Best Linux distros for beginners in 2021

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The best Linux distro for beginners makes it easy and easy for Windows and Mac users to start using Linux.

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Choice is probably the biggest strength as well as the biggest weakness of Linux and the open source ecosystem.

For example, the sheer number of Linux distros means there is one for every use case. However, that same number can be daunting for new users who may not know where to start.

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Here we roundup some of the best distros that cater to the sensibilities of beginners. These projects ship with sensible defaults to ensure that their users can enjoy their new operating systems straight away.

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Best Linux Distros for Beginners at a Glance:

  1. modify os ultimate
  2. MX Linux
  3. netrunner desktop
  4. Nitrux OS
  5. pop!_os

1. Modify OS Ultimate

best distro for video editing

reasons to buy
+cool looking desktop+nice collection of apps+too many documents

Although you may not have heard of it, Modisia OS Ultimate is a modern Linux desktop with an interesting twist on the traditional desktop design. With ISOs weighing in at over 3GB, the distro has a diverse and interesting collection of apps.

The distro seems to have been designed specifically for audio and video editing tasks, based on the number of apps it includes for these tasks. That said, for all intents and purposes, Modisia is a general purpose distro that can be used for all kinds of desktop tasks, straight out of the box.

The latest release of Modisia is based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and uses the XFC desktop which has been customized very innovatively. The desktop has a slew of menus, including a unique circular one and its windows have attractive Exposure views as well. Behind the scenes, the developers have also tweaked many aspects of the distro to maximize performance. The project is complemented by a diverse support infrastructure, which in addition to text-based documentation includes numerous video tutorials for common desktop tasks.

Overall, Modisia’s desktop tweaks make the distro quite attractive and do a good job of removing the complexities of managing a typical Linux installation.

2. MX Linux

Best Distro for Old Hardware

reasons to buy
+attractive desktop+custom tool sleeve+Also supports 32-bit architecture

Another distro that sports the attractively tweaked Xfce desktop is MX Linux. The distro looks great and performs well enough even on resource constrained machines.

MX Linux prides itself on its user-friendliness, which it achieves through its selection of custom utilities. The desktop boots to a welcome screen that contains useful links to its custom set of tools, along with the usual tweaks.

In terms of apps, the distro includes everything to meet the needs of a typical desktop user, including some games. MX is built on the current Debian Stable 10 release, but includes updated versions of many apps and also backports the newer versions of Debian testing.

Custom MX Linux tools are all designed to help users manage their installation. Some notable ones are a snapshot tool for creating a bootable ISO image of a working installation, and a remaster tool for creating your own customized version of a distribution.

Package management is also handled by a custom tool, which is designed to take the pain out of finding and installing apps again. The distro takes a practical approach and also introduces a number of popular proprietary apps into the mix. You can also browse and install Flatpax from the Flathub repository with this utility.

3. Netrunner Desktop

Best Distro for KDE Users

reasons to buy
+Attractive KDE Desktop+Lots of Multimedia Apps
reason to escape
no welcome app

Development of Netrunner is supported by Blue Systems, which also sponsors development of the KDE desktop. It’s no surprise that Netrunner uses the KDE desktop as well. However, instead of stock KDE, Netrunner ships with a customized presentation with some additional applications and other features to make it attractive to Linux beginners.

Netrunner is based on Debian Stable and includes many everyday desktop apps. By default it uses KDE’s full screen application launcher. Developers have used KDE’s well-known configurability capabilities to ship with a desktop that’s easy to use. For example, Task Manager displays expanded icons and a Show Desktop Hot Spot in the lower right corner. The developers have also tried to simplify the KDE system settings so as not to overwhelm new users.

Netrunner highlights some of the apps for creating and consuming multimedia and also lists several popular webapps like Skype Web, Telegram and WhatsApp in its menu. The distro doesn’t have an onboarding utility like some of its peers and also relies on the distro-agnostic Calamares installer to help users anchor the distro to their disk.

Linux beginners can use the KDE Discover App Store to find and install applications, while there is also Synaptic for seasoned evangelists. The distro also has ample documentation and support options and a link to some introductory documentation on the desktop, which is really thoughtful.

4. Nitrux OS

Best distro for low powered machines

reasons to buy
+Tuned KDE Desktop+Custom Lightweight Apps+out-of-the-box usability

Nitrux is an Ubuntu-based distribution that takes inspiration and components from the KDE project.

Nitrux KDE Plasma 5 makes generous use of the desktop and apps. Its NX desktop is specially designed for inexperienced Linux users with the help of multiple plasmoids for the perfect blend of aesthetics and functionality. The developers have also fine-tuned other major components of the KDE desktop for user-friendliness. For example, the system tray and notification center have been redesigned and the media controls have been rolled out along with volume controls for easier access.

The distro packs in all the apps you’d expect from an everyday desktop distribution. While there are apps from the KDE stable with some mainstream ones such as LibreOffice, and Firefox, most of the apps in Nitrux are developed in-house by the project using its Mockit lightweight framework. There is Index File Manager, Weave Music Player, Pix Image Gallery, Nota Text Editor and many more.

Two custom apps that deserve special mention are NX Firewall and Kup Backup, both of which try to simplify complex tasks, and do a good job of catering to both first-time and experienced desktop users. They have simple interfaces, yet offer enough customization for experienced users to use.

5. Pop!_OS

best distro for gaming

reasons to buy
+keyboard-controlled desktop+Support for hybrid graphics+Full disk encryption by default

Pop! _OS is the result of Ubuntu retiring the Unity desktop, which prompted hardware manufacturer System76 to develop its own distro.

Pop! _OS uses its own user interface on Ubuntu’s Gnome, called Pop Shell. One of the highlights is the window tiling which is a better feel than interpretation. Plus, the desktop of Pop!_OS can be controlled entirely using the keyboard, which makes navigation fairly simple and straightforward.

Pop!_OS takes several steps to differentiate from its parent distro. For starters it has its own app store, known as Pop Shop, which lets you connect to Flatpak alongside traditional .deb packages.

Hardware video acceleration is also enabled by default in Pop!_OS. It also uses the systemd-boot boot manager, which is lighter than Grub, and is also quite proud of the fact that it is the only Linux distribution that enables full-disk encryption out of the box.

Pop! _OS has also worked hard to get hybrid graphics to work on Linux and you can actually launch your apps on your GPU from the context menu or feature to toggle between power saving and performance modes You can use.

The distro appears to be attractive and the developers have made sure that it remains accessible to beginners, while still being attractive to its more capable users.

  • We have also featured the best Linux distros for Windows users.

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