Top 10 Best Linux Distros For 2018 — Ultimate Distro Choosing Guide

ubuntu 17.10 gnome default

We’re well into 2018 and I think some of you might have boarded
the Linux train in the recent past. While the world of Linux
does offer tons of choice, it might get overwhelming at first.
That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to help you select the
best Linux distro to suit your needs. Some distros perform
better at one kind of task, some are all-rounders, and so on.
So, let’s get started and find the best fit for you:

Distro choosing guide: Best distros for 2018 as per your need

1. Best distro for beginners: Linux Mint

linux mint 18.3 beta cinnamon

The popularity of open source software and Linux is rising with
each passing year, and more people are learning Linux. For
those users, selecting Linux distro with smooth learning curve
is of primary importance. This ease-of-usage is the most worthy
point that is kept in mind while recommending a Linux distro
for beginners. You can read my complete list of recommended
Linux distros for beginners.

Linux Mint is one of the fastest growing Linux distros around.
It keeps challenging Ubuntu when it comes to the popularity.
Added to that, Linux Mint has established itself as a perfect
replacement for Windows operating system with its
nearly-perfect desktop experience. Another reason why I’m
calling it the best Linux distro for a new user is its ability
to provide an out-of-the-box experience to the user. It means
that you don’t need to spend tons of time installing the distro
and packages before you can get some real work done. It doesn’t
have a heavier footprint, which is another added point.

Why is Mint best for beginners?

  • Easy-to-use Cinnamon desktop
  • Large, supportive community
  • Out-of-the-box experience
  • Access to Ubuntu software repository

Visit Linux Mint’s website here.

2. Best Linux distro for old hardware: Ubuntu MATE

ubuntu mate 17.10 1

For people who believe in the importance of internet security,
seeing Windows XP running around in government offices and
banks is frustrating. However, we have many reliable and secure
alternatives in the form of Linux distributions. While deciding
the best Linux distro for outdated hardware, the low footprint
and lightness is the primary factor.

For 2018, I’ll recommend you to go for Ubuntu MATE. 17.10 that
turned out to be the most important release of Ubuntu MATE and
it brought tons of new features as well. Depending on your
preference, you can choose from tons of layout options like
Mutiny, Cupertino, Traditional, Netbook, Redmond, etc.

The minimum hardware requirement for Ubuntu MATE is just 512MB.
There are other more lightweight distros like Puppy
Linux and Bodhi Linux as well, but Ubuntu MATE manages to
strike the perfect balance between footprint and performance.

Why choose Ubuntu MATE for old machines?

  • Tons of layout options
  • Active user community
  • Perfect performance-lightness balance
  • Ubuntu software repository access

To get its ISO images, visit Ubuntu MATE website.

3. Best Linux for ethical hacking: Kali Linux

Kali Linux 2016.2 LXDE

As the majority of articles on Fossbytes focus on open source
and security subjects, it goes without saying that our readers
love to read pieces that deal with the intersection of both the
worlds. That’s why our list of hacking tools for Linux and top
distros for penetration testing get most hits.

When it comes explicitly to the best Linux distros for ethical
purposes, there’s absolutely no match for Kali
Linux. There are other popular options like Parrot OS,
BlackArch Linux, etc., as well.

Kali Linux comes with hundreds of useful tools that belong to
different categories like vulnerability analyses, wireless
attacks, web applications, exploitation tools, stress testing,
forensic tools, etc. Based on Debian Testing branch, most of
the packages in the distro are imported from Debian repos.

Apart from full-featured desktops, Kali can also be installed
on Raspberry Pi, Ordroid, Chromebook, BeagleBone, etc. It’s
also available for Android smartphones with the arrival of Kali

Why install Kali for ethical hacking?

  • Regular rolling release model
  • Tons of tried and tested ethical hacking tools
  • Solid Debian base
  • Vast learning resource

Visit Kali Linux website for downloads.

4. Linux distro for gaming: Steam OS

steamos 2.115Steam OS 2.115

Even today, gamers refrain themselves from going down the Linux
road. Well, they can’t be blamed given the lower availability
of games for Linux platform. However, the scenario has changed
in the past couple of years as more and more titles have been
released for Linux. Out of lots of gaming distros, Steam OS is
the go-to choice for most of the gamers.

Steam OS comes with additional Linux kernel tweaks to ensure
that one gets better gaming performance as compared to the
other distros. It also provides extensive support for GPUs,
gamepads, and other hardware.

It’s created by Valve, the company behind the online game
distribution platform Steam. This top distro for 2018 has been
specially designed to play the games available on Steam Store.
Loaded with GNOME desktop environment, Steam OS has also gained
popularity as a top gaming solution due to Steam boxes.

Why play games on Steam OS?

  • Focus on gaming, limited features for other tasks
  • Appealing user interface
  • Compatible with large variety of gaming hardware
  • Huge library of games on Steam Store.

Grab Steam OS for gaming

5. Linux distro for programming: Debian


I don’t think there’s a need to stress the fact that most of
the Linux users are either developers who use it on a daily
basis to create something new, or they are open source
enthusiasts of some kind. Many Linux distros can turn out to be
suitable for programmers as
per their requirements. They can install all the needed tools,
but Debian GNU/Linux is often suggested as the best option.

Debian Testing branch has a vast collection of packages which
have a reputation for being regularly tested, updated, and
rock-solid. This stability allows a programmer to take care of
the development with peace of mind. However, one should keep in
mind that Debian is only recommended for programmers who have
an experience of working with Linux. In case you’re a beginner,
you should go with Ubuntu LTS release or some other stable
Linux distro by your personal preference.

