Linux is a unix-like kernel, there's a lot of confusion from people who don't know much about it. No it's NOT unix! Linux is a clone of unix written completely from scratch, that's where the term unix-like comes from. Many people ask me every day "Which Linux distro would you recommend I use?" and I always tell them that it depends on their use cases! For example you might be perfectly happy with a static release distro like Ubuntu or you might be more happy with a rolling release distro like Arch. I will break this up into a few different scenarios: you may be a developer switching from macOS or Windows, or perhaps a power user who wants to customize their computer to fit their needs, or both! It depends on your use cases and needs, is it even worth switching away from your current operating system?
This paragraph is gonna discuss casual users, people who use their computers for things like web browsing and the occasional word processing. Reasons why the casual user might want to switch to Linux is because of performance, security, privacy, or all of the above. Linux offers greater performance, security, and privacy over macOS and Windows! For absolute beginners who don't know much about computers I recommend using Ubuntu, Ubuntu is an easy to use Linux distro that is made for beginners and advanced users alike! Ubuntu is a distro that you can pretty much just install and it should work pretty well out of the box. It comes included with firefox, libre office, and some other programs you may find useful! You can also install programs like Google Chrome. If you're a Windows or macOS user you might not be used to the UI of Ubuntu, if you don't like the Ubuntu UI there's always Zorin OS, Zorin OS is a distro that is designed to transition Windows users to Linux. It is layed out like Windows and is designed to feel familiar to Windows, it even comes with wine included out of the box if you need to run a Windows program!
For more advanced users who aren't exactly power users I recommend using OpenSUSE leap, it is designed to be configurable and stable and puts stability as a priority. If you're into customizing your computer you should feel right at home with OpenSUSE leap, during the installation you can select GNOME or KDE as well as install your own afterwards. OpenSUSE leap has a 6 month release schedule, as a result expect pretty good stability but you may be behind on some packages!
For power users and developers I can't really give a solid recommendation because your choices will definitely depend on what you use your computer for, if you're interested in customizing your computer to fit your needs and workflow you could check out Arch Linux, Arch Linux certainly isn't for everyone because it has a manual install process. If you're familiar with the command line the install process shouldn't be too difficult, once you do it a couple times you'll just get used to it! For customizability, stability, and performance check out OpenSUSE leap, it is a static release distro so it has a 6 month release schedule. If you want the latest and greatest upgrades as they come out check out tumbleweed, tumbleweed is the rolling release edition of OpenSUSE, it should be relatively stable but because it's rolling release you will get updates shortly after they come out! A rolling release distro isn't really the best choice for beginners to Linux as they're known to be less stable and are updated more frequently than static releases, as a result expect to run into unexpected issues if something goes wrong! If you're looking for stability and don't mind being out of date there's always the good old Debian. Debian is a static release distro that gets updates every couple years, it's purposely out of date because it puts stability as top priority and has a slow update schedule. If you're a developer and don't mind a static release distro but prefer something stable and reliable, check out Ubuntu. Ubuntu gets updated more frequently than Debian but not as much as rolling release distros, it is stable and reliable but you will be missing out on certain features that rolling release distros offer. Another great rolling release distro is Void, Void Linux is a distro written from scratch with a different init system compared to Ubuntu, Debian, Arch, and OpenSUSE. Instead of using systemd it uses runnit as it's init system. It has considerably less packages than a more well known distro so keep that in mind!
Here are Linux distros that you should definitely stay away from definitely as a beginner!
- Any Arch variant
- A manual distro such as Arch, or Gentoo
- A rolling release distro
The top 5 are distros that have complaints due to incompatible packages, are known to be less stable as other distros, are poorly maintained, and are known to break with package updates! Distros 6-8 are distros that are harder to use and might be less stable without knowing what you're doing, I recommend staying away from them until you're more experienced!
Here are distros that no matter what knowledge level, you might be happy with!
- KDE Neon
- Elementary OS
- Zorin OS
- OpenSUSE leap
Here are distros I recommend using only if you're a more advanced user and know how to troubleshoot and fix problems!
- OpenSUSE Tubleweed
- Your choice!
In conclusion there's many different Linux distros out there, there's no right or wrong when it comes to Linux! Everything in this article is my personal opinion as well as personal experience! I recommend doing more research about each distro before switching and stick with what you're happy with.