What are the Best Linux Distros for 2020

best linux distributions

In this tutorial, we shall focus on the 10 + 1 best Linux distributions for the year 2020 for new and experienced users. As per distrowatch below are the top 10 Linux distributions based on website page hit ranking:

1. MX Linux
2. Manjaro
3. Mint
4. Ubuntu
5. Debian
6. Elementary
7. Pop!_OS
8. Solus
9. Fedora
10. Zorin

Note: Distros are not ordered in the list based on popularity.

1. Linux Mint

Linux Mint desktop

Linux Mint 20 desktop

Linux mint is a popular desktop distribution based on Ubuntu or Debian which comes with lots of free and open-source applications.

Mints Cinnamon desktop consumes very low memory usage compared with Gnome or Unity. Mint has a light and sleek Software manager which makes it stand out. Other options that make Linux Mint fantastic include crucial productivity tools such as LibreOffice.

By default, Mint ships with Cinnamon desktop which is intuitive and easy to use especially for users transitioning to Linux from other operating systems such as Windows and Mac.

Mint has excellent support for media formats such as DVDs and MP3. You can play videos and music right out of the box. Mint has three primary starter flavors; Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. All these flavors use different desktop environments that allow you to change various elements on the system

Minimum requirements for installation:

  • 64-bit x86 Processors
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 10 GB of free hard disk space
  • A graphics card that supports at least 1024 x 720 resolution
  • CD/DVD/USB facilities
Based onDebian and Ubuntu
Desktop EnvironmentCinnamon (default), Mate and Xfce
Package Managementdpkg
General PurposeDesktop
Download Linkhttps://linuxmint.com/download.php

2. Ubuntu

ubuntu desktop

Ubuntu 20.04 desktop

Ubuntu is an open-source operating system based on Debian with a primary focus on release quality, security update, and usability. Ubuntu has regular and LTS (long term support) releases on the schedule.

It is still one of the most widely used and supported Linux distributions. By default, it ships with a feature-rich and easy-to-use GNOME desktop environment. Additionally, users can install a myriad of other environments such as MATE, KDE, and XFCE according to their tastes and preferences. The most important feature is highly customizable and has tons of apps available via Software center.

It also boasts a vibrant community of open source developers that are constantly working to improve the operating system and help users online in numerous fora.

You can download Ubuntu and ensure that your system meets the following requirements:

  • 4 GB RAM
  • 2 Ghz Dual-core processor
  • 25 GB of Free hard disk spaces
  • 1024 x 768 screen resolution.
  • A DVD drive or USB port for connecting to the installer media
Based onDebian
Desktop EnvironmentGNOME (default),Unity
Package Managementdpkg, Synaptic
General PurposeDesktop
Download Linkhttps://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop

3. Pop Linux from System 76

pop os desktop

Pop Os 20.04 desktop

POP OS Linux is a Linux distro designed to have minimal clutter on the desktop. The creators of Pop OS system 76  specialize in building custom Linux PCs, and they have managed to tweak the Pop with the necessary improvements on the graphical interface. Switching between integrated Intel graphics and a dedicated NVidia graphics with a single mouse click. However, you can install NVidia drivers when doing the first time installation instead of using the open-source Noveau drivers that are present in most distributions.

Pop!_OS now supports hybrid graphics. Users can run the desktop on integrated graphics and right-click on an app icon to launch it on the dedicated Nvidia GPU. Switching between the Intel and NVidia graphics solutions is easy when you compare it with other Linux distributions. Pop! _OS works on any PC and with functionalities expected from a Linux distro. Forbes suggested Pop OS is giving a good Desktop experience and for games. Pop OS is still emerging as a convenient tool for managing dual graphics options.

It has an AppCenter, otherwise known as the Pop! _Shop is a project developed by the ElementaryOS team. The main purpose of this center is to make app organization easy to enable easy search experience.

Minimum requirements for installation:

  • 2GB RAM though the recommended is 4GB
  • Minimum 16GB storage the recommended is 20GB
  • 64-bit processors
Based onUbuntu
Desktop EnvironmentGNOME (default), Budgie
Package Managementdpkg
General PurposeDesktop and Multipurpose
Download Link https://system76.com/pop

Read Also: How to Install POP OS 20.04 LTS

4. MX Linux

MX linux desktop

MX Linux 19.2 desktop

MX Linux is a midweight  Linux operating system that has an elegant and efficient desktop. MX Linux is based on Debian stable and uses core antiX components. It is simple and reliable and runs well on legacy hardware to modern desktops. The number of people using MX Linux increased in the last couple of years and it rank #1 on Distrowatch in 2020.

MX tools make MX Linux very unique which helps save time and effort with important tasks, including boot-repair, system snapshot, and Nvidia driver installer. MX package installer is highly organized and simple to use.

