17 Best Linux Distros You Should Try In 2024

Are you looking for a change from Windows or Mac systems but don’t want to compromise on quality? Well, you have an obvious choice: Linux.

Linux came into the big picture in the early 1980s, when many developers started using it in their projects and gave birth to various distros (or distributions). Soon, it became the heart and soul of the Unix-like operating systems.

Currently, there are hundreds of Linux flavors readily available for you to install right away. From the sleek and user-friendly interfaces of Ubuntu to the more hands-on, do-it-yourself ethos of Arch Linux, each distro has the ability to shape your workflows, improve your productivity, and elevate your overall computing journey. 

We understand that navigating the vast Linux world can be overwhelming for newcomers. No need to worry; we’re here to assist. Below, we have compiled some of the best Linux distros, highlighting their strengths, reasons to use them, and potential drawbacks. 

Our selection process considered six key criteria: performance, user interface, customization options, community support, software availability, and stability. 

Did you know? 

There are over 600 active Linux distributions. This OS dominates the server market, powering approximately 90% of the world’s supercomputers. In fact, the world’s top 500 supercomputers run on Linux. 

13. Peppermint OS

Suitable for users with older computers or low-end hardware

Peppermint OS is a Lubuntu-based Linux distribution built on a long-term support (LTS) codebase. What makes this OS unique is its approach to creating a hybrid desktop that integrates both local and cloud applications.

Its handy cloud and web application management tool “Ice” puts web apps on an equal footing with locally installed applications by seamlessly integrating them into system menus.

The OS is packed with plenty of native and cloud software, including Firefox, Dropbox, Nemo, VLC, Google Drive, 2D/3D Chess, Solitaire, and much more. Like other Linux distributions, you can install packages like Skype, LibreOffice, GIMP, etc. Since it’s an Ubuntu spin, it supports whatever Ubuntu supports.

Pros Cons
Sleek and user-friendly interface Less frequent updates
Fast boot times and responsive performance limited software repositories
Cloud integration  

System Requirements: Intel x86 architecture, 2 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of disk space. 

12. Deepin

Suitable for users transitioning from macOS or Windows

Deepin is a stylish Linux-based operating system that you can easily use on your personal computers and on network servers. It carries its own desktop environment known as DDE or Deepin Desktop Environment. Deepin also carries all the packages from the underlying system, Debian.

The file manager in Deepin has a straightforward interface, with features like file previews and quick access to commonly used folders. Its control center offers a centralized location for configuring different aspects of the system, including network configuration, display settings, and power management. 

According to DistroWatch, it is the most popular Linux-based distribution in China.

However, Deepin is well known for its sluggishness. Apart from high resource usage problems, even when the system is idle, Deepin takes much longer to download packages from its default repositories than other Linux distros, which can be frustrating.

Pros  Cons
Custom desktop environment Relatively more resource-intensive
Has its own software center Limited community support
Stable and Reliable  
International Language Support  

System Requirements: 2 GHz multi-core processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of disk space. 

11. CentOS

Suitable for server deployments in enterprise environments 

CentOS is a community-driven Linux distribution that is highly compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and is basically a free version of an enterprise-standard distribution.  

The OS is primarily developed for server use, and while it can be installed on desktops, it may not be as feature-rich and user-friendly in terms of desktop applications.

But if you want an operating system for a home server, then CentOS is for you. It benefits from the security features implemented in RHEL and follows best practices for system security.

Pros  Cons
Enterprise-grade stability Delayed updates
Binary-compatible with RHEL Not suitable for desktop environments
Package manager for easy software installation  

System Requirements: 2 GHz dual-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of disk space. 

10. Gentoo Linux

Suitable for users who want a high level of control over their system configuration.

Gentoo Linux is a feature-rich and highly customizable Linux distribution intended for those who want full control of all the applications on their computer.

Gentoo allows you to customize your system according to your needs, though not easily. It requires a solid understanding of essential system tools to effectively fine-tune your Gentoo system.

