What is your favorite desktop Linux distribution?

Let us know your favorite in our annual poll.
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There may be no question in the open source community which elicits quite the same passion in people's responses as "What's your favorite Linux distribution?"

There are all sorts of reasons people take their pick. It could be based on familiarity, on the UI, on performance, on package availability, on stability, on support, or thousands of other factors. Every year, just once, we let you chime in and tell us your favorite.

This year, in an effort to keep the conversation a little more focused, we're asking specifically, what's your favorite desktop distribution? And we're adding a few more choices this year. To be as fair as possible when it's impossible to list every distribution, we pulled the top 15 distributions according to DistroWatch over the past 12 months. It's not scientific—but it's something to start with, and we had to cull it down somehow.

Is your favorite distribution missing from this list? Let us know what it is in the comments. And regardless of what distro you choose, be sure to let us know why it's your favorite. What's so great that makes it your distribution of choice? And remember: feel free show your passion, but try to keep it civil.

And if you're curious, go check out last year's results to see how 2018's favorites compare.

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121 Comments

It is a difficult question to answer. While I like Fedora, I am not a fan of the increasingly pervasive systemd. I have found systemd to be too much like svchost on M$ boxes - impenetrable and impossible to control. At the mo I'm running OpenSUSE, which also has systemd. I want an rpm based distro without systemd and it seems as though PCLinuxOS is the only option for me. I'm going to try this next, when I can get of my bum and reinstall the box.

I know that you are disappointed with systemd. Over short time it is going to be better and better and best.

As a reminder, it took a while for pulse audio to iron out the bugs. Systemd is working and with some tweaking, will be perfect for your needs by June 2018. (I am a soothsayer). Once fully completed (its 99% complete now), you will be glad that its there and for software put under systemd management is maintainable.

In reply to by MartyMonroe

I respectfully disagree that systemd is a good thing. One of the basic principles of *nix systems is that things should do one thing and do it well. systemd is trying to do too many things at once and it doesn't do them well. It has been running for years now in mainstream distributions and it's still throwing out issues on every system I run it on. I've put Ubuntu on the wife's laptop because the Gnome UI is closest to Windows which she was previously familiar with. Realistically, I'm stuck with Raspbian for the Raspberry PIs that we have. Elsewhere, however it's Devuan. That's basically Debian but with all the systemd bits removed and the old startup scripts restored. That's a *very* nice system indeed. Without systemd, you can't run Gnome, but the latest KDE Plasma is very nice and steadily closing the gap.

In reply to by Leslie Satenstein (not verified)

I started seriously using Linux with gentoo many years ago and now I can't help it

This poll is flawed because I have to vote to see the results here, and I opened this page again to leave this comment and after logging in, the poll is available to me again, and it's also possible to vote multiple times just by opening this page in a private window.
Instead of Other you should have a way of detecting a different responses which gets more than one vote and also be able to delete spam votes for anyone who votes for a custom non-existent distro.
So if someone votes for Void or Void Linux in the Other section, in the final results, you can group those together.
It would be nice if you had a way to verify votes using a Google account, I'd be fine to vote with my Google account as a verifier so that you can show public unverified votes and then a view for verified votes using my google account, as long as my email is not shared. This way the verified votes are more accurate and trustworthy. You could also ask the verified voters to email back saying what they use, why they switched so then you can show even more verified data, otherwise people just see spammy data. And with the Google account based poll, if a voter turns out to have a false google account, their vote is automatically removed from the data a day before you publish the final data :)
Thanks! Happy New Year :)

The results of the poll should be sorted automatically so it's easier to see which distro got the most and least votes!

In reply to by Aku

My favorite is bodhilinux, clean small, really powerful distro

I use Bodhi daily too. It's pretty good, but out of the box it's missing a few things, like Bluetooth.

In reply to by Marcos

I have settled on Fedora/KDE, mostly due to habit. From time to time I will try out some other distro, and just not see a reason to switch. At the same time, Fedora can be quirky. I have an older 64-bit Dell system that I upgraded to F27, and initially it worked, then suddenly would not start X. Eventually, I went back to F26. These sorts of things happen with Fedora, but maybe others too.

My current favorite desktop distribution is System76's new Pop!_OS distribution. While it is not a huge departure from what is available on other Ubuntu-based distributions, Pop!_OS offers a nice user experience. There are still some improvements/fixes I would like to see, but I have been very happy with it so far.

GuixSD, comeon now.

It's an interesting question. I tend to prefer stable LTS releases, because I don't like the idea of massive upgrades more than absolutely necessary.

I grew up on RedHat and I still have a fondness for it and the RPM system, but I don't like the fact that upgrading to new releases (e.g. RHEL6 to RHEL7) doesn't have any easy path. They recommend a complete erase-and-reinstall, which should not be necessary.

Fedora's "fedup" tool seems to work well, so hopefully RedHat will incorporate something similar in their future releases.

But because of the upgrade issue, I've pretty much migrated over to Debian's "stable" branch. Although learning the dpkg/apt system took some time, it works well. And upgrading to new releases is much easier - just change APT's sources file and do a normal package-upgrade (then wait as it upgrades thousands of packages).

