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What's the most beginner-friendly Linux distro?

Madza on September 26, 2021

There are hundreds of Linux distributions out there each varying in their purpose of use and the level of expertise the user needs. There are too...
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miguelmj profile image
MiguelMJ

Most people say Ubuntu-like distros, but personally like Manjaro better even for beginners. Ubuntu might have more resources online, but Manjaro has a better out-of-the-box hardware compatibility. It is easier to maintain software updated with its package manager, while repositories in Ubuntu quickly get old.
I started with Mint and even installed it for some non-techie relatives that wanted to try. Mint is really, really good and It's a perfect choice for beginners, but I firmly believe that Manjaro will provide them with the same or more ease at the beginning while allowing them to use the latest software available.

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xxnickles profile image
xxnickles

I don’t think recommending an Arch based or any rolling release distro to a beginner is a good idea. These distros are close to bleeding-edge, and if anything goes wrong with an update, it is not going to be pretty. I agree with the majority of the comments, the way to go to get you started is an Ubuntu based distro, maybe something like Pop!_OS or mint are good sweet spots. Then go for other alternatives once you have some familiarity with the system

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MiguelMJ

Well, If anything goes wrong with an update it's not going to be pretty in any distro. I agree as well with Ubuntu being a great start. I just find that Manjaro, even being Arch based, is not as likely to require driver installation or to give you obsolete software.

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matthewsalerno profile image
matthew-salerno

Manjaro does a pretty good job. But I agree with both sides here. Rolling release will certainly cause issues for you at some point, but I don't think it's as big a deal as it's made out to be. Manjaro does a good job keeping things stable and I think anyone taking their first steps into Linux should expect their first os to be more of a sacrificial learning os than something they can count on (until they get a feel for troubleshooting).

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xxnickles profile image
xxnickles • Edited on

The idea of recommending a "friendly" distro to get started is precisely avoid the "sacrificial learning" part in the beginning, and let the person expand its horizon with time. You cannot expect a newcomer form another OS to stay if you put it to deal with too much stuff from the beginning. Also, a great deal of people just want to "do stuff", not focus on maintaining the system. I am not saying the Manjaro or other rolling-release distros are bad options; I just would not recommend for a beginner unless it has some technical background (which we should never assume is the case), based in the fact the rolling-release concept is something that is not a thing for a common user in other OSS and you have to understand it from minute 1. In those terms, I do believe recommending distros that have similar approaches (and even appearance) to Windows/Mac is often a better advice. Curiosity will come with time and they can eventually move to more "customizable" distros if they want to.

As an aside note, if we are talking about the first distribution for a technical savvy person who wants to really learn, maybe vanilla Arch will be a way better recommendation. But this kind of "beginners" are a minority and the idea is give advice that applies for the majority.

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rajeshpachaikani profile image
Rajesh

Yes. First time I tried Manjaro an year ago everything worked out of the box. Then an update broke nvidia graphics driver and WiFi driver. I fixed those issues with an Ethernet connection but it will scare away most new users.

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DNI9

I'm using rolling release for a year and half now, haven't faced a issue with package update, and about manjaro it's pretty beginner's friendly because they make sure packages are stable unlike rolling release.
anyway the best way to learn is to face errors and fix it yourself or if you're too afraid then you can always go the stable distros.

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patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt • Edited on

There have better conjectures on whether holding back packages for a week gives that better stability.

Anyway, my experience with Manjaro was so far so good, and it was a few months too; before I switched to vanilla Arch (and sometimes Xubuntu or Mint).

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patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt

Firstly, I do recommend people start with Arch (not Arch-based), if they dare - it's not wrong; and older kernels do have worse drivers, anyway. Also, ArchWiki is so good, if they ran into any probems.

Also, first issues in Linux probably won't be instability or crashes, but rather WiFi and graphic cards. It's more that they will find manuals and helps and communities or not...

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the insight 🙏❤

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Great insight, thanks for sharing 😉👍

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Abhinav Kulshreshtha

Most user friendly distro is the one you use the most. Newcomers get stuck up in this silly question but the reality is just this simple, pick up one and use it, open browser and google the issue and get to work. Once you learn the basic on one distro, switching to any distro is really easy.

