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How to choose the best Linux distribution

best linux distro

Choosing the proper Linux distro can be a very difficult task, especially for people who are used to Windows or Mac OS. There are hundreds of different Linux distributions to choose from, and each one of them has its pros and cons.

Fortunately, by answering 10 simple questions, you should be able to pick a distro that fulfills all your needs. Let's get started!

1. Are you interested in installing a Linux distribution that was created for everyday use, or do you want one that has been built with a special purpose in mind? If you are only interested in discovering Linux, you should pick Elementary OS, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Manjaro, Debian, Fedora Workstation, openSUSE, CentOS or Gentoo Linux. However, if you want to use Linux to recover data, for example, you will need to use a lightweight distribution such as Puppy Linux or Knoppix. People who want to use a Linux-based computer as their gaming machine should choose between Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Arch Linux, which can be tweaked according to their needs.

2. Would you want to test a Linux distribution first, without needing to change anything to your computer? Some distributions can be installed straight to, and then can run from a USB stick, allowing your computer to boot into Linux without affecting the existing O.S. If you want to do a live test before deciding to install Linux on your computer's hard drive, you can't go wrong if you choose Ubuntu, Manjaro or Linux Mint.

3. Are you a computer guru? If the answer is affirmative, go with Arch Linux or Gentoo Linux, which provide a lot of flexibility; otherwise, choose amongst Elementary OS, Ubuntu, Linux Mint or openSUSE, which are user-friendly distros.

4. Maybe you are interested in Linux because you own an older computer, and you want it to run as fast as possible. The good news is that there are several distributions that have been built with this purpose in mind, so you can safely pick one of these: Linux Mint, Fedora Workstation, Lubuntu or Void Linux.

5. Will you miss the old OS' user interface? If you prefer to have a Linux desktop that provides a Windows-like interface, choose Mageia, openSUSE or PCLinuxOS; actually, you can't go wrong with Knoppix or openSUSE Tumbleweed either. On the other hand, if you are a former Mac OS user, Elementary OS, Ubuntu GNOME and Solus will make you feel at home.

6. Do you prefer a distro that includes most of the needed applications by default, or would you rather install your favorite apps, one at a time? If you want to get started right away, pick Ubuntu, Manjaro, Linux Mint or Debian; still, if you prefer to install your own software, Arch Linux, CentOS, Gentoo Linux and Slackware will provide plenty of flexibility and power.

7. Are you interested in getting a distribution that includes binaries which have been built from code that was released under free licenses, such as GNU GPL? If you answered "yes", choose Debian, Fedora Workstation or Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

8. Some Linux distributions make use of various online services to provide an "improved user experience". However, with services like these, the user's privacy may be affected. If you want your online activities to remain 100% anonymous, Elementary OS, Arch Linux, Manjaro, Linux Mint, Debian and openSUSE are great options.

9. Do you want to install a distro that includes lots of graphical themes, icon packs, and more eye candy? If user experience is important for you, pick Elementary OS, Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Fedora Workstation.

10. How often do you intend to update the operating system? Some distributions get updated faster, and this can lead to potential system issues, while others are updated less often, but are more stable. If you are interested in getting frequent O.S. updates, you should go for Gentoo Linux, Slackware, Void Linux or openSUSE Tumbleweed.