You can reduce your system’s memory usage, and unlike many other distros, you can erase any kernel service or feature you don’t need. Gentoo also provides a huge collection of applications at your disposal through Portage, Gentoo’s advanced distribution and package management system.

Pros  Cons
Extreme customization Steep Learning Curve
Optimize installation for specific hardware architectures Limited precompiled packages compared to binary-based distributions.
Rolling release model ensures you have access to the latest software versions  

System Requirements: 2 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of disk space. 

9. Elementary OS

Suitable for new users with basic computing needs

If you are looking for a smart, attractive Linux distro, then you should give Elementry OS a try. Based on Ubuntu, it boasts the Pantheon desktop environment, which is basically built on the GNOME software base.

Its current interface or any upcoming updates follow a design philosophy known as the Human Design Guidelines. Its design, in particular, is pretty simple, which attracted praise from many users.

However, many have also criticized it for mimicking macOS in terms of both UX and UI. The latest version of the operating system was well received and is a great improvement over its precursor. 

Since the OS has its own AppCenter, it is quite simple to install and manage applications. You can find and install both free and paid apps. 

Pros  Cons
Focuses on simplicity and a cohesive user experience Not for Advanced Users
Visually appealing Users may not get access to the latest software updates as quickly
Granite Framework lets you create high-quality apps   

System Requirements: Intel or AMD processor, Graphics card with OpenGL 3 support, 4 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of disk space. 

8. OpenSUSE

Suitable for system admins and IT professionals managing servers or desktops

openSUSE is an extremely popular Linux-based project generally used by sysadmins and developers worldwide. It provides an extra layer of security protocols, which allows developers to work without worrying about attacks.

openSUSE offers two different release models: openSUSE Tumbleweed, with a rolling release model for those who need an up-to-date system, and openSUSE Leap, which is more stable and thus perfect for commercial use.

Tumbleweed is supported by ‘Factory,’ openSUSE’s principle codebase, so that packages and other updates are quickly available for download soon after testing. It is perfect for non-commercial or home systems.

OpenSUSE features its own system admin program called YaST (Yet another Setup Tool), which takes care of important functions such as firewall configurations, RPM package management, disk partitioning, and more.

Pros  Cons
User-friendly installation process Fewer packages compared to other distros
YaST (Yet another Setup Tool) simplifies system administration tasks slightly heavier resource usage
Btrfs and Snapper enhance system reliability and facilitate easy system recovery  

System Requirements: 2 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 20 GB of disk space. 

7. Kali Linux

Suitable for security professionals, penetration testers, and ethical hackers

No security-focused distribution is better at its job than Kali Linux. Derived from Debian, Kali Linux facilitates the appropriate environment for system managers and developers to evaluate their system’s security, aka penetration testing.

Kali comes with many useful stress testing and Vulnerability Analysis tools like DHCPig and BBQSQl. Important digital forensic tools such as Binwalk and Volatility are also included.

If you are wondering what other tools are included, you can always check their tools listings.

Pros  Cons
Custom kernel with specific security features Steep learning curve
Comprehensive Security Tools May not be suitable for everyday computing needs
Forensics mode ensures the integrity of the system  

System Requirements: Intel Core i3 or  AMD E1 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 20 GB of disk space. 

6. Tails

Suitable for professionals who require privacy and secure communication

Tails is known for its capacity to maintain users’ privacy and anonymity in any given situation. With Tails, you can surf the internet with freedom and not worry about any censorship. The operating system can only be booted as Live USB or Live DVD, and there will be no digital footprint left on the system unless instructed otherwise.

It makes sure that all your internet traffic passes through the Tor network, a specialized program that makes sure your data remains anonymous. Tails also feature advanced cryptographic tools to protect your files and emails.

It is so effective that many international news websites have published internal reports from the NSA concerning the level of threat the system poses against its secret data-gathering missions over the years.

