It’s not an easy task, hunting for the best Linux distros. With over one thousand different Linux distributions, it can feel rather daunting, knowing which one Linux distro is most suitable for your specific needs as depicted perfectly in the following XKCD comic:

Comic created by xkcd.

That’s why we’ve put this article together, helping to narrow the field down from over 1,000, to just the 9 best Linux distros for 2024. We’ll help you understand exactly what Linux distros are, how they differ from each other, and then reveal our top recommended Linux distributions you should consider. If you are only interested in our recommendations, then you can skip to the bottom to find out which Linux distro is best for you.

Let’s get started!

What are Linux Distros?

Linux distributions, often referred to as Linux distros, are operating systems made from a software collection that is based upon the Linux kernel and, often, a package management system. They include the Linux kernel, supporting utilities and libraries, and usually a large amount of application software to fulfill the distribution’s intended use.

Although all Linux distributions use the same underlying kernel, they can change many things to fine tune and tweak the operating system:

  1. Variety: There are hundreds of Linux distros catering to different user needs. Some are designed for general purposes, such as Ubuntu, Fedora, and Debian, while others target specific users or applications, such as Kali Linux for security testing, or Raspbian for Raspberry Pi.
  2. Community and Commercial Distros: Some distros are community-driven, such as Debian and Fedora, while others are commercially backed, including Ubuntu (Canonical Ltd.) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (Red Hat Inc.).
  3. Package Management: Each distro comes with a package management system, such as APT for Debian-based distros, or YUM for RPM-based distros, and this is what handles software installation and updates.
  4. Desktop Environments: Distros may come with different desktop environments that define the user interface such as GNOME, KDE, Xfce, and LXDE.
  5. Customizability: Linux distros are highly customizable and users can choose what to install and how to configure it. Advanced users can even build their own distro using tools such as Linux From Scratch (LFS).

The Best Linux Distros in 2024

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1 – Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a comprehensive operating system that combines advanced features, high performance, and a user-friendly design suitable for both personal use and professional development.

It’s equipped with GNOME 46, a modern desktop environment, and receives regular kernel updates, which ensure smooth operation and compatibility with a wide range of hardware. With Ubuntu, you also get improved access to accessibility options such as screen readers, keyboard navigation and more, ensuring a polished user experience that caters to a diverse range of user needs.

One of the standout features of Ubuntu is its support for the ZFS file system, which is a modern filesystem known for its high availability, and improved guidance for dual-boot setups – this makes the system highly versatile, and suitable for various user requirements. Furthermore, Ubuntu supports hardware-backed full disk encryption, providing an additional layer of security that protects user data.

Ubuntu offers a unique way to experience Linux through its various flavors, each with their own default applications and settings. These flavors are developed by people from across the world and cater to specific user needs and preferences, providing a diverse range of options for users to choose from.

For example, if you are a content creator, then you should use Ubuntu Studio, but if you live in China, then you will probably find it more comfortable to use Ubuntu Kylin.

System Requirements for Ubuntu 24.04 LTS

  • CPU: 2 GHz dual-core processor or faster
  • RAM: Minimum 4GB, recommended 8GB
  • Storage: Minimum 25GB

Looking to deploy an Ubuntu server?

If you’re exploring Linux distributions – Ubuntu should be your go-to if you’re looking to deploy anything to a server, i.e., host your web applications and databases. And the best part is that RunCloud makes it incredibly easy to deploy production workloads to your cloud provider(s) of choice – AWS, UpCloud, Vultr, Linode, and many more.

The end result is that you benefit from the best combination of reliability, flexibility, and performance without the high markup. Learn more & get started.

All available from the convenience of your RunCloud dashboard, with built-in support to deploy straight to your favorite cloud providers:

Note: RunCloud doesn’t deploy the Ubuntu OS. We configure and deploy all the necessary services to run your web applications on Ubuntu machines with your cloud provider of choice.

