Highly Recommended Linux Distributions for Beginners (Excluding Ubuntu)

If you are a longtime Windows user, then switching to Linux is quite a challenging task. Not that Linux is difficult or something, it’s just that many users get perplexed as to which distribution to choose. This is actually where the problem begins for most users. They go to various sites and forums, ask for questions and different people recommend various distributions.

That said, it’s quite obvious that most of the time new users go for Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distribution at the moment. They choose it either because one of their friends recommended it to them or they heard something good about it from news, blogs, or forums. In both cases, it’s evident that Ubuntu has been, and will be the first choice for most of the new users.

But there are a few users who don’t want to go with the crowd, and for them, Ubuntu doesn’t quite fit the bill. Yet, they being new to Linux can’t go for Arch Linux or Slackware straight away. Instead they’re looking for some distro that is both easy to setup as well as easy to install. If you are one of those users, read on as we list some of the best Linux distributions for new users.


openSUSE, Novell’s openSUSE is a great starting point for new users. Lush green interface along with robust stability makes it one of the most popular general-purpose distributions out there. The operating system will let you edit documents, organize photos, play music and do pretty much everything you’d do on your Windows machine.

One of the main features of this distribution is the YAST Control Center. It is used for downloading and installing new software. Another unique feature that SUSE has is that it is built on top of KDE. While most of the distributions, including Kubuntu, ship with the vanilla version of KDE, openSUSE comes with a highly customized version of it.


Fedora is another great Linux distro for new users. It comes with both GNOME and KDE desktops and is known to be extremely stable and secure. The distribution always strives to be 100% free and open source and doesn’t come with any proprietary software whatsoever. Another great thing about Fedora is its artwork, which, many would agree is better than that of Ubuntu. Worth a try if you want something stable, secure, and free from any proprietary tools.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is probably the best alternative to Ubuntu. It offers almost everything Ubuntu offers but with simplicity. Many Mint users swear by the highly popular distro and have been using it for years. The distribution has continually strived to keep the desktop as simple as possible. Also, there are no drastic changes in the operating system with every release, thus making it highly reliable. Definitely worth a try.

Pinguy OS

Pinguy OS is a distribution designed for new users. It comes with a gorgeous-looking user interface along with some amazing customizations. Based on the GNOME Shell interface, Pinguy project rests on three main goals: to look good, to work well, and to be incredibly simple to use. The Ubuntu-based distribution is specially designed for people who come from a Windows or Mac background and can be a great starting point for many Linux-curious users.


Kubuntu is the KDE variant of Ubuntu. It is quite simple to use, and being based on Ubuntu, expect the same kind of stability and ease of use in this distribution too. The KDE desktop can be extremely comfortable for users coming from a Windows environment providing the eye-candy of a modern desktop and the stability of Linux.

Zorin OS

Zorin OS is designed especially for Windows users who are switching over to Linux. It has a start menu that is quite familiar to the Windows start menu. Also, you’ll find Wine installed, thus letting you play your favorite Windows games and more. The distro is KDE-based and does a great job bringing the Windows familiarity to the Linux desktop.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.


  1. I'd suggest Fuduntu.

  2. Zorin is based in LXDE not KDE

  3. MEPIS!!! It got one of the easiest installers around. Also just enough bloat to keep it interesting.

  4. Zorin is NOT KDE nor LXDE based (in the default edition), it makes use of Avant and several other components.

  5. Mageia will be a good one for beginners. I use it to teach GNU/Linux to my students. Very user-friendly and easy to install

  6. There's also PCLinuxOS (KDE, Gnome, XFCE, LXDE, etc.) and it has the advantage of being a rolling release, which makes it easier to keep up-to-date.

  7. Zorin standard is based from Ubuntu/Gnome 3 using Avant. Zorin Lite is based from Lubuntu(Ubuntu/LXDE).

    I second PCLinuxOS.

  8. Too many of these are based on Ubuntu; all but Fedora and OpenSUSE are Ubuntu-derivatives. Ubuntu is great because of its Debian base, not because of Canonical projects.

    I would recommend Linux Mint Debian Edition w/ XFCE to most people interesting in using Linux.

  9. as a user of linux for about 10 years, i finally realized why i lost interest in linux and stay with my macbook the end, too many distros that really aren't so different in what they offer.

  10. Over the past 5-6 years I must have switched 30-40 people over to Linux and always gave them a choice of Gnome, KDE and XCFE to look at (for family and good friends, Ive often lent them a spare laptop that triple booted) and I think KDE was chosen over 80% of time.
    Considering that all these people came from Windows (apart from 4-5 family who never used a computer), it makes perfect sense.
    Ive used Mandriva, PCLinuxOS and in the pas 2yrs Kubuntu. The switch from 10.04 to 12.04 was so seamless that many asked me when they new desktop would be installed after I already did.
    Like most Linuxheads, I jump around distros and Kubuntu is used a lot at home by the wife and kids on their machines but honestly, life hasnt changed for them from when they were using PCLinuxOS.

    And there is a good reason for that:
    the choice to make in Linux IS NOT the distro, its the desktop.
    NO NEWBIE can tell the difference between two distros using the same desktop if you give them the same icons and wallpapers.

    Anon above you make me laugh. You went to Mac after 10yrs of Linux beacuse too many distros?
    You sir are a troll or a moron. Have your pick.


  11. mike, so you have low self-esteem, just like many people who want to bully and insult people with different opinions. you're invited to come to my house in houston and call me a troll or a moron with my husband listening. be sure to ask your mommy for permission to be out after dark.

    christina jimenez

  12. Please check MOZILLUX, an ubuntu derivative based on LXDE desktop with a full set of applications ready to use. The iso may seem large because of a large number of software provided, games and office tools, but it takes only 121 Mo RAM when running, and it is FAST even on older computers. Software list include libreoffice, thunderbird, seamonkey and firefox all multimedia ready, vlc etc. all running fine out of the box. Now Mint have no more LXDE distribution, MOZILLUX is really the best choice for a family computer. The team is really dedicated and update the live-dvd at least once a month. You can get it at Softpedia or at the homepage
    You can burn it to a DVD or put it on a usb pendrive (at least 2Go) with the command line as follow:
    $ dd if=./mozillux.iso of=/dev/sda bs=20M oflag=direct

    then remember to eject the usb pendrive before you remove it, or if you are not sure, ask the computer to shutdown so it will close the usb correctly. Many people forget this step and ended with a usb not fully functional. If you did wrong just start all over and you will get a nice usb pendrive, it will run just like a DVD but faster than a DVD and will be silent :)
    ...unetboootin is also inside but you might prefer the dd method because it will preserve the nice loader. When running you can install to a hard drive in your favored language just like any other ubuntu. Enjoy :)