Windows 10 and macOS are the most popular desktop operating systems in the mainstream market today. GNU / Linux, strongly represented in the professional field, enjoys a very bad image among the crowds. A bad reputation that no longer needs to be these days as distributions have become simpler and more open to appeal to the general public. For that matter, we have selected 10 GNU / Linux systems for you to try out urgently so you can take the plunge with complete peace of mind!
GNU / Linux is a very open system, allowing anyone to inspect and modify its code. That’s why there are dozens of distros on the net, some geared towards productivity, others towards development and even gaming. Everyone can find their account there.
In order to help you get off to a good start, we have selected in this folder 10 GNU / Linux distributions that we consider a good starting point for migrating from Windows or MacOS. The list is of course not exhaustive, so we invite you to tell us in the comments which GNU / Linux system is dearest to your heart!
Why choose GNU / Linux?
If we were to remember just one word for Linux, it would be “freedom”. If there is only one kernel specific to all distributions, there are thousands of possible variations of the wrapper around: package system, desktop environment, etc …
In the end, no distribution is alike, even within the same database. For example, Ubuntu comes in Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Lubuntu versions each with a different desktop environment and software, which totally changes the user experience.
However, a migration must take place after a long period of reflection. It’s not always easy to let go of the Windows we all learn to use at a young age. Linux’s reputation for difficulty sticks to its skin, which does not help a smooth transition. It’s all the more unfortunate that there is now a lot of software and hardware that works just as well as on Windows 10 and macOS …
GNU / Linux therefore gives you the choice to try it before installing it. Most distributions can therefore operate in Live USB mode (like in this Ubuntu tutorial). After installation on a USB key, the system will launch on your PC without erasing its content. This is the perfect way to test a distro before installing it permanently. Thanks to this, you will have the opportunity to check if all your hardware – Wi-Fi, printer, display, sound – is working well.
Another advantage of GNU / Linux is its lightness. Less resource intensive than Windows 10, this free system will certainly run better on your PC than Microsoft’s OS. The Raspberry Pi mini-PCs also make use of hyper-light GNU / Linux distributions, the only ones able to maintain good performance with the low-power hardware embedded in these devices.
Last but not least: Forget those people who tell you that Linux is for bearded command line geeks. Nothing is further from the truth. Current systems are perfectly usable without going through the terminal. This one just saves time, that’s all!
Most Linux distros these days are geared towards the general public. They therefore have every interest in being easy to use. With increasingly automated graphics installers, large software libraries and environments geared towards accessibility, GNU / Linux distributions thus manage to offer the same possibilities as Windows 10 and MacOS in terms of productivity, entertainment and even gaming. Yes, yes, it is quite possible to play your Windows games under GNU / Linux!
Are you tempted to take the plunge? So come and discover without delay our selection of the 10 essential Linux distributions of the moment.
10 GNU / Linux distributions to get started
Of all the mainstream Linux distros, Ubuntu is certainly the best known. Carried by the company Canonical, this distro is based on Debian. It takes over the package system while making its use accessible to as many people as possible.
Launched in 2004, this system is the ideal starting point for your entry into the world of GNU / Linux. Everything is done to simplify the task of users, from installation to daily use. If the Gnome Shell environment is offered as a base, many derivative distributions offer other experiences such as Kubuntu, Lubuntu or Ubuntu Studio. Also, you can install Ubuntu on your USB drive and try it whithout having to install it on your pc.
This is probably one of the greatest success stories in the Linux world. Founded in 2006, Linux Mint quickly grew to become one of the most successful distributions in the business. It must be said that it enjoys very active follow-up from the community, making it a highly sought-after distro on Distrowatch.
Success came with the creation in 2011 of Cinnamon, an attractive and easy-to-use desktop environment developed exclusively for Mint. This alternative to Gnome Shell quickly won over enthusiasts. For the rest, Linux Mint benefits from an Ubuntu base ensuring reliability and stability, as well as access to many free software.
