Best of Linux

Best Linux Distros for Programmers

Linux distros are the most popular operating systems for programming and other development-related work. Whether you are a programmer or a system administrator, Linux distros can maximize your productivity.

Linux operating systems also provide power, flexibility, stability, and more features. However, the massive range of Linux operating systems may confuse programmers, whether they are experts or beginners. So, in this guide, we will explain the best Linux distros for programmers in 2023.

Best Linux Distros for Programmers in 2023

This section will list and explain the top X Linux distros you can try as a programmer.


Ubuntu is a free and open-source Debian-based Linux OS that you can use as a beginner or an expert. Desktop, IoT, and Server are the three editions of Ubuntu that you can use on a single machine. It also has the LTS (Long Term Support) of five years to provide stability for the fixed release. You can easily start the development using the fantastic built-in utilities of Ubuntu.

This Linux distro contains a Software Center and multiple functions with various desktop environments. Ubuntu has a huge open-source community that can help you solve any issue while working on this OS. There are a few advantages and limitations:


  • Simple to install and resource-friendly
  • Exceptional compatibility and excellent community support.
  • Popular and provides quick updates.
  • Highly secure and easy to customize.


  • Not compatible with gaming
  • It should contain more design in the front end.
  • It is not easy to migrate.


Debian is another programmer-centric OS that contains free-to-use tools and tons-of utilities. It is also known as Debian GNU/Linux, which was developed by the Debian project community. Ian Murdock established the Debian project in August 1993.

Debian is the Free Software Foundation (FSF) project used on different Unix-like operating systems such as FreeBSD, NetBSD, macOS, etc. This OS is popular because of its software support and various packages that are best for programmers. Debian is the best whether you are a beginner, expert, and system administrator.


  • Contains the highest number of installed packages.
  • Offers timely upgrades of utilities and security systems.
  • Highly stable with a strong community.
  • Includes a wide variety of utilities and software repositories.


  • Uses Systemd and contains some problems with GNU.
  • Working in the terminal can take a bit of work for beginners.
  • The bug tracker is not to use.
  • The official documentation needs to be improved in certain areas.


Fedora is a powerful operating system with open-source and free utilities to simplify tasks. It is a user-friendly OS suitable for students, programmers, and system administrators. Fedora is stable and contains various tools to configure programming and development environments.

This OS offers all-new security, features, and essential bug fixes in its minor release. It has massive community support, which means you will get answers to your queries from the discussion forum. Fedora can be your first choice as an open-source enthusiast as it has various open-source components. It contains the following advantages and limitations:


  • Excellent integration with GNOME and majorly focuses on innovation.
  • Quick and stable updates.
  • Offers a fast performance with minimalist GNOME.
  • Free and open-source software system.


  • Does not work well with old hardware (devices).
  • Requires time and skills to set up the OS.


OpenSUSE is a free and open-source openSUSE Linux distribution. Although you can use OpenSUSE as a regular desktop environment, it is not best for beginners due to the configuration and management options.

OpenSUSE is a sound and stable operating system that is excellent for programming; it is a fantastic alternative to Ubuntu and Debian. In addition to the LTS edition, this Linux distribution offers a high-end version that guarantees reliability.


  • Supports both fixed and rolling versions.
  • YaST (Yet another Setup Tool) covers all your configuration needs, including setting up servers and networks, installing and upgrading software, and configuring hardware.
  • Easy software installation.
  • Each distribution package has different software and even uses different packaging techniques from other distributions when building software for Linux systems.


  • Installation package files, especially those for drivers, use system dependencies.
  • The default codec for audio and video in OpenSUSE is not installed. The multimedia codec is not installed with this operating system.
  • Not suitable for beginners

Arch Linux

Arch Linux is a free and open-source distribution with great system customization and control options. Its lightweight and simple design are primarily responsible for its growing popularity in electronics.

KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) best describes the Linux distribution focused on x86-64 processors. As its name suggests, Arch Linux favors a fresh start and gives the user complete control over all decisions. Migrating from another Linux distribution to Arch is straightforward because it lacks significant distribution-specific changes.

Software packages are installed, updated, and removed using the Pacman package manager. The rolling release methodology used by Arch Linux suggests that there are no “updated releases” of a brand new system. Instead, a standard system update is necessary to get the latest version of Arch software. Monthly installation images, which are current snapshots of critical system components, are released by the Arch Linux project.


