5 of the Best Linux Distros for Windows Users in 2021

Best Distos For Windows Users Featured

If you’re new to Linux or are switching to Linux from Windows, you’ll want an OS that is GUI-focused like Windows. There are many different distributions of Linux, and some aim to replicate the look and feel of Windows. This helps during the transition from Windows, since you don’t have to fight with an unfamiliar interface. With Linux boasting improved hardware support, long term stability, and a more comprehensive range of software applications, there is no better time to try it!

In this roundup, we introduce you to the best Linux distributions for Windows users looking to switch to Linux.

1. Kubuntu

We have to admit that we like Ubuntu but understand that its default Gnome desktop might look too strange if you’re switching from Windows. Unlike other Linux variants, Ubuntu prioritizes simplicity, and this approach isn’t restricted to its desktop. It percolates through its every bit.

Best Distos For Windows Users Kubuntu

Kubuntu is the same OS as Ubuntu but with a KDE Desktop Environment. It offers a more classic experience, much closer to what you know from Windows. Combine this familiar desktop with one of the most user-friendly OS on the planet, and Kubuntu wins the cake.

2. Linux Mint

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu but differs in that its developers haven’t included – and have even undone – some of Canonical’s choices. You can choose between three official flavors, each built around a different Desktop Environment: Cinnamon, MATE, and XFCE.

Best Distos For Windows Users Mint

Cinnamon is the primary flavor and offers a modern desktop that’s built on classic paradigms. Although it takes advantage of the GPU and presents effects (like transparency and shadows), it also doesn’t detour from what most desktop users would expect. It’s familiar, but looks slick, and is also very user friendly.

MATE offers a more classic desktop experience compared to Cinnamon. Both desktop environments provide similar functionality and come with equivalent software choices. The difference between them is primarily in their structure and design. It’s easier to explain it if we use Windows, again, for reference. MATE feels like a modern and polished Windows XP desktop, straight to the point. Cinnamon is closer to the Windows Vista experience, with a higher priority on visuals.

3. Robolinux

Robolinux is an interesting distro that is gunning for Windows users in a big way. Most folks are aware that Linux users can run Windows programs in WINE. If you’re migrating to Linux from Windows and want to bring all of your programs, files, and settings with you, Robolinux can help.

Best Distos For Windows Users Robolinux

Robolinux includes Stealth VM, a virtual machine that it claims can run any Windows program without any lag. In addition, Robolinux has a tool that allows you to clone your entire Windows C drive. This means you can migrate all your preexisting programs and data. While Robolinux is free, the developer is asking for donations for the cloning tool.

4. Solus

Solus is another excellent Linux distro that is best for beginners and Windows users alike. It features a beautiful user interface that is intuitive for beginners and children. It also carries most of the Windows DNA, making it a perfect replacement for Windows. For example, it has a Software Center that allows you to manage all your installed apps and is more or less like the Windows control panel.

Best Distos For Windows Users Solus

It also ships with a host of preinstalled apps, including Mozilla Firefox; Files, which resembles Files Explorer in Windows 10 for managing documents; and GNOME MPV for controlling media playback. Solus is also highly customizable, with every tweak designed to deliver a cohesive computing experience.

5. Zorin OS

If you love Windows 7, Zorin OS will replicate that Windows experience for you. It not only features a desktop interface that looks and feels familiar, but it’s also beautiful and easy to use. However, it doesn’t limit you to that interface. If you would love something different but with the same feel, Zorin OS offers several options to choose from.

Best Distos For Windows Users Zorinos

You can choose a GNOME 3 layout or go for a Windows XP-like interface if you want to keep it closer to Windows. Zorin OS has been built from scratch to provide a seamless migration experience for Windows users. In fact, it’s the only distro on our list that includes Wine. This compatibility layer allows users to install Windows apps on Linux.