Pop! _OS is the rising distribution at the moment. Based on Ubuntu, it is developed by System76, an American brand specializing in the design and distribution of PCs under GNU / Linux. But you don’t have to buy from them to enjoy it!
Pop! _OS takes over the Gnome Shell environment, but modifies it slightly. The free system thus provides several optimizations such as automatic placement of windows – or tiling – and optimized management of laptop PC batteries. Very versatile, Pop! _OS is a real favorite that is aimed at both novices and professionals.
No you are not dreaming, I wrote Windows well. Created by talented Spanish developers, Windowsfx 10 is THE ideal distribution for fans of the Microsoft system. Using a Linux Mint base and a heavily modified Cinnamon environment, this atypical distro aims to reproduce Windows behavior as closely as possible so as not to destabilize beginners.
Interface and software are thus configured to approximate the American OS. Using Wine makes it easy to get Office 365, Photoshop, and other productivity software up and running. If you are a fan of Windows but are attracted to Linux, you can go for Windowsfx 10.
Let’s leave Ubuntu and its many alternatives to one side and look to another part of the GNU / Linux world. For now, we are going to talk about Manjaro, a distribution created from Arch Linux.
Launched in 2011, this distro works on a rolling release system, ie it is updated constantly and not every six months like most of the time. Manjaro focuses on simplicity by offering users a very easy-to-access installer, wide compatibility with modern hardware and a choice of multiple office environments. It’s the king’s choice for those who don’t want to use a Debian or Ubuntu base.
Mageia’s goal is to provide its users with an easy-to-access, yet complete, GNU / Linux system. While KDE and Gnome are preferred, this distribution supports all other desktop environments on the market. With very active support and a tight-knit community, Mageia is a very attractive project that will appeal to both beginners and experienced users.
If you’re coming from an Apple system – so macOS – the ideal for a smooth transition is Elementary OS. This atypical GNU / Linux distribution is based on the famous Ubuntu, but adopts a very headed-looking desktop environment called Pantheon.
The great thing about Elementary OS is its simplicity. This distro includes a suite of software specifically adapted to Pantheon that allows you to be productive from the first launch of the system. Lightweight and stable, this is a very nice distribution that will appeal to fans of minimalism who do not want to have to touch the command line, the terminal being supplanted by high-quality graphics utilities.
Fellow gamers, here is the GNU / Linux distribution of your dreams! As incredible as it may seem, Valve is relying more and more on Linux and thus developed its own distro called SteamOS.
As the name suggests, it is the Steam platform that is at the center of this system. The interface thus uses Big Picture mode, but allows switching to Gnome if necessary. You can therefore install other services such as the Epic Games Store or GOG if necessary. If you are an avid gamer, we can only recommend this distro which, thanks to Proton and Steam Play, will run almost any Windows game.
Do you have a taste for novelty? So take a look at Fedora. This distribution has a very short development cycle and is geared towards the most recent developments in the GNU / Linux world. It has the support of Red Hat and a very active community for this.
Using the Gnome desktop environment, Fedora offers users several versions dedicated to various uses: productivity, creation of servers, development … Everyone can find something to suit their needs. In all cases, the most recent software and developments in the Linux world will be highlighted, all in an environment that is easy to use.
To end this list, we would like to highlight a distribution unlike any other: Emmabuntüs. With a name not at all inspired by a well-known association, carried by the community of the same name, this distro based on Debian and the lightweight XFCE desktop environment is intended to give old computers a second life.
Members of the association thus recover machines considered obsolete, repair them and donate them to charities. Thanks to various scripts and pre-installed applications, Emmabuntüs makes life easier for new users. So this is a great way to discover the GNU / Linux world and support a great charity project.
Here is what closes this file on GNU / Linux. Of course, this is only a small part of the iceberg, we could have mentioned many other distributions like OpenSuSe, Debian or Elive, but a choice had to be made. We invite you to tell us in the comments below which is your favorite distribution and how you got your foot in the Linux world!