Personally I started with fedora, because I believe yum (and now dnf) is much better package manager than apt-get. These days, I use Pop_OS! for gaming, Manjaro for home use, solus for development. My office had ubuntu-lts, I later got permission for elementary os (The policy allowed for ubuntu lts based only) but since I am working from home, I was allowed to modify script on whatever distro I wanted to use.

Bunch of shell scripts customization, a lot of internet search, and a lot of dedication, will be needed no matter what distro one choose to use.

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Abhinav Kulshreshtha

Also, since I distro-hop a lot, I prefer gnome desktop everywhere.

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Marc-André Appel

True, even though KDE might be very customizable, or the light weight contenters have their merits, nothing could separate me from Gnome 😏

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the insight 👍😉

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karandpr profile image
Karan Gandhi

Linux Mint.

1.)It is Ubuntu Compatible so anything which works on Ubuntu/Debian works on Mint.
2.)It's based on Ubuntu LTS so it's very stable. 5 years of support is cool
3.)Clem creates forks and maintains software which make sense. Cinnamon & Nemo were created because Upstream GNOME and Files removed features. Likewise Chromium is a native app maintained separately by Mint Team not a snap wrapper like Ubuntu. They didn't bundle Amazon ads when Ubuntu did.
4.)Hardware support. Mint runs on variety of hardware and ships with non-free applications like codecs to make things easier for new users.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for sharing, I see a lot of love for Mint 💯✨

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Ian Pride

Hate to jump on the band wagon, but either Ubuntu (or a variation of) or now Deepin. Ubuntu for stability or Deepin for MACOS or even Windows aesthetic familiarity. Ease of use is relative to an individual so I don't see a use in comparing difficulty.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for sharing 👍😉

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mrinjamul profile image
Injamul Mohammad Mollah

Most people who wanna try Linux, does not face technical problem initially but the new UI which they can't able to get used to. and the second one is the software availablity. Almost, all popular linux-based distros are beginners friendly (except fews). So who came from windows, can try linux mint, Kubuntu, ubuntu kyrin etc. And who are from MacOS can try Deepin, elementary os, etc.
But I would recommend using Ubuntu if you can. As it's stable and well documented. And last, try few distro and see which is best for you.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for sharing 🙏❤

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aghost7 profile image
Jonathan Boudreau

You're most likely going to run into issues at some point, so I recommend using a distro with a good community. Ubuntu-based operating systems have been good to me for well over a decade. I will specifically recommend giving Pop!_OS a try (also Ubuntu-based). They've been doing great work.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the input 🙏❤

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BruwdWeard • Edited on

I have a personal love for Solus. The budgie desktop is extremely clean. Plenty of app in their "app store". Everything just works great. Honestly there hasn't been anything yet I have had an issue with. Except zoom and I found easy peasy instructions for installing that through flatpak.Its also booting through secure boot (just have to update the signature each time the kernel updates, which isn't often).

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the share 🙏❤

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mamamorpheus profile image
MAMAMORPHEUS | 宇宙 (うちゅう) 近日公開

In my opinion it's Zorin OS Core, 15 or 16 it doesn't matter (even tho I'd rather recommend the 16 one if you'd like to have the new stuff that really is interesting) it's a really beginner friendly distro with the best things from both Windows and Mac, and even if the installation and some details are Ubuntu based it really stays original and completely different from every Ubuntu based distros, if you have a bit of knowledge when it comes up to Linux distros you can for Manjaro it has a better out-of-the-box hardware compatibility, oh but don't even consider any arch Linux based because it is made for professionals and specifically people with a lot of knowledge in coding.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for sharing 🙏❤

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hidvegi_richard profile image
Hidvégi Richárd

For me...

Fedora was the winner!

I was fed up with the constant battle of stability vs bleeding edge.

I wanted a solid base with the latest packages.

I was using arch and manjaro as well but sometimes the updates were #$&@.

My recommendation is the following:

Do not listen to the mainstream!

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patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt

updates were #$&@

Examples? And as a beginner-friendly and a first distro, is Fedora?

