Linux is a powerful and versatile operating system that is becoming increasingly popular among computer users. But, for beginners, choosing the right distribution can be overwhelming. The best distro for you depends on your exact requirements and available resources. Obviously, only saying this doesn’t exactly help new users who have a dizzying amount of distros to choose from. Whether you want to learn a new skill, improve your privacy, or simply try something new, this guide will help you find the perfect Linux distribution for your needs. Ubuntu Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro. Consequently, it’s also where a lot of users new to Linux start, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s easy to install and has decent official documentation. It also includes various pre-installed software that makes it a daily driver without needing much further customization. Essentially, it’s well-rounded and ticks most of the boxes that a beginner wants in a distro. As the most popular distro, the Ubuntu community has a huge online presence. Most of the common problems users encounter in Ubuntu are already documented. And even if it isn’t, you have a large community that you can rely on for support. Ubuntu is also great in terms of hardware/software compatibility. Ubuntu ships with the GNOME DE by default. Generally speaking, GNOME is organized and easy to use, but it can definitely feel unfamiliar to users transitioning from Windows. In that case, you have two options. First, you can install another DE like KDE Plasma. This elegant looking DE should feel much more similar to Windows. It’s also less resource-intensive compared to GNOME. The incredible customizability of KDE is also nice, although it can sometimes get overwhelming for new users. The second option is to go with a different Ubuntu flavor entirely. Ubuntu flavors are basically Ubuntu, but configured for certain purposes. For instance, Kubuntu uses the KDE plasma desktop. So if you prefer KDE over GNOME, you can install Kubuntu to start with. Xubuntu is intended to be a lightweight and responsive flavor. It uses Xfce as the DE and includes less pre-installed software, as it prefers to be less bloated. There are many other flavors too, so if you want Ubuntu with some slight changes, it’s worth checking if any of the Ubuntu flavors feel like a good match for you. There’s Ubuntu server too if you want to experience setting up and running servers. Linux Mint Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. It’s the second-most popular distro, and from what I’ve seen, it might even be the top choice for most new users these days. Deciding between Ubuntu and Mint can be tough though, and there are a lot of divides in the Linux community regarding this. Ubuntu is better in certain aspects (e.g., community support) while Mint does other things right (e.g., flatpak instead of snap). Overall, it’s not that one is only better than the other, there are pros and cons to both. You shouldn’t stress too much about this as you’ll be fine with either. With that said, now let’s talk about Mint’s selling points. Linux Mint ships with the Cinnamon DE which feels very similar to Windows. This is a major reason why so many Windows users pick Mint when getting started with Linux. There are different editions of Mint that ship with MATE or Xfce, while other DEs can be manually installed at a later point. This is important, as Cinnamon doesn’t support Wayland. In terms of development, Mint is a community-driven distro while Ubuntu is developed by Canonical. Canonical has had some privacy-related controversies in the past, and the community doesn’t have as much say in Ubuntu’s development compared to Mint. Going back to my criteria from earlier, Mint is very user-friendly and feels slightly smoother to use. It’s similar to Ubuntu in many aspects from community support to the out-of-the-box experience. I recommend it for Windows users that want a general purpose and resource-friendly distro. Zorin OS Zorin is, in many ways, similar to Mint. It’s also based on Ubuntu and looks very similar to Windows. As a GUI-focused distro, Zorin comes with various themes that let you change the UI to resemble different platforms (Windows, Mac, other distros like Ubuntu, etc.). There are different Zorin versions like Core, Lite, Pro, Education, etc. and these use customized versions of either GNOME or Xfce. This is ultimately the main selling point of Zorin, as it provides a familiar environment for users transitioning from various platforms. Aside from this, it’s just more of the same. It uses APT as well, and while Zorin’s own community is fairly small, the documentation from the Ubuntu and Mint communities is often useful for Zorin too. I’d say Zorin is an easy-to-use option if you want a faster and more secure alternative to Windows, or even macOS. Pop!_OS Gaming on Linux wasn’t really viable just a decade or so earlier. But things have changed a lot in recent years. Many games and related programs have been natively ported, there are compatibility layers like Wine or Proton if required, and sizeable Linux-gaming communities online for support. In this drastically different ecosystem, Pop!