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Bobby Iliev
Bobby Iliev

Posted on

What is your Linux distribution of choice and why?

Hi all!

I have personally been using Linux for the past 8 years now. I initially started with Linux Mint installed on my laptop and I was quite happy with it. Then a couple of years later I switched to Ubuntu 16.04.

What I love about Ubuntu so far is that I've been upgrading it each year and I'm now at 20.04 on the same laptop. This is something that was missing with CentOS.

For my servers, I've always been defaulting to CentOS up until the recent RH changes. So instead I've been experimenting with Ubuntu Server and it's quite nice.

So for me it's been:

  • Desktop: Linux Mint -> Ubuntu
  • Servers: CentOS -> Ubuntu

I'm quite curious to hear what your distribution of choice has been!

Discussion (102)

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flokoe profile image
Florian Köhler • Edited on

For my personal workstation I prefer Manjaro (or Ubuntu).
I really like Arch, but at work it just has... to work. Building Arch Linux hast too much overhead (Even though it's really fun!).

On servers, I find Debian the only viable option.
It is stable, secure and simple. Yes, you do have to do some things manually (To be honest, with automation this is not really a concern. Whoever configures servers by hand these days... do yourself a favor and just use Puppet, Ansible or whatever automation tool works best for you). Because of this it is more flexible and lightweight than Ubuntu, but still not as cumbersome as CentOS or RHEL.
I feel like CentOS/RHEL just makes life harder. Like they want simple things to be hard.

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bobbyiliev profile image
Bobby Iliev Author

Really well said! Fully agree with all this!

I've been wanting to try out Manjaro for a while now so might give it a try this weekend!

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mbcrump profile image
Michael Crump

They now have a guided installer which makes installing Arch easy - dev.to/mbcrump/arch-linux-april-20...

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cmuralisree profile image
Chittoji Murali Sree Krishna

I use Vanilla arch

I love it, bcz

  1. It's extremely lightweight,
  2. You are building your own system, so it will be solid stable
  3. Pacman and AUR,
  4. Availability of software
  5. Infamous archwiki,
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lukaszahradnik profile image
Lukáš Zahradník

How does building it yourself make it "solid stable"?

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cmuralisree profile image
Chittoji Murali Sree Krishna

Because you know what all you download, and you won't add any extras, then os will be running clean without any unnecessary apps that are trying to eat memory or effect it when they got update, so it will be stable,

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nefofortressia profile image
Nefo Fortressia

More like, "I use Arch btw".

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bobbyiliev profile image
Bobby Iliev Author

Nice! I really like the fact that with Arch you have control over every aspect of your operating system.

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Yaniv Bahalker

POP OS.
Based on Ubuntu so huge community support.
Includes awesome window tiling out of the box.
Hybrid Graphics support.
I tried CentOS and Ubuntu before, both was frustrating with screen scaling and my laptop used to overheat and I heard the fans too much on basic stuff.

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bobbyiliev profile image
Bobby Iliev Author

Oh nice, that sounds pretty cool!

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AlexisFinn • Edited on

+1 for POP OS, it's truly awesome, replaces Mint in my heart as the Linux to showcase what Linux can do to Windows/MacOS users.

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darkain profile image
Vincent Milum Jr

Linux became harder and hardware to manage as a system administrator, as necessary tools became obfuscated away by more and more layers of abstraction, on average doubling the time it took to resolve issues in production when they came up.

Had FreeBSD running to mirror and backup some content on the Linux servers. Found that it was significantly faster to troubleshoot issues on these FreeBSD machines. Over time, shifted the entire infrastructure over to FreeBSD, and now that's where I live.

FreeBSD Jails and ZFS have really opened up the possibilities with my infrastructure to support applications in wildly new ways, yet retaining a level of simplicity and consistency never found on Linux.

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Frederico Corrêa

We're in the same page here. Have been used FreeBSD for almost five years by now, though still run Linux for academical reasons.

As for the linuxes, I do prefer Gentoo and Arch Linux.

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Bobby Iliev Author

I've heard so much good stuff for both FreeBSD and ZFS and it's a shame that I've never got to use FreeBSD in prod.

