Local Idiot Online

A biased list of recommended Linux distributions

The second most frequently asked question I get from Linux beginners (right after “Why should I use Linux?”) is “Which distro should I choose?” This article will attempt to cover the most popular and, in my opinion, most preferable options that one should consider. I will attempt to cover the process of getting used to Linux in the next article.


  • WM - window manager. It’s the system software that controls the placement and appearance of windows within a windowing system in a graphical user interface (GUI). It may be fun to tinker with a standalone WM, but as a beginner you may be intimidated as it requires browsing through a good amount of documentation to set your own desktop.
  • DE - desktop environment. Usually consists of a WM and a set of other tools like panels or maybe other software that allow you to quickly get working with the OS.
  • FOSS (FLOSS) - stands for free/libre open source software. When we say “free software”, we mean “free as in speech”, as opposed to “freeware”. That means it’s not only free of charge, but also allows you to modify and create your own versions of such software, with only restrictions being enforced by some “copyleft” licenses, which aim to not allow the modified software to be licensed as closed-source or proprietary.
  • Proprietary - the direct opposite of free/libre. Instead of being maintained by the community, it keeps its sources closed and is being maintained mostly by the corporation that created it. Whether it’s paid or is being distributed for free, you will always have to rely on the owners of that product to make any changes or updates. Needless to say, Linux community tends to avoid such products whenever possible.
  • Team Red - the general term to describe AMD fanboys, as opposed to Team Green. Given how uncollaborative Nvidia is (or at least used to be) in terms of providing support for Linux, you may find this term being thrown around at least a few times through this article.

Your first distro

Given how popular Ubuntu has been over the decades, you can expect a lot of beginner-friendly distros to be based on it. I personally would not recommend it for a beginner, because of the inconvenient GNOME DE (and the controversy surrounding it), which is why below I list the distributions based on it:

  • Kubuntu - an Ubuntu-based distro using KDE as a DE. KDE is often considered the most intuitive DE among the beginners because it ships by default with an interface that resembles Windows and also supplies some packages you’ve come to expect to have in your OS by default.
  • Xubuntu - my second pick for an Ubuntu-based distribution. It uses XFCE as a DE, which I have come to personally adore, but while it may offer greater performance, it’s also slimmer than KDE and may not be as beginner-friendly.
  • Linux Mint - another very beginner-friendly distribution. Boasts the Cinnamon DE, which is both good for performance and user experience. If I had to give a complete beginner an OS to try in their spare time in a VM, this might just be the one.
  • Pop!_OS - another rather popular choice for a complete beginner. If you use an Nvidia GPU, it allows you to install a version with their proprietary drivers, which might just be a game changer for those who aren’t dedicated to Team Red.
  • Zorin OS - another beginner-friendly alternative. Boasts a variety of looks to choose from for easy migration from Windows 10/11 or MacOS, and ships with Wine and PlayOnLinux by default. As my friend said, it’s the “zoomer version of Linux Mint”.
  • Elementary OS - another popular choice if you’ve decided to migrate from MacOS. Probably the only reason to consider this distribution, too.

However, if you’re willing to try something that’s not Ubuntu-flavored, here are some other beginner-friendly options:

  • Fedora Workstation - another choice for a stable distribution based on Red Hat Linux. However, the base version ships with GNOME, so I encourage you to take the following flavors of it for a spin (heh).
  • MX Linux - based on antiX, you may find it to be not only a proud statement against fascism, but also a decent distribution for older hardware.
  • EndeavourOS - now we’re stepping into the bias territory. This one is based on Arch Linux, a distro that I have come to love over the years of usage. It has been proven to be a decent replacement for Manjaro in terms of stability, but it still boasts the rolling release model which in my opinion is much better-suited for personal computers. It’s not like you’re running a server where you value stability over anything, come on.

More options to consider

  • Debian - the one and only distro that Ubuntu is based on. However, with its focus on stability and security above all else, you’ll find its package-managed software selection far behind, which I would not recommend for your home computer. If you need a reliable server though, by all means, it just might be for you.
  • Garuda Linux - another Arch-based distro that is simple to use and is good for those who want to game.
  • HoloISO - did you know that SteamOS 3 is based on Arch Linux as well? Well, now you can take the powers of SteamOS and install it right on your computer!
  • Vanilla OS - at some point you may find yourself constantly swapping between distros. We call it distro-hopping, or “nuisance” for short. Until you’ve settled with a perfect Linux of your choice, you might want to try out this distribution, which allows you to install virtually any other distro right on your machine. Consider this handy tutorial on how to start with it.
  • Batocera.linux - if you’re a retro gamer and want a lot of emulators out of the box, you can consider this distro as well.


This is by no means a complete list of Linux distributons worth checking out, and I will fill it out in the future with even more operating systems. Still, I hope this article will come in handy for you in case you need to pick a few distributions to start with.


  • Azatsky - the person who assembled the initial draft. You can find it here.