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The Best Linux Distros

On this page you will find the best Linux distros for various purposes.

We’ve taken the effort to categorize them and picked only those we believe to be the best ones and which will most likely be useful to you.

Best Linux Distros By Category:
General Use Minimal
Commercial Enterprise
Specialised For Mac & Windows Users

General Use

Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu/Lubuntu/etc

ubuntu The Best Linux Distros

One of the most popular general-use distributions with one of the largest selections of software.

Based on: Debian

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Fedora

fedora The Best Linux Distros

The most cutting-edge general-use distribution on a 6-month release cycle. It’s cutting edge in two ways: new versions of software, and it uses new software before other distributions use them.

Based on: Itself; Originated from: Red Hat

Download | Full review

openSUSE

latest linux distros

A stable, general-use distribution for everyone that excels in enterprise environments. openSUSE includes a few different defaults such as it’s package manager and the KDE desktop environment

Based on: Itself; Originated from: Slackware

Download | Full review

Debian

One of the most stable and best Linux distros in existence, with a large selection of software. It is often used as the base of many other distributions.

Based on: Itself

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Linux Mint

best linux distros

A highly-customized distribution that includes many features out-of-the-box that other distributions do not, including codecs. Linux Mint has such a large following that it’s starting to look toward going in its own direction.

Based on: Ubuntu, Debian

Download | Full review

PCLinuxOS

Another general-use distribution that combines technologies from different distributions to present an overall great experience.

Originated from: Mandrake Linux

Download | Full review

PinGuy OS

latest linux distros

A general-use distribution that comes with a number of customizations to make an easier out-of-the-box experience.

Based on: Ubuntu

Download | Full review

Slackware

One of the oldest living distributions, Slackware allows plenty of configuration and is a great general-use distribution. It requires some knowledge of Linux and isn’t recommended for new users.

Based on: Itself; Originiated from: Itself

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Gentoo

A general-purpose distribution that is centered around machine-specific optimization. Until recently, all software was compiled on the system rather than installing binaries. Not recommended for new users.

Based on: Itself

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Hybryde Evolution

latest linux distros

An Ubuntu-based distribution which lets you switch between desktop environments without restarting.

Based on: Ubuntu

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Mageia

A multi-purpose distribution which aims at creating an easy desktop computing experience.

Based on: Mandriva

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Minimal

Arch Linux

A minimal rolling-release general-use distribution where you install only what you want or need. It’s highly cutting-edge and there are no default installations. Most customizations are done manually in text files.

Based on: Itself; Originated from: Itself

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Puppy Linux

latest linux distros

A very small distribution that uses an extremely low amount of resources. Great for older systems or those that need every drop of power for their tasks.

Based on: Itself; Originated from: Itself; Compatible with: Slackware, Ubuntu, others with Woof tool

Download | Full review

Bodhi Linux

A great lightweight alternative for systems that can’t run other desktop environments. Still very functional and relatively elegant.

Based on: Ubuntu

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Tiny Core

best linux distros

An extremely minimal distro which you can build up yourself.

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Crunchbang

A very lightweight Debian-based distribution which uses the Openbox desktop environment as its default.

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Best Linux Distros – Commercial

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

latest linux distros

A commercial solution from Red Hat for a great enterprise system, both desktop and server. Costs of the distribution come from support packages.

Based on: Fedora; Originated from: Itself

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SUSE Enterprise Linux

One of two preferred enterprise systems for most Linux administrators. SUSE includes plenty of tools to make the admin’s job a lot easier.

Based on: openSUSE

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Enterprise

CentOS

A great, free clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for a pure, stable enterprise system.

Based on: Red Hat Enterprise Linux

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Specialised Purpose

Joli OS

latest linux distros

One of the best Linux distros for use on netbooks and working with different cloud services. Who needs ChromeOS?

Based on: Ubuntu

Download | Full review

ArtistX

best linux distros

A specialized distribution that includes virtually every single multimedia application for Linux that you can think of. Great for work on images, sounds, and videos.

Based on: Ubuntu

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GParted

A distribution made especially for partitioning hard drives. The distribution comes as a LiveCD only and contains only the GParted partitioning software and a console.

Based on: Debian

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Parted Magic

A distribution aimed specifically at partitioning your hard drives, but includes plenty of other features that make it more of a rescue disc than a lone partitioning tool.

Download | Full review

Backtrack Linux

latest linux distros

A fantastic distribution that is specialized for network penetration testing and security auditing. It includes all kinds of software and needed patches to do the job.

Based on: Ubuntu; Originated from: Whoppix

Download | Full review

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For Mac & Windows Users

Pear Linux

A very beautiful general-use distribution that mimics the look, feel, and functionality of Apple’s Mac OS X.

Based on: Ubuntu, Debian (soon)

Download | Full review

ZorinOS

best linux distros

A general-use distribution that mimics the look, feel, and functionality of Windows. This is geared for those who prefer the Windows interface or need an easier way to transition from Windows to Linux.

Based on: Ubuntu

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Disclaimer: MakeUseOf is not responsible for any damage and/or data loss
that might result from use of any of the above mentioned best Linux distros.