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Do not listen to the mainstream!

Solid advice 😉👍 Find one that works for you 😉

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SnuppeDeluxe

At first I ask from wich OS he comes. Then I took a desktop, which looks like the old one. So the change isn't too bad for him.
The distro isn't so interesting for non technical people, so if I will get support, I chose a distro, which I am familiar with...

In this case, debian like OS systems...

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patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt

First, I would ask why he wanted to use Linux, lol.

But I don't know what to say for people who only expect more free beer.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for this 🙏❤

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cmuralisree profile image
Chittoji Murali Sree Krishna

I would recommend linux mint for complete beginners, it's an debian based and is lighter when compared to few other distros, though it is having less developers still have almost all the software for everyday usage, and finally it comes with a Lts support,

But if you want a flashy or new kind of os, then I would definitely suggest debain ubuntu, pop os, deepin or arch-based, such as Manjaro, garuda, endeavour os, but these are much resource hungry when compared to mint

If you are planning for hacking, then kali is the better.

These were the stuff I have used, so I am giving these as example, there might be a better os

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the input 🙏❤

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Leonid Medovyy

Gentoo is not user friendly at all, but I think it’s a good idea to spent a month or two on it, and figure out.

You’ll learn a ton about how Linux actually works, and when you switch to something that’s more user friendly (like Ubuntu) it’s going to feel easy to use lol.

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mrinjamul profile image
Injamul Mohammad Mollah

Good idea! 👍
But user should have that much time and patience.

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leouofa profile image
Leonid Medovyy

Yeah I think its a delayed satisfaction approach that ends up saving time in the long run.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the share 🙏❤

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usamasaahib profile image
🌬️

I would recommend every beginner who's switching from Windows OS to start your Linux journey from MINT LINUX which is based on Ubuntu and is a Debian based OS and very smooth and with user friendly interface.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Awesome! Thanks 🙏❤

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matthewsalerno profile image
matthew-salerno • Edited on

Manjaro will support your Linux learning from cradle to grave. It's easy out of the box, has the aur for when you're not familiar with building from source, and can let you swap out kernel modules easily. That being said, manjaro will remember and build upon all the little mistakes you make in configurations, and eventually stuff can just start to break.
For this reason I'd like to point out Clear Linux. It won't work as a primary computer for most, but if everything you need happens to be in a flatpak or swupd (or of you don't mind building from source but that's not beginner friendly) it makes for an effortless experience. The stateless design helps prevent the issue of old configs breaking things unnoticed. The containerized apps provides further stability. The automatic updates make life easier and helps Linux feel less like a second tech job. Gnome is user friendly enough, although most windows converts would have an easier time in KDE. Of course the glaring issue of app availability will keep clear os from the limelight, but I was surprised by user friendly it was when I gave it a try. Only technical thing I had to do to my install that I would want a newbie to do is disable the ssh service and socket through systemctl.
Edit: just grab Ubuntu and jump in. Picking distros is not especially important and you'll get the best beginner level advice on Ubuntu. Clear Linux is not going to serve you well if you want to learn about Linux because it's so different from the rest and has a tiny community. It's more of a plug and play distro than one that will help you learn.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the insight 🙏❤

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matthewsalerno profile image
matthew-salerno

You're welcome! Just note my edit: if your looking to learn Linux and use a beginner friendly distro, Clear Linux won't help you with the learning part. The rules in that OS don't work the same as almost any other Linux OS and it will almost certainly hinder your learning if you start there.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

This is useful, thanks 😉👍

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mochamadboval profile image
Mochamad Boval

I've been using Linux for 5 years and tried various Ubuntu-based distros, and I can say elementaryOS is the answer (well, my current distro after more than 2 years using Lubuntu). It comes with no bloatware, only apps that everyone needs so you don't get confused and gives you full control to use any app you want. Don't worry about the apps that you usually use on other OS, just check my profile as I have written some alternative apps that I know.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the insight 🙏❤

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payalsasmal profile image
Payalsasmal

Ubuntu will be the best choice for beginners.