Wrapping Up

Each of the distributions we saw here carries some of the classic Windows 95 desktop DNA in their Desktop Environment. They’re all different enough to stand apart as unique experiences but similar enough to feel familiar to Windows users. If you are indifferent to the OS interface, you may want to create your own Linux distro or check out some of the best Linux distros out there.

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Odysseas Kourafalos Odysseas Kourafalos

OK's real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer - a Commodore 128. Since then, he's been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

8 comments

  1. I would personally recommend Ubuntu Mate, unless you loved Windows 8 and then Stadard Ubuntu with Gnome would be a good fit.

  2. As long as the Linux developers kowtow and cater to the Windows refugees, Linux will remain a second-rate O/S. The refugees demand that Linux not only have the look-and-feel of Windows but also the exact same functionality. IOW, they want Linux to be Windows but not from Redmond. Linux IS NOT Windows and will never be because of technical and legal reasons.

    “If you’re new to Linux”
    For someone new to computers, the learning curve of Linux and Windows is about the same. It is the “switchers” who find Linux “hard” to learn. Linux is not hard to learn. It is the “Windows way of doing things” and “Windows habits” that are hard to UN-learn.

    “you’ll want an OS that is GUI-focused like Windows”
    You and other tech writers are talking out of both sides of your mouths. On the one hand you tout GUI-focused distros and assure users that they do not need to learn CLI to use Linux. On the other hand you insist that to use Linux properly and efficiently one must learn CLI and command line applications and you crank out endless articles on the subject. So which is it, the former or the latter? Or does it depend on the day of the week and the article being written?

    BTW – there are enough inherent differences (naming conventions, filesystem, etc) between Linux and Windows that even if the Linux interface were an exact copy of Windows’, Linux would still be uncomfortable for Windows refugees to learn.

    1. Sorry, but I have to disagree. What attracted me to Linux WAS the fact that I found a few distros that worked exactly like Windows. I could switch and still get my work done ’cause the learning curve was quite low. Everything was where I needed it to be (where it was in Windows). I think the fact that some devs cater to the “Windows refugees” is great and helps expose Linux to the Windows crowd.
      Also, it helps to remember that ALL desktops started out looking like Windows (though Windows was not the first to use that design). As time passed, some desktops veered off to pursue other designs (Gnome), some stayed with the “traditional” design. Because of my age and the way I work, my preference is the traditional desktop design – due to muscle memory and such.
      Now, having said all that, and having been on Linux for a few years, now, I HAVE branched out to the more “difficult” Linux distros for the fun of it. (So the Windows-like distros could be considered “gateway distros” that lead folks to the stronger stuff.)

  3. Linux Lite OS is in my opinion, the best distro for new Windows users and for any Linux user wanting a light, stable OS.

  4. MX linux has the best hardware support an the installer is easy. The installer is the first wall a new user faces. If a linux wanna-be has access to a linux person and if they can install linux on there computer with ease. Then turn them loose on it. SO in other words have someone in the know proof your machine for linux. Just too many variables. We need more install party’s.

  5. MX Linux is by far the distro of choice for me; comes in a full version and a lite version for older machines. I’ve tried several distros & was a long time Mint user, but MX won me over and I don’t plan on changing. KDE Neon Plasma is worth a look too….very slick.

    1. KDE Neon Plasma is what I’ve settled on. My Linux machine is a 2011 laptop, decent in its time but lacking today. Neon runs well on it, surprisingly. No other Plasma distro I tried did. KDE neon is Ubuntu with KDE Plasma in a minimal configuration, so you add what you want vs. uninstalling the bloatware in most distros.

      KDE neon uses about 700MB RAM at idle vs. Kubuntu or Ubuntu/Plasma which used 2-3 x more RAM. Wayland works fine, too. How they do this, IDK but I’ve been with KDE neon for almost a year and love it.

      (BTW, the laptop is a Dell 7110 w/ 8GB RAM, i5 and a Nvidia 525M.)

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