5 of the Best Linux Distros for Beginners

Beginner Linux Distros Featured

If you’re considering giving Linux a try, you might be put off by the risk of a steep learning curve. Not every Linux distro is as hard to get your head around as Arch, however. A number of Linux distros are perfectly well-suited to beginners.

Let’s take a closer look at five ideal Linux distros for beginners taking their first steps into the Linux world.

1. Ubuntu

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distros out there – its popularity makes it an extremely accessible choice for beginners, with a ton of useful information and community support to help new users.

Beginner Linux Distros Ubuntu Installer

New Ubuntu users can choose between standard and LTS (long term support) versionS. The LTS support lasts five years, while standard releases are every April and October.

Ubuntu offers a simple-to-use graphical installer, so new beginners shouldn’t need to touch the terminal. You also have the option to run the OS directly from a DVD or USB stick if you just want to try it out.

It uses the GNOME desktop environment, which is incredibly simple to use. The standard installation also includes an office suite, web browser, email client and media player.

2. Linux Mint

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and also has a huge community to help you on your Linux journey, and like Ubuntu, it’s also one of the most user-friendly distros available. Mint offers MATE and Xfce desktop environments, but for beginners, we recommend downloading the Cinnamon edition, as it’s the simplest to use.

Beginner Linux Distros Mint

Installation is easy and includes some additional packages that aren’t included in the Ubuntu installer to make your Linux transition easier. These include proprietary graphics drivers, for instance. This means you can get straight into using Mint without needing any additional configuration.

If you’ve used Windows, then you should find that the Mint Cinnamon desktop feels very familiar – the “menu” button in the bottom left works in the same way as the Windows “Start” button does.

3. Elementary OS

If Mint is the best Linux distro for Windows users, then elementary OS is the equivalent for those coming from macOS.

Beginner Linux Distros Elementaryos Juno

Elementary OS is another Ubuntu distro, but it’s been designed to be instantly recognizable to macOS users – even the wallpaper looks like it’s straight from a version of macOS. You’ll find a dock along the bottom of the screen similar to the app dock in macOS. There’s even a version of the app store, called AppCenter, that makes installing additional software easy.

Just to make things even more comfortable for macOS users, the “close” button is On the top-left of each window, so you won’t find yourself clicking in the wrong place.

4. Manjaro

Installing Arch Linux isn’t something that a typical beginner should attempt. There’s no graphical installer, and you’ll need to use terminal commands to choose and install the components that you want to install, including your desktop environment.

Beginner Linux Distros Manjaro

There are a lot of benefits that make Arch Linux more than worth trying, however. You can build the exact OS that you want with no additional bloat. You also have access to the very latest software releases, especially compared to other distros.

The good news is that you can have the benefits of the Arch User Repository without the pain of trying to build Arch from scratch. Manjaro provides a simple graphical installer similar to Ubuntu, with a wide choice of desktop environments and packages – all that Arch has to offer, without any of the hassles.

5. Solus

Solus is a special kind of beginner-friendly Linux distribution – it’s not based on any other, like the rest of the distros on this list. That independence gives the developers the freedom to develop Solus with their own principles in mind.

Beginner Linux Distro Solus Desktop

Solus states that it’s a distro “designed for everyone,” making it friendly and easy for new Linux users to switch to. It also explains the choice of desktop environments. You can use everything from GNOME to the Solus-designed Budgie. Budgie is similar to GNOME but with an increased focus on simplicity.

Rather than needing to perform major updates, Solus uses rolling releases, meaning you’ll always run the most up-to-date system. New software can be installed through the Software Center, which is perfect for users who are terminal shy. There’s also plenty of software to choose from, from web browsers like Google Chrome to office suites like LibreOffice.

Beginner-Friendly Linux Distros

Any of these distros would make a good choice for someone installing Linux for the first time. They’re simple to install, easy to navigate and offer plenty of software for users.

Which distro would you recommend for beginner Linux users? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: ElementaryOS via Wikimedia

Ben Stockton
Ben Stockton

Ben is a UK based tech writer with a passion for gadgets, gaming, and general geekiness.

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