But Manjaro is 🔥

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Thomas Bnt

I really love Manjaro 💚🥰

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for sharing this 🙏❤

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Gergely Nemeth

I'd say definitely give a try to pop os, one of my new favorite, i use it for work , study and some gaming. I found there's good documentation/support out there, easy to use out of the box, and very customizable. Give a try to the built in tiling window option, if you are interested, it helped me a lot with productivity, plus if you learn a couple of keyboard shortcuts you can create nice workflows or layouts. Also has an app-store for .deb and flatpack packages , in case you don't want to install everything through the terminal

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the recommendation 🙏❤

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patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt

To me, this is a difficult question, as in my experience, Linux always means some learning curve, and some drop-outs - and eventually some distro-hopping might be inevitable. (And whether you come from Windows or macOS will affect DE choice.)

But if I had to choose - Linux Mint, with that Welcome Screen. I feel it even more friendly than Ubuntu.

OpenSUSE with YaST2 is good too, but there are some multimedia codec issues.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for sharing 👍😉

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pontakornth profile image
pontakornth • Edited on

Ubuntu: You somehow need to use Linux immediately.
Manjaro: You want to learn and use Linux but you want something that just work.
Arch: You really want to learn Linux hard way.

Edit 1:
More detailed answer.
Ubuntu is ready to use. It requires least knowledge of all distros I mentioned. You can find most answers by searching a bit.

Manjaro is similar to Ubuntu and Arch. It is ready to use. Since it is Arch-compatible, you can find some tutorial better.

Arch is the most difficult among three. However, it's so popular. It even has an official Minecraft launcher installation package. If someone wants to know Linux inside out, Arch is one of the best distro. ArchWiki is filled with information for common problems already. It needs more time to learn anyway.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the insight 🙏❤

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NiCK 🇮🇳 • Edited on

Linux MINT anyday.. I have been using since almost 26 months...
coming from windows, I havent felt alien on any given day, and never felt a need to go back to windows.. i have tried other distros, while some Look great, they r not necessarily new-user friendly..
I am using Linux Mint with cinnamon.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the recommendation 🙏❤

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unmukt_hindi profile image
Unmukt S

I have tried atleast 10 Linux Distros and my vote is Linux Mint. It is the easiest and similar to Windows. Biginners should begin their Linux journey with it

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the valuable input 🙏❤

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Moeen Mahmud

I really prefer Ubuntu. But if you are a beginner in Linux environment, you could try Zorin OS. It's great especially if you're a Windows user. Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution designed especially for the beginners. It has a Windows GUI and many programs similar to those found in Windows.The most interesting thing is, Zorin OS comes with an application that lets users run many Windows programs.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the input 😉👍

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wahtique profile image
William Veal Phan • Edited on

I'll add my 2 cents to the stream of Arch and Ubuntu derivatives recommendations : I personally prefer rolling releases, I use Fedora at work and Manjaro at home. The freshnest is a must for me, and I actually find debugging my system to be somewhat enjoyable from time to time ( don't judge me I know you secretly live it too ).

But for total, non tech-savvy beginners, coming from Windows or Mac, I think the most important features are stability and familiarity. In this case, the DE matters a lot, which is why I would recommend Windowsfx, Elementary OS or anything with deepin on top.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the share 😉👍

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Raí B. Toffoletto

My advice now is PopOS.
There's a lot.... go through some to know what you like. 20 years using Linux in the desktop and many, maaaany distros after, I circle around Elementary OS or PopOS. Elementary is easy enough that even my mom used without problems, but Pop comes with GREAT laptop support and flathub out of the box for a great app ecosystem.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the share 🙏❤

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clemkristian profile image
ClemKristian

Ever hear about Linux From Scratch ;)? If you want a more Windows looking environment Zorin OS is good. If you're used to Mac OS, elementary OS is good. Both are based on Ubuntu so finding help if you have any problems should be easy. Other than those I would stick to Ubuntu based distros. Try to find an interface that you think you'll be comfortable with, would also look for the inclusion of a graphical package and update/upgrade managers, unless you feel comfortable with using the terminal. The nice thing is that most distros give you the option to try them before installing them on your system. Hope this is helpful, good luck on finding a distro.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the share 🙏❤

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orbatos profile image
orbatos

A "friendly" Linux distribution inherently needs to meet some rather difficult criteria, not starting with shinyness or the latest packages. Here are the most obvious ones:
It must be suitable for any normal use, from business to casual users. Technical users should be supported, but not three primary focus.
There must be both paid direct support and community support available.
It must be consistent and straightforward to carry out normal tasks.
It must have a reliable path to updates that are better to avoid problems and be able to receive critical security updates without delay.
It must be able to function without any of the above for extended periods of time without any of the above.

