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It’s Time for ‘What’s Your Distro’ Round One

FOSS Force Best Distro 2015

The FOSS Force Poll

It’s time for our annual “What’s Your Distro” poll, to determine who gets the FOSS Force Best Distro Award for 2015. This year we’re pulling out all the stops. We want this one to be a metaphoric old fashioned slug fest that will be played until only one distro is standing.

Do you think your distro has what it takes to grab the brass ring and come out a champion? Then it’s time to get busy. Get to your distro’s forums, post on your favorite email lists, go social — like a good political boss working out of a smoke filled room in Chicago, it’s up to you to get the vote out for your distro, because if you don’t do it…who will? You don’t have much time. We pulled a surprise attack and put our poll up on Friday, so it’s already been collecting votes for three days already…maybe for distros other than your favorite.

But don’t worry too much. This is only round one, the qualifying round, and voting doesn’t usually get heavy until the “official” announcement, which is what we’re doing here. The real fun will begin on Friday, when the second and final round goes up. In the meantime, you’ve got to gather your troops, the other loyal users of your distro, and get enough votes to make it through the qualifying round.

[yop_poll id=”1″]

The voting so far is making this year’s poll look like something of a repeat of our 2014 poll, which was held last March. In that contest, Ubuntu came out ahead with 473 votes, but only by a nose, as second place Linux Mint finished only eleven votes behind. The third place winner, openSUSE, also made a respectable showing, with 417 votes. All other distros were way behind the pack, with fourth place Arch nearly 150 points back. You can check out the stats on last years Linux distro World Series yourself on the article we published after the dust had settled and the ticker tape had been swept away.

Our new poll offers-up for your choice ten of the top eleven distros on DistroWatch’s famous — or infamous, depending on who’s talking — distro list. If your favorite Linux flavor didn’t make the list, don’t fret, vote the “other” option and write-in the name of your distro. On Friday, we’ll be going through our poll results, paying particular attention to the write-in votes, and will be putting up a new poll with between 10-20 of the distros that received the most votes in this weeks preliminary round. The final round will have no “other” option. The winning distro will be announced on Friday, January 15, and until next years “best distro” poll will be honored by having the distro’s name displayed inside a laurel wreath on our home page, announcing the distro as the recipient of the FOSS Force Best Linux Distro Award for 2015.

To make it more interesting, we’ve added another new change this year: During the opening round those of you who don’t use GNU/Linux will be able to vote for your operating system of choice too — even those of you who use Windows.

The time has come for you to start casting your votes, and it’s also the time for you to get on the stick and start urging other people who share your enthusiasm for your favorite distro to cast their votes too. We encourage you to engage with our other readers in the comments section below to make the case for your distro. We also encourage you to remember to keep it fun and maintain the spirit of friendly competition.

Finally, don’t forget to share.

After you’re done casting your vote, be sure to click on the Facebook and Twitter buttons at the bottom of the poll, so that your friends and followers can find out about the poll and also vote.

A little bit of friendly competition will be good for us all. Go out there and see if you can earn some bragging rights for your distro. And remember, even if your distro doesn’t win, it’s okay because it’s all Linux.

Sometime this week, FOSS Force will be going live with the second phase of our Indiegogo fundraising campaign. You can help us get a running start by making a donation now by becoming a subscriber.


  1. Cory Hilliard Cory Hilliard January 4, 2016

    I think it’s getting less and less important as to which distro you’re using and more and more important as to which desktop environment you’re using.

    I myself am a loyal user to the Red Hat umbrella of distros. I use Fedora for fun and home use. I use CentOS for heavy-lifting and if I owned a business I would probably use Red Hat. I usually use DNF/YUM for software installs and almost always use the command line to update and install software. If I ever use a GUI for software management I use Gnome-software.

    However, it is the Desktop Environment that I find matters the most. I use Cinnamon. I find Cinnamon to be the best mouse-driven desktop environment that seems to allow any windows converts to make the move easily and without any issues.

    Cinnamon could sit on any distro and still work the same. So again, my opinion is that it’s the DE that matters most.

  2. Christine Hall Christine Hall January 4, 2016

    @Cory Funny you should make that point. We’ve already got a desktop poll in the pipe to go up in the next few weeks!

  3. archuser archuser January 4, 2016

    I use ArchLinux for fun and Windows 7 for professional work

  4. Arie Arie January 4, 2016

    Linux Mint Debian Edition, MATE desktop

  5. eugen-b eugen-b January 4, 2016

    MX-15, it’s based on Debian stable, but with newest backported applications, live persitence features and some pretty handy custom tools.

