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Best Linux Distro: Final Round of Voting Has Begun

Arch Linux wins the qualifying round for the second year, followed by Linux Mint. In addition, eight distros qualified by write-in votes to be included in our final round. Now it’s time to get out the vote in the all-important final round to determine the Best Linux Distro according to our readers.

The FOSS Force Readers’ Choice Awards Poll

Arch Linux Best Linux Distro 2015Through our qualifying round of voting, you have decided the final slate of candidates for our annual FOSS Force Readers’ Choice Award for Best Linux Distro. At 11 a.m. EST, final round voting began to determine which desktop Linux distro gets the prize for this year’s award.

Admittedly, there’s not much at stake here; the winning distro receives nothing more than bragging rights and a heartfelt symbolic pat on the back from our readers — which has to count for something.

Again this year, voting in the qualifying round sat a new record for participation in a FOSS Force poll, with 6,217 votes being cast in the main poll, and another 532 votes cast in our separate write-in poll. This beat our previous record for votes cast in a single poll set last year when a total of 5,784 votes were cast. Last year’s figure included write-in votes which were not conducted as a separate poll but were incorporated into the main poll through an “other” voting option. This option is not available in the polling platform we now use, so we were forced to find a workaround that involved using a forms platform.

For the second year in a row, Arch Linux has won the first round of polling, although with fewer votes and a smaller margin than in last year’s competition. In this year’s polling, Arch garnered a total of 931 votes, or 15 percent of the total votes cast in the main poll. In last year’s qualifying round, Arch finished with 1,378 votes, representing 23.8 percent of the total votes cast, which included write-in votes. Last year’s second place winner, Debian with 1,140 votes or 19.7 percent, this year only managed a sixth place finish, with 360 votes, or 6 percent of the votes cast in the main poll.

Which of the GNU/Linux distros listed below would you choose to win the FOSS Force ‘Best Desktop Distro’ Award for 2016?

  • Arch (20%, 1,621 Votes)
  • elementary (15%, 1,251 Votes)
  • PCLinuxOS (10%, 857 Votes)
  • Slackware (8%, 678 Votes)
  • Solus (8%, 616 Votes)
  • Linux Mint (7%, 576 Votes)
  • Manjaro (5%, 431 Votes)
  • Ubuntu (5%, 393 Votes)
  • Debian (4%, 327 Votes)
  • Fedora (4%, 296 Votes)
  • Antergos (3%, 274 Votes)
  • openSUSE (3%, 242 Votes)
  • Ubuntu MATE (1%, 118 Votes)
  • MX Linux (1%, 113 Votes)
  • Xubuntu (1%, 99 Votes)
  • KDE neon (1%, 98 Votes)
  • Gentoo (1%, 92 Votes)
  • Devuan (1%, 53 Votes)
  • BunsenLabs (0%, 27 Votes)
  • OpenMandriva (0%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 8,176

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Coming in second in this qualifying poll was Linux Mint, with 765 votes, or 12 percent of the total. Last year, Mint qualified with a fourth place finish in the first round, pulling in 679 votes. In 2015, the first year we conducted our Best Distro poll, Mint qualified with a second place photo finish, only 11 votes behind the leader, Ubuntu.

In all, 52 distros received write-in votes this year. Of these, eight received enough votes to qualify to make it to our final round poll. Listed in order of votes cast, the write-in distros making the cut are: MX Linux, Devuan, Gentoo, Xubuntu, Bunsen Labs, Slackware, OpenMandriva and KDE Neon.

The complete results of the first round of voting are available on our Completed Polls page.

One thing we’ve learned from our past experiences with these Best Linux Distro awards is that they primarily measure the involvement of the communities that form around each distro. Last year, for instance, it was easy for us to see as we monitored our traffic, that Arch Linux was getting votes because of efforts being made on the distro’s community sites to “get out the vote” — which is a time honored tradition in U.S. politics, so we’re not about to discourage it here.

In this year’s first round, we saw efforts being made by more distros than in the past — with traffic coming from community sites associated with not only Arch, but PCLinuxOS, a Manjaro users’ group in Italy, Solus, Ubuntu and Xubuntu. Other users’ groups have probably been active as well, but these are the ones we’ve been able to monitor from our end.

What this means, of course, is that if you want your distro to win, you might want to rally the troops. Post to your favorite distro’s forums and to its pages on Reddit, Facebook and other social sites. Let Hacker News know too, and tweet it out with your distro’s hashtag.