  • You can use package descriptions (PKGBUILD) to build a package from scratch with makepkg and install it with Pacman.
  • It follows an excellent incremental release approach, so you can avoid having to bother with frequent updates.
  • Package Control (Pacman) Package management in Arch Linux is distinctive. It can build binary packages from the source using makepkg and install them from the Arch repository.


  • Some updates may cause the system to crash.
  • Offers high-end software that may have stability issues.
  • Comparable distributions like Ubuntu OS have a smaller community than this one.


Manjaro is a user-friendly and accessible Linux OS that is free, open-source, and based on the Arch Linux operating system. It uses Pacman as its package manager and a continuous release update methodology.

Users can modify, add, or remove specific workflows, graphics designs, and applications using the configuration framework it offers. As a result, businesses can use Manjaro to distribute updates, adjust the system’s time zone, and receive automatic software update notifications. Additionally, administrators can add or remove packages from the system, create different user accounts, and grant specific users access to the system.


  • Excellent management of your desktop environments.
  • A great user community.
  • Manjaro is updated regularly, but more importantly, these updates are reliable.
  • Offers excellent usability.


  • Less stable because it is a rolling release and needs upgrades practically every week.
  • Many beginners require help changing the default theme.
  • The dependency management system in Arch Linux and its variants is below average.

Kali Linux

Kali Linux is a Debian-based Linux distro that supports offensive security options and utilities. It is primarily intended for network analysts and penetration testers. It is not intended for the general public but is aimed at professionals or people familiar with Linux/Kali. This Linux OS has various industry-specific modifications and tools to perform security, testing, research, and vulnerability management tasks.


  • Compliance with the file system hierarchy has been tested using more than 600 penetration tools.
  • Multilingual ability.
  • Fully programmable and free.
  • Broad support for wireless devices.


  • Kali Linux takes a bit longer to use.
  • Few programs can fail on Kali Linux.
  • Not recommended for those new to Linux who want to understand the operating system. (Because Kali Linux is focused on penetration.)

Zorin OS

Zorin OS is based on Ubuntu, which brings various features and utilities. Although the desktop is heavily modified to help users transition from Windows and macOS, it typically uses the GNOME 3 or XFCE 4 desktop environment. It is a fully graphical Linux distro that offers stability and security.

Zorin OS has various desktop layouts or themes for modifying the desktop environments. These themes let you change the UI like Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu, or macOS.


  • Elegant Windows and macOS desktop style; straightforward installation via USB or VirtualBox; smartphone pairing via Zorin Connect
  • WINE’s compatibility with Windows allows it to work out of the box with many pre-installed applications and additional post-installable tools.


  • Using the command line tool requires extensive operations and setup for new users.
  • Despite more layouts and features, the paid Pro version is barely worth it.
  • Few Steam titles support Linux, and usage of the service is aimed at tech-savvy gamers.
  • The pre-installed Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) is not enabled by default.


Solus is an independently developed OS that is best for the x86-64 architecture. Users can choose from the native Budgie, GNOME, MATE, or KDE Plasma desktop environment as their desktop environment.

Solus requires a cautious approach for the software update. Hence, other rolling distros like Arch Linux offer a wider variety of software, unlike Solus, which contains a “curated rolling release .”Moreover, the software may be damaged, rendering the system partially or entirely unusable.


  • The free, open-source operating system (OS), version 4.1 (Fortitude), features enhancements to the hardware and software suites and an all-new desktop interface.
  • Allows users to choose from various software options (experiences), allowing them to get the most out of their computer’s hardware.
  • All Solus Experience options are available with a rolling update plan from the provider, and each has an easy-to-use GUI and straightforward installation procedures.
  • The operating system is relatively stable thanks to properly compiled and run-stable repositories.
  • Allows simple installation and updating of the program.


  • Although the software has a fantastic user interface, its repositories provide fewer software selections.
  • It does not contain specific programs and requires manual installation.


This guide lists the best Linux distros you can try as a programmer to increase your productivity. If you’re currently using Windows, we have included specific options to make the transition from Linux to Windows easier. Most of them should be simple to set up and operate and should not cause trouble.

About the author

Prateek Jangid

A passionate Linux user for personal and professional reasons, always exploring what is new in the world of Linux and sharing with my readers.