In recent years, Linux has evolved considerably. From the first small group of distributions, this extraordinary operating system has expanded considerably, offering a series of very interesting alternatives.
In fact, nowadays there are many developers who focus on this OS. Practically every year, there are some interesting news regarding Linux.
Ductility, security and of course the free nature have made Linux an operating system that in recent years has conquered a large share of users. Precisely thanks to the distributions now, we managed to overcome the biggest obstacle that neophytes users have always encountered using this OS: that is, a learning curve not just for everyone.
Linux in 2018: an overview of the best distributions available
Naturally, as we will see in more detail below, Ubuntu remains the queen distribution. But there are several interesting variations (and addressed to different types of users) on which it is worth pausing for a moment.
Let’s start with the most widespread and appreciated version of Linux. For some users, this distribution is so close to the operating system that Ubuntu is almost considered a synonym. Even if this is a mistake, it speaks volumes about how much such distribution is established in this environment.
For some, Ubuntu, which is not ancient at all, is so synonymous with Linux that the two words are often used interchangeably. (Obviously, any experienced Linux user will quickly scold you for doing so.)
This is the perfect starting point for new Linux users, since it is the most user friendly operating system in circulation. Any user coming from Mac or Windows, will take just a few hours to be able to orientate with discrete security inside.
Being based on Debian, it has a certain affinity with this distribution, although it is much more simplified.
Within the same Ubuntu, there are some special sub-distributions, such as Ubuntu MATE or Lubuntu, particularly suitable for laptops or hardware with poor performance.
Big brother of Ubuntu, Debian has recently turned 24 (which says a lot about its quality and reliability).
In reality, it is a real “father” for many distributions that have been developed from the Debian base. Compared to Ubuntu, however, this distribution is more stable and sees the more direct involvement of developers.
In the large repositories available you can find a lot of applications and, compared to its godchildren, Debian proves to be a highly flexible and customizable operating system … even if less suitable for those who just cheered the Linux world.
The jump from Windows or MacOS to Linux is not the simplest: for this reason the developers have worked to realize the fate of “intermediate steps”. Even more suited to the purpose of Ubuntu, Linux Mint sets out to do just this kind of work.
Mint is equipped with much of the software necessary to make the transition less traumatic. LibreOffice and many high-end software are already installed on this OS.
Mint is always in sync with the latest Ubuntu LTS releases. This means that you do not have to worry about security during malware attacks (not for nothing Linux is considered an OS that makes security its strong point).
Elementary OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution that aims to provide a user-friendly and refined experience ready for less savvy users. This particular version of Linux has been around for quite some time and has established itself as a solid option for novice and desktop users looking for easy-to-use distribution without too many frills.
Because the elementary operating system is based on Ubuntu, it enjoys all the benefits of Ubuntu for updates, repositories and security.
The elementary OS has its desktop environment, Pantheon, which provides a rather familiar user experience to MacOS fans.
Solus is one of the latest on the scene, but is already gaining considerable attention from users: it is a complete and independent distribution that provides a clean and refined experience.
Despite being completely independent, Solus has robust repositories that include just about any type of software a user may need.
This distribution has its own desktop environment, Budgie, and its package manager, eopkg. Budgie is an elegant modern desktop that offers an intuitive and original interface, which could somewhat confuse less experienced users. On the other hand, eopkg shares a lot of syntax with Debian Apt, resulting in an easy-to-manage package system.
Antergos is one of the least known and definitely among the most undervalued distributions. It is based on Arch Linux and offers all the advantages of a complete installation of Arch Vanilla, while maintaining a good level of simplicity.
Antergos has developed its own graphical installation program, Cnchi, which makes the installation process a breeze for all types of Linux users. It allows you to configure your system exactly as you want and to boot into a perfectly configured installation without any problem.
The Arch Linux Wiki is unmatched when it comes to distribution documentation. Everything that is present in this “encyclopedia” applies perfectly to Antergos. There is also the great advantage of being able to take advantage of the huge repositories of Arch.
Choosing Gentoo means relying on the most flexible distribution in circulation.
Whether you’re installing Gentoo on a desktop or server, you can adapt it to your needs like no other version of Linux. For desktops, you can choose your work environment or window manager by selecting what you need. Every single detail of your desktop can be modified according to your wishes.
Regarding security, Gentoo Hardened is one of the best projects within Linux distributions to increase its overall security. Even without the GRSecurity patches (which were previously a large part of the project), Gentoo Hardened is an excellent option for security in a server or desktop environment.
Bonus: Zorin OS
About 80% of consumer users use Windows. For this reason, switching from Windows to Linux is not easy. On the other hand, after years and years of using Windows, even our subconscious thinks in a Windows-friendly way and some automatisms remain even after switching to a Linux distribution.
To make the transition less traumatic, I highly recommend trying Zorin OS. It is a Linux distro based on Ubuntu that has a graphical interface very similar to Windows and has already installed many programs, so you do not have to deal immediately with the fearful Package Manager/Software Center.