These criteria soundly rule out any distribution not based on RedHat or Debian, and trend towards Debian based heavily since the IBM purchase.

I rule out Mint and Manjaro for reasons that should be obvious if you actually intend the end user to be successful:
Mint is essentially Ubuntu (or Debian if you choose the LMDE release) with Cinnamon as the default desktop, I have used it and still do not understand the point to introducing more points of failure to have a slightly nicer Debian installer.
Manjaro is based on Arch, an otherwise fantastic technical distribution. But Arch is not supported commercially, is a rolling release and it's configuration is simply put of the scope of normal use.

This really only leaves Ubuntu and it's major flavours currently. Despite the drop in fad appeal, it provides everything necessary. I would suggest Debian, but installation is a bit less refined.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thnaks for the input 👍😉

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jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

My mom has a slightly modified xubuntu that runs since 18.04. and she never had any problems. When she runs windows she gives up after 10 minutes and calls me...

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Haha, made my day 😀😀

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anand.m.l

Linux Mint is the Distro You need , I am using it for past 3 years and it's one of the most stable distros out there. Also it got some well over 30000 repo of packages.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the recommendation 🙏❤

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xorock profile image
xorock

One-click install, yast, online package search, intuitive design. Vote for OpenSuse.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Didn't know about that, thanks 👍😉

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dilutewater profile image
Rachit Khurana

I would recommend Kubuntu, as it has the KDE environment & has a lot of features and is very user friendly. If you are switching from windows then you would have no problems in adapting to it.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the input 🙏❤

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ltsochevdev profile image
Sk1ppeR

I'm impressed by Fedora lately. Took a chance on it since I've always been a Debian/Suse guy but I'm actually impressed by Fedora in terms of speed and stability and ease of use. Kudos to the team.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the info 👍😉

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pbsh56 profile image
PRABHAT KUMAR

My choice as beginners Ubuntu, Manjaro

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the insight 🙏❤

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organizedfellow profile image
Jaime Aleman • Edited on

As a Web Developer I have always preferred Debian based distros. Over 10 years of distro-hopping I have tried: Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Crunchbang, Suse Tumbleweed, Arch, Manjaro, Elementary, Mint, Zorin, Kali and ParrotOS for testing their penetration tools, and plain wonderful Debian where I tried every WM and DE.
I've riced KDE, Gnome, i3WM, and Awesome.
I have always wanted to try Fedora and Centos, but never got around to it. Maybe on my older Thinkpad T400.

BUT NOW, I absolutely require super solid stability. No more hopping around and ricing my environment. I am in love with Pop OS pop.system76.com/
It's incredibly stable, built by an amazing team of dedicated professionals and the community is so helpful.

My terminal of choice (after using Termite, Terminator, and Tilix for years) now I use Alacritty + tmux. Nvim is installed for quick file edits but I use VS Code 98% of the time.

Feel free to ask me anything ;)

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thank you for sharing, great insight 🙏❤

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Bobby Iliev

I personally think that Ubuntu is great, even if you hit a problem, there are just so much resources online.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the input 🙏❤

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alveek profile image
Alveek

Zorin OS is the best distro for beginners.
Clean, polished and fast. You can choose familiar layout like windows or macos.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the recommendation🙏❤

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Thomas Bnt

Ubuntu !

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the input 🙏❤

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Siddharth Chaudhary

I would say Debian

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the input 🙏❤

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Andrei Dascalu

I'd say Ubuntu, Manjaro, Arch .... in this order.

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for sharing! 🙏❤

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the input 🙏❤

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madza profile image
Madza Author

Thanks for the insight 🙏❤

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