As a Beginner , choosing a linux Distro to start with becomes a very much confusing task. In linux world we get so many choices that we often avoid getting into choices and sticking to a standard recommendation . Which in many cases is not a very good experience for many new comers .
What if I say , there is a OS made for each and every one of you ? It will not be exaggeration .
Every Linux Distro is created with a theme and a target audience in mind . Some are backed by Big Tech giants , some by communities and some by hobbyists like me and you .
Let’s discuss which are the factors that one needs to consider before choosing a linux distro .
- User use case
- Hardware Requirements
- Target Audience of Distro
- OS family
- Desktop Environment
Use Case Of User
Let’s start with first one .
Use cases here include , desktop OS , server OS , gamming PC , Multimedia Streaming , Scientific Computing , Software Development , AI and ML stuff etc.
In Linux world , unlike mac and windows , there are specific targeted OS to accomplish various tasks . So we can get best optimized OS for each task .
These are my recommendations for specific use cases .
|Gamming||Pop OS , Steam OS|
|Scientific Computing||Fedora Scientific|
|Software Development||Ubuntu , Fedora , Pop OS|
|AI and ML||Pop OS|
|Server||Ubuntu , Cent OS|
|Light weight ( for old hardware )||Linux Light|
|Enterprise Grade||RHEL , SUSE , Clear Linux|
Every Linux Distro has different hardware requirements out of the box . Some require 4 GB of RAM , 20-30 GB Storage while some require as less as 64 MB of ram out of the box .
Everyone has different hardware available . Some of you have bare bone laptops having old generation CPU , 2 GB of RAM and 50 GB hard drives . This hardware can barely run windows . Getting some stuff done on it is not possible . While some have beefy monstruous systems with latest generation multicore processors , ton of RAM and big high speed SSD . You might want to get full advantage of your hardware . Whatever may be the reason , there is a linux distro for you .
|Light ( 1 GHz CPU , 1-2 GB RAM )||Linux Light , Zorin OS lite|
|Ultra Light ( 1GHz CPU , 512 MB -1GB RAM )||Tiny Core|
|Medium ( 2 GHz CPU ,2- 4 GB RAM )||Linux Mint , Elementary OS , Kubuntu|
|High ( > 2GHz CPU , > 4GB RAM , SSD )||Pop OS , ubuntu , Fedora|
As I said earlier , not every distro has great support and documentation . As a beginner we face many difficulties while doing any task . We need easily available official documentation , official support and community support .
These are my recommendations based on support .
Divided into 3 categories .
Category 1 : Well Documented + Official support + Community Support
Category 2 : Well documented + Community Support
Category 3 : well Documented + poor community support
|Level of support||Distros|
|Category 1||Ubuntu , RHEL , Pop OS , Manjaro|
|Category 2||Linux Mint , Fedora , Debian , Arch|
|Category 3||Solus , Suse linux family , Void linux , Clear linux|
Target Audience Of distro
All distributions are created with target audience and use cases in mind . We have to choose one that matches our use case and of which we are target audience .
|Kids , education , schools , libraries||Zorin education|
|Personal computers , non technical users||Ubuntu , pop OS , Zorin OS , Elementary OS|
|Developer Specific ( somewhat experienced )||Fedora , Cent OS , Pop OS , Ubuntu|
|Experienced People ( servers , app deployments)||Ubuntu , Cent OS|
|Enterprise Use cases||RHEL , SUSE , Clear linux , Ubuntu|
|Hobbyist||Arch Linux , void linux , Gentoo Linux|
|Ethical Hacking , Penetration testing||Kali Linux , Parrot OS , Backbox , Black Arch|
|One OS for all||Debian|
although we can see thousands of linux distros , not all of them are built from scratch . Many of them are derived from others . There are mainly 3 Distro families . Red hat family , Debian family , arch family .
There are some distros that are not based on any major OS but are built from scratch like Solus , Void , Clear linux from intel etc …
If you are familiar with one family OS but that specific distro doesn’t meet your needs then you can check out another from same family so that you can get your desired feature set without having to learn new stuff .
|Red Hat||RHEL , Cent OS , Fedora , Rocky Linux|
|Debian||Debian , Ubuntu , Pop OS , Linux mint , Zorin , elementary|
|Arch||manjaro , Black arch , garuda|
|Independent||Solus , void , Clear linux|
Desktop Environment is GUI of distro bundled with default apps . DE is responsible for user interaction with OS .
Based on desktop environments these are best choices available .
|GNOME 40||Ubuntu , Fedora , Manjaro ,|
|KDE||Kubuntu , KDE neon , Open Suse , Manjaro|
|XFCE||xubuntu , linux mint , Manjaro ,|
|Cinnamon Desktop||Linux Mint , Fedora|
|Deepin Desktop||Deepin OS , Ubuntu DDE|
So , these were some of the points that a beginner should consider while choosing a linux distro .
We will go in depth of these topics in future posts .
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