  6. marduk marduk January 4, 2016

    ArchLinux and Gnome as both are stable and easy to use and maintain.

  7. SG SG January 4, 2016

    2x systems running OpenSuSE
    1x system running CentOS
    1x system running IPCop

  8. Mike Mike January 4, 2016

    ——> Tails <——

    …running on a couple laptops and a server to help with TOR.
    Introduce your friends to Tails!

    Also, a router with openwrt. A server and laptops running Debian but being converted to my own homemade distro based on Linux From Scratch. Raspberry Pi's running Raspbian and OpenELEC but also being converted to homemade.

    I have a work issued laptop that runs Windows 7 that I won't let on my network. Firewalled guest wifi is as far as it is allowed.

  9. Jay Jay January 4, 2016

    I have to second eugene-b’s vote !
    MX-15 was just released.
    Debian stable with XFCE. Lots of updated packages from the team and one of the friendliest most helpful forums on the linux planet !

  10. Annan läsare Annan läsare January 4, 2016

    Since when did Windows and Hurd become “Linux distributions?” Hurd is a kernel, not a distro. You can run both Debian and Arch with Hurd, instead of Linux. Shouldn’t Linux be on the list too in that case? Even if it makes no sense.

  11. Lana Lana January 4, 2016

    I use Xubuntu as my primary, but I have Mint, Fedora, Ubuntu and OpenSuse VMs, among others. Almost all of them with X have XFCE except a Cinnamon Mint. I noticed that Linux Mint 17.3 looks almost exactly like how I configure XFCE and migrating my gtk theme to Cinnamon was almost no work (just Metacity graphics and thumbnails). They all perform well and all these major distros have about the same quality and quantity (Mint does use Ubuntu’s repositories). I’m most familiar with Debian derived, so I stick with Xubuntu because it keeps me the most current. I’d install Mint 17.3 Cinnamon, but it’s still based on Trusty and I’m now on Wily.

  12. Christine Hall Christine Hall January 4, 2016

    @Annan As we pointed out in the article, this year we decided to include non Linux OSes in the first round of the poll. This allows us to collect data to share with you about FOSS supporters who don’t use Linux. Obviously, all Hurd variants count as one in this poll, just as all BSDs are lumped together, as the poll is primarily about Linux distros.

  13. Annan läsare Annan läsare January 4, 2016

    And if I run Debian with Hurd? How do you suggest me to vote in that case?

  14. mathusaleh mathusaleh January 4, 2016

    Tried various distros but Arch is my final resting place.

  15. bathanash bathanash January 4, 2016

    I use this iso to install Arch, contains gui installer ,making it simple to install Arch Linux , no need to download latest iso as updates are automatically installed when booted from iso.

  16. unmukt unmukt January 4, 2016

    Annan läsare
    January 4, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    And if I run Debian with Hurd? How do you suggest me to vote in that case?


  17. Christine Hall Christine Hall January 4, 2016

    @Annan Obviously Debian/Hurd would be “Hurd” as it’s not a Linux distro.

  18. dslackw dslackw January 4, 2016

    I use Slackware and only

  19. Ed Hastie Ed Hastie January 4, 2016

    Peppermint OS. Works on almost any machine old or new. Simple to use, based on Ubuntu.

  20. KernInit KernInit January 5, 2016

    I’ve tried a lot of distros. Now I’m using MX15_64 / xfce4+ (codename – Fusion) I’m very pleased and with MX15 and plan to stick with it. It is based on Debian stable, has live persistence features, has an excellent installer of its own for many applications, a really nice manual and a bunch of other nice features.

  21. Eric Hameleers Eric Hameleers January 5, 2016

    Slackware of course. Pity it is not included in the list when even GNU Hurd is mentioned. My vote is now shrouded in the “Other” distros.

  22. Michael Olberg Michael Olberg January 5, 2016

    I run Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) on my private computers and Ubuntu on my desktop computer at work. It’s really the underlying Debian that matters to me, so I voted Debian. And I am running the Mate desktop on all of these.

  23. Duncan Duncan January 5, 2016

    So where’s the poll? Presumably it’s hosted at some domain other than, but I tried temporarily enabling the obvious opinionstage in both requestpolicy and noscript, and temporarily enabled the long-gobbledygook cloudfront thing that appeared as well, and… nothing. I see the writeup suggesting a poll, but unlike previous fossforce polls, no actual poll.

