Best Linux Distros for Beginners. Some of you may disagree, others may have other distros they feel are better suited for newcomers and Linux beginners. That said, these four distros are my top picks based on factors such as ease of use, it’s reliable and hardware detection is solid.

Do you have other distros that you feel are better suited for new Linux users? Hit the comments below (YouTube or Patreon), tell me what you’re thinking makes a better choice and why.

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MX Linux: MX tools is great as is their user manual pdf, however, there support pages on the website have a number of broken links. Such as https://mxlinux.org/wiki/help-files/help-mx-broadcom-manager

  • Pros – Great PDF documentation and MX Tools, Debian base.112
  • Cons – Links in newer PDF are amazingly outdated, broken or unhelpful. (Dansguardian leads to sales page for Smoothwall)

elementary OS: As much as I love MX, it’s not that refined when compared to elementary OS. Unified, logical and careful consideration go into every element of this distro. Parental controls, restore to “factory defaults”, a clean, well presented software store with some elementary OS “first” apps. Not exclusive, as they are open source…but they are logically submitted to the app store first since they were made with elementary in mind.

  • Pros – Clean, easy to use and offers features out of the box not found with other distros (Real parental controls, built in firewall controls offered in control panel that rival Gufw’s ease of use, blue light reduction applet, picture in picture and the best bluetooth handling of any distro I’ve ever used. Not just in terms of detection, but overall flow of devices.
  • Cons – It’s not a Mac, bring the option to use a minimize button to the settings without relying on a third party tweak tool. Loki release can be buggy with some Steam proton games. Obvious work-a-round for me was to simply install XFCE for gaming and that fixed that issue.

Manjaro: Rolling release distro that offers the latest from Arch, but does so in two stages. https://manjaro.org/features/fresh-and-stable/, AUR software access.

  • Pros – Kernel selector, rolling release, improved handling of security packages over releases of the past.
  • Cons – Rolling release, running AUR packages designed for Arch may lead to mixed results. Supports desktop versions that make no sense – Deepin, really?

Linux Mint: In my opinion, the single most popular distro available for desktop users. While Ubuntu may claim the official numbers, I call nonsense. I firmly believe Linux Mint is at least as popular if not more so. It also has a unified feel unlike some other distros.

  • Pros – Based on Ubuntu LTS and they have a Debian edition as well should something go south with Ubuntu. Minttools make general desktop management a snap. Solid release notes so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
  • Cons – This distro is pretty boring. It lacks some of the more exciting tools found in MX, like a Conky manager (by default) and a boot record repair tool. However, some tools like mintnanny are just weak. I mean, it blocks urls. Unlike elementary’s controls that do this plus provide time limits, and app access controls.
Matt Hartley
Freedom Penguin’s founder & talking head – Matt has over a decade working with Linux desktops, his operating system experience consists of both Windows and Linux operating platforms. In addition to writing articles on Linux and open source technology for Datamation.com and OpenLogic.com/wazi, Matt also once served as a co-host for a popular Linux-centric podcast.

Matt has written about various software titles, such as Moodle, Joomla, WordPress, openCRX, Alfresco, Liferay and more. He also has additional Linux experience working with Debian based distributions, openSUSE, CentOS, and Arch Linux.

Written by Matt Hartley

Freedom Penguin’s founder & talking head – Matt has over a decade working with Linux desktops, his operating system experience consists of both Windows and Linux operating platforms. In addition to writing articles on Linux and open source technology for Datamation.com and OpenLogic.com/wazi, Matt also once served as a co-host...
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