What's your favorite desktop Linux distribution?

Answer our annual poll to let us know what your favorite Linux distribution is this year.
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When you start to ask people what their favorite Linux distribution is, everyone has at least one opinion. We're looking for yours.

People choose their favorites for a slew of reasons. It could be just the distro they started with, they may love the UI or the packaging format, or they find it to be especially stable or performant on their hardware. Perhaps they love the support they get, or the community around it. Or, it could be any number of other reasons.

Now, here's where it gets difficult. We cannot list every distribution! There are just way, way too many out there, and almost no matter what method we pick, we're going to leave out somebody's favorite.

So, for our annual poll, 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.

Did your favorite distribution fall short of the cut-off point? Let us know what it is in the comments. And no matter 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. We're asking for fun; if you're not having fun, or causing someone else to not have fun while participating, you're doing it wrong.

And if you're curious, go check out last year's results to see how 2019's favorites compare.

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73 Comments

I've been running Pop!_OS from System 76 for about a month and a half and I really like their implementation of Gnome. It's a Ubuntu base but they have some neat tools included which are not part of Ubuntu 18.04 or at least I was unaware of those tools until I used Pop!_OS. https://system76.com/pop

Pop!_OS from System