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The Best Linux Distros 2018

Are you looking to skip the nonsense and find the single best Linux distro in 2018? 

There's something you should know...

Hundreds (if not thousands) of Linux distros are available to choose from. Distrowatch rankings recognize 306, but each week more distributions are built and released.

More...

Free distros. Paid distros. Distros based on distros.

Options feel limitless. Honestly, they are. So if you're looking for a single answer, you're asking the wrong question.

Here's why...

What is the Best Linux Distro 2018?

Linux distros are not one-size-fits-all. That's part of their beauty. They're based on function and are highly task-oriented.

We've already explained why Linux is superior to Windows, but now it's time to get specific.

To make the best decision you can, here's what you need to do:

  1. Understand your primary needs
  2. Search for need-specific Linux distros
  3. Compare the available options
  4. Choose a distro and get started

But, that's a lot of work. In today's article, we take care of steps 2 and 3 for you. This article handpicks two of the best distros for popular user-groups, including:

  • Beginners
  • Developers & Programmers
  • Gamers, gaming hosts & game developers
  • The privacy & security conscious

Best Distro for Beginners

While it might sound unintuitive, the considerable variance in distros makes Linux simpler for beginners.

Beginners will likely need a system which doesn't require the use of the command line. A friendly user interface is also crucial. Here are our two recommended options for beginners' best Linux distro 2017:

1. Ubuntu

For new users, Ubuntu is as accessible as it gets. It's a complete OS solution and boasts the most significant community support framework in the whole distro world.

In fact, across public and OpenStack clouds, Ubuntu is the world's most popular operating system. It's clear to see why:

  • Simple customizations
  • Numerous free software choices (via the Ubuntu software center)
  • High compatibility with hardware

2. Mint

Mint may be the perfect starting distro for new Linux users. Based on Ubuntu, it comes loaded with a stack of beginner-friendly features.

  • Custom desktop options (including a choice of 4 starter flavors)
  • Media codecs
  • Easy to use interface

Mint is ideal for those switching from another OS. That's because the user-interface is similar to Windows. Plus, Mint's included software makes the changeover process a breeze.

Best Distro for Developers and Programmers

To be considered the best Linux distro 2017-2018, developer-friendly distributions must be streamlined. For the more technical users, Arch and openSUSE are my top two choices.

1. Arch

Arch is one of the most popular developer distros, and this is why:

  • Rolling release model (always work with the latest versions)
  • Customisable build using Terminal (meaning no bloatware)
  • Heavily optimized for speed

Consider that initial installation can be tricky, and everything is done with the command-line. If that doesn't leave you head-scratching, Arch might be the distro for you.

For programmers and developers, the saved space and time will be well worth any initial teething problems after installation.

2. openSUSE

openSUSE is aimed at developers and, like Arch, it is currently one of the top-ranked distros available.

  • Rolling release model
  • Powerful developer tools
  • Widely supported by most applications

Due to the target market, openSUSE is heavy on security. Frequent root password entry is part and parcel here, which may well suit the more security conscious.

Best Distro for Privacy and Security

Several specialized distributions go beyond the standard Linux securities. If you're in web security or hosting - Tails and Qubes OS are your suggested options.

1. Tails

Tails is perhaps as secure as you can get. The Amnesic Incognito Live System - aside from just sounding cool - anonymises all web traffic by default. Some of Tails' key features include:

  • Anonymised traffic
  • State of the art cryptographic technology
  • Total RAM storage

RAM stores all data, so once your computer is shut-down, everything vanishes. There's no record of Tails even having run on your computer. Users also have the option to enable persistent storage if required. This level of security makes Tails the perfect option for hardware Bitcoin wallets.

Tails is a little more niche than the other options, but it's a failsafe if privacy is your primary focus.

2. Qubes OS

This open source software protects users by assuming they are already hacked. It's even gained a reputation as the most secure OS you've never heard of.

  • Compartmentalized domains
  • Colored borders to distinguish differing security levels
  • Integration of Whonix (easy to use Tor)

Qubes uses, well, 'qubes,' to split your digital life into a set of virtual domains. This means any exploit would limit an attacker to just one segment of your computer.

Security is at the very core of Qubes, so it comes highly recommended for those dealing with sensitive and confidential data.

Best Distro for the Gaming World

You can, of course, use any Linux distro for gaming.

That said, there are a few characteristics that make specific distros preferable for the gaming industry. Both options below are great examples:

1. SteamOS

It's impossible to leave out SteamOS when discussing gaming distros. Here's why:

  • Steam comes pre-installed
  • No additional software requirements
  • Top support for graphics cards and other game specific hardware

As well as being primed for gaming, SteamOS features a handy 'desktop mode.' This allows the use of additional, non-gaming apps.

2. Game Drift Linux

SteamOS may be the most infamous, but Game Drift is a solid choice for anybody in the gaming community. Their comprehensive driver support makes Game Drift ideal for frequent hardware changes.

  • Own Game Store
  • CrossOver platform (with access to 1500+ windows games)
  • Can be installed on HDD or another USB drive

What Is the Best Linux distro 2017-2018?

Distros are flexible, as are the needs of their users. Simply put, there's no single best choice for everybody. There is, however, a Linux distribution that best fits you.

Once you've made your choice and are up and running; it's time to consider your hosting. Whichever Linux distribution you opt for, each can be used with our dedicated servers found here.