Related: How to Install WordPress with Apache on Ubuntu (2024) 

2 – Fedora

Fedora Workstation is a high-quality and easy-to-use desktop that is built on the latest open-source technology, and which receives regular updates. The main reason why people use Fedora Workstation is reliability – a new version is released approximately every 13 months, and upgrades between versions are quick and easy.

Fedora works with hardware vendors to make sure users get excellent hardware support across a range of devices, ensuring device compatibility. Moreover, it is free – there are no ads and it does not collect any user data, giving you maximum privacy.

Fedora offers a fantastic collection of apps and utilities such as Clocks, Weather, and Maps which cater to every need, making it a great choice for everyone. For developers, Fedora makes virtualization easy with Boxes, boosts hardware speed with performance mode, and provides the latest container tools from the Red Hat ecosystem. It includes all the packages, tools, and runtimes developers might need – up to date, and ready for use with just a single command.

System Requirements for Fedora 40

  • CPU: 2GHz dual core processor or faster
  • RAM: Minimum 2GB, recommended 4GB
  • Storage: Minimum 15GB

Suggested read: How to Find Most Used Disk Space Directories and Files in Linux 

3 – Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS is an operating system designed for STEM and creative professionals who use their computer as a tool to discover and create. The operating system is designed for fast navigation, easy workspace organization, and a fluid, convenient workflow.

Although it is a versatile operating system that is compatible with almost any computer or laptop, if you wish, you can purchase a new computer from system76 – the company behind Pop!_OS – and this will come pre-configured with their own operating system.

One of the standout features of Pop!_OS is its auto-tiling feature, which organizes your work for you, saving you time and increasing efficiency. It also offers workspaces to keep relevant content together, and irrelevant content out of sight.

Pop!_OS is compatible with most software tools, with the vast software libraries of Ubuntu and Flatpak combining to make all of your tools available in a single location, called the Pop!_Shop.

Pop!_OS has also been optimized for the Raspberry Pi 4/400, a mini computer which enables people to learn and explore computing. This version of the operating system, called Pop!_Pi, gives users the same powerful software tools at their disposal, making it ideal for people who are on a tight budget.

System Requirements for Pop!_OS

  • CPU: 64-bit x86 or ARM (RAS PI 4) architectures
  • RAM: Minimum 4GB, recommended 8GB
  • Storage: Minimum 20GB

Suggested read: How to Change/Reset MySQL Root Password on Ubuntu Linux

4 – Manjaro

Manjaro is a versatile open-source Linux operating system that prioritizes user privacy, and offers extensive control over hardware. It supports both x86-64 and ARM architectures, making it an ideal choice for a wide range of devices and computing environments.

Manjaro allows users to choose their preferred desktop environment from popular options such as Plasma, Gnome, and XFCE – each of these desktop environments provide the same underlying operating system but with slightly different design elements and functionality. If this is confusing, then you can think of it as buying a car that has the same engine – but a nicer stereo system.

On top of official flavors, Manjaro also has various community editions, such as Cinnamon and Mate, for further customization. You can think of it as your neighbor who bought his car from the showroom and then painted it in his favorite color in his garage. This is one of the primary reasons people use Linux – it gives you freedom to do anything that you want, even if what you are trying to do is stupid!

System Requirements for Manjaro

  • CPU: 1 GHz dual-core processor or faster
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: Minimum 30GB

Suggested read: Pipes vs Xargs: Which One To Use When Writing Bash Scripts In Linux 

5 – Kali Linux

Kali Linux is an open-source, Debian-based Linux distribution that is designed for various information security tasks, such as penetration testing, security research, computer forensics, and reverse engineering.

It can be installed on various platforms, including mobile devices, containers, ARM, cloud providers, Windows Subsystem for Linux, pre-built virtual machines, and installer images. It also provides a well-documented ISO customization process, making it easy to generate an optimized version of Kali for specific needs.

Kali Linux has a vibrant and active community with active forums, an IRC Channel, Kali Tools listings, an open bug tracker system, and even community-provided tool suggestions.