_OS definitely stands out (and not just because of its name). It provides two different ISOs, one pre-configured with NVIDIA drivers and another for AMD. This built-in GPU support is huge in terms of setting up the distro for gaming as manually installing it isn’t an easy process on many other distros. There are many other decent gaming-focused distros like Nobara, DraugerOS, SteamOS (from Valve!) etc but I recommend Pop!_OS. Ubuntu’s extensive documentation and community support are once again useful here. It scores decently in terms of the other criteria too and is a reliable option for beginners. Pop!_OS has a feature called “Pop Shell” which is a tiling window manager for GNOME. This allows users to arrange and manage their windows using different tiling layouts, which is useful for multitasking. Pop Shell is customizable, allowing users to create custom keyboard shortcuts and modify the behavior of individual applications. Pop!_OS is a great choice for those who want a more efficient way to manage their windows and applications. MX Linux Users often either use old spare systems or Virtual Machines (VMs) for getting into Linux. In both cases, system specs tend to be limited. Linux has very minimal resource requirements compared to Windows or Mac, but some distros are certainly better for this than others. MX Linux is a Debian-based distro that uses Xfce as the DE. You also have other options with the KDE Plasma and Fluxbox versions, but they’re not optimal if your major priority is resource usage. There are a lot of great lightweight distros like AntiX, Alpine, Puppy, etc. But they’re not necessarily general-purpose or suited for beginners. For new users looking for a distro that’s easy to use, stable, and light in terms of resource usage, I recommend MX Linux. Elementary OS Some people just want to enjoy the simpler pleasures of life. If you’re looking for a distro that’s easy on the eyes, look no further than Elementary OS. It’s a distro based on Ubuntu’s LTS releases. Elementary OS uses a custom Pantheon DE which makes it the best-looking distro out-of-the-box. One of the key features of Elementary OS is its user interface, which is designed to be clean and modern. It includes a dock for launching applications, a customizable top panel for accessing settings and notifications, and a range of pre-installed applications that are designed to work seamlessly with the interface. It’s ideal if you don’t want to bother with too much customization (KDE comes to mind). It also closely resembles macOS, so that’s another plus point for users switching over from Mac. Fedora If you want to start with a distro from the RedHat family, I recommend Fedora. The personal version ships with GNOME by default, and it’s the preferred distro to experience the latest GNOME version. Fedora flavors called Fedora Spins are also available if you want different DEs (KDE Plasma, Xfce, Cinnamon, etc.). There are other Fedora editions too, but those usually aren’t relevant to beginners. Fedora Workstation’s basic installation is very easy thanks to the Anaconda installer (although managing partitions can be a bit complicated). The default install includes a range of commonly used software which is helpful for beginners. After the initial setup, you can install packages from the Fedora repo using the DNF package manager. If you need any third-party packages, you can easily enable RPM Fusion. You can also add third-party repositories and install drivers graphically, which is nice. Fedora is one of the best distros in terms of documentation. It’s not bleeding-edge like Arch but it does have a shorter update cycle compared to something like Ubuntu. Frequent stable updates usually mean better hardware and support compatibility. Garuda Linux Garuda is a new performance-focused distro from the Arch family. It uses the official Arch repository and Pacman for package management. It has higher system requirements compared to the other options, but they’re still pretty reasonable. You have a wide range of releases to choose from if you decide to go with Garuda.For instance, there’s Garuda KDE Dragonized Gaming. It’s got a Mac-like feel and installs various gaming-related packages for a great out-of-the-box experience. If you aren’t interested in gaming, you can simply go for Garuda KDE Dragonized, which doesn’t include the additional packages. There are various other versions too, like Garuda GNOME, Cinnamon, Xfce, Mate, LXQt, etc. Arch-based distros, and especially Arch itself aren’t exactly beginner-friendly. So, if you’re getting started with Linux and want something from the Arch family, Garuda can be a good option. If you still feel lost, my best advice is to just pick any distro and start. If you really need one recommendation, I’d say go for Ubuntu. Most beginner-friendly distros are based on Ubuntu. Aside from the DE, beginners usually won’t find major differences between them. No matter which you pick, the important part is actually getting started. After you start learning one, you’ll find that the others are mostly just more of the same. After all, they’re all Linux at the core.