    And no, I’m not about to simply enable everything, either globally, one one by one, to see if that makes it work. I’ve no idea what or who adkengage, sprizzy, magickalwords or imonomy are, or why my visit to _fossforce.com_, _not_ any of these other places, should be listing them as wanting to load resources or run scripts when I’m visiting a _fossforce.com_ page, but they are. And that’s not including the 22 content resources that disconnect says automatic is trying to load. Neither, of course, is the tracking/behavior analytics domain,, enabled (permanent untrusted/blacklisted), or facebook (why would I want their incredibly intrusive trackers tracking me everywhere else), or (just because fossforce uses a wordpress theme doesn’t mean I feel the need to enable their stats script, which is helpfully broken out to its own domain =:^).

    When I visit fossforce, my browser is configured to allow fossforce, plus a very limited handful of related sites such as that I know is used for the wordpress theme. I don’t know or trust the others, at least in any positive way, and fossforce has given me no hint of what they do or reason to enable them, so they stay disabled.

    Notice that I didn’t say anything about ad-blocking. I don’t see any ads on fossforce, but that’s most likely simply because they don’t see fit to actually serve any. Instead, they try to include a bunch of other sites, some of which are obvious trackers, others which likely serve ads, others which do who knows what, but none of which have an purpose transparently and obviously related to the reason I’m visiting fossforce in the first place, so my my browser’s default deny request-policy and noscript policy for domains other than the one I’m specifically visiting remains in effect, and as so few sites actually serve ads from the same domain they serve their content from, that has the effect of blocking most ads, as well.

    As to the distro, gentoo on most of my machines, with openwrt on the router, until I upgrade it as I’ve decided I’ll do an amd64 compatible router upgrade this time too, so I can build most of my packages once, with the settings I want, and install the same customized binaries on all my machines. It’s not for everyone, but the only way I know of to get more customization would be full-manual, linux from scratch or the like, and that loses the automation that gentoo gives me.

  24. rasputin rasputin January 5, 2016

    I was a distrohopper once, but finally settled for Arch Linux , the most advanced and easy to maintain distro.

  25. Anass Eljondy Anass Eljondy January 5, 2016

    Where is Solus?

  26. buzzrobot buzzrobot January 5, 2016

    Fedora and Gnome here.

    Fedora 22, actually. Fedora always has two supported releases going on the same time. I tend to stay with the older release until the newer release is replaced by its successor. Then, I upgrade to what’s then the older release.

    It’s less confusing than it sounds: F22 and F23 are out now. Both have a 12-month support lifetime. Releases come every six months. When F24 is released, I’ll upgrade to F23. Six months later, when F25 is out, I’ll bump it up to F24.

    The Gnome desktop is stable and mature these days so I see little advantage in quickly jumping to the new release that always comes with a new Fedora release. I find Fedora remarkably consistent and stable for desktop use, given its purpose in life. But, staying a bit behind the curve has helped me avoid the bumps that do show up.

  27. Nomen luni Nomen luni January 5, 2016

    Whilst some computers are shared, I suspect you would obtain a more representative poll by disallowing multiple votes from the same machine.

  28. Ryan P.C. McQuen Ryan P.C. McQuen January 5, 2016

    Where is Slackware?

  29. Fred Fred January 5, 2016

    Linux Mint Xfce edition user here — but due to the GTK3 debacle (having to update your themes every 6 months is LUDICROUS!), I’m going to switch to Qt-based desktops exclusively sometime this year, planning to switch to Mint KDE on my desktop box and, once Lubuntu decides they’re ready for the LXQt switch (I trust Ubuntu’s judgment on whether or not something is ready for prime time), then I’m switching to that on my laptop. The GNOME/GTK developers have irreparably fouled up what was an excellent toolkit, with WAS being the operative word here.

  30. Mike W Mike W January 5, 2016

    Another antiX MX-15 user here.

  31. Eduardo Sánchez Eduardo Sánchez January 5, 2016

    Slackware is sorely missed among the options.

  32. Niki Kovacs Niki Kovacs January 5, 2016

    I’m using Slackware 14.0, 14.1 and -current on all my servers, desktops and workstations. I didn’t vote, because Slackware is not on the list, which is a shame.

  33. Bernd Bernd January 5, 2016

    Debian testing + Cinnamon on one Laptop
    Debian Jessie + Cinnamon on my wife’s Laptop.

    At work we are using Debian 7 + KDE.