I will select Ubuntu if I need something more on the cutting edge (e.g. for VMs, not my main desktop), but I really don't like the Unity desktop. Fortunately, the Xubuntu (Xfce) variation is easy to get, which takes care of that situation.

previously Arch or LFS. but currently my fav is QubesOS and Genode based systems

KDE Neon. Before that I used Kubuntu. I like kde and qt based programs better than gtk ones. I don't know why, I don't really have a good reason for it. I like the customization the Plasma Desktop offers without having to screw around installing and configuring a bunch of separate things. I'm lazy so I like the Ubuntu base. These days I prefer just having everything setup the way I like it and not really having to mess around too much after. This has been working well so far.

Gentoo

True OS is BSD, not Linux
(i see, there are professionals)

KDE Neon
I could have chosen Ubuntu from the list, but Neon is reworked a lot, and 'just works', BlueTooth and all.

SolidX distro

MX Linux is the best if you use Xfce.

I voted other. Xubuntu currently, Mint XFCE previously

Im using solus in last 8-9 months, and im satisfied and i dont want to change it

For the past two months or so, Solus 3 for me. I actually LIKE the limited number of packages in the repo as it means the core contributors are really focused on the latest stable core packages that have made this distro so easy to use. Keep up the good work Ikey and team. :)

Previously I had used KDE Neon but being based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS it was not up-to-date enough to smoothly handle my GPU (AMD Radeon RX-480), even with the HWE active. In order to get the best performance from my GPU I had to activate a couple of third-party repos to supply the most stable Mesa and kernels, but then doing so caused a few glitches and system lock-ups with KDE Neon. Also, the fact that Qt still does not have a way of "printing" a file to a searchable PDF document ended up being a dead-stop for me. Installing GTK-based apps just so I had this feature also introduced some quirks to the KDE Neon system.

Overall, Solus 3 was what I needed and looking for. I have no complaints since installing it. For those who are looking for a desktop experience that just works with the latest stable Mesa, Kernels, and other core packages without having to worry about configuring anything, this is a really nice distro.

I would suggest that for Windows or macOS exiles new into the linux eperience, Solus 3 is a probably (IMO) the easiest distro for them to use.

In reply to by Milos (not verified)

Slackware, duh. :-)

Definitely KDE Neon.

Puppy linux

Knoppix

MX-17 Linux. It's not perfect, but then again, neither are any of other distros, but IMNSHO, it has some qualities others can only dream about. The MX Tool set alone makes this distro stand head and shoulders above most, but even greater than that, I have not found an equal support forum from any other distro.

Gentoo

my favorite Linux distribution is Kali Linux, because I am a security researcher and penetration testing auditor. Kali Linux really has a lot of the tools that are needed pre-configured, it is a rolling release that is constantly updated, and it is built on top of the Debian system platform. my favorite runner-up would most likely be Debian as well with the Deepin desktop environment which I feel is very beautiful.

Pop!_OS

Gentoo

Linux Lite

Kali rocks!

Ubuntu Gnome flavor of Ubuntu is missing.
I've selected Ubuntu but I prefer Ubuntu Gnome flavor - Ubuntu is now finally using Gnome shell but they still ship it with extra plugins like the always showing menu on the left side and I dislike vanilla Ubuntu flavor for that out of the box unity-that-I-disliked-feel annoyance.

Fedora with KDE

KDE Neon as a daily OS for a long time.

Devuan.

Even if there is still a lot of work to do there, it works well and needs less hacks around to have a system which is just not a clone of my neighbor's one: for example I can even use ngetty instead of the full of now useless features (do you use serial lines to connect to your TTYs? agetty, Debian's default, allows you to do so, and with systemd, changing it in a clean way is not trivial).

I would have said Void linux, because I am really fond of the idea of a runit-based distro that allows me to choose between glibc or musl, but it lacks an aptitude-like software to manage packages in an interactive way from a ssh or a TTY.
Even if it had this, I would still prefer a stable distribution, and finally, even if musl is cool, I can't use my favorite web browser with it (it's closed source, unfortunately, but maybe some day I'll replace it with otter-browser).

Gentoo since 2002

KDE Neon for me.

Gnome/Unity are unusable if you ever want to do any work

Since I voted "other": I use KDE Neon. I suppose I could have chosen Ubuntu instead as vote, since Neon itself says it's not really a distro, but it feels like a distinctive enough experience to me.

Mageia. Started with the version 2 release.

Anarchy-Linux it's the easier way to install arch.

Slackware and kin...Salix and Zenwalk, especially.

BlankON

My favourites are Kubuntu and KDE Neon.

Hmm, No antiX, Lubuntu, Puppy Linux, or Qubes OS. From the list, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, and Mint are OSes I've installed and used more than 365 days. No Gentoo?

How about asking "favorite desktop environment" so that I can say I like KDE?

MX-Linux. I've been using it since the beginning, when it formed out of the combination of MEPIS and antiX. It's a solid, highly polished XFCE distro with a great forum and developers who respond. Since I prefer KDE, I appreciate how easy it is to add it to MX.

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