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What is the best Linux distro for beginners?

You can tell a user has found a distro that they like when they begin to tweak its different aspects. Moving away from the default options is a sign of maturity for any user, but especially so with new Linux users.

People often say Linux distros are extremely customisable – but what does this mean for new users? Sure, you can change the desktop background, the icons theme, define keyboard shortcuts, configure power management and make other changes to the appearance and behaviour of the distro. But is it easy for a first-time Linux user to do this?

While all the distros in our list allow you to do all of this and more, they each go about the process differently. If the distro is aimed at new users, it scores highly if it includes special custom tools to help the user easily customise the distro to their liking.

Zorin is one of the finest distros to attract inexperienced Linux users. It has everything in terms of offering a friendly and usable experience to those coming from another Linux distro or even from Windows or macOS. Besides its Windows 10-styled desktop, the custom application launcher also does a pretty good job of mimicking the Windows 10 Start menu. 

The Core edition has enough to whet your appetite. The paid ‘Ultimate’ version of Zorin also supports macOS, Gnome 2 and Unity desktop layouts using the ‘Zorin Appearance’ tool. Zorin also instils good desktop practice by regularly reminding users to run backups using the built-in app. All in all, the distro has the right mix of the best of Ubuntu sprinkled with some custom Zorin apps, such as the Look and Theme Changer apps.

Elementary is one of the simplest Ubuntu-based distros available, and as such is a good starting point for beginners. The distro places great emphasis on design, and this has resulted in a curious choice of integrated applications. While these may not be to everyone’s liking, the apps are highly usable and a suitable replacement for their more popular alternatives. It uses a dock to emulate the look of macOS, but it’s not particularly configurable – and the same is true of the desktop as a whole. 

Pinguy once released new stable versions to coincide with the latest underlying version of Ubuntu, but it’s at a standstill recently as its creator is not seeing a positive reimbursement on the time he is spending creating and maintaining it. That said, the distro is wonderfully stable and a very attractive option for all Linux users. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or someone looking to switch to another distro, this OS is definitely worth your time.

Pinguy also ships with Docky, a tool you can use to create any number of customised docks. You can add docklets to each of these docks, such as weather, a network usage monitor and a workspace switcher. It also includes the Tweak Tool to help you easily configure many different aspects of the desktop.

One area where Solus closes the gap on its rivals is in terms of desktop configuration. That’s largely thanks to the fact that its own Budgie desktop has a number of configuration options, making it relatively easy to customise it to your tastes.


  • Zorin OS: 5/5
  • PinguyOS: 4/5
  • Elementary OS: 3/5
  • Solus: 4/5

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