System Requirements for Kali Linux 2024.1

  • CPU: 1GHz or faster processor is recommended
  • RAM: At least 1GB for i386 and AMD64 architectures, and 2GB for ARM architecture
  • Storage: 20GB disk space for installation

Suggested read: Understanding Linux File Permissions – Read, Write & Change 

6 – Linux Mint

Linux Mint is a popular desktop Linux distribution, and considered one of the best alternatives to Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS due to its modern, elegant, and comfortable interface that is both powerful and easy to use.

Linux used to be infamous for having broken sound drivers, but Linux Mint works out of the box with full multimedia support and is extremely user-friendly.

Linux Mint is suitable for both individuals and companies as it is designed to be comfortable and easy to use, but also powerful and configurable – making it ideal for a wide range of users. It is one of the most popular desktop Linux distributions and is used by millions of people, with user feedback playing a crucial role in its consistent improvement. For companies, Linux Mint provides Long-Term Support (LTS) releases which are supported for a duration of 5 years.

System Requirements for Linux Mint 21

  • CPU: Modern, 64-bit processor
  • RAM: 2GB or more
  • Storage: 20GB of free space or more

Suggested read: How to Create and Manage Cron Jobs on Linux 

7 – Alma Linux

AlmaLinux OS is an open-source, community-driven Linux operating system that was developed to fill the gap left by the discontinuation of the CentOS Linux stable release.

It has binary compatibility with RHEL – this ensures that software developed and tested on RHEL can be easily deployed on AlmaLinux without modifications. It also supports various architectures and provides official images for cloud providers, container images, live media images, Vagrant boxes, LXC/LXD images, Raspberry Pi images, and even a terminal environment for Windows.

AlmaLinux OS is suitable for both individuals and organizations that require an enterprise-grade Linux distribution, without the need for a commercial license agreement. It is also a perfect replacement for anyone who has historically relied on the CentOS Linux releases to achieve computing objectives, and for whom CentOS Stream is not the right solution.

System Requirements for Alma Linux

  • Supported Architecture: Intel/AMD x86_64, Arm aarch64, IBM ppc64le, Power LE s390x
  • Memory: Minimum 1.5 GB RAM
  • Disk Space: 10GB minimum, 20GB recommended

Suggested read: Mastering the Echo Command in Linux (with Practical Examples) 

8 – Rocky Linux

Rocky Linux is an open-source enterprise operating system that is designed to be 100% “bug-for-bug” compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It is another popular Linux distribution that was developed by the community to replace the CentOS after it reached the end of life.

Rocky Linux rebuilds sources directly from RHEL, ensuring a super stable experience, no matter the use-case. On top of that, it is an enterprise-ready distro which provides solid stability with regular updates and a 10-year support lifecycle – all at no cost.

System Requirements for Rocky Linux

  • Architecture: x86-64, ARM64, ppc64le, or s390x
  • Memory: 2 GB of RAM
  • Disk Space: 40 GB of storage

Suggested read: How to Delete A Large Directory with Thousands of Files in Linux 

9 – Asahi Linux

Asahi Linux is a project with the goal of porting Linux to Apple Silicon Macs, starting with the 2020 M1 Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. While Apple still controls the boot process and the firmware that runs on its processor, it allows booting unsigned/custom kernels on Apple Silicon Macs without a jailbreak. As long as no code is taken from macOS to build the Linux support, the result is completely legal to distribute and for end-users to use.

The project is developed by a thriving community of free and open-source software developers, and it currently has support for most machines of the M1 and M2 generations.

The current flagship distro is Fedora Asahi Remix, which is a collaboration between Asahi Linux and the Fedora Project, aiming to provide a fully integrated distro with all Asahi platform-specific packages in upstream Fedora and fully supported in Fedora Linux 40.