This poll will run until noon eastern time on Monday, February 6. Within an hour or two of closing the poll, we’ll let you know our take on the results.

In the meantime, go and get out the vote (and feel free to make the case for your favorite distro in the comments below).


  1. Reid Reid January 30, 2017

    I left what might seem an unimaginative vote for Ubuntu, because it’s what I’ve been using daily for work and play for several years now. But I also use other systems on a number of boxes, from UbuntuMATE to Mint to PCLinuxOS to Pixel and now, because of the recommendation of a voter in this forum, MX-16! Ubuntu works great for me, but Linux is such a rich and varied ecosystem – I’m curious to see what people vote for and who wins.
    In fact, I already know who wins: we all do. Long live Linux!

  2. Slu Slu January 30, 2017

    I used to be an avid distro hopper. Maybe I am getting old but several years back after Saline OS died, I went to Mint xfce and except for my RPi’s, that is what I use and support on my home network (3 boxes plus the Pi’s). It just works well.

  3. Mwamba Natanga Mwamba Natanga January 31, 2017

    +1 to what Reid said. I am a proud user of Ubuntu Server and Lubuntu desktop.

    P.S.: Funny enough, poll results and comments differ so much. Where are the Elementary and PClinuxOS users?

  4. Ryan Gorley Ryan Gorley January 31, 2017

    I’m with @Reid. In what commercially-driven market will this many different software ideologies survive? From my point-of-view Solus deserves its place near the top of this list and is worth trying out if you haven’t already. Its desktop-focused, stable, rolling-release model has removed a lot of pain for me in using Linux as my daily driver. They support a Mint variation, but their Budgie desktop shell is one of the best I’ve used. Really worth checking out.

  5. Christine Hall Christine Hall January 31, 2017

    @Ryan I’m an Xfce on Mint user, but I’ve played around a bit with Solus and I agree that this is a very stable and clean distro. I’m especially interested in seeing where Ikey takes Budgie after he gets it unhooked from GNOME.

  6. Ryan Gorley Ryan Gorley January 31, 2017

    @Christine Agreed.

    BTW I meant to say Solus has a *Mate* variant, not Mint. Lol

  7. Salim Salim January 31, 2017

    I’ll have to go with elementary OS. I’m using it on my new laptop and it’s been doing a wonderful job so far. Fast, beautiful, and very streamlined; basically what Ubuntu should be (and is probably trying to be, albeit not quite successfully).

  8. Harry Dermanis Harry Dermanis January 31, 2017

    Elementary has been a beautiful experience. More customizable than I was led to initially believe, fast and intuitive, it’s been a breeze to use.

  9. Albert Albert January 31, 2017

    I am using my computer for daily works that are mostly on web and filing system, an os desktop to me a literally a desktop, so i like it clean, neat and convenient which are also mean beautiful, cozy, smooth, etc. Linux gives me option to make the Desktop very me with it’s unlimited customization and Latest Pantheon and Gnome are my two final choice of WM that give me a big options to start with, i like GTK+ CSD with it’s headerbar, it’s a beauty and optimization combined. So i use elementary Loki and Archlinux-Gnome as my daily drivers, use to be elementary both but i can resist the Gnome 3.22 temptation, nothing better than using Arch for that, imho.

  10. fery fery January 31, 2017

    Elementary was become my daily use since couple years now, it’s great, clean, fast & intuitive.

    Whole features that comes with it is more than enough to handle my needs, but it also need more works to be the perfect one.

  11. tracyanne tracyanne January 31, 2017

    I voted for Linux Mint, even though I’m currently using Ubuntu (Unity).

    As I’ve noted before, it’s now a FrankenUbuntu, because I’ve replaced Nautilus with Nemo, and gEdit, which used to be my favourite text editor, with XED, because I don’t like how the GNOME developers have, in my opinion, butchered the GEdit UI.

    The fortunate thing is this is Linux, and such changes are quite easy. I simply would not be able to anything similar if I was using one of those Proprietary Operating Systems.

  12. Alma Wilkinson Alma Wilkinson January 31, 2017

    I remarked that I couldn’t understand why Elementary was so popular, on the MX16 Facebook group. Got an answer that more people switch from MAC-OS to Linux than from Windoz, and Elementary resembles MAC more than Windows. I answered that Elive 2.7.8 beta resembles it MORE, and is more functional OOTB.

  13. uncleV uncleV January 31, 2017

    PCLinuxOS is the best and you all know it but don’t want to admit. Stable? The Earth lays on four elephants, those elephants stay an a whale, and the whale lays on the rolling PCLinuxOS! Fast? Not that fast, there are special brakes put in it otherwise it will burn the processor, the MoBo and the PSU. Simultaneously. Intuitive? No. It just reads your mind.
    That’s it.

  14. CaptNoize CaptNoize January 31, 2017

    Has anyone tried Q4OS…? It’s a awesome XP clone, fast and low resource user,easy to install and great for older machines..! I give it 5 stars…!

  15. Ryan Gorley Ryan Gorley January 31, 2017

    @uncleV LOL That is the best endorsement of anything I’ve ever read!

  16. tracyanne tracyanne February 1, 2017

    Just installed Elementary on a VM, I can see why Mac users might like making that their entry into the world of Linux.

  17. YouCanToo YouCanToo February 1, 2017

    @uncleV – Now that is just funny. Who can argue with that logic!

  18. Albert Albert February 1, 2017

    @Alma Wilkinson i personally bored with traditional window’s border/title, probably also a lot of people. that’s why elementaryOS.

  19. Thomas Moore Thomas Moore February 1, 2017


  20. john john February 2, 2017

    I use to be an avid distro-hopper but when I finally decided to transition to Linux, fulltime, I settled on Mint Cinnamon. It gave me everything I could hope for in terms of support, apps, stability and a tried-and-tested UI.

    Leaving Windows and Microsoft couldn’t have been easier. I still peek and poke around to see what the other distros are offering but I’ve been a happy camper for the last two years. The year of Linux was 2015… for me.

  21. tracyanne tracyanne February 2, 2017

    January 31, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    I’ve just tried it in a VM, it uses Trinity, the fork of KDE3, it does looks and functions a lot like Win XP, I can imagine it would feel comfortable for some people transitioning from Windows to Linux.

  22. Alma Wilkinson Alma Wilkinson February 3, 2017

    Q4OS is a bit too minimal for my taste. Try TDE-Ubuntu.

  23. Tijger Tijger February 3, 2017

    PClinuxOS is my distro, the xfce version of it, i tried all kind off distro’s i hate the ubuntu range and clones, slow and always behind in software, so also in security and privacy, Arch Linux simple? not in a million way, it is good but it sticks on the old way to do things nothing innovation to try it getting easier to install or to handle, PCLinuxOS does that it must do the easy way.

  24. shellkr shellkr February 4, 2017

    @Tijger: “Keep it simple, stupid” doesn’t mean simple as in easy but simple as in less complex. Doing things in Arch are supposed to be simple and sraightforward… which it most of the times succeed in. Take making a package for example.. super simple. It also gives you want you need and nothing more.. so no extra shit to remove. 😉

  25. Eddie G. Eddie G. February 5, 2017

    I voted Fedora Linux, because its the bus I just happened to catch that was headed into the “City of Linux”!…LoL! I didn’t know what I was doing, and had no clue about what to do, but I followed a Link to Fedora…when it was still at release version 12/13…the “Goddard” series. And while I have tried:
    Linux Mint – XFCE-Cinnamon-KDE-MATE
    Ubuntu – XFCE-LXDE-Cinnamon-GNome-MATE
    openSuSE – XFCE-KDE-GNome
    SalixOS – XFCE
    CrunchBang Linux – OpenBox-FluxBox
    Sabayon – XFCE-KDE
    Debian – XFCE-GNome-MATE-Cinnamon-KDE
    TriSquel – Trinity
    Fuduntu (Discontinued)

    and a slew of other distros, its Fedora and GNome that I will use as my daily machine. I can say this much about the world of Linux:

    I have used Windows since Win’95, and I have been around Macs for a long time as well. But in my opinion there is NO operating system as well thought out, as well organized, as well developed, as secure, as visually appealing (no matter WHICH desktop environment or window manager you choose!) as Linux is. Long live the developers who stay up all hours of the night, into the wee hours of the morning….making sure their repositories are well configured. Kudos to the art directors who choose the awesome backgrounds for the various distros, and a shout out to the ones who conceptualize and help make the distros use-able for people of all ages!! now…gonna go fire up my Linux desktop (openSuSE Leap 42.2/64-Bit/32GB RAM/1TB HDD) and play some Steam games!…

  26. mitnworb mitnworb March 1, 2017

    I have been a distro hopper for years but I finally found that MX-16 answers every question I had. It does everything and sees all hardware I have thrown at it. I came here to purposely vote for it.

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