Linux is an operating system for system admins, programmers, and coders. That’s all changed now with beginner-friendly distros.

Linux’s most significant advantage is the customization it offers. That’s where the distributions come in. It doesn’t matter in which area of the industry you work in; there are distros that you can use in your work. Some distros work best for doing scientific work, which requires a scientific approach and programming.

Also, most of the distros can be used for day-to-day activities. As a technical person, it is always a good idea to try out different Linux distros and understand which one works best for you.

That’s why, in this article, we are going to list the Linux distros that you should give a try.

Right now, there are hundreds of Linux flavors out there. Not all of them are worth considering as they do not offer any unique features to warrant an installation. The list here ensures that you get to know only the best Linux distro out there.

Before you decide to install a distro, we recommend you test out the distro. You can do it by running a live copy of the distro or simply installing it on your Windows setup using virtualization technology, such as the Hyper-V.

Let’s get started.

Ubuntu

If you are looking for a standard distro to start, you cannot go wrong with Ubuntu. It is a globally renowned distro, and it is best suited for those looking to use Linux on a daily basis or are new to the Linux world.

To install Ubuntu, you need the following hardware required to work effectively.

  • 4 GB RAM
  • 2 GHz dual-core processor
  • 25 GB of hard disk space

They are the recommended requirement, but you can install Ubuntu on a machine with 512 MB RAM, a 700 Mhz processor, and 5 GB hard-drive space.

So, what makes Ubuntu so unique?

First of all, it is easy to use.

Secondly, it is secure and provides an excellent platform for a newcomer.

Technically, Ubuntu is Debian-based, and it also comes with Long Team Support(LTS). This means that you can install a stable version for your machine. There are other versions of Ubuntu that you can try including Ubuntu Core for securely building IoT devices, enterprise edition for enterprise needs, and the Ubuntu Server for server needs.

linux distros

  • Best for Beginners
  • Good for day-to-day activities
  • Offers LTS support
  • It comes with multiple versions
  • Secure

Download || Official Page

If you need little guidance in learning Ubuntu, check out this Udemy course.

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a lightweight, flexible Linux distro. It offers excellent customization out of the box. However, Arch Linux is not for beginners, and it should only be used by advanced users who already know the Linux operating system.

It is best suited for programmers or advanced Unix users. At the core, it is designed to follow a strict design principle, and this makes it hard to work with. So, if you are someone with an understanding of the system’s core operation, then the distro is for you.

It is also a lightweight distribution and comes with various customization tools.

Its minimum requirement is 1 GB of disk space, 512 MB RAM, and a 64-bit processor.

archlinux

  • Best for programmers and advanced users
  • Lightweight
  • Customization tools
  • Arch Linux follows a strict design philosophy

Download || Official Page

Kali Linux

If you are into cybersecurity, then Kali Linux is for you. It is an advanced Linux distro that offers hundreds of penetration testing tools. At the core, Kali Linux is Debian-based, and that means that it is constantly updated with new features and tool support.

It relies on the Debian Testing branch, a cutting-edge branch that holds all the latest features and bug fixes.

To get started with Kali Linux, you need at least 512 MB of RAM, an AMD64 architecture, or an i386 and a minimum of 3 GB of hard disk space. So, if you are interested in pen-testing or cybersecurity, the distro is for you. Initially, the project was named BackTrack, but it shifted to Kali Linux.

Some of the core pre-installed penetration testings include Nmap, Wireshark, Aircrack-ng, and so on!

kali linux

  • Suited for penetration testers or cybersecurity experts
  • Fast and lightweight
  • It comes with tons of penetration tester tools
  • Debian-based

Download || Official Page

Learning Kali Linux is easy.

Debian

Debian is one of the most popular Unix-based operating systems. I listed it because you can easily find tons of Linux-based distros to be Debian-based. The main reason for being a core component of modern distros is its vast repository. Currently, it is home to 50,000+ software packages. The collection of software makes it an ideal place to explore. The software contains both open source software and

Debian is also very stable, secure, and fast. Anyone can use it, and it is flexible when choosing the desktop environment. You can select XFCE, LXDE, and KDE at the boot menu.

To make Debian run properly, you need a minimum of 1 GHz CPU, 256 MB RAM, and 10 GB of hard disk space.