Pros  Cons
Prioritizes user privacy and anonymity Slower performance
Anonymous Browsing with Tor Not suitable for persistent storage
The system leaves no traces after shutdown  

System Requirements: 2 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a USB stick or SD card with a minimum capacity of 8 GB

5. Lubuntu

Suitable for users with older computers

Perhaps one of the most efficient flavors of Ubuntu, Lubuntu is the perfect distribution for those who have older systems and netbooks. It utilizes the LDXE desktop environment, featuring minimal, lightweight applications tailored for efficiency, low RAM usage, and high speed.

While being lightweight, the OS allows you to customize the appearance of your desktop through various themes and configuration options. It prioritizes speed and efficiency, especially quick boot times and responsive performance on less powerful hardware.

Pros  Cons
Lightweight, fast, and energy-efficient Not as feature-rich as some heavier desktop environments
Compatible with Ubuntu software repositories Limited pre-installed software
Customizable appearance  

System Requirements: 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of disk space. 

4. Debian

Suitable for every user

Debian is one of the oldest Unix-like operating systems, based on which many of the now popular distros are built. More specifically, it is the second oldest Linux distribution still actively developed, with only Slackware predating it.

With Debian, you can access more than 64,000 software packages. While it generally carries free and open-source software, many non-free tools can also be downloaded and installed from repositories.

Furthermore, you have the liberty to install a desktop environment of your choice. You can choose KDE, XFCE, and LXDE from the boot menu.

You might find it interesting that Debian, as an institution, is renowned for its policies and manifesto. These principles have a direct impact on the operating system in various ways.

Pros  Cons
Supports a broad range of hardware architectures Doesn’t include proprietary firmware or drivers by default
Stable and reliable Longer release cycles
Large package repository and excellent package management   

System Requirements: 1 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of disk space. 

3. Arch Linux

Neofetch output of an Arch Linux Installation.

Suitable for Linux enthusiasts and experienced users who enjoy hands-on customization

Arch Linux is a bar of gold for programmers and advanced Unix-based systems users. While technically, this distro can be used by anyone, it’s curated for the special needs of advanced users.

The distribution follows a strict design principle that tends to keep things as simple as possible. Unlike many other popular Linux distributions, Arch Linux needs a considerable amount of expertise on the part of users to master the system’s core operations.

It is lightweight and provides you with the necessary tools for various customization; you can choose which packages you want to install and uninstall. Programmers love this level of freedom, but a novice most probably won’t. It employs a rolling release model for delivering system updates.

To wrap it up, Arch Linux is a good way to go for those who already have a bit of experience with Linux distributions and want to try something new.

Pros  Cons
Arch Build System to create and customize packages Steeper learning curve
Follows a rolling release model Time-consuming installation
Comprehensive documentation for troubleshooting and configuration  

System Requirements: x86_64 compatible machine, 2 GB of RAM, and 4 GB of disk space. 

2. Ubuntu

Suitable for every user

For many folks unfamiliar with Linux, Ubuntu is often seen as synonymous with the entire Linux world, and vice versa. Whether it’s due to popularity or just chance, if you’re new to Linux and looking for a straightforward yet powerful distribution, go for Ubuntu without overthinking it.

Ubuntu offers four versions: Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Cloud, and Ubuntu Core. All are secure and implement extra safety features to ensure file security.  

It comes with a bunch of pre-installed applications, like LibreOffice (a word processing alternative), Thunderbird (a popular mail client), and Transmission (a torrent client for Linux). You can easily add more software through Ubuntu Software.

Pros  Cons
Stable and user-friendly The default desktop environment (GNOME) can be resource-intensive
Has a vast and well-maintained software repository May not be as lightweight as some other Linux distros
Large and Active Community  

System Requirements: 2 GHz dual-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of disk space. 

1. Linux Mint

Suitable for general desktop users who want a reliable OS for everyday computing tasks

Linux Mint is a powerful yet easy-to-use distribution that can do wonders for those who are new to the Linux world. It is also adored by veteran Linux users due to its high flexibility and also the uncanny ability to use several proprietary software without putting in much labor.

With Mint, you get a wide range of desktop environment options. You can either stick with the default Cinnamon environment or go with KDE, MATE, or even Xfce. You can install a few other desktop environments via Synaptic and Advanced Package Tool (APT).

