5 of the Best Linux Distros for Developers and Programmers

Best Linux Distros Developers Featured

Linux has always been a go-to choice for many programmers and developers. Its customizability, open source nature and stability are just a few of the many reasons. It also supports a wide collection of programming languages, including C, C++, Perl, Ruby, PHP and more. This guide will focus on some of the best Linux distros for developers and programmers and highlight the key features that make them ideal for programming/development purposes.

1. Manjaro

Manjaro is one of the most developer/programmer-centric Linux distros. It is used by the majority of developers for Web and app development as their “daily driver” due to its simplistic nature.,

Manjaro Logo

Manjaro has tons of features that make it very friendly to programmers and developers. Some of its most outstanding ones include:

  • It’s one of the best and easiest-to-use Arch Linux-based distros. Other Arch-Linux distros are known to be complicated to install and customize, whereas Manjaro has one of the friendliest installation processes and GUI, making customizing it a breeze.
  • Because it’s Arch-Linux-based, Manjaro is also very customizable, making it very friendly to programmers and developers who want to create a customized development environment.
  • Manjaro has a well-thought-out package manager, making it easy to install all the development tools you may need to get up and running in no time.
  • It comes in various editions or flavors, including XFCE, GNOME, KDE, minimal NET Edition, a Webdev edition (Manjaro Spin solely dedicated to programmers and developers), and a host of other community editions.
  • Thanks to the Arch User Repository, Manjaro offers a host of programming tools and software, stellar hardware support, a robust community of dedicated contributors, and rolling updates.

2. Ubuntu Desktop

Ubuntu is one of the most versatile Linux distros, which explains why it’s one of the most used by Linux enthusiasts, including beginner and professional programmers.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu has a host of standing-ovation-worthy features. The key features that make it one of the best Linux distros for developers and programmers are listed below:

  • The Ubuntu community is one of its most outstanding features because it translates into unequaled support – think tutorials, scripts, FAQ, etc. The community consistently contributes to the Ubuntu repository, making it easier to find programming resources, software, and libraries for your workflow. Moreover, thanks to community-driven PPAs, you can extend your software experience.
  • Thanks to its comprehensive library, back and frontend developers and programmers go “ga-ga” for Ubuntu because of its unrivaled support for emerging technologies, including machine, deep learning and artificial intelligence.
  • A consistent experience is one of the other core features that make Ubuntu one of the best programming distros. The consistent OS experience means that whether you’re working on IoT devices, the cloud, server, or desktop, you will have the same UI experience and access to software packages.
  • Ubuntu also has one of the friendliest and most comprehensive package handlers: apt.
  • Ubuntu has unparalleled hardware and software support and is one of the most stable development environments, thanks to the involved testing done by the very dedicated team of developers at Canonical.

3. Fedora

Fedora is another development-programming-centered Linux distro – it even says on its website that it creates an innovative, free, and open-source platform for hardware, clouds, and containers that enables software developers.”

Fedora

Some of the key features that make it very development- or programming-friendly:

  • Fedora’s Anaconda Installer is very feature-worthy. This installer makes customizing the Fedora installation process very intuitive, especially because you can preinstall – and, conversely, uninstall – various software and options before first boot. This feature gives developers a lot of customizability, making it possible to create an à la carte programming environment.
  • The Fedora Developer Portal is another feature that helps this Red Hat-sponsored distro win the hearts of many developers. The Portal is home to tons of helpful information, including how to get started with development tools like Docker, Vagrant, and Eclipse, start projects like web and command-line applications and uses the Fedora-supported programming Languages and databases.
  • Thanks to its community-driven nature, this cutting-edge OS supports programming languages like .NET, Node.js, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, etc., and databases like MariaDB, PostgresSQL, MongoDB, and many others.
  • Lastly, while it’s not a rolling release, you can expect a new version of Fedora every six months, each with 13 months of support. Because upgrading Fedora is super simple, developers can easily update to access the latest tools and repositories.

4. Arch Linux

Although Arch Linux does not have the easiest installation process, it’s a developer’s dream. That’s because just about every interaction with it – installing packages, software, repositories, etc. – is a chance to work in the terminal. And as we know, developers and programmers love working in the terminal because it’s the surest way to be productive.

Besides, Arch Linux is one of the friendliest Linux distros for development and programming. Listed below are the reasons it’s one of the best.

  • Developers and programmers love customizing their working environments, something Arch Linux leans into – hard. This distro has a very DIY approach that allows you to customize which components, tools, software, services, and whatever else you want to install, or not, including your preferred desktop environment. This customizability is one of the things developers love about this distro because it makes it easier to build as nimble a development workflow as you want from the ground up.
  • Since it’s a DIY-centered distro, Arch Linux does not have any bloatware or unwanted software, which is one of the core reasons why die-hard Linux developers prefer it over other Linux distros.
  • Arch Linux is a rolling release distro, which developers love because it means keeping the system up to date is easy with just a few commands, thanks to the Pacman manager.

5. Debian

If Linux were a tree, Debian would be a ring on the outer edge of the tree, since it is one of the oldest Linux distros around.

Debian Logo Dev

Besides being one of the oldest Linux distros, Debian also has the development/programming-friendly features listed below:

  • Debian has unparalleled stability, thanks partly to its age. Additionally, the Debian Free Software Guidelines are very particular about which programs, tools, and packages make it to the stable version. This “strictness” means unstable packages rarely make their way into Debian, which annihilates system instability, making Debian one of the most stable programming distros – every developer/programmer knows that very few things are worse than a system crash mid-work.
  • Debian also has two other key things going for it. First, it has one of the most comprehensive lists of development tools, like editors, VIM, emacs, nano, IDEs, Eclipse, Netbeans, CodeLite, etc. Secondly, the Debian community is one of the most “gung-ho” you will find anywhere. The Debian Wiki and website is buzzing with manuals and tutorials for just about any programming question or issue you may have. Moreover, Debian has an easy-to-use bug-tracking system that makes it easy to report issues and get help from other developers and the community.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which distro should I install?

Despite the outline listed above, you may still find it challenging to navigate the sea of Linux distros and find the right one for developers. To avoid problems with your base system when developing, choose a distribution with high stability, customization and popularity. This will help you customize and get support if needed. Popular choices in this category are Manjaro and Ubuntu.

2. How secure are Linux Systems?

Most Linux distributions rely heavily on the base Linux kernel, making them very secure, if not the most secure. This, however, does not mean there are no vulnerabilities for Linux systems, but compared to other systems, such as Windows, you will never have to worry about antivirus.

3. Which development software should I get?

Linux contains tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of software packages. It comes with all major tools that you as a developer will need, including support for all major programming languages and IDEs. The good thing is that most Linux distros have a software repository that contains everything you need (and don’t need). You can easily install what you need with a few clicks.

Wrapping Up

The best Linux distro for programming is the one that meets your needs. That is the main criteria you should have in mind when deciding which Linux distro to use. If you are new to Linux, check out some of the best Linux distro for beginners.

John Wachira

John is a technical writer at MTE, when is not busy writing tech tutorials, he is staring at the screen trying to debug code.

One comment

  1. FYI – The oldest rings in a tree are the INNER rings, not the outer ones. Other than that, very good article!

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