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Which Linux Distribution To Choose ? A Beginners Guide .

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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 .

  1. User use case
  2. Hardware Requirements
  3. Support
  4. Target Audience of Distro
  5. OS family
  6. 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 .

Use case Distro
DesktopUbuntu
GammingPop OS , Steam OS
Multimedia StreamingKodi
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

Hardware Requirements

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 .

Hardware Requirements Distro
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

Support

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 1Ubuntu , RHEL , Pop OS , Manjaro
Category 2Linux Mint , Fedora , Debian , Arch
Category 3Solus , 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 .

Target Audience Distro
Kids , education , schools , librariesZorin 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

OS Family

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 .

OS familyDistro
Red Hat RHEL , Cent OS , Fedora , Rocky Linux
Debian Debian , Ubuntu , Pop OS , Linux mint , Zorin , elementary
Arch manjaro , Black arch , garuda
IndependentSolus , void , Clear linux

Desktop Environment

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 .

Desktop EnvironmentDistros
GNOME 40 Ubuntu , Fedora , Manjaro ,
KDEKubuntu , KDE neon , Open Suse , Manjaro
XFCE xubuntu , linux mint , Manjaro ,
Cinnamon DesktopLinux Mint , Fedora
Pantheon Elementary OS
Deepin DesktopDeepin 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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