We give you the ten best Linux distro(s) for beginners, which can be the perfect starting point and help you to pick the best of the lot.
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If you are manifesting joining the Linux clan and thinking about it, it’s time. It’s time to ditch Windows for good and save some money by doing so. Also, keep your sanity from monthly Windows updates that are gigabytes in size, save on your internet bill, save precious time watching a dumb blue screen (like below) and so on. The blessing of ditching the Windows list is pretty long.
And you are in a perfect place to choose your first Linux distro as we prepare this list with much care and your very need.
Characteristics of ideal beginners’ Linux distro
There may be mixed opinions about what qualifies a distro for a beginner. From my point of view, I believe a distro is perfect for beginners if it possesses the below criteria:
- Easy to install
- Well outlined documentation for installation via dual boot (in an OEM installed Windows hardware)
- Easy to get support from communities
- Stable (as in doesn’t crash often)
- Hardware and peripherals (printer, Bluetooth, display, sound) should work out of the box.
- Looks decent before customisation
- Play basic supported games, movies & Netflix/other streaming services
As you can see, these are pretty basic needs from a computing standpoint for an average user. And these are the distros which I believe are a perfect fit for beginners’ distros.
Top 10 Linux Distro for Beginners
1. Linux Mint
Over the years, Linux Mint proved itself to be an ideal distro for not only beginners but everyone. You can easily use this operating system for any use case.
Hence, our first on this list is Linux Mint.
Linux Mint comes with three variants based on different desktop environments. But at its core, it remains the same. It is based on Ubuntu LTS and has a 5-year support plan.
Moreover, for those five years, you get hardware support, bug fixes and security fixes. This alone makes it to be a perfect beginner distro.
In addition, a vast friendly community and well-structured documentation is a plus point. If you are a new user and are stuck for any help, you can go to several communication channels to get help from the community. Usually, the Discord server of Linux Mint is ideal for a fast response.
Another important aspect is that Linux Mint comes with all possible (old and new) hardware support out of the box. So, if you are wondering whether your old printer or any hardware would work or not, then worry not. Try Linux Mint; ideally, the hardware should work out of the box.
That said, here’s a recap of some advantages and disadvantages of Linux Mint with the download link.
2. Zorin OS
Zorin OS is the second beginner distro on this list. It is perfect for those who want a good starting point with Linux with stability and good looks together. Powered by a custom desktop environment inspired by Xfce and GNOME 3, it brings several ready-made desktop looks. The desktop looks include macOS and Windows with different variations of panel and taskbar.
Other than that, Zorin OS is based on Ubuntu LTS (long-term support), which gives you five years’ worth of support and security updates. Finally, it brings three major variants – Pro, Lite and Core edition to cater to various user bases. The Pro version is a paid version (with a minimal fee) which brings additional desktop customisation options and tweaks.
3. Linux Lite
The third beginner’s distro in this list is Linux Lite. I have included this because millions of Windows 7 or Windows 10 users whose hardware suddenly became obsolete after the Windows 11 hardware requirement.
But hardware does not become obsolete overnight for specific evil rules imposed by the giants. Linux Lite is perfect for older hardware and also for newer ones. It is powered by Ubuntu LTS releases and comes with a lightweight Xfce desktop environment.
In addition, it brings several in-house utilities specially designed for new users. For example, a beginner may not know how to use a terminal in Linux or upgrade a system. So, Linux Lite has several graphical utilities to take care of day-to-day system & maintenance work.
Ubuntu Linux is the most used and downloaded Linux operating system. It’s more popular than all the distros in this list combined. Ubuntu Linux (mainly the Long Term Support edition) is used by millions of users, enterprises and real-world business needs.
The only reason we featured Ubuntu as a beginner distro is its capability, popularity and perhaps most widely used. Because of that, beginner users get massive support from an already established user base, forums and so on.
Moreover, almost all third-party applications, games and other associated critical software targets Ubuntu first as their compatible platform. Hence, it is easier for beginner users to get the software they need without many hurdles.
5. MX Linux
MX Linux is a Debian-based systemd-free Linux distribution which brings several advantages for beginner users. Hence it is 5th on this list.
For a new user, it doesn’t matter to know what is “systemd” or “init” systems. These are little advanced Linux knowledge in that term.
The primary reason it is a suitable beginner distro is that it brings a complete operating system with pre-loaded applications, easy-to-use desktops and longer-term support.