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James Linden

When I started, there were essentially three options: Slackware, Debian, Redhat. My brother used Redhat, so I did too. 25 years later, still using Redhat or derivatives. I've taken various forays into SUSE/OpenSUSE, Ubuntu variations, and even building custom distros for small devices (prime-linux.org).

I'm happy to see anyone using any flavor of Linux!

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Bobby Iliev Author

That is absolutely amazing!

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Celiz Matias

Archlinux!

Because it is very customisable and contains no rubbish from the installation. 3 years ago I love build my own distro with arch, you can choise any desktop, and install only the necesary drivers, software... And the best part for me was pacman with ths package manager you never touch the source again always is updated.

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Bobby Iliev Author

Love that! Starting with Arch really helps understand how Linux works.

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Jean-Michel Plourde

I mainly use Ubuntu for my job and university. Even though I'd like to use fancier distros, I really have to ship software so I can't be bothered by all the overhead from a more hardcore rolling release like Arch Linux for example.

Using Ubuntu never prevented me from using productivity boosting tools. I recently started using i3wm, which is a tiling windows manager that's highly customisable and use few resources to work. I followed some videos to customize it to my liking and I really appreciate how all my windows are in the same place all the time and I can finally ditch Alr+tab. You can find my i3wm config here.

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Abraham Anuoluwapo

Check out ZorinOs. It's basically the fancy version on ubuntu.

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bobbyiliev profile image
Bobby Iliev Author

Sounds cool! I will check it out!

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Bobby Iliev Author

This is the main reason why I defaulted to Ubuntu as it lets you get going pretty quickly.

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Damian Nowak

I used to use a lot os different distros - ElementaryOS, ubuntu, debian, manjaro, raspberryOS, but after all I'm using Archlinux as main distro. If i've had a business laptop with linux, i would install manjaro, because i have the best experience with Arch based distros.

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Bobby Iliev Author

After all of the great comments about Manjaro, I'll definitely give it a try this weekend!

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Damian Nowak

For me Manjaro is easier version of Arch. The installation is much easier to do. There's no need to use commands, and the whole proces doesn't need any knowledge about command-line what so ever. It feels like I'm on Arch. I'm KDE Plasma fan, and on both of those (Arch and Manjaro) performance is in my opinion the same, which is very good.

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Nic

Linux Mint is my favourite.

I used to use Ubuntu back in the day, but then they changed it, right around the time when Mint was relatively new and I swapped to that.

I always used KDE - I love KDE. I am possibly the only person in the world who likes the bouncing icons. But Mint recently don't have a KDE desktop, so when my LTS came to an end I tried Manjaro briefly. But found I missed Debian where everything is easy and just works. And Kubuntu was really slow on my (getting on a bit) computer. So I am back to Mint and am liking the colours of Cinnamon.

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Bobby Iliev Author

KDE is the best! Have you tried KDE plasma?

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nicm42 profile image
Nic

I have, but although I can see the KDE desktop settings, I can't switch to it. I suspect I have broken something in my profile - when I had Linux Mint KDE the icons wouldn't bounce, even though the option was turned on. I can't quite face setting everything up from scratch.

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CristoferK

I am using Linux Mint because I think is very fast and simple to use

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Bobby Iliev Author

This was the first distro that I've worked with and I loved it!

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Matthieu Cneude

Arch. I've my own installer to install my whole system, including all the software I use and my dotfiles.

It's flexible, fast, I can choose exactly what I want, every app are up to date, the community is great, the Arch Wiki is ridiculously helpful.

If you're interested by building your own dev environment while using the keyboard as much as possible, I wrote a complete guide for that: themouseless.dev

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erica (she/her)

Ubuntu! Admittedly, it's the first one I've tried, but I love the UI and it revived my old, sluggish XPS into a snappy little thing. I may end up reaching for a different distro in the future, but I'm glad I went with Ubuntu as kind of a transition distro from Windows.

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Bobby Iliev Author

Well said! Ubuntu definitely gives you a smooth transition from Windows to Linux.

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sentadoensilla

I had use Kubuntu, Ubuntu, Mandrake, Debian etch, CentOS, Mandriva, Elementary, two years ago use osX and is similiar although the apps and philosophy is diferent. Now I'm using Elementary because do not hurt me and is simple to use.