Based onDebian
Desktop EnvironmentXFCE, KDE
Package ManagementAPT
General PurposeDesktop
Download Linkhttps://mxlinux.org/download-links/

5. Elementary OS

elementary desktop

Elementary OS Hera 5.1.6 desktop

Elementary OS is a nice looking and fast Linux distribution that is based on Ubuntu. It comes with an intuitive, simple, and stylish desktop environment.

Its desktop environment is called Pantheon (based on Gnome) with a design similar to a macOS. It has an AppCenter that makes it easy to install apps outside the terminal.

Minimum requirements for installation:

  • Intel Core i3 or compatible dual-core 64-bit processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • At least 15 GB of SSD free space
  • Internet access
  • 1024 x 768
  • CD/ DVD/ USB drive for installation
Based onUbuntu
Desktop EnvironmentPantheon, Pantheon built on top of GNOME
Package Managementdpkg, Eddy Gui tool, apt
General PurposeDesktop
Download Linkhttps://elementary.io/

6. Fedora

Fedora desktop

Fedora 32 desktop

Based on Redhat, Fedora is a Linux distribution developed by the community-supported Fedora Project. Fedora offers free and open-source software packages. Fedora also has various flavors, as well as custom variations of Fedora called Fedora ‘spins’. The variations are used for security, gaming, design, and computing. The flavors include;

  • Fedora workstation - This focuses on desktop users and software developers.
  • Fedora server - Focuses on the open-source server software with easy to deploy solutions.
  • Fedora CoreOS - Focuses on being an operating system for containers.
  • Fedora IoT - For edge computing.
  • Fedora silverblue - Focused on containers that enables developers and the community to make useful solutions.

Fedora has a short version life cycle of 13 months, and this means that its package updates are frequent. If you are interested you can now get Fedora preinstalled on Lenovo Thinkpad.

Minimum requirements for installation:

  • 6 GB free hard disk space
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Intel 64-bit processor
  • AMD processor with AMD-V and AMD64 extensions
Based onRedhat
Desktop EnvironmentGNOME (default)
Package ManagementRPM, Built dnf on top of it, yum
General PurposeDesktop
Download Linkhttps://getfedora.org/

7. Zorin

Zorin OS desktop

Zorin OS 15.3 desktop

Zorin OS is a desktop environment that closely resembles a Windows desktop and is the most ideal for users making a shift from Windows or macOS. It's a powerful, yet easy-to-use Operating system that is based on Debian. It's quite fast and stable on both and new PCs and definitely gives you remarkable user experience. It comes with useful productivity apps out-of-the-box such as LibreOffice, media players, and games that are available from its software store. You can also use the Wine application to run Windows apps.

Zorin OS 15 enjoys 1.7 million downloads which come with important updates and hardware compatibility features.

Minimum requirements for installation:

  • 64-bit x86 Processors
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 10GB of free hard disk space
  • A graphics card that supports at least 1024 x 720 resolution
  • CD/DVD/USB facilities
Based onUbuntu
Desktop EnvironmentGnome or Xfce
Package Managementdpkg
General PurposeDesktop
Download Linkhttps://zorinos.com/download/

8. Deepin

deepin desktop

Deepin 20 desktop

Deepin is a Linux distro that provides a beautiful, easy to use, and reliable operating system. It is out of the box distro which has a fashion UI design and better UX. Stylish DDE with colorful icons, a fresh graphics interface, and a nice graphic interface.

Prominent features are:

  • User-friendly desktop environment
  • Deepin 20 support Dual-kernel system installation
  • Personalized notification management
  • A variety of fingerprint readers are supported.
  • Easy system installer

Minimum requirements for installation:

  • More than 2 GB RAM, 4G or higher is recommended
  • Recommended to have more than 25 GB free space
  • 64 bit processor
Based onDebian
Desktop EnvironmentDeepin Desktop Environment (DDE)  based on QT.
Package Managementdpkg
General PurposeDesktop and Multipurpose
Download Linkhttps://www.deepin.org/en/download/

9.  Solus

solus desktop

Solus 4.1 desktop

Solus is one of the Linux distribution focused mainly for home computing. The distribution will give you a clean and polished experience. The robust repositories include any software that you can imagine that are always get updates with every release.

The desktop environment is also known as 'Budgie' is attractive, simple, and clean and offers a similar experience to Chrome OS without the need to purchase a Chromebook. You will get all the software that you need from the GNOME desktop environment, which is light and fast.

Budgie is clean and has a visually appealing user interface giving a wonderful and spectacular user experience. A single button opens the main menu as you have seen in a typical Windows 10 environment.

  • A dual-core of at least 2 GH and above
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Direct X11 / GeForce 460 or higher
  • 10 GB available disk space
Based onA distribution built from scratch
Desktop EnvironmentBudgie, GNOME, Mate, KDE Plasma
Package ManagementPiSi package manager maintained as eopkg
General PurposeDesktop
Download Linkhttps://getsol.us/download/

Read Also: How to Install Latest Solus from USB

10. Manjaro

manjaro linux desktop

Manjaro Linux desktop

Manjaro is an easy and user-friendly operating system based on Arch Linux. Key features of this distro include the intuitive installation process, automatic hardware detection, stable updates with every release, uses special Bash scripts for managing graphics, and more options available in supporting desktop configurations.