It also features an active community that contributes to its repository to make it better every passing day.

debian

  • It can be used by anyone
  • Active community
  • Lets users choose the desktop environment
  • It offers a mix of both open source and paid software
  • Easy to install and learn

Download || Official Page

Linux Mint

If you are looking for a lightweight Linux distro, Linux Mint is for you. It is based on Debian and Ubuntu, and it also provides a user-friendly interface. It is best suited for newcomers, but it is equally helpful for advanced users. Overall, the Linux Mint provides a solid Linux experience without trying to over-do anything.

Linux Mint, just like most of the distros, is community-driven. You can use it to do anything you want. One thing that you will notice about this distro is its performance. It comes in different flavors, and you can choose between Xfce, KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon, and MATE. You are also free to choose from a repository of 30,000 packages.

To use it properly, you need a minimum of 512 MB RAM, 9 GB hard disk space, and a modern processor.

linux mint

  • Based on Debian and Ubuntu
  • Secure and easy to use
  • Modern desktop interface
  • It comes in multiple flavors
  • Cinnamon flavor is similar to Mac OS

Download || Official Page

Get it started with this installation guide.

Elementary OS

Another great alternative to your Windows experience is Elementary OS but on top of Linux. It is a popular distro which is aimed at designers and productivity people. Also, if you are new to Linux, you can make proper use of Elementary OS due to its modern, sleek, and intuitive desktop design.

Elementary OS’s initial setup is lightweight as you can install whatever you want later on. It is also focused on privacy and productivity. Their latest release offers key features such as Multitasking view, Do Not Disturb, and Picture-in-Picture for optimal productivity experience.

It comes to its desktop environment, Pantheon, which is built on top of Gnome. This gives the distro good performance, and also, it offers full-fledged customization.

To use Elementary OS effectively, you need a system with 4 GB of RAM, a dual-core 64-bit processor, and 15 GB of hard disk space.

elementory OS

  • Best for beginners familiar with macOS or Windows
  • Modern, sleek, and intuitive desktop
  • Offers productivity features
  • Full-fledged customization

Download || Official Page

Pop!_OS

If you are looking for a Linux distro for computer science stuff, then Pop!_OS is for you. It is also ideal for developers looking for a distro that saves them time and effort, and it offers tons of tools for creators.

Pop!_OS is workflow streamlined where you get the benefits of maximizing real estate. You can manage your workflow with the help of workspace, keyboard shortcuts, and navigations. It also comes with full-disk encryption to protect your important project files and resources.

The distro is developed by System 76. Also, it requires minimal hardware to run it! If you have a decent dual-core machine with 1 GB of RAM and 10 GB of hard disk space, you can run it without any problem.

It offers modern toolkits to simplify development. For instance, you can install Tensorflow with a single line of code.

Other key features offered by Pop!_OS include an intuitive desktop, tons of tools, and a powerful search bar.

pop-os

Summary

  • Ideal for developers and computer scientists
  • Developed by System 76
  • Offers workflow features
  • It comes with tons of tools!

Download || Official Page

OpenSUSE

Another distro that is extremely useful for developers and sysadmins is openSUSE. It is known for its security protocols that give developers an extra layer to protect their work against malicious actors.

If you go to their official page, you will quickly see them offering two versions. One is Tumbleweed, and the other one is Leap.

Tumbleweed is a rolling release. This means you get access to cutting-edge Linux packages. It is tested, stabilized, and fast! This version is only suitable for people who want to try new things. For others, there is Leap — a more stable openSUSE version for a general audience.

openSUSE offers the best open-source tools, including openQA, Kiwi, Open Build Service, YaST, and so on!

YaST is one of the most exciting tools. It is a system admin program that ensures proper system functioning, including disk partitioning, RPM package management, firewall configurations, etc.

To run openSUSE optimally, you need 2 GB RAM, AMD64 or Intel64 processor, 5 GB of hard disk space.

opensuse

  • Best for sysadmins and developers
  • It comes in two versions – Tumbleweed and Leap
  • It offers a good collection of tools, including YaST
  • YaST handles most of the distro features

Download || Official Page

Tails

Privacy has been one of the biggest concerns of online visitors. If you are using Windows, you are probably sharing too much of your personal information. One way to maintain your privacy is to use the Tails operating system, and it offers advanced security for users.

In short, it offers you a platform through which you can surf the internet with complete anonymity. It is so good that famous security magazines mention it, and it is also recommended by NSA, as found out by their internal reports.

To gain that amount of privacy, it tunnels all the traffic through the Tor network. It also features advanced cryptographic tools.

