New Linux users are always confused about choosing a best Linux distribution to start with. As there are hundreds of Linux distributions so it might always be a confusing part. But I'll help you choosing the right Linux flavour to start your Linux exploration. In this article, I'll walk you through a list of 8 Best Linux distributions for new Linux users. But before all of that, I suggest you throwing out all the misconceptions about Linux, such as Linux is only for geeks or developers. Linux is for everyone. As I always say, "When Linux can run Google, Facebook, Amazon, it can surely run your home computer as well."
The two things to remember when choosing a Linux distribution?
There are not so many parameters to know what is the best Linux distribution for you. Just keep two things in mind. First your requirements and distros ease of use. The given list is not perfect for all, so many of you will surely find other distros perfect for you. The thing is when you know your requirements then it is easier to find easy to use Linux distro that fits your requirements. So now let's start with the list of Linux distributions for new users.
1. Linux Mint
The first in the list is Linux Mint. This distro most of the time tops the list because of its stability, simplicity and ease of use. It is not specific to one type of users like we have so many other Linux distributions such as, Ubuntu Studio which is specific to Multimedia lovers. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and comes with almost all applications that we use regularly such as, Firefox for web browsing, Thunderbird as email client, Gimp alternative to Photoshop, LibreOffice alternative to MS Office, and a file manager etc.
Linux Mint is install and go. It means, the pre-installed applications make Linux Mint usable instantly after the installation. The best part is the default desktop environemnt, Cinnamon. Though it also comes in two other flavours, XFCE and MATE. Oh! Wait. Recently KDE flavour has also been released. You can know more about KDE desktop environment here. It's very sweet, BTW.
But I recommend Linux Mint Cinnamon flavour for new Linux users. New users will surely feel much comfortable with Cinnamon. Check out the screenshot collection below for Cinnamon Desktop environemnt. Also check out my Linux Mint 18 review.
Download Linux Mint
2. Linux Lite
Linux Lite is very lightweight, stable and customizable Linux. It's user-friendly and has improved a lot since the first release in 2013. Like other Linux flavours, Linux Lite does not come in various desktop environments. The only DE it has is XFCE. Providing one flavor does not mean it's less powerful or less usable, it's got the same functionality that any other advanced Ubuntu-based distribution has.
The other feature that makes one to switch to Linux Lite is that it's lightweight. The XFCE desktop environment is very light but looks cool, due to which it only weighs 955MB which is almost half of the size of Linux Mint.
Linux Lite already comes with lots of applications that one use regularly. It ships with the latest version of Firefox, Gimp image editor, LibreOffice office suit, Thunderbird email client and VLC media player etc. After all these applications, if you want more, the default repositories include tonnes of software that you can easily install Synaptic package manager.
The latest version of Linux Lite is 3.0. Check out the LinuxAndUbuntu review of Linux Lite 3.0 here.
Download Linux Lite
3. Zorin OS
Zorin OS does not compromise with Look and feel. The highly customised desktop environment makes Zorin OS super easy to use for Linux beginners. Zorin OS is also based on Ubuntu and uses higly customized Gnome desktop and Avant Window navigator which the team calls Zorin Desktop.
Zorin Desktop is specially designed for Windows users. All look and feel is very similar to Windows OS so any Windows users will find it extremely easy to navigate through and perform all daily tasks easily with the power of Linux. The latest version of Zorin that team provides support for is Zorin OS 9. The team provides two editions of the OS, namely, Zorin OS Core and Lite. The core is just the core of the system with couple of applications pre-installed. The core versions is highly recommended for old desktops and the other Lite version has good amount of pre-installed applications which will be no painful for a new Linux user.
Download Zorin OS
4. Manjaro Linux
If you think only Ubuntu-based Linux distros are recommended for new Linux users then that's not true. Here is Manjaro Linux. It is based on the unique Linux distribution, Arch Linux. If you have never heard of Arch Linux before(which is less likely), then read LinuxAndUbuntu review of Arch.
Well, Manjaro Linux is also a very friendly Linux distribution. One won't have any trouble using it if already familiar with Windows or other operating systems. It comes in various flavours. I think I will have to say Manjaro is available in almost all popular desktop environments. So there are variety of versions to go with for a new as well as advanced Linux user. To help you with installation, Manjaro also provides two installers so it is very easy to install as well. If you don't understand one installer, just go with the second one, but if you don't understand the second one, find help in the community forum.
