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Five Linux Distros for New Users

Those who’re new to Linux want the best distro out there for new users, which means simple things like ease of use, productivity, speed, and security. But which distros are the best for new users? Actually, there is probably no “best,” but there are many distros that are designed keeping the needs of the inexperienced Linux user in mind.

Some of them, like Linux Mint, are tried and true — a solid operating system that has proven its mettle over time. Others, such as Elementary OS, provide a beautiful interface which impresses many users. Still, other Linux distributions include Zorin OS, which is designed to look like Windows. So let’s take a look at five of the best Linux distros for new users.

Ubuntu logoUbuntu: It’s impossible to talk about user friendly Linux distros without mentioning Ubuntu, which is near the top of most lists when it comes to ease-of-use and robustness. Indeed, Ubuntu’s Debian based guts are so solid that it’s the basis not only for every distro on this list, but for many other distros as well. Although Ubuntu’s default desktop, Unity, is considered to be wonky by some, it is a solid choice for anyone wanting to use Linux for the first time.

Elementary OS: Although Elementary OS is a derivative of Ubuntu, that’s where the similarity stops. Elementary OS has an impressive interface that shows a well thought out design throughout. While it doesn’t offer many apps, and what apps it has shun proprietary codecs, you can use the Ubuntu repository for additional applications. Definitely worth a look-see and a test drive.

Zorin OS: Users who are afraid of leaving Microsoft must check out Zorin OS. This distro uses the Zorin Desktop Environment which is designed to give the user the look and feel of Windows XP or Windows 7. Although the developers push the distro’s ability to run native Windows programs through the use of WINE, this isn’t necessarily as easy as it seems.

Linux Mint LogoLinux Mint: One of the most popular Linux distros is Linux Mint — voted the best distro for newbies in a FOSS Force reader’s poll in 2013. Arguably, it’s the third most popular operating system for home users after Windows and Mac. Mint is based on Ubuntu, with a Debian version available, which makes it both powerful and reliable. It comes with a more traditional desktops, either Cinnamon or Maté, and offers many applications right out of the box.

Deepin: The Deepin distro derives its name from the Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE). This desktop environment is intuitive and simple to use. Deepin apps work well and are tailored to the operating system. Because it’s simple and intuitive, it makes for a good place to start for anyone using Linux for the first time.The installation procedure is simple — even easier than Ubuntu or Mint. Be certain to download the multi=language ISO image, as the distro is developed in China. The interface is clean and you pretty much have an empty window. It has hot corners that enable you to access features. The bottom left corner returns you to the desktop and the top left corner enables you to launch an application. The bottom right corner gives you access to the control center. You can set each corner to something different if you choose.


  1. Scott Dowdle Scott Dowdle February 26, 2015

    Wow… how many “X distros for new users” articles have I seen over the years? Lots. How about a article asking… “once you aren’t a newbie anymore and you have started to care about FLOSS over proprietary / closed software… which distro community should you join to eventually become a contributor in some way?” Oh, right… that’s harder and I guess no one would read it. 🙂

    I don’t really recommend any distro that offers a custom desktop environment not offered anywhere else. I don’t care how good it is. If it is really good, others will pick it up and offer it too, right? I think it is more reasonable to pick a distro that offers one or several common desktop environments found across may distros.

  2. Derek Derek February 27, 2015

    Linux Mint does have several common desktops. Kde and Xfce for example. I’ve also seen a few other distros adopting, the cinnamon desktop as well.

  3. ljenux ljenux February 27, 2015

    since pclinuxos is not mentioned, and spyware called ubuntu is, this article has no value whatsoever

  4. MichaelO MichaelO February 27, 2015

    @ Ljenux,
    You are right, this article just mentioned Ubuntu and its derivative distros and the author forgot PCLinux, Manjaro and Mageia distros. I’m coming from Windows world, so for me PCLinux KDE and Manjaro KDE were a smooth transition to Linux and also, these distros are rolling release that is a plus for me.

  5. dw55 dw55 February 27, 2015

    ljenux and MichaelO,

    You too are both right on! Notice how the nameless author probably intentionally lists Ubuntu at the very top followed by its derivatives. Zero mention of PCLinuxOS which has a manageable handful of good desktop flavors and works right out of the box even better than Zorin (PCLinuxOS also doesn’t try to steer site visitors to its commercial offering as does Zorin.)

    As the author didn’t even have the guts to put their name to the “Best” list, we gotta be wondering who indirectly paid off the author to disingenuously promote Ubuntu?!

  6. myopicjazz myopicjazz February 27, 2015

    Just because Ubuntu is the only distro that offers Unity doesn’t mean that Gnome 3 is superior. Unity is much easier to navigate, IMHO. It’s also simple to find good articles on the web for troubleshooting and tweaking your Ubuntu install. I’m thinking specifically of installing and configuring Rails and the Oracle JDK.

  7. W. Anderson W. Anderson February 27, 2015

    The article writer failed to mention that Linuxmint also fully supports the KDE desktop.

  8. HPMC HPMC February 27, 2015

    Anyone else feel like the unknown author simply went to distrowatch, searched for “Beginners” and used that list?

    Also, why wouldn’t he include links to each distro’s website? There is absolutely no value here.

  9. Khan Md Ashraf Khan Md Ashraf February 27, 2015

    I fail to understand why people have to moan about somebody’s choices of GNU/Linux distro’s. It is their choice folks. What matters is that there is choice! Look around choose what yer want. Get in deep or shallow there is a distro for almost every kind. I am no nerd and I started out with RedHat 5.0 I been using Linux Mint for some years now. Have used PCLinuxOS before that. I also have a small biz based on GNU/Linux Desktop support. GNU/Linux has come a long way from RedHat 5.0. I’ve enjoyed the ride and like how for it was always about choice, I could make about the distro of the day, month, year and maybe even the decade. Never had a dull moment I assure y’all 🙂

  10. mista gee mista gee March 5, 2015

    Its all a matter of choice, something that we early Linux users
    had much less of..

  11. James James March 10, 2015

    While others may like to flit from Linux distro to Linux distro- which is fun I’ll admit- I’ve come to the point in my old age where I want a comfortable, responsive and steady friend to do the things with me I want and like and to do a bit of armchair adventuring, also. Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca fills the bill quite nicely. I can surf, safari, write, do my bills, make my lists, play a few games, download books and music, work on my “magnum opus” which I’ll never finish, email, chat, argue and use apps from the repository which is almost monstrously large. So little time and so much to do. See you all on the flip side (if you believe there is one).

  12. Stephen Green Stephen Green March 10, 2015

    Mint is the ‘King of the hill’ in my book. None better.

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