU unknown): reportedly FreeBSD

    Definitely biased toward Debian derivatives for stable, fast, coherent APT package management.
    CentOS looks good but its little brother Fedora makes my head explode.
    Not enough time to come up the Arch / Gentoo learning curve.

    If you want to try most of the numerous Linux window managers, try this live ISO:

  12. dark said on May 11, 2017 at 3:17 am

    If you are new, have never used Linux before and is unsure which Linux distro to pick, just pick Linux Mint.

    1. asdf said on May 11, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      – Linux Mint
      – Zorin OS
      – Elementary OS

  13. Richard Steven Hack said on May 11, 2017 at 1:59 am

    openSUSE all the way. Most stable KDE-based system (it can run GNOME, too, of course) available. Almost everything can be done from a GUI if you abhor the command line. If you can’t find a package in the official repositories, there are package search mechanisms so you can find it elsewhere without having to compile from source. Large community support forum. Updates itself several times a day with never a forced reboot (unlike Windows which has never gotten Update to work properly). openSUSE has a large development community and is connected to a commercial entity, SUSE, which has been around for a long time. You can get it in point releases or a rolling release.

    Reliability? Well, like every other OS, Linux gets worse with every release. However, my system is rarely brought down enough to hit the power button – probably due to video card issues – but it does happen occasionally (maybe every few weeks or a month or more.) I usually blame Firefox (a disaster at memory management), so I try to restart Firefox every day or so to minimize that. Once in a long while the desktop manager will fail and restart itself.

    Compared to Windows, there is no comparison – Linux is WAY more stable. The only part which tends to be somewhat unreliable is the KDE environment. The kernel itself never crashes in my experience. This means most recovery just means logging out and logging back in rather than rebooting (although I usually reboot just to be sure.)

  14. swamper said on May 11, 2017 at 12:36 am

    Hehe… I can’t help myself…

    LMDE2, Linux Mint 18.1, Arch Linux, Debian Stable Server, Debian Testing, Armbian Ubuntu Server, and AsusWRT Merlin spread across a desktop, laptop, Odroid and a router. With both types of Mint on the laptop and desktop both that are basically mirrors of each other. The Arch and 2 Debians are also on the desktop.

    Mate desktop on everything that’s not a server. LMDE2 is my daily driver.

    I do get a little confused about what I have booted every now and then…

  15. kubrick said on May 10, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    I use linux Lite.
    Love this OS.

    1. Max said on May 10, 2017 at 11:12 pm

      Me too. I’ve tried various flavors of Linux over the years (before abandoning them again), but coming from a Windows background, I’ve now settled on Linux Lite for my non-Windows machine.

      I found it an easy transition, thanks to having a UI with a Windows look and feel and easy-to-use management tools, and would recommend it to other Windows users.

  16. Nebulus said on May 10, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    I’m using Slackware Linux.

  17. Arthur said on May 10, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Not sure where to start using Linux? Just get the latest Linux Mint with Cinnamon.
    Why? Easy to use, even for Linux newbies, a straightforward installation process, and super stable.

    1. Jason said on May 11, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      Simplistic advice, but I actually agree with it. For people who are overwhelmed by the prospect of transitioning to Linux, the Linux Mint distro (Cinnamon or otherwise) is one of the easiest ways to start out. Easy to install, unlikely to crash, tons of software in the repository, lots of people in the forums to help you, etc. etc. Spend 6 months with Mint and you’ll have an idea what Linux is all about. You’ll then be in a good position to choose another distro if you want to.

  18. justsaying said on May 10, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    this could be helpful:

  19. OBRevenge said on May 10, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve recently discovered OBRevenge, and Arch-based distro based on XFCE and Openbox – and some awesome extras, such as a variety of kernels to chose from (including grsec and zen), plus an excellent update/package manager. It makes installing Arch easy and, even though it comes with a DE, not bloated at all.

  20. SpoliatoR said on May 10, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    In this – “website called Distrowatch ” error…it`s ttp, but need http )
    “Why so many desktops? ” Why so many people ?)) Need only one -ddk )))

  21. ddk said on May 10, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    In order for Linux to drop it’s “hobbyist” and super geeky reputation, the ecosystem has to settle down and focus on a marketable operating system.

    Why Ubuntu decided to go with a completely user unfriendly DE, Gnome is beyond me. That thing is made for smart phones, not PC’s

    Why so many desktops? In Windows you can change your DE easily with a program called Classic Shell. It rocks.

    1. TianlanSha said on May 11, 2017 at 10:37 am

      I gotta say, Classic Shell is hardly a DE. bbLean is, sharpenviro is… there are more, but Classic Shell just changes the start menu and a few other tweaks. Actually Windows’ policy makes it really hard and user-unfriendly to change the DE, but their default one is either really-user friendly (95-7), or people are just too much used to it.

      For Linux, you are given way more freedom what DE you want, in fact you can set different one for different user accounts, etc. But I agree that the default one in Ubuntu – Unity was a huge piece of crap, I remember always going back to Gnome 2.x when I used it. I don’t think, though, that all distros should have the same DE – they have what their creators like and that’s OK since you can always change it.

      Other than that, as of lately, many distros copy the Windows layout as their default which is totally fine for me, might as well spare me the tweaking in that department.

      1. ddk said on May 11, 2017 at 11:20 pm

        I would love to get the aero-glass theme of Win 7 on 8 & 10. There are some tweaks in Classic Shell and Winaero but it just adds some elements, it doesn’t change the overall look & feel to reflect a Win 7 DE.

        There’s a program that adds a Win 7 Aero theme to 8 or 10 but It requires payment to remove a big ugly watermark on the desktop. A lot of other 3rd party alt DE’s seem to have been discontinued.