The distro offers a high-quality experience with Fedora’s excellent 64-bit ARM support and mature development process. It is based on Fedora Linux 40, the latest Fedora Linux release with the newest software versions across the board. All M1 and M2 series MacBook, Mac Mini, Mac Studio, and iMac devices are supported.

As we mentioned earlier, playing audio on Linux used to be hard, but Asahi has worked together with the PipeWire and WirePlumber projects to add support for fully automatic and transparent DSP configuration – which provides high-quality audio right out of the box.

Although it is a great effort by the community, it doesn’t take full advantage of the Apple hardware – some features such as thunderbolt 4 ports, Microphones, and Touch ID are not supported.

System Requirements for Asahi Linux

  • Machine: M1, M1 Pro, or M1 Max machine from Apple
  • macOS: 12.3 or later, logged in as an admin user
  • Disk Space: At least 50 GB of free disk space (Desktop install)

Suggested read: How to Copy Files in Linux and Overwrite without Confirmation 

Which Linux Distro is Best for You? (Beginners Guide)

Choosing the right Linux distro can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. Here, we will guide you through the process by highlighting the best Linux distros based on different use-cases:

  1. For Absolute Beginners: If you’re new to Linux, both Ubuntu and Mint are a great place to start. They are user-friendly, have a large community for support, and come with a vast repository of software.
  2. For Developers: If you’re a developer, Fedora might be the best fit. It’s cutting-edge, offering the latest programming tools and languages.
  3. For Customization Lovers: If you love to tinker and customize, Arch Linux is for you. It’s a rolling-release distro that lets you build your system from scratch.
  4. For Nvidia Drivers: Many new users find it painful to install Nvidia drivers on Linux, if you want something that works out of the box then Pop!_OS is the way to go.

In this post we have only scratched the surface of the best Linux distros, and there are many great distros, such as Elementary OS or Zorin OS, which were not included in this post. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the one that fits you best!

Suggested read: Introduction to Bash For Loops: A Beginner’s Guide 

Final Thoughts

In this post, we have talked about some of the best Linux distros that provide a good user experience and cater to a wide range of user needs, from server management to desktop use.

While you can definitely install Linux on your computer right away, there is a way for you to use Linux alongside your existing operating system.

Whether it’s Windows and Linux – or any other combination – dual booting allows users to switch between different environments for various purposes such as work, development, or testing without needing separate machines. This is particularly beneficial if you need to use specific software that only runs on a particular operating system. It also enables you to experiment with different operating systems without having to buy separate hardware.

If you are looking to install Linux on a PC, then dual booting is a good way to start, but if you are looking to install Linux on a server, then managing a Linux server can be daunting for beginners.

That’s where RunCloud comes in – an all-in-one server management platform designed to simplify the process of deploying web applications.

With RunCloud, even beginners can manage a Linux server with ease, making the power and flexibility of Linux more accessible to all. So, whether you’re a seasoned Linux user or just starting out, RunCloud can help you manage your websites!

FAQ on Linux Distros

What is the most difficult Linux distro to use?

Gentoo and Arch are often cited as one of the most challenging Linux distros to use as they provide a high level of customization and control, but require a deep understanding of Linux.

What is the most customizable Linux distro?

Arch Linux is renowned for its unparalleled customizability as it allows users to build a system tailored to their specific needs.

Is Linux more difficult than Windows?

The difficulty of using Linux or Windows depends on the specific needs and familiarity of the user. While Linux offers more control and customization, it may require more technical knowledge to perform certain tasks.

Which is better, Arch Linux or Ubuntu?

Both Arch Linux and Ubuntu have their strengths – Arch Linux is known for its flexibility and control, making it suitable for experienced users. Ubuntu, on the other hand, is user-friendly, making it a good choice for beginners.

Is Mint better than Ubuntu?

Both Mint and Ubuntu are excellent choices for beginners and experienced users as they both have a large user community and extensive software availability.

Is CentOS being discontinued?

Yes, CentOS Linux 7 will reach end of life (EOL) on June 30, 2024.