  34. Brenton Horne Brenton Horne January 5, 2016

    I think this poll should have the following options instead:

    Debian/non-Ubuntu derivatives
    Ubuntu/non-Mint derivatives
    Arch Linux/non-Manjaro derivatives
    Mageia/other Mandriva derivatives
    OS X
    Other Linux
    Other *nix

    My reasoning is that, as there are so many distros out there and most of them are derived from other, more-popular distros why not spread our net a little wider to include the derivatives of all distros mentioned. I also added Gentoo and PCLinuxOS as they and their derivatives are fairly popular. I think we should also not lump all other votes into the single “Other” category, either, as we may as well see how many of the “other” votes are going to other Linux distros, how many are going to other *nix systems and how man are going to other systems entirely. For example, I voted for Sabayon Linux in this poll which meant my vote got lumped into the very broad category of “other”. With this new scheme I’d vote for “Gentoo/derivatives”.

  35. Christine Hall Christine Hall January 5, 2016

    @Duncan We’ve been testing new polling platforms for FOSS Force. The platform for this poll is a “live” test of the platform so that we can evaluate its performance. For a variety of reasons, we have decided against this platform and will not be using it in future polls.

  36. Christine Hall Christine Hall January 5, 2016

    @Brenton I’m sure that everyone who takes our poll has their own ideas about how the poll should be conducted. To address your ideas: Including a main distro’s derivatives as the voting option wouldn’t work for us, since this is a poll to determine the actual distro that our reader’s prefer, not what family of distros. There is good reason for this, as the poll is primarily a “qualifying round” for our “Best Linux Distro” poll which will follow. That’s why we don’t include “other” write-in boxes for operating systems other than Linux. We only included non Linux operating systems in this poll at all because we thought it might supply us with some figures our readers might find interesting.

  37. Niki Kovacs Niki Kovacs January 6, 2016

    @Brenton: Mint is a Ubuntu derivative, and Ubuntu is 90 % Debian Testing and 10 % Canonical.

    I suggest a different list:

    [ ] Slackware
    [ ] Other OS


  38. CFWhitman CFWhitman January 6, 2016

    I suspect that a lot of ways of tracking distributions lump all official Ubuntu variations (Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Gnome, and Ubuntu Studio; did I miss some?) together as Ubuntu, but this poll isn’t doing that.

    Of course FOSS Force readers are a bit more technical than even the general Linux population, so Arch Linux numbers are higher here than they would likely be elsewhere. I’ve run Arch, but am not using it currently, and it’s certainly not something I’d put on the machines I give out to others. That is, except perhaps for my one particularly geeky nephew, but I’d more likely let him install it himself (which he is interested in doing).

  39. terry jacks terry jacks January 6, 2016

    I agree with Cory Hillard, the only thing that matter really is the DE.

    Ive got no problems going from distro to distro with the same DE because ITS THE SAME THING apart (“Oh wow, look at this!! This distro has a different wallpaper and icons!! Its sooooo wild.”) from some cosmetic changes.

    When I bought a Dell computer for my wife about 7-8yrs ago and showed her the fugly brown Ubuntu GNOME desktop it came with it, she said she was going to buy a Mac. Luckily, we found her a desktop that she liked and installed it and that to me has always been the biggest advantage with Linux, finding something that YOU like. (the 2nd most important is customization to make it even more how you like it).
    The idea that every likes the same kind of desktop is simply idiotic. No one goes to an ice cream place that tells them “We only have chocolate and you WILL like it.”
    I know why Ubuntu stopped promoting all the desktops and even started their own limiting deskop: for marketing reasons so they can differentiate themselves in the market. Of course, that has to do whats better for them, NOT for the user.
    Choice is a great thing and with Linux i can always offer people 3-4 different options when I switch them over to Linux (ive done 46 conversions in a little less than a decade) since I have a multibooting laptop I have them test out.
    The difference between the desktops is real and makes a difference.
    The difference between distros using the same DE is fodder for fanboism.

  40. sarpanit sarpanit January 6, 2016

    “terry jacks
    January 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    I agree with Cory Hillard, the only thing that matter really is the DE.”

    I dont agree, I have tried several distros and found Arch suits me best, I like the idea of minimalism and keeping things simple, I can say with confidence once you use arch you will never go back to any other distro.

  41. Brad Reed Brad Reed January 6, 2016

    Slackware-current. The best distro.

  42. tinkerbell tinkerbell January 7, 2016

    Arch it was ,Arch it is, Keeping my eye open for other better distros , tried several popular ones , so far none better than Arch.

  43. Drakeo Drakeo January 7, 2016

    In the beginning there was Slackware. And in the end there is Slackware wannabe’s.

  44. Mike Mike January 8, 2016

    “The difference between distros using the same DE is fodder for fanboism.”

    So wrong.

    Some users care other things than the desktop. Other important differences can include what software is in the repositories, how updates/upgrades are performed, and attitude towards open vs proprietary software. The last is why I favor Debian and Trisquel over Mint, Ubuntu, and Arch.