Thanks to Debian, MX Linux officially supports more than 5 years with bug fixes and security updates. In addition, it brings all necessary applications packaged in its installer so that you do not require to perform any further post-install tweaks.
Also, a wide range of free and proprietary hardware support is available, thanks to Debian.
Finally, the Xfce desktop environment is faster and easy to navigate.
Lubuntu is the LXQt-based Linux Distribution based on Ubuntu Linux. It is one of the super lightweight distros that is stable, super-fast and brings a wide range of hardware and software support.
Thanks to its Ubuntu base, you get all the advantages of being a Ubuntu-based distro which we featured above for Ubuntu.
The LXQt desktop is the most friendly and super fast legacy desktop today. It even outranks Xfce and KDE Plasma in terms of performance. In addition, beginner users do not require to learn anything additional to use this desktop because of its legacy design.
Hence, I believe it’s a perfect choice for a set of beginner users.
7. Fedora with KDE Plasma
Fedora Linux with KDE Plasma desktop can be an ideal distro for new users to power users. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, unlike Ubuntu, Fedora Linux is a little advanced and a pioneer in bringing new emerging technology to you. Hence, if you are a beginner in Linux and have modern hardware, Fedora is a perfect choice.
Besides that, the KDE Plasma desktop is a powerful desktop with a vast selection of customisation options. A famous tagline perfectly fits KDE Plasma – “Simple by default, powerful when needed”.
Hence, the blend of Fedora Linux and KDE Plasma is perhaps the most intuitive and powerful combination for all types of Linux users.
Finally, a friendly community of Fedora and KDE Plasma must be another reason to choose this distro over others.
8. Pop OS
Pop OS is a Linux distribution created by Americal computer manufacturer System76 for its hardware line-up. Although it is primarily designed for its hardware, it is free to download and use.
The primary reason I think it is perfect for a new user is that it’s designed to be a powerful distro which works well with modern graphics card line-ups and AI-ML workloads. In addition, Pop OS also features a dedicated installer for NVIDIA cards so that you do not require to spend time installing drivers.
Besides that, it’s customised “COSMIC Desktop” brings built-in tiling features, well-designed system tray controls and an application repository called “Pop Shop”.
The Pop Shop is an attractive app which gives you easy access to thousands of apps classified by your use case – Study, Development, Gaming, etc.
Finally, due to its popularity, many leading computer manufacturers such as HP and Lenovo launched several Laptop models with Pop OS as the default operating system instead of Windows.
Hence, Pop OS is one of the best contenders in this list as a beginner Linux distro.
9. elementary OS
The elementaryOS is famous for its looks and design. It’s the best distro for beginners who wants a mix of aesthetics and stability in Linux. This distro is heavily inspired by macOS and its design principle. IF you are a macOS user and want to jump into the Linux world, this is a perfect distro.
At its core, it is powered by the Ubuntu long-term support editions, which give you the necessary security and bug fixes for more than 5 years with extended support.
One advantage of elementary OS for a beginner is its own “App Center”, which is loaded with curated applications for your daily needs. These apps are designed to work well and give you an immersive experience within the desktop itself.
Finally, the Pantheon desktop is perhaps the best-designed desktop environment among all the options listed here.
The last Linux distro for beginners in this list is the famous Deepin OS. It features the stunning Deepin desktop environment popular among Windows and macOS users.
The Deepin desktop is known for its out-of-the-box aesthetics, customisation options and design. At the core, Deepin is powered by a Debian-stable branch, which means the support lifecycle is available for more than five years.
Moreover, Deepin brings its own “App Store”, which features selected applications and is easier to download/install/uninstall software for beginners.
Deepin also supports advanced features such as face unlock, fingerprint login, etc.
I hope this list of Linux distro(s) for beginners helps you choose the best one for your needs. The above list comprises a blend of different desktop environments suitable for novice users. I also gave some hints about the advantages & disadvantages of each one of the beginner’s distros (s). Although, the pros and cons are subjective and depend on individual taste. But I tried to keep a balance while featuring those.
Also, I have not included any distro based on Arch Linux consciously because it is a little difficult for new users. There are many user-friendly Arch-based distros, such as Manjaro Linux, but I firmly believe Arch should not be a starting point for new users in their Linux journey.
Finally, let me know which one is the best or should be featured on this list in the comment box.