The Linux universe is so immense that the distros to install on your computer come in different types and conditions. There’s something for everyone, to meet any need, different levels of complexity, and freedom.
It is quite difficult to curate a list of Linux distros without grouping them based on defined criteria. In this post, we have chosen to introduce the most popular ones there are. To compile this list we have relied on the data from Distrowatch and our own experience.
8 Most Popular Linux Distros Till 2016
This Irish origin Linux distro has made it into the market recently and the most latest one in this list. Thanks to all the popularity it is gaining in leaps and bounds. This distro based on Ubuntu/Debian, inherits many features and makes life easy for users along with usability and stability.
It has many interesting tools and the so-called Mint tools to make things quite easy for users. Based on Ubuntu, it uses the default desktop environment , GNOME. The KDE, XFCE and Fluxbox Desktop environment versions are also available. The Mint versions are released 1 or 2 months after the respective version of Ubuntu.
The Debian Linux distro is a classical and one of the oldest distro aging over 16 years. Even Ubuntu is based on this distro and is the most robust and stable distro in the market. Though it has a reputation for being difficult to use for beginners, its capabilities are spectacular.
On its website, it is presented as “The universal operating system” and surely stand up to it. It is versatile, robust, powerful, stable, available for different architectures, comes with various desktop environments. Not just that there are also versions of Debian based on kernels other than Linux like KFreeBSD, NetBSD and Hurd.
Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distribution with its name in Zulu, meaning “Humanity towards others”. As mentioned earlier, it is based on Debian and is versatile with support extending to desktops, servers, and netbooks.
This Debian derivative is ideal for both beginners and experts alike. Its Unity environment with the launcher allows you to keep the desktop clean in addition to being more productive, inspired from Apple’s OSX.
There is usually a new version of this distro launched every 6 months, thus applications are quite updated. For those who prefer more stability, there are also the LTS (Long Term Support) versions are updated every 3 years (5 years in case of server version).
The German origin distro, openSUSE is supported by AMD and SUSE. It is possibly one of the best Linux distributions for generic use and also one of the most used.
This distro shares many features with SUSE Linux. Apart from being quite powerful, the tools like AppArmor ensure greater security in the system. YaST, a management center for system configurations, installations, uninstalls and updates with just one click, Xen for virtualization. The installer gives the option to use GNOME or KDE desktop environments.
This top quality distro emerged from the Red Hat project. It is based on RPM packages (Red Hat Package Manager) instead of a Debian package manager. It features different flavors, i.e. desktop environments like GNOME, KDE Plasma, XFCE or LXDE. Though it is not a complicated distribution, it may not be the most appropriate one for beginners.
Being one of the most popular distro, it is constantly developing and has a large community, as well as Wikis, tutorials, and manuals.
Linux distributions have different focus areas, mostly technical differences. In many of these distros, the look and feel are not really considered seriously. The uniqueness in elementary OS is that it is one of the most beautiful distros, with its own desktop called Pantheon. Only those applications that fit into the design paradigm are considered.
Based on Ubuntu and is fully compatible in terms of package repositories. It is powerful with a clear inspiration from the Apple world. It integrates Plank, an element that is similar to the Mac OS X Dock.
CentOS (Community ENTerprise Operating System) is another distro that has gained immense popularity. It is a binary fork of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
Like Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it is GNOME-based and uses RPM packages. The objective of the developer community was to offer a free of charge distribution similar in capabilities to the RHEL. It is also robust, stable and easy to manage, making it the best server OS.
Arch Linux since its release has a reputation as a distro for very advanced users and has its reasons. It has a high degree of control and customization and has to built from scratch. There is nothing like a desktop environment, all you get is a foundation and you have to build whatever distro you want over it.
It is, therefore, a popular distro among computer science students and others who want to learn everything about Linux. Luckily, has its own wiki full of answers and a strong and supportive community. There is so much software available for Arch Linux and other distros, plus it uses its own packaging format ( “pacman”)
In addition to being stable, Arch Linux has undemanding hardware requirements. This is because everything is left to the user’s decisions instead of coming with a pre-installed set of applications and features you may never use. Therefore, it rightly deserves its place in this list of the most popular Linux distros.