    Other than avoiding Gnome, I don’t have a strong preference for a particular desktop. XFCE, LXDE, Mate, and Enlightenment are all good. KDE is OK but usually more than I want. Gnome just sucks.

  45. Mike S. Mike S. January 8, 2016

    I want to be able to recommend FOSS operating systems to people with relatively low technical skills, so I stick with newbie-friendly distributions. Right now I have Elementary OS (an Ubuntu derivative with a polished interface that models the OS X style).

    On some other machines I have Fedora, and it works well but if you don’t like GNOME 3 you have to jump through some hoops for it to work well. I use it, I like it, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for novices.

  46. Arch Linux User Arch Linux User January 8, 2016

    well you can always guess

  47. FOSS Force Staff FOSS Force Staff Post author | January 8, 2016

    We’ve closed voting on the first round of our distro poll. We’re tallying votes now and will be putting up our second and final round poll, which will determine which distro gets “Best Distro” bragging rights, sometime in the next three of four hours. You can check on our home page to see when the poll goes up. Thank you for your patience.

  48. Michael Tunnell Michael Tunnell January 8, 2016

    This is a trash poll and no matter what the results are they are wrong and irrelevant.

    You have arbitrarily limited the options forcing this poll to be useless. A poll like this so literally list every single distro to ensure that the poll is as inclusive as possible.

    The fact that you have Ubuntu listed but almost no derivatives other than Mint makes this completely flawed. If a voter is using Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME or Ubuntu MATE then they shouldn’t even vote because voting as “Ubuntu” is not accurate therefore you have effectively made this entire thing futile.

  49. Christine Hall Christine Hall January 8, 2016

    @Michael The poll included every imaginable distro, as voters could choose the “other” option and write-in their favorite distro. In all, a total of 62 distros received votes in this first round poll. We, of course, couldn’t include every distro as an offered choice, as that would would create a voting list with over 300 choices. However, as you will see, many of the write-in distros received enough votes to make it to our final round, and one distro that was offered as a choice was eliminated for receiving too few votes.

  50. FOSS Force Staff FOSS Force Staff Post author | January 8, 2016

    The second and final round of voting is now open. This will allow you to vote for one of the top 14 Linux distros in the poll that ended today. You can currently find the new poll on our home page, and it will replace the now completed poll that’s on this page within the hour.

    Thanks to everyone for taking part in round one. We’re very much looking forward to how the voting goes in round two.

  51. Mindaugas Mindaugas January 9, 2016

    I use Antix Linux MX-15, codename Fusion. This distribution sed on the reliable and stable Debian Jessie (8.2) with extra enhancements and up to date applications provided by packaging team. Very good distro!

  52. BALLOON a.k.a. Fu-sen. BALLOON a.k.a. Fu-sen. January 9, 2016

    to ensure that the user to mess with “antiX(-15)” and “MX(-15)” is frequently, I will warn.
    These are the different distributions.

    MX (MX-15, MX-14 aka MX Linux) is a special version was born by the collaboration of members of “M”EPIS and anti”X”.
    For this reason, it was included “MX” in the “antiX” in DistroWatch.
    You guys were aware of this, please do not add a “antiX” to “MX”. This will confuse other users.

  53. Brian Masinick Brian Masinick January 11, 2016

    This is straight from the page and it directly addresses concerns about confusion between antiX and MX.

    Originally, antiX was a derivative distribution of MEPIS. However, ongoing development of MEPIS as an easy to use KDE based distribution built from Debian Stable ceased some time ago. The antiX project continued to work on lightweight distributions.

    More recently, development of an MX deriviative of antiX, written in cooperation between antiX and MEPIS community members has taken place.

    The official comments about this are copied verbatim below:

    MX Linux (antiX MX) is a special version of antiX developed in full collaboration with the MEPIS Community, using the best tools and talents from each distro and including work and ideas originally created by Warren Woodford for his MEPIS project. It is a midweight OS designed to combine an elegant and efficient desktop with simple configuration, high stability, solid performance and medium-sized footprint.

    Relying on the excellent upstream work by Linux, we deploy Xfce4 as Desktop Environment on top of a Debian Stable base. It also incorporates the independent development products smxi and inxi. Ongoing backports and outside additions to the Community Repos keep it current.

  54. Haines Brown Haines Brown January 12, 2016

    I’m wedded to GNU, and so would be inclined to give a vote to the Debian fork, Devuan, were that offered as a choice. Although beta, it is already being used in production systems.

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