Monday, February 1, 2021

The best Linux distributions for beginners in 2021

Looking for the best Linux distributions for beginners in 2021? Check our top 5 picks
Photo by XPS on Unsplash

Once you understand the benefits of Linux and decide it to try it out, the next point in your open-source journey is to choose a Linux distribution that best suits your needs. Since there are so many variables in this equation, we prepared a list of the best Linux distributions for beginners to try in 2021.

How we got to this list

But before, let us explain how we got to this list. Since new Linux users have different needs than say, advanced users and developers, here are we we consider the most important for new users:

  1. Installation - how simple it is to install a distro
  2. Features - Which features are included by default
  3. User Friendliness - how friendly is the distro for new users
  4. Customization - how customizable is the distribution
  5. Software - how extensive and up-to-date its software is
  6. Community - how easy will it be to get help from the community

So let's get to work.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is one of the most popular distributions among new Linux users. It may be due to its similarity to Windows, it may be due to its solid foundations, Mint is still one of our favorite choices when it comes to newcomers.

Source: LinuxMint.com

Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8.5/10 8/10 9/10 8/10 8/10 8.5/10 8.33

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution and is based on the venerable Debian operating system. Ubuntu is also pretty popular on the server, cloud and containers and is usually a distribution that works well for everyone. Ubuntu gets a non-LTS version every 6 months and an LTS every two years.

A brand new Ubuntu desktop

Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 9/10 8.17

Fedora

Fedora is a cutting-edge Linux distribution, base for the enterprise distributions such as CentOS Stream, Rocky Linux, Cloud Linux and RHEL and incubator of new technologies in Linux and Open-Source. Fedora is a very solid distribution that works well for everyone (including Linux's creator himself). Together with Ubuntu, Fedora can increase your employability due to its roots in enterprise software. Fedora also counts with a very friendly community (albeit smaller than Ubuntu) ships more up-to-date software than all of the other distributions in this list and gets a new release every 6 months.

Source: GetFedora.org

Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 8.5/10 8.5/10 8.17

Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS is the newest distribution on this list (and the weirdest name). Based on Ubuntu and shipped by default on System76 hardware, PopOS is seeing a spike in its user based due to its polishedness, segmentation and default customizations.

       
Source: System76

Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 8/10 8.5/10 8/10 8/10 7/10 7.92

Elementary OS

Elementary OS is a beautiful and powerful Linux distribution that focus on speed, privacy and is a replacement for Windows and macOS. As Mint and Pop!_OS, Elementary is also based on Ubuntu and is a popular choice among macOS users due to its similarities with that system.

Source: elementary.io/

Here's how it scores:

Installation Features User Friendliness Customization Software Community Final Score
8/10 7/10 9/10 7/10 8/10 7/10 7.66

Final Thoughts

As you can see, it's a very tight race. On a quick glance, you may question how these distributions differ from each other. And it's a valid question. There's indeed a lot of equivalence between these systems as they are based on the same open-source software.

However, under the hood, there are lots of moving parts which, for new users shouldn't be relevant for now. Choosing a Linux distribution is a continuous process. Most of us, tried, 3, 5 or even 10 different distributions until we settled on something we like. Take your time!

Conclusion

In the end, choosing your distro will come down to preference. So take your time, read about each distribution, test them in virtual machines before installing on your system. And remember, Linux is about choice. You will always be able to reinstall and test as many times as you want. Most people, never settle down on the first one. Good luck!

See Also

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