The latest version of Manjaro Linux is 16.04.1. Read more here about what's new in Manjaro Daniella release.
Download Manjaro Linux
5. Peppermint OS
Peppermint OS has been there since 2010 and it is focused on speed and ease of use. The name itself defines the relation with Linux Mint. The Peppermint OS is based on Ubuntu and comes with the desktop environment based on LXDE. It is of course a beginner-friendly Linux distribution and focuses on providing a lightweight system, so it ships only with the applications that you want for daily use. There are not tonnes of pre-installed applications. Though Synaptice package manager can be used to search and install thousands of other packages in the system.
The distro also implements a concept of using web apps as local apps. So the team developed app called, 'Ice' that can create a web app launcher directly in your application menu. This helps you access each website separately in its own window and can be launched quickly either from desktop launcher(shortcut) or app menu.
The latest version of Peppermint is 7 which was reviewed here on LinuxAndUbuntu. Follow the link to know more about the latest Peppermint OS 7.
Also Read - Best Linux Desktop Environments
6. Elementary OS
The Elementary OS is friendly Linux disro based on Ubuntu and implements a custom desktop environment, Pantheon. Pantheon is a very natural desktop environment for Mac users. It has a very similar application widget down on the desktop which feels like home for Mac users. On the top left corner is the menu where you can search all the installed applications.
It comes with some useful daily use applications such as Midori web browser, Media player, image viewer etc. The latest stable version of Elementary OS is 0.3.2 'Freya'. Sadly Elementary OS is among the Linux distributions that I have never reviewed. I'll surely review the upcoming version of Elementary OS, 'Loki'.
Download Elementary OS
7. Ubuntu studio
Yes, I am still on my point to provide you beginner friendly Linux distributions. Ubuntu Studio is here for the same purpose.Ubuntu Studio is for Audio, Video and graphics users or professionals. The reason I'm listing it in beginner friendly distros is that so many users don't turn to Linux because they they're enjoying multimedia content on the other OS. Don't worry if you're among those users then you can switch to Linux through Ubuntu studio. At the same time, this distro is pretty easy to use. As the name suggests that it's based on Ubuntu. But here something more than that. Ubuntu Studio is an officially recognised derivative distro of Ubuntu.
Ubuntu studio uses XFCE desktop environment so it's fast and has everything in just a menu on the top left corner. You can browse applications from that menu. It's simple to use and easy to work with. There are already so many applications installed in the system so you, as a new user won't need to install apps for day to day tasks.
Download Ubuntu Studio
And here is Ubuntu! The least beginner friendly Linux distribution in this list is Ubuntu and there are some reasons of massive fall. Most Linux users sometime were Windows users so you're also more likely to be using Windows. The problem that Windows users face with Ubuntu is that it's unique Unity desktop environment. It's the desktop environment that very few Linux distributions provide. The dash is where users can search all their applications as well as online content. For a new user it will be harder to use Ubuntu and stick to it for longer.
It does not mean that Ubuntu is useless. Ubuntu is my favourite Linux distribution and I use it for my daily work. The point is once you get use to with it, it's very easy to use and work with. If you take turn to Linux with Ubuntu, I know it's going to take sometime to understand how it all works.
The main problems that I faced with Ubuntu as a newbie were the menu buttons only appears when you hover over the title bar of the window. And the other problem was that there was no one click minimise. I had to go to title bar to minimize any window that almost all Windows users are not familiar with. It irritates when you're working with it. Sadly, the issues have have been solved but party. Users will still require to turn on these basic features using third-party applications or tweak tools. I never understood that why such tiny features can't be implemented in the universal settings manager. For new Linux users, it can be a painful task.
Still I am not stopping anyone to start with Ubuntu but just make sure you know some necessary things about it. For instructions about turning on 'minimize on click' and 'always show menus', read this LinuxAndUbuntu article.
As I stated above in the article that do not get confused, remove all the myths about Linux and start with any of the above Linux distro. This list of Linux distributions is very useful only when you yourself want to learn Linux. Otherwise any list of Linux distributions or review won't help you out if you've fixed that Linux is only for advanced users, geeks. As I always say, "When Linux can run Google, Facebook, Amazon, it can surely run your home computer." :) For now take care and good bye.
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