Manjaro comes with different desktop flavors such as GNOME, Xfce, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, and Budgie.

The software comes packed with software such as Firefox, LibreOffice, and Cantata for all your music and library activities. Right-click on the desktop to access several widgets that you can use to add icons on the desktop panel.

Use the Manjaro settings manager to give you an option of selecting the kernel version that you want to use as well as installing language packs and third-party drivers for specific hardware.  Octopi package manager organizes packages and is easy to use

Minimum requirements for installation:

  • Intel-based i686 or i386 processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB free space on the hard disk
Based onArch Linux
Desktop EnvironmentCinnamon, GNOME, KDE Plasma 5, Xfce, Budgie, Deepin, Architect, and MATE
Package Managementpacman
General PurposeDesktop and Multipurpose
Download Linkhttps://manjaro.org/download/

11. Debian

Debian desktop

Debian 10 desktop

Debian is one of the oldest Linux distros which was initially released back in 1996. Debian is considered as one of the stable distribution as fewer updates and thorough testing. It comes with the largest number of installed packages.

By default, Debian ships with GNOME desktop environment. This makes Debian an excellent choice for both workstations and servers. In workstation versions, Debian comes with pre-installed programs like GIMP – an image editing software, a browser, LibreOffice, and a media player.

When installing Debian, you can opt for stable, testing, and unstable versions. These options allow you to test your OS in more ways.

Minimum requirements for installation:

  • 2 GB  RAM
  •  8 GB free Hard disk space
Based onDebian
Desktop EnvironmentGNOME, KDE Cinnamon, MATE, Budgie
Package Managementdpkg
General PurposeDesktop and Multipurpose
Download Linkhttps://www.debian.org/distrib/

Conclusion

In this article, we have covered the best 11 Linux distribution for the year 2020. Please do not forget to tell us which ones you like or find any other better distro.

Winnie Ondara 1:30 am

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11 Comments

  1. I think you should consider Raspbian Desktop (for PC) in the category 'lightweight' distributions.
    Based on Raspbian, with PIXEL (which stands for 'Pi Improved Xwindow Environment, Lightweight') it provides a light environment, sporting all necessary bells & whistles, but runs fine on a 10-year old netbook with 1 GB of RAM. (in my experience) That it mimic the standard OS of the Raspberry Pi, is an advantage, to my taste.

  2. Any selection is purely a personal matter - but I'd suggest 3 major factors:-
    1. Is it a stable distro - how many years has it been supported for?
    2. Is your PC big or small; has it got a powerful processor (or not)?
    3. Will it run your major applications in a straight forward manner?
    (4.) For me, I want a Debian system - so I run LMDE, which is a Debian based version of Mint. This insulates me from Ubuntu fads for mucking about with the user interface. ;)

  3. Hi, I have a bit of a problem with recommending Kali for security. Although it is, indeed, security related; it is not advisable to use it as a main OS due to some decisions the Kali team makes for ease of use when pen testing, but that are disastrous for user security (e.g. everything runs as root by default).

  4. I recently bought a laptop with Linux Mint Cinnamon (instead of the XFCE I requested) and dumped it in a matter of hours. The Cinnamon DE is too limiting in configuration, with either Mate or XFCE being better options both as regards configuration options and system resource use. It was replaced with MX Linux which, in reality, I would rank as No 1 among those listed as it is well documented, Debian stable with updated applications, and fantastic tools. It is much better than Ubuntu, which should simply be dropped for its default use of snaps - a problem as someone pointed out of the Ubuntu fads. The snap issue is important, otherwise the list should include Ubuntu Mint (replacing Ubuntu itself which is too resource heavy as a result of using Gnome Shell).
    My primary DE is and will remain Mageia. It is a better option than Fedora for the availability of tainted and proprietary packages for those who need them, its longer support period, and its easy upgrade path. Mageia is the heir to Mandrake/Mandriva now in its tenth year and close to the release of Mageia 8.
    Selecting a distro is highly personal and, as has often been pointed out, the best is the one that is best for you. I would be an Arch or Arch derivative user, but still sometimes find myself spending long periods without the good internet connectivity needed to keep Arch systems properly updated. Debian stable I find to be too out-of-date.

    1. Thanks, Aguador for your detailed and keen observation. Indeed it is true that some distros vary in performance depending on the desktop environment you select. As you have pointed out, Mint XFCE yields much better performance in terms of speed and stability that its counterparts MATE and Cinnamon. Also, however much our list may be our own personal view, these distros remain to be one of the most widely used in the Linux community.