Are you looking to skip the nonsense and find the single best Linux distro in 2021? There’s something you should know… Hundreds (if not thousands) of Linux distros are available to choose from. Distrowatch rankings recognize 306, but each week more distributions are built and released.
Free distros. Paid distros. Distros based on distros. Options feel limitless. Honestly, they are. So if you’re looking for a single answer for the top linux distro, you’re asking the wrong question.
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Why would I switch from Windows to Linux?
There are so many reasons to consider a new operating system environment for your desktop or server. Some reasons include:
- Linux is open source, so it can help reduce server costs
- Linux is focused on security and privacy, with fewer viruses and malware targeted towards Linux desktop or server environments
- Linux provides users with full control over their experience
If you’re reading this article, then hopefully you are already convinced that Linux is a great alternative to Windows or Mac OS. Now you must decide what the best linux distributions are for your needs.
What is the Best Linux Distro 2021?
Linux distros are not one-size-fits-all. That’s part of their beauty. They’re based on function and are highly task-oriented.
We’ve already explained why Linux is superior to Windows, but now it’s time to get specific.
To make the best decision when selecting your linux operating systems you can, here’s what you need to do:
- Understand your primary needs
- Search for need-specific Linux distros
- Compare the available options
- Choose a linux distro and get started
But, that’s a lot of work. In today’s article, we take care of steps 2 and 3 for you. This article handpicks two of the best distros for popular user-groups, including:
- Beginners, including the best linux distro for windows users
- Developers & Programmers
- Gamers, gaming hosts & game developers
- The privacy & security conscious
Best Linux Distros for Beginners
While it might sound unintuitive, the considerable variance in linux distributions makes Linux simpler for beginners. Long gone are the days of linux users having to be expert technologists. We’re happy to report that there are now a variety of linux distros with desktop environments that are great for beginners.
Beginners will likely need a linux distro which doesn’t require the use of the command line. A friendly linux desktop environment is also crucial. Here are our two recommended options for beginners’ best Linux distro 2021, Ubuntu and Linux Mint:
For new users, Ubuntu is as accessible as it gets. It’s a complete OS solution based on Debian and boasts the most significant community support framework in the whole linux distro world.
In fact, across public and OpenStack clouds, Ubuntu is the world’s most popular operating system. It’s clear to see why:
- Simple customizations
- Numerous free software choices (via the Ubuntu software center)
- High compatibility with hardware
As far as beginner linux distributions go, Ubuntu is always a great choice for the best ease of use.
2. Linux Mint
Linux Mint may be the perfect starting distro for new Linux users. Based on Ubuntu, Linux Mint comes loaded with a stack of beginner-friendly features.
- Custom desktop options (including a choice of 4 starter flavors)
- Media codecs
- Easy to use interface
- Open source desktop environment
Linux Mint is ideal for those switching from another OS. That’s because the user-interface is similar to Windows. As far as linux desktop environments go, it is by far the most beautiful of any other linux operating system. Plus, Linux Mint’s included software and package manager makes the changeover process a breeze.
Best Linux Distros for Developers and Programmers
To be considered the best Linux distro 2020, developer-friendly distributions must be streamlined. For the more technical users, Arch and openSUSE are my top two choices.
1. Arch Linux
Arch is one of the most popular developer linux distrubtions, and this is why:
- Rolling release model (always work with the latest versions)
- Customisable build using Terminal (meaning no bloatware)
- Heavily optimized for speed
Consider that initial installation can be tricky, and everything is done with the command-line. If that doesn’t leave you head-scratching, Arch might be the distro for you.
For programmers and developers, the saved space and time will be well worth any initial teething problems after installation.
openSUSE is aimed at developers and, like Arch, it is currently one of the top-ranked distros available.
- Rolling release model
- Powerful developer tools
- Widely supported by most applications
Due to the target market, openSUSE is heavy on security. Frequent root password entry is part and parcel here, which may well suit the more security conscious.
Linux Distros for Privacy and Security
Several specialized distributions go beyond the standard Linux securities. If you’re in web security or hosting – Tails and Qubes OS are your suggested options.
Tails is perhaps as secure as you can get. The Amnesic Incognito Live System – aside from just sounding cool – anonymises all web traffic by default. Some of Tails’ key features include:
- Anonymised traffic
- State of the art cryptographic technology
- Total RAM storage
RAM stores all data, so once your computer is shut-down, everything vanishes. There’s no record of Tails even having run on your computer. Users also have the option to enable persistent storage if required. This level of security makes Tails the perfect option for hardware Bitcoin wallets.
Tails is a little more niche than the other options, but it’s a failsafe if privacy is your primary focus.
2. Qubes OS
This open source operating system protects users by assuming they are already hacked. It’s even gained a reputation as the most secure Operating System you’ve never heard of.
- Compartmentalized domains
- Colored borders to distinguish differing security levels
- Integration of Whonix (easy to use Tor)
Qubes uses, well, ‘qubes,’ to split your digital life into a set of virtual domains. This means any exploit would limit an attacker to just one segment of your computer.
Security is at the very core of Qubes, so it comes highly recommended for those dealing with sensitive and confidential data.
3. Arch Linux
Amongst Linux users, Arch linux is often considered the cream of the crop as far as users that want complete control and aren’t afraid to do the hard work in configuring their desktop environment.
This precise control makes Arch another great option for anyone who is focused on privacy and security.
Best Distro for the Gaming World
You can, of course, use any Linux distro for gaming.
That said, there are a few characteristics that make specific distros preferable for the gaming industry. Both options below are great examples:
It’s impossible to leave out SteamOS when discussing gaming distros. Here’s why:
- Steam comes pre-installed
- No additional software requirements
- Top support for graphics cards and other game specific hardware
As well as being primed for gaming, SteamOS features a handy ‘desktop mode.’ This allows the use of additional, non-gaming apps.
2. Game Drift Linux
SteamOS may be the most infamous, but Game Drift is a solid choice for anybody in the gaming community. Their comprehensive driver support makes Game Drift ideal for frequent hardware changes.
- Own Game Store
- CrossOver platform (with access to 1500+ windows games)
- Can be installed on HDD or another USB drive
What Is the Best Linux distro 2020?
Distros are flexible, as are the needs of their users. Simply put, there’s no single best choice for everybody. There is, however, a Linux distribution that best fits you.
The great thing about Linux is that many of the popular distributions offer am open source live CD / USB so that you can run it on your PC and try it out without having to commit to it. This allows you to try a linux dissertation and switch to another with no hassle.
Once you’ve made your choice and found the best linux distribution for you, it’s time to consider your hosting. Whichever Linux distribution you opt for, each can be used with our dedicated servers found here.