If you’re new to Linux and are wondering what are the best Linux distros in 2020, you’re reading the right article. In a moment, we’ll list out Linux distributions that we found are really good and have gained more traction in the past few days of the year 2020.
Best Linux Distros 2020 – A Quick Summarized List:
- Best Linux distro, lightweight, and really easy to use – MX Linux – Debian and antiX-based
- User-friendly Linux distro, similar to Windows, and lightweight – Linux Mint – Ubuntu and Debian-based
- Best Linux distro, extremely easy to use for first-time users. One of the top Linux distros in 2020 for beginners – Ubuntu
- Best Mac OSX look-a-like Linux distro, and a very pretty looking Linux distro – Elementary OS – Debian-based
- Best Linux distro, built to be lightweight and has only essential packages added – Manjaro Linux – Arch Linux-based
- Best Windows look-a-like Linux distro, made with the first time Linux user in mind – Zorin OS – Debian-based
- Best community-built Linux distro with no other OS base, designed to be cutting-edge in terms of software technology. – Fedora – Independent
- Best Linux distro built from scratch designed to be very stable – Debian – Independent
- Best Linux for Enterprises – CentOS – Based on Fedora and Red Hat
- Top Linux distro made for Pentesters – Kali Linux – Debian-based
What Is A Linux Distro?
Windows and Mac OS X are built in-house by the companies that sell them. Linux is different in this case. Being an open-source operating system, it opens up room for anyone with a desire to create their own OS to actually do so without a lot of programming knowledge.
Whenever someone creates their own version of Linux with the use of an existing Linux distro as their base (or create one without a base by using the Linux kernel code), the complete package is called a Linux distribution.
How to Choose The Best Linux Distros in 2020?
Now, to say the least, there really is no best Linux distro because when you work with the Linux operating system for long enough, you learn to customize everything as per your liking. So on the UI side of things, any Linux distro can look and behave like any other Linux distro when configured to do so.
So to answer the question, choose any Linux distro that you feel comfortable with at the moment. After a while of using it, you’ll anyway figure out how to configure it to your likings.
The Best Linux Distros 2020
Let’s get down to the list of the best Linux distros and what makes them better than the others. Now as we previously mentioned, all of the configurations that were achieved by any of the distributions in the list below can be achieved on any other distribution. So we’re working with their out-of-the-box experiences.
#1 MX Linux
We loved MX Linux because it’s fully set up out of the box. But unlike Ubuntu, MX Linux is set up with all that a beginner user would need while keeping the UI very simple, clean, and lightweight.
MX Linux is based on Debian’s Stable branch and uses XFCE as it’s default desktop environment (UI).
#2 Linux Mint
Linux Mint is a behemoth! The Goliath in the world of Linux distributions. Similar to Ubuntu, Linux Mint took off very quickly when it was first launched.
Linux Mint focused not just on ease of use but also focused on adding many convenient tools for their users. Along with that, they offered a lightweight desktop environment.
So, people who wanted their Linux to be fast on lower-end systems, Linux Mint became the choice of distro.
This distro is based on Ubuntu-Debian, so it is compatible with the repositories of both the distros.
You’ll hear about Ubuntu even before you’ve thought of trying Linux. And obviously so because Ubuntu was the first distribution that worked really hard to make itself stand out in the Linux distribution crowd when it all started.
Ubuntu made Linux accessible to the entire world by making it so easy to use, that a person who had never seen Linux would be able to use it pretty much right away.
As they progressed, they added more and more features to their OS, also tried to launch a Ubuntu TV, but it all ended up making Ubuntu desktop really heavy on the resources and slowing things. Other distributions capitalized on this opportunity and picked up where Ubuntu left things off.
Ubuntu is a Debian-based distribution.
#4 Elementary OS
This is by far the most beautiful Linux distribution that we came across. Inspired by the Mac OS, it has a dock at the bottom and the menus at the top of the screen.
The entire UI is very slick. If all you want is a beautiful OS, Elementary OS is the way to go.
Obviously, since it’s Debian based, you’re not going to lack functionality or packages. The only issue you’d face from time to time is that there are packages that just don’t adjust to the distribution’s theme. So you will always have some packages that look odd when opened.
#5 Manjaro Linux
Manjaro Linux is an Arch Linux-based distribution. Arch was also built to be more up-to-date than Debian with a repository that makes cutting edge software to be available.
Compared to Debian, the one major difference between Arch-based operating systems is their leanness. Debian, in an effort to make things easy for the user, installs a bunch of “recommended” packages when you try to install any package from their repositories.
With Arch Linux, when you’re installing a package, you get exactly that and a few of the dependencies which are resolved by its package manager, Pacman.
So if you’re into lean systems, and want to build yourself a computer with a really lean and fast operating system, Arch Linux-based Manjaro is the way to go.
#6 Zorin OS
If you’re coming from Windows, and have never used Linux before, Zorin takes away a huge load of the learning curve for you. See the screenshot above. What do you notice?
It’s exactly like Windows. Well, a much more beautiful version of Windows. Based on Ubuntu, it is as accessible as Linux can be. So if you’re looking for a Linux distro that can help you minimize the learning curve of coming from Windows, this is what you should start with.
Fedora is not based on any other Linux distribution and has been built by its community entirely from scratch. In fact, if you’re a developer, you can contribute to the distribution too.
What makes Fedora so special is its community support. The community is very responsive and you can get answers to your question pretty quickly on there.
Since it’s built by developers, their focus was on creating an OS that will have a really cutting edge software repository. A package which is still unavailable in other distributions will be compiled and ready for Fedora irrespective of the fact if it’s stable or not.
If you love the latest and the greatest and are okay with a few bugs in downloaded packages from time to time, Fedora is your abode.
Debian, CentOS, and Red Hat powers the internet around the world. As per statistics, more than 96% of the web servers, cloud hosts, and websites, are powered by Linux.
But Debian wasn’t built to be userfriendly or to offer a quick and easy out of the box experience. When you download and run live Debian, all you get is a black terminal screen with a prompt at the top left of your screen.
Unlike the pre-built distributions that we saw before, Debian allows you a more do-it-yourself experience. You choose the packages that you want to install, the desktop environment that you want, and any additions that you want to the OS.
You can think of Debian as stock Android. MIUI, eUI, and Samsung UI are built on stock Android. These UIs created by companies for their phones can be compared with the Linux distributions which are built on Debian.
If you want an extremely stable operating system that you wish to build from scratch, Debian is your answer.
Based on Fedora and Red-Hat, CentOS creates a stable server system that can be used by organizations that want a strong server distribution without the high costs involved.
CentOS is built by the community, just like Fedora and offers highly tested packages for download. Similar to Debian, it’s very unlikely for someone to break this OS just because they downloaded something from the package manager.
CentOS is the right fit if you want to build a server but don’t want to use the apt package manager.
#10 Kali Linux
This distribution is not a daily driver. Instead, Kali focuses on working in a live persistent environment with just about every tool that a cybersecurity enthusiast would want.
Based on Debian, this distribution is stable as well as very easy to use.
If you’re interested in cybersecurity or penetration testing, this distribution will provide you with a complete environment for that purpose. You can focus on learning how to use the tools without worrying about installing them or setting them up.
So as we mentioned before, there is no best distribution. We say this because if you know how to install packages using the package manager in a distribution, you can change any distribution and make it look like any other.
But as a beginner, a fully finished environment is an easier start. Based on what you want a Linux OS for, you can choose from one of the above and start your learning from thereon.