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Matt Willtrout

Debian. Originally it was for the within breadth of the archive but now I have tried Ubuntu and had to deal with several crashes I don't think I have ever seen Debian crash on me.

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Bobby Iliev Author

This is an interesting observation, did this happen on Ubuntu Desktop or Ubuntu Server?

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Matt Willtrout • Edited on

It was the stock desktop that came with my system 76. It was the first time I saw a kernel panic in the wild

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Waylon Walker

I use Ubuntu or Debian they are readily available and work well for me.

My main desktop is is Windows most of the time because I am either sharing with family (who uses Adobe heavily) or work. I do most of my work through wsl or cloud vm.

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Bobby Iliev Author

I also have a Laptop with Windows + Ubuntu dual booth just because in some cases I would need to run some stuff on Windows as you said.

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Juan Santos

In my case it is elementary os. I really like the aesthetic and visual style.
I think the "Pay what you want" app center is a great way of contributing to developers.

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Bobby Iliev Author

This is pretty cool, I haven't tested it, but I've heard excellent things about it on different podcasts and streams!

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Juan Santos

It has some downsides, I'm having a hard time getting use to the multitask view but the overall smoothness and feeling is amazing.

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Reli

I use Xubuntu, I don't need anything fancy, but also I don't want to deal with all the Arch stuff tbh. If I need help, I usually can find Ubuntu tutorials that work perfectly.

But, I try POP_OS once and it's really nice.

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Edoardo Tenani

I started with Fedora 6 with KDE, switched to Ubuntu with Gnome 2, tried Debian, went back to Ubuntu with Unity and then moves to elementary OS when Ubuntu decommissioned Unity.
It's already 3 years now and I'm not going to look around for something different. Pantheon DE is the most polished experience I had on Linux ever, the team behind the distro is cool and you get all the flexibility and stability of Ubuntu with a UI focused on clear and effective UX.

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Jacob Marshall

I started witch Manjaro KDE, which was ok, but I didn’t like KDE, so I switched over to Fedora 34 beta with GNOME 40 as my desktop, and Ubuntu server/core for servers or Raspberry Pis. I use ServerCat to quickly see the temperature of my servers.

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Bobby Iliev Author

Nice, ServerCat looks awesome, just installed it and would test it out today!

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Andrey M

elementary OS as a desktop machine. No need to customize, flatpak support out of the box, and a lot of stuff 'cause it's ubuntu-based. Love it.

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Bobby Iliev Author

That sounds awesome!

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YusufAdel

Ubuntu 20.04.

It's community much supportive and i see it’s one of the biggest advantages of Ubuntu over other distros

Then the second reson for choosing it is Low system requirements, immediately come into mond two specific flavors (Xubuntu, Lubuntu)

Lastly Finding a software of your interest is much easier in Ubuntu Linux either from it's software store snap or the powerful tool apt.

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Bobby Iliev Author

Very good points! Ubuntu Mate is also pretty cool!

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Jason F

I've been running Debian on my personal machine for the last couple of months and it meets all of my needs. I use it mostly for learning a new skill and/or personal projects. I was able to install Postgres, VSCode, nodejs & npm, and other tools without a problem. I'm using XFCE as the desktop environment. With some tweaks, xfce looks just fine.

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Libert S

On my personal laptop is use Xubuntu. All the power of Ubuntu + the simplicity of Xfce.
I never liked Gnome or worst yet Unity, I personally find them distracting and full of features that I'll never use.

On servers, I tend to use AmazonLinux if I'm working in AWS or Ubuntu Server anywhere else.

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Precious Chicken

Manjaro i3 on desktop / laptop. Though Regolith is also great (Ubuntu + i3) - however Ubuntu/Regolith had some wifi issues with my laptop which cleared up with Manjaro, so switched entirely now on all my machines.

As regards server - Ubuntu. Simply due to familiarity.

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James Livesey

I love Debian! I originally ventured into the world of Linux through Raspberry Pi, and the recommended distro for it is Raspbian (now called Raspberry Pi OS), which is a derivative of Debian. Once I managed to escape from the world of Windows on my rather old Surface Pro 4, I installed Debian on my new PC and I love it. Sooo customisable (something which almost all Linux distros let you do)!