Why choose Debian for programming?

  • Rock-solid platform for development
  • Large number of packages
  • Popular .deb package management

Debian website for ISO download and
more information.

6. Most beautiful Linux distro: elementary OS

elementary-os-0-4-loki-system-settingselementaryOS 0.4

Most beautiful Linux distro isn’t a criterion which can judge
an operating system’s capabilities in the true sense, but it
plays a major role whenever someone is choosing a new distro.
Thanks to the flexibility offered by Linux ecosystem,
developers can create new and appealing distros. In my
opinion and experience, Ubuntu-based elementary OS is the most
beautiful Linux distro which is also known for its unparalleled

This fast and open source replacement for Windows and macOS
borrows some design elements from macOS. Shipping without many
default Ubuntu applications, elementary OS delivers a
lightweight experience as well. With its GNOME-based Pantheon
desktop environment, elementary OS is deeply integrated with
its applications like Plank, Epiphany, and Scratch. Overall, it
can be used by experienced and beginners alike to carry out
daily computing tasks.

Why choose looks of elementary OS?

  • Lightweight desktop
  • macOS-like appearance
  • Lesser applications, slick interface

Visit elementary OS website for

7. Linux distro for kids: Ubermix


These days, learning Linux and open source technologies could
be of great importance due to increasing demand in the
industry. But, what about kids? In case you’re wondering if
there are some great Linux distros created for
. Well, look no further as these free operating systems
are easy to set up and use.

Ubermix is a kid-friendly Linux distro that I’d recommend. This
free and specially-built operating system also comes with touch
support, which makes it a great choice for kids who love to
explore stuff using their hands. It tries to become a great
tool for both students and teachers. Thanks to its 5-minute
installation, 60 useful free pre-loaded applications, and
20-second recovery process, Ubermix acts as a powerful distro
for students and teachers.

Why choose Ubermix for kids?

  • Stores software and data in different partitions for safety
  • Fast installation and recovery
  • Powerful distro for kids
  • Touchscreen support available

Visit Ubermix website for more

8. Linux distro for privacy and anonymity: Tails

tails-2-7-live-cd-1Tails 2.7

If I tell you that Edward Snowden used (uses) Tails Linux
distro for carrying out his communications and browsing the
web, some of you might wonder what’s the reason behind this
choice. Some of you would be having a rough idea. As its
name–The Amnesic Incognito Live System–suggests, Tails is a
popular choice for secure web browsing.

Tails live operating system can be booted on almost any
computer using a DVD or USB image. This Debian-based secure
distro makes sure that all Internet connections are forced to
go through the Tor network. With this, you end up leaving no
trace on the computer. It also comes with many cryptographic
tools that help you encrypt your emails, files, and instant
messaging. There are other options as well for
privacy-focused minds.

Why choose Tails for anonymity?

  • Forces every connection via Tor network
  • Stores everything in RAM for no trace
  • Also suitable for general use
  • Built-in encryption suite

Visit Tails website for download

9. Linux distro for servers: CentOS

centos-7CentOS 7

Can you imagine setting up a server on a Linux distro that’s
known for its instability or frequent crashes in the middle of
something? The answer to this question is pretty obvious. Other
factors that matter are hardware support, security, power
efficiency, and optimized performance. There are many free and paid
for such scenarios, and CentOS is my
recommendation in this category.

RHEL enjoys the same kind of position in enterprise arena which
is enjoyed by Ubuntu in Linux desktop world. CentOS is the way
to grab RHEL benefits without spending a single fee. In other
words, CentOS is community supported RHEL. As its binary
compatible with RHEL and its repositories have all the tried
and tested software, you can use it as your production system
or server. It’s also famous as a general-purpose Linux distro.

Why choose CentOS for servers?
  • Free version of RHEL
  • Popular rpm and yum package management
  • Widespread support across tech industry
  • Long-term support

Visit CentOS website for download

10. Linux distro for powerful PC and laptop: Ubuntu

ubuntu 17.10 gnome defaultUbuntu 17.10

Canonical’s Ubuntu needs no introduction in the world of open
source. Based on Debian architecture, Ubuntu has managed to
balance stability and new features like no other distro. That’s
why it enjoys unparalleled popularity. If you’re running a
computer with limited hardware capability, you should try out
Ubuntu flavors like Ubuntu MATE, Xubuntu, or Lubuntu.

For powerful PCs and laptops, flagship Ubuntu running GNOME
desktop is perfect. With the introduction of Snaps, installing
applications has become more comfortable. It also has a
thriving user community and forums where you can find the
answer to any issue. Overall, Ubuntu is a pretty capable Linux
distro that lets you multitask and complete your work with

Why choose Ubuntu for powerful PCs?
  • Lots of software
  • Vast community and supportive forums
  • User-friendly and poweful
  • Snaps of popular applications

Visit Ubuntu website for download

Want something else? There’s more

That’s not all. There are many more categories of Linux
distributions available; you can get one for disk management,
rescue CD, Raspberry Pi, multimedia production, Docker, NAS,
media center, etc. However, in this article, I’ve restricted
myself to the popular categories. In future updates, I’ll be
adding more categories to this best Linux distro choosing guide
to help out more readers.

Keep reading Fossbytes and do share the name of your favorite
Linux distro in comments below.

Also Read: 10 Best Linux Desktop
Environments And Their Comparison


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: