Best Linux distro and Desktop Environment Combinations.

Are you searching for the best Linux distro (distribution) and DE (Desktop Environment) combination? What better way to increase your familiarity with Linux servers than running Linux on your laptop and/or workstation.

Best Linux distros

As mentioned previously, the first rule to keep in mind is that there’s no “best” Linux distro. But rather there’s a best Linux Distro for “me” and a best Linux Distro for “you”. Also, what you choose as best, will often change over time to match your experience level and options available. With that in mind, lets begin by breaking down the search for your best Linux distro into 3 categories: Easy, Satisfying and Challenging. Included are also suggested Desktop Environment options which pair well with each Distro.

Easy Linux Distros & Desktop Environments

For users who want quick access to Linux and a large array of software/apps without having to use the command line. Or, maybe you simply seek an easy way to give Linux a try. For those users I would recommend…

Ubuntu – a complete desktop Linux operating system, freely available with the largest community support of any Distro. The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit.

Recommended Desktop Environments: Unity or Gnome

Linux Mint – a Ubuntu-based distribution whose goal is to provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including browser plugins, media codecs, support for DVD playback, Java and other components. It also adds custom desktop options and menus, several unique configuration tools and a web-based package installation interface. Linux Mint is compatible with Ubuntu software repositories.

Recommended Desktop Environments: Cinnamon or XFCE

Also check out LXLE Linux Distro.

Satisfying Linux Distros & Desktop Environments

The following distros are very similar to those above, the first lacks the large community – it’s growing fast – and the second does not include as much cool’ bloat. In both cases this will result in a bit more work and research. It shouldn’t be difficult, but satisfying!

Fedora – Fedora Workstation is a reliable, user-friendly, and powerful operating system for your laptop or desktop computer. It supports a wide range of developers, from hobbyists and students to professionals in corporate environments. Fedora has a reputation for focusing on innovation, integrating new technologies early on and working closely with upstream Linux communities.

Recommended Desktop Environments: Gnome or KDE Plasma

Debian – Of course, the common thing that people want is application software. Debian gives you easy access to these without pre-installing them. Debian comes with over 20,000 packages (pre-compiled software that is bundled up in a nice format for easy installation on your machine) – all of it free.

Recommended Desktop Environments: Gnome or KDE Plasma

Give a variety of Desktop Environments and Window Managers a try with Manjaro or Antergos Linux Distros.

Challenging Linux Distros & Desktop Environments

The following distributions focus on being lightweight, simple and yet far more flexible than most. Right from the install process you’ll notice that these distros will only install what you explicitly command them to.

Arch Linux – an independently developed, i686- and x86_64-optimized Linux distribution targeted at competent Linux users. It uses ‘pacman’, its home-grown package manager, to provide updates to the latest software applications with full dependency tracking. Operating on a rolling release system, Arch can be installed from a CD image or via an FTP server. The default install provides a solid base that enables users to create a custom installation. In addition, the Arch Build System (ABS) provides a way to easily build new packages, modify the configuration of stock packages, and share these packages with other users via the Arch Linux user repository.

Recommended Desktop Environments: KDE or i3 (Tiling Window Manager)

Gentoo – The “Gentoo” name comes from the fast-swimming Gentoo penguin. It was chosen to reflect the potential speed improvements of machine-specific optimization. Gentoo package management is designed to be modular, portable, easy to maintain, and flexible. Gentoo is sometimes described as a meta-distribution, “because of its near-unlimited adaptability”, in that the majority of users have configurations and sets of installed programs which are unique to themselves.

Recommended Desktop Environments: Mate or Awesome (Tiling Window Manager)

Also check out Slackware Linux Distro.

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It’s my hope that this quick guide for beginners proves helpful. I found most of the distro descriptions from Distrowatch, a very useful website which you can use in your research. The Distros and DEs listed are based on personal preference and the results from this survey which is also the source of BOTH graphs.

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