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Caio Costa

Well for the last 5 years, since 16.04, I've been using Ubuntu MATE. It's super easy to setup and customize, It's got a cool UI but still has that nostalgic feeling of GNOME2 which is where the MATE environment is forked from so, really happy about it. I tried to find alternatives to it in the past but I couldn't find any that I could have the plank dock to work as well as it works on MATE so, yeah. Really recommend it.

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AlexisFinn • Edited on

Honnestly, PopOS is really neat, it's pretty much become my goto distro when I want to install linux for someone who isn't very computer proficient.

It's clean, simple and beatifull. And as a really cool addon, you can toggle a tilling mode in the WM which is really nice for a shared worksation (I'm a sucker for tiling WM's)

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Hossam Elbadissi • Edited on

I was a hardcore Windows user until I installed Ubuntu as a recovery system in case something goes wrong with Windows. However after trying it and seeing how smooth, customizable and powerful it was, I fell in love with it. Since then I made Ubuntu my main system. However, later on I switched to elementaryOS for its unique and minimalist design approach and the fact that it generally "just works" and fades into the background when I'm doing something. (I know many Linux users prefer a more customizable system, but I just want something pleasant that helps me stay on top of my work). Now I'm considering switching to Fedora, especially with the release of Fedora 34 with GNOME 40, and how stable and original it feels unlike Ubuntu, and how it is much more supported unlike elementaryOS.

I generally use Linux for everything, from basic web browsing, to coding apps and trying cool new stuff.

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John Piers Cilliers • Edited on

I'm an Arch (Gnome) user, been using it since (about) 2006. I was a hardcore Windows XP user (We used to make our own custom install cd's) and then one day a friend kinda decided for both of us to switch to Ubuntu 'Warty Warthog'. (October 2004) The progression to Arch was kind of inevitable in terms of the actual Linux process, wanting to be more in charge of what it was that you were using and a massive learning curve that came with it and continues to this day.

For the guys/girls who would like to use Arch and find the prospect of the install being daunting, go have a look at the brilliant ArcoLinux project by a Dutch guy called Erik. arcolinux.com/ It is well worth it. Cheers.

Forgot to add the bit about what server software. I don't have or use a server but if I have to set one up for a client or make a recommendation it would be Ubuntu Server. I have a Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB RAM that runs a headless Arch 64 bit version for Raspberry Pi (AArch64) that I use as my "Server" and "Pi-hole". Pi-hole is a Linux network-level advertisement and Internet tracker blocking application which acts as a DNS sinkhole and optionally as a DHCP server.

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P1xt

Manjaro i3 community edition. I really enjoy Arch ,and Manjaro streamlines the setup a ton. i3 is just because I prefer my keyboard over my mouse whenever possible and once you get the i3 shortcut keys down, you can go hours (or days) without needing to touch the mouse.

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Jonathan Boudreau

I've been a long time Ubuntu user as well. Given their decisions in more recent times I've started moving over to Pop!_OS for my desktop machines. It is Ubuntu-based, which means a lot of what I do on my Ubuntu servers transfers over easily. The out of the box experience is better, and I trust system76 to continue focusing on a good desktop experience. Ubuntu on the other hand seems to be moving away from desktop since it hasn't found a way to monetize it (e.g., see removal of 32 bit support which is problematic for older games).

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Jane Jeon

Alpine, because I only use containers and leave the “hey we need to actually run this problem” off to GKE ;)

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Bobby Iliev Author

Haha yea! Alpine is a beast! I also use it for a lot of my containers!

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mattother

For desktop I use Xubuntu. Most of the Ubuntu benefits without the horrible UI. And because the UI is so lightweight the OS tends to work really well with older computers and VMs.

For servers usually Ubuntu.

For containers usually Alpine or Debian.

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Andrei Dascalu

Difficult choice between Arch and Manjaro. Nowadays it's mostly Manjaro though. It's sleek and probably best all-around support for a daily rig.

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Bobby Iliev Author • Edited on

Great to see all those awesome comments about Manjaro ♥

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Andrei Dascalu

Just to note, I've also been a long time Mint fan but for the past 6 years I've slowly fallen out of love with it. Feels like for the most part it's slow to keep up with its Ubuntu base and it's defaults are just stuck in the past (UI-wise, mostly).

