Desktop Linux Distribution Reviews

Best Linux Distributions for Desktops as of 2019

When it comes to desktop computers, Linux has always been an underdog. In 2019, the desktop Linux market share sits at around 2.5 percent, but there are far more fantastic Linux distributions for desktops than ever before.In this article, we are taking a look at the top seven best Linux desktop distributions to show that compelling alternatives to Windows and macOS not only do exist but are readily available. Our list is loosely based on the DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistics, which measure the popularity of Linux distributions by the number of times a distribution page on DistroWatch.com was accessed each day.

1. MX Linux

There was always a great demand for mid-weight Linux distributions designed to provide a highly stable yet easy-to-use desktop operating system suitable for most typical applications.

MX Linux came to life in December 2013, when some members of the MEPIS community began a discussion about the option to combine packages from Debian Stable and antiX in order to create a brand-new distribution capable of surpassing MEPIS.

MX Linux uses Xfce as the default desktop, and it comes with all the tools you need to manage your computer without resorting to clunky command line tools.

2. Manjaro Linux

Manjaro Linux sees itself as a complete alternative to Windows and macOS. This polished Linux distribution is based on Arch Linux, which is known for its Keep It Simple design philosophy and strong community.

Manjaro leverages the strong foundation provided by Arch Linux to combine cutting-edge software with automated tools to produce an operating system that’s accessible to complete Linux newbies but suitable even for Linux veterans, making it an excellent entry point into the exciting world of Linux.

You can try Manjaro without installing, and there are several editions to choose from. XFCE, KDE, and GNOME are Manjaro’s flagship editions, but you can also download Manjaro Openbox edition, Cinnamon edition, i3 edition, and Awesome edition.

3. Linux Mint

Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distribution that aims to provide an operating system with flawless out-of-the-box multimedia support and a user interface that feels instantly familiar to all Windows users.

Because Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian, it gives its users access to an extremely comprehensive collection of software packages. Managing them is easy because Linux Mint has one of the best software managers out there.

Just like Manjaro, Linux Mint is available in multiple editions. The main edition features the Cinnamon desktop environment, which derives from GNOME 3 but follows traditional desktop metaphor conventions.

4. elementary OS

One doesn’t have to spend too much time on the official website of elementary OS to understand that this progressive Linux distribution strives to be a replacement for macOS. elementary OS developers have crafted a beautiful Linux operating system that’s polished to near perfection and comes with a number of custom apps.

elementary OS comes with its own open, pay-what-you-want app store for indie developers, called AppCenter, that gives its users access to a curated selection of open-source apps. Unlike most other Linux distributions, elementary OS has built-in parental controls that allow parents to set time limits, manage allowed websites, and choose which apps are safe to access.

Even though elementary OS looks and feels like a paid operating system, you can download it for free. But if you can afford it, definitely donate at least a few dollars to support the project, especially since elementary OS developers make it so easy to do so.

5. Ubuntu

It’s impossible to talk about Linux distributions for desktop computers without mentioning Ubuntu. First released in 2004, Ubuntu has single-handedly established Linux as a viable alternative to Windows and macOS, and it remains a great choice even in 2019.

As we’ve already mentioned earlier in this article, Ubuntu is based on Debian, but it differs from it in a number of important ways. For starters, Ubuntu is available in multiple editions, each featuring a different desktop environment and targeting different users. Special versions of Ubuntu are available for servers, IoT devices, and the cloud.

Ubuntu’s mission is to bring free software to the widest audience, which includes people with disabilities and those living in countries where English isn’t the official language, and the entire Ubuntu community has been doing a marvelous job when it comes to making its mission a reality.

6. Solus

Solus is a sleek Linux distribution for home computing that’s not based on any other Linux distribution. Instead, it’s built completely from scratch and uses a forked version of the PiSi package manager, which is the package manager of Pardus Linux.

To give its users a familiar yet modern desktop experience, Solus developers have selected Budgie as the main desktop environment. Budgie GNOME technologies such as GTK+, and it features unified notifications, supports extensive customization, and much more.

Included with Solus are some of the best open-source applications ever created, such as MPV, Firefox, Rhythmbox, and Thunderbird. You can, of course, install any software you want to make Solus truly yours.

7. Fedora

Fedora is a community supported Linux distribution that has a mutually beneficial relationship with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. New features are often first introduced in Fedora, where they are tested before being implemented in Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

But don’t think that Fedora is just a playground for Red Hat to experiment with new features. Fedora is a mature operating system that’s available in three different flavors to satisfy the needs of everyone from regular computer users to server administrators to people managing complex cloud-based architectures.

It’s also a great way how to experience the GNOME desktop environment and everything it has to offer. Fedora is often among the first distributions to include the latest version of GNOME, and it ships it in a very pure form.

Conclusion

Even though the Linux desktop market share has remained steady over the last few years, the number of fantastic Linux distributions suitable for desktop computers has increased dramatically. New and seasoned Linux users alike can now choose from many different distributions that make Linux on the desktop accessible and fun.

In this article, we’ve introduced seven such distributions, but there’s much more to be discovered on sites like DistroWatch.com, so make sure to do your research if none of the distributions listed in this article has caught your eye.

About the author

David Morelo

David Morelo

Content writer and copywriter, researcher, wannabe linguistic, part-time marketer, gym rat, sometimes annoying but always loving boyfriend.

I was born and raised in the Czech Republic, where I studied English and Japanese philology at the Palacký University in Olomouc, the second oldest university in the Czech Republic and the largest university in Moravia, one of the historical Czech lands.