The best Linux distributions for beginners in 2024: Expert tested and reviewed


Yes, you can get a lot more from Linux if you know how to do shell programming and the like. But that’s also true of Windows and PowerShell. With both operating systems, you don’t need to know the deep ins and outs of either one to get your work done. 

So why would you move? Well, for starters, Linux is far more secure than its rivals. Looking ahead, as Ed Bott points out, many of you may end up facing a security disaster if you keep using Windows 10

Also, Linux, unlike Windows 11, will run on pretty much any PC you’ve got lying around. Linux doesn’t require much in the way of a computer to do just fine. For example, I have a 2007-vintage HP Pavilion Media Center TV m7360n PC with a 2.8GHz Pentium D 920 dual-core processor, 2GBs of RAM, and a 300GB SATA drive PC that’s still running Linux to this day. Good luck running any modern version of Windows on that!

Sure, it used to be hard to install programs on Linux, but that’s no longer the case. Under the hood, things can still be complex, but now almost all distros have application stores. These days, installing Linux programs is as easy as picking and clicking. 

If you still need some Windows programs, you can always try Crossover Linux to run them on Linux. It won’t run all Windows apps by any means, but it runs many of them surprisingly well.

In any event, since most such programs, even Adobe PhotoShop are now available as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), there’s less need than ever for Windows-specific programs. Indeed, we’re moving to a business world where all you really need is a web browser to enable you to use a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform

The future of the desktop aside, unlike Windows, where your only real choices today are Windows 10 or 11, there are hundreds of Linux desktop distributions. On top of those are numerous Linux desktop interfaces, each with its own distinctive look and feel, such as KDEGNOMECinnamonLxdeXfce, and many more. Most distributions have a primary user interface, such as Fedora and GNOME and OpenSUSE and KDE, but also enable you to pick from one to three others. Since you’re just starting with Linux, I recommend you stick with the distro’s main interface.

What’s a would-be Linux desktop user to do? Luckily for you, you don’t have to try them all out to find a good fit. The key question is: “What do you want to use Linux for?” For beginners, I look at what’s the easiest to pick up, the best overall Linux desktop, the simplest Linux for Windows users, and the easiest Linux for users with older machines.

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