4 of the Best Linux Distributions You Can Run on ARM Devices

Day by day, ARM devices get more and more popular, especially in the world of Linux. Years ago ARM just meant the Raspberry Pi. Now it means a host of devices: hobby boards like the Pi, servers, compact desktop computers and even laptops!

That is why we have decided to make a list and discuss what the best Linux operating systems for ARM devices are. Each operating system has its negatives and positives. Which one should you use? Let’s find out!

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Perhaps the most dedicated ARM Linux distribution project out there, Arch Linux ARM, aims to bring Linux to all sorts of ARM-based devices. Arch for ARM supports multiple different ARM releases, from ARM v5 to v8 with dozens of device-specific images.

The real benefit of using Arch Linux for ARM circles back to the reason Arch Linux proper is such a good choice: the Arch Linux User Repository. This is because a lot of programs in the AUR are set up to compile from scratch, meaning that for a lot of situations users will not need to rely on packages being ported, as most AUR programs can be ported to ARM by themselves easily.

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Out of all the different types of Linux out there, you’ll find few reliable. This is why Debian has a home on many Linux servers, desktops, laptops and now even your favorite ARM computer, and comes with three separate releases: ARM EABI for old 32-bit devices, ARM hard-float for newer 32-bit devices, and a 64-bit ARM port for modern devices.

For those looking for a stable and reliable basis for a Raspberry Pi 3-powered home theater or Beaglebone Black ARM desktop, the Debian project may be a good place to start!

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Those who are unfamiliar with Manjaro, listen up: it’s a Linux distribution that takes the technological strength of Arch Linux and combines it with steady and stable updates, effectively turning Manjaro into a Ubuntu or Debian distro based on Arch Linux.

On ARM Manjaro’s mission is the same. Bring great Arch Linux features, but add in stability. The Manjaro ARM project does a good job at this, though at this time only supports the Raspberry Pi3 and 2. More devices like the Pi Zero and Odroid C1 (and 2) are under development.

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The best Linux distribution for ARM-based Laptops and ARM-based microcomputers doesn’t come from the Linux community. Instead, it comes (in part) from Google. Chromium OS is the open-source implementation of Google’s Chrome OS for Laptops, dongles and desktops.

Chromium OS isn’t full Linux, and when users log into it they’ll find out that the experience is essentially what users can expect on a Chromebook: a web browser, support for Chrome-based apps, and other basic tools like MP3 and video playback.

In a world where most of the technology on the Web is moving away from flash, this open-source operating makes sense, even on ARM devices. Chromium OS doesn’t have any specific builds for specific devices, but images exist for use on ARM devices here.

ARM is a growing competitor to the standard PC architecture and is here to stay. As more and more people go mobile or decide to indulge in small, hobbyist boards, ARM will continue to flourish. As this trend continues, we can only hope that development for high-class Linux distributions will continue as well. For now, the choices on this list are a great start.

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