Also, you do not have to install it separately, as you can run it live from a USB drive or DVD.

tails

  • Tailored for users with privacy concerns
  • Utilisez Tor network to secure your online presence
  • Offers advanced cryptographic tools
  • Leaves no trace

Download || Official Page

Rocky Linux

Rocky Linux is a fork of CentOS, intended as a “bug for bug compatible” drop-in replacement for CentOS. Its name is a tribute to late CentOS project co-founder Rocky McGaugh who has worked in high-performance computing for a long time.

In December 2020, Red Hat announced that the latest version 9 of CentOS would end support at the end of 2021. Since many users were relying on the CentOS version, the original developers sensed a need for this community. And a pre-release version of Rocky Linux has emerged after the development of several months.

The first release of Rocky Linux was out on April 30, 2021, as a successor to CentOS and appears to be gaining acceptance at a rapid pace. Like CentOS, it offers a stable version of Linux that’s ideal for server and enterprise environments.

It is also available for both x86-64 and newly popular aarh64 processor architecture. Here are some of the advantages of using Rocky Linux:

  • Suitable replacement for CentOS 8
  • You get the latest release of the software
  • Backed by community support

Its minimum system requirements are:

  • 2GB RAM
  • 20GB hard disk
  • 2CPU/ vCPUs (1.1 GHz processor)

Alma Linux OS

Alma word means soul in Spanish and other Latin languages. Since it was developed by a passionate and diverse developer community which is the soul of Linux, its name is Alma Linux OS is a homage to the community.

It is free and open-source Linux distribution that is created by CloudLinux. It is a free-of-cost downstream fork of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

This OS is a perfect replacement for the individuals and organizations that require an enterprise-grade, Fedora-like distribution and do not want to pay for an RHEL license.

It is available for aarch64 and x86-64 processor architecture. The default desktop environment is available in GNOME.

The first stable release of AlmaLinux was out on March 30, 2021. There are some significant advantages of using this distro, including:

  • Production-ready
  • Fully supported & always free
  • Effortless to switch

Its minimum system requirements are:

  • 2GB RAM
  • 20GB hard disk
  • 2 GHz processor

Fedora

Fedora Linux is one of the most popular Linux distributions. It is user-friendly, comfortable, and uses some of the latest technology in the Linux world. It is the upstream source of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution and consequently for CentOS. It is a fork of Red Hat Linux since RHL (Red Hat Linux) was discontinued in 2003.

Fedora is known for frequent version updates, sometimes weeks or months apart. Such rapid updates make the distro unreliable for those testing new products due to short cycles between the versions. However, it’s excellent for those who want to be on the leading edge of Linux development.

The default desktop in Fedora Linux is the GNOME desktop environment, whereas other popular desktop environments like KDE, Xfce, LXDE, and Cinnamon are also available for installation. Fedora spins are another feature of it, which distributes custom variations of Fedora.

It is available for aarch64, armhfp, x86-64 processor architecture. Its main benefits are:

  • Ease of use and reliable
  • Automatic updates
  • Enhanced security features
  • Great virtualization

Its minimum system requirements are:

  • 1GB RAM
  • 10GB hard disk
  • 1 GHz processor

Zorin OS

Zorin is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It is specially designed for newbies who are switching from Windows to Linux, with straightforward GUI and programs similar to windows. Zorin OS company is Dublin-based and was started in 2009.

This distribution’s primary goal is to provide the Linux alternative to Windows. Further, it is available for x86-64 processor architecture & desktop environments available are GNOME and Xfce.

Listed below are some of the benefits offered by this distro:

  • Windows familiar appearances and feel
  • Thousands of free and paid software are available inside
  • Multiple workspaces & special desktop effects
  • Fast to use on basic hardware

Its minimum system requirements are:

  • 1GB RAM
  • 10GB hard disk
  • 1 GHz processor

What about something new?

There are tons of other distros that you can use. Let’s list a few of the other interesting ones below.

MXLinux: MXLinux has become extremely popular distro in just one year of its release. In fact, it has gained the highest number of hits on DistrWatch.com. It is based on the Xfce desktop environment and Debian. It is also easy to use thanks to its familiarity with Mac/Windows.

Deepin: You can also try out Deepin – an easy to use beginner-friendly Linux distribution. It is constantly updated and offers a great user experience.

Conclusion

The open-source nature of Linux is what makes it so amazing! As a user, you get tons of options to try out and choose the one that fits your requirements. If you are looking to build a career as sysadmin, then check out these learning resources.