It's Linux for sure, so you can customize it to your heart's content and the community is great, but I feel like I've gotten old and just can't get myself to put in the work to customize and update. Manjaro feels better out of the box (so does Arch).

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Lakshya Singh

Manjaro KDE Plasma, style like magic using KDE and installation of anything is so much easier with arch user repository

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Bobby Iliev Author

This sounds like the best setup indeed!

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Matt Curcio

I now use Linux Mint, Xubuntu & Xubuntu.
I used to mess around and break everything.
Now, I just want things to work easily.

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bobbyiliev profile image
Bobby Iliev Author

Very good point!

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Eric

Linux Mint Cinnamon.
It's very stable.

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George C. G. Barbosa

Definitely Arch.

There is something magical about building your own stack of apps. Arch does not come with a shit ton of apps that you will never know or use.

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pancake

Desktop: Fedora Workstation (I used to use Ubuntu)
Server: Ubuntu Server

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Bobby Iliev Author

Awesome!

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Vikram Sharma

Using Ubuntu since 2010. UX just deteriorates (at least for me) with every LTS version of Ubuntu. Ubuntu 20.04 will probably me my last. Will move back (sadly) to Windows when I buy my new machine.

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Edoardo Tenani

Give elementarya try! I stopped using Ubuntu after they decommissioned Unity (which was the DE for me personally) and switched to elementary. I highly recommend it, in particular if you care about UX and seeing a coherent UI.

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Anibal

Desktop: Ubuntu ... why ? compatibility with my hardware... and community, blogs, answers to questions, etc.

Servers: Ubuntu or CentOS . Because I fell so comfortable :)

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Omar White • Edited on

I’ve always been an Ubuntu person. It’s the first distro I learned about and the one I’m most comfortable with.

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Bobby Iliev Author

What I like about Ubuntu is that there are a lot of tutorials out there!

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Alexey Suharev

Ubuntu 20.04
There is everything you need to work

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Herb Wolfe

I use PCLinuxOS on my laptop. I don't want systemd, and at the time Slackware didn't have a boot manager that worked with uefi, so that I could dual-boot.

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Bobby Iliev Author

That is pretty cool!

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Lucas Trevisan

It's not a Linux but I love to use any *unix. Right now I'm MacOS and loving it!

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Bobby Iliev Author

I also have a Mac and I've been pretty happy with it! Love the fact that I could record a video and edit it with iMovies within a few minutes.

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G.Singh

Solus bcoz it's minimal and lightweight.

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Bobby Iliev Author

Haven't tested it out but just looked it up and it looks very interesting!

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Dhruva Srinivas • Edited on

I use Fedora 33 with GNOME but I might switch to Arch becuz of the rolling-release feature.

EDIT: I am using Arch now :)

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Otu Michael

Ubuntu

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Bobby Iliev Author

Ubuntu is crushing it!

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AlexisFinn • Edited on

Honnestly, most major distributions work pretty much out of the box, and at the same time there will always be some qwerks here and there.

With the advent of Docker and similar the system packages no longer need to match production versions, you can install PHP8 on your system and your container will continue running PHP5.3 without any headache configuring anything, same thing goes for the server of course (kinda the whole point really).
So I feel that's no longer a valid argument on choosing a distro as the only backport you're likely to have to deal with is the container app.

For desktop i'd want:
1 - familiarity (so whatever you're most familiar with, be it Debian, Arch, Fedora or even BSD)
2 - mainstream (you'll inevitably need help for setting some things up quickly and efficiently, so choose something many people use so that you're more likely to find a ready made solution to whatever your problem or use-case is)
3 - preference (having fun is important also, and I've found that disto-hopping always brings a valuable experience)

I personally don't really have a preference, I'm gonna be re-configuring everything anyways.

For a server install, supposing that you're looking to administer it, I'd say there's really only two criteria that matter.

1 - familiarity (if you want to administer a server you better know how to do it without online help, so the most important is to choose a system that you know in and out)
2 - security maintenance (security, security and more security, unless you want to patch all the things by hand make sure the distro is maintained upstream)

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Joshua

I use Debian for about everything except testing the differences between distributions. It just works.