        To me Win 7 set the standard for the perfect desktop. CS does give you back the start menu and some transparency though.

  22. Biu said on May 10, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    I’m really enjoying Arch-based Antergos.

    1. Jim Coleman said on May 11, 2017 at 4:52 pm
    2. TianlanSha said on May 11, 2017 at 10:27 am

      I heard that Arch was really hard for newbies. I’m a complete newbie when it comes to Linux, I can only work with Debian/Ubuntu based distros and when it comes to the Terminal, I have to copy commands off the internet aside from “sudo apt-get” and the easiest ones.

      I heard that Arch was very complicated and hard to use, but there’s this distro Manjaro that is said to be user-friendly and stuff. I wonder if I should someday try it.

      Currently I’m on Windows 7, because I hate Windows 10, because of specific games that have anticheat and because my desktop (my only PC atm) is built with the most random of parts (AMD CPU, nVIDIA GPU and other shenanigans) and the I’m having trouble finding drivers for Linux, especially for my nVIDIA GT630 and last time I tried Ubuntu Mate, the overall system stability was poor AF. I had an occasional (OS crash error) messages, basic tasks like browsing were taking forever, one game World of Warcraf 1.12.1 was a hit and miss, I got it to run two or three times and the FPS was terrible.

      It came with few different proprietary drivers for my GPU, but switching between them took forever and a long restart sometimes with messed up resolutions and improper booting … and stuff…

      Then I read that Mint distros were better than Ubuntu in this regard and the only thing keeping me from trying (even dual booting) is that I don’t have much HDD space to spare, also I think testing games from an alien NTFS partition may not give me the best results and also this one F2P FPS game with anticheat that just won’t run on Linux because of the anticheat.


      I really want to dump Windows already, but:

      1. I haven’t found the right distro
      2. A game that I wanna play (and dual boot just for a game seems like a waste)

      3. My current hardware is messy at best (I had a laptop and things there were a lot smoother, probably because it’s a pre-built combination of hardware that are intercompatible or something)

      1. A different Martin said on May 12, 2017 at 8:42 am

        @ TianlanSha:

        I’ve read a couple of reviews that said Chapeau Linux offers unusually good out-of-the-box support for gaming (and multimedia). However, it requires a relatively powerful computer with a dedicated graphics card.

        I installed it in a virtual machine on my laptop. Unfortunately, my laptop isn’t particularly powerful, it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU, and I can only spare the virtual machine 2GB of RAM, so while Chapeau has worked just fine so far — except for an applications menu glitch that is almost certainly due to the fact that it’s running in VirtualBox — it is probably the slowest and laggiest distro I have trialed.

        I’m not a gamer, so even if I had a dedicated GPU, I couldn’t give you any real-world gaming feedback.

        Chapeau is based on Fedora, which is a leading/bleeding-edge distro, so it gets very frequent updates, including to core OS components. These seem to require a reboot-and-install cycle every time. Despite its leading/bleeding-edge status and frequent updates, it’s never been borked by an update since I installed it a few months ago.

        The reviews were pretty positive, so I wanted to check it out for possible future use, even though my current machine isn’t up to snuff. It also gave me the opportunity to try out Gnome 3.2. It’s not my favorite desktop environment (that would be Cinnamon), but I could probably live with it if I had to.

        Anyway, you seem to like gaming, so I thought I’d just throw it out there.

      2. A different Martin said on May 12, 2017 at 8:19 am

        @ Jason:

        “What’s happening in January 2020?”

        End of life (no more free security updates) for Windows 7.

        I’m kind of confused about Microsoft’s changing statements on the issue, but Win7 end of life on Skylake chipsets might be earlier, in mid-2018.

        And if TianlanSha gets a replacement computer with a Kaby Lake or later chipset (or an equivalent-generation AMD chipset), Win7 end of life is immediate. For the time being, I think there’s a hack that allows you to re-enable updating, but Microsoft doesn’t test Win7 updates on the newest chipsets.

      3. Jason said on May 11, 2017 at 5:50 pm

        @AnorKnee Merce:

        What’s happening in January 2020? I missed that part.

        Linux gaming is actually “a thing” now, and it has been ever since Steam started supporting Linux. It’s true that you cannot play every single game on Linux, but there are hundreds of games now available for it. That’s more than enough for most people.

        Keep in mind, also, that there is a lot of backlash against Microsoft from game publishers recently. Microsoft is clearly trying to hook publishers into its “ecosystem”, and they don’t like it. (Why should they? It’s very dangerous for a company to rely completely on another company for its existence.) Because of this, a lot of companies broadly involved in the game industry are increasingly trying to hedge their bets by keeping support for Linux active. Steam itself is using Linux on its “Steam machines” as a failsafe in case Microsoft goes completely rogue on them. Far from Windows being the only gaming platform in a few years, we might find that it has been replaced by dozens of fragmented platforms developed by individual game companies. (Actually, we’ve had that for decades: it’s called a game console. But this could kick into a higher gear in the future.)

        TL;DR: Linux is here to stay, and Microsoft gaming dominance is far from certain in the years to come.

      4. AnorKnee Merce said on May 11, 2017 at 3:25 pm

        @ TianlanSha

        From the looks of it, for gamers like you, come Jan 2020 you will have little choice but to move to Win 10 or Win 8.1 or MacOS because most popular game developers do not support Linux due to its minuscule market share of about 2%, similar to the lack of apps and games for Win 10 Mobile.

        Seems, Google’s coming Magenta-based Fuchsia OS is just to replace their Linux-derived Android OS and ChromeOS.
        ……. Linux desktop OS will stay about the same for the foreseeable future, ie going nowhere.

        Since the arrival of Win 10, I have been able to dump Windows and move to Linux Mint because I’m not a gamer and am just a non-techie websurfer.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.