It comes with multimedia codecs and support for proprietary media formats, allowing you to play various types of media files without additional configuration. It also features Software Manager and Update Manager, making installation and security updates a breeze.

Pros  Cons
Easy Customization Limited pre-installed software
Cinnamon desktop environment Slower release cycle
Mint tools simplify system configuration, updates, and backups  

System Requirements: 2 GHz dual-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 20 GB of disk space. 

Specialized Linux distros for specific use cases

14. SteamOS 

Use Case: Gaming

Primarily designed for gaming PCs and living room gaming consoles, SteamOS is based on Debian Linux. While it is optimized for running games through the Steam platform, it is compatible with a range of hardware configurations. 

It comes pre-installed with the Steam client, allowing you to access their full Steam library directly from the operating system. This includes both native Linux games and Windows games through Steam’s Proton compatibility layer.

System Requirements: Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor, NVIDIA or AMD graphics card, 4 GB of RAM, and 100 GB of disk space. 

Read More: 8 Best Linux Distributions for Gaming

15. Bodhi Linux

Use Case: Lightweight and resource-efficient

Bodhi Linux is an excellent choice for older hardware or users who prefer a fast and responsive system. It utilizes the Moksha desktop environment, which is built on the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL). Moksha focuses on efficiency, visuals, and customizability. 

Bodhi Linux has an AppCenter for managing applications. It allows you to easily discover, install, and remove software from the Bodhi repositories.

System Requirements: 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 5 GB of disk space

16. Endless OS

Use Case: Educational and content-centric

Endless OS comes with a variety of pre-installed educational content, including Wikipedia articles, interactive apps, and other resources that can be accessed without an internet connection.

The OS is designed to be useful in educational settings, with a focus on providing educational content and resources to users. 

It uses a customized version of the GNOME desktop environment, offering a clean and straightforward interface for users. As for security, it employs a read-only file system, and system updates are managed in a way that preserves user data and settings. 

System Requirements: 2 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of disk space

17. CAELinux

Use Case: Engineering and simulation

CAELinux provides a comprehensive and pre-configured environment for engineers, researchers, and students working in fields related to simulation and numerical analysis. It integrates open-source software tools and packages that are widely used in the Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) community.

More specifically, it includes tools like Salome-Meca (pre-processing, meshing, and post-processing), Code_Saturne (CFD solver), Code_Aster (finite element solver), and many other utilities. 

System Requirements: 2 GHz multi-core processor, 4 GB of RAM, Graphics card with OpenGL support for simulation tasks, 32 GB of disk space


Congrats on reaching the end of the article. Now that we’ve revealed the pros and cons of various distros, it is time for you to embark on your own Linux adventure. 

Remember, the best distro for you depends on your specific requirements and preferences. To make your selection process quicker, here are the top Linux distros in different categories: 

  • Productivity: Ubuntu and Linux Mint
  • VPS: Ubuntu Server, CentOS, and Debian
  • Lightweight: Lubuntu and Bodhi Linux

If you’ve got the time, go ahead and experiment with various distros. Install them, try them out, and stick with the one that feels just right for you. Don’t be afraid to explore. Linux is all about freedom, choice, and endless possibilities.

Read More

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Written by
Bipro Das

I am a content writer and researcher with over seven years of experience covering all gaming and anime topics. I also have a keen interest in the retail sector and often write about the business models/strategies of popular brands.

I started content writing after completing my graduation. After writing tech-related things and other long-form content for 2-3 years, I found my calling with games and anime. Now, I get to find new games and write features and previews.

When not writing for RankRed, I usually prefer reading investing books or immersing myself in Europa Universalis 4. But I am currently interested in some new JRPGs as well.

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  • For some unknown reason Linux Mint lags in my PC, i love to use this OS but it doesn’t work as expected.

    • too bad, i like mint too

  • SaintALiFrh says:

    in mint section, on ‘Advanced Package Tool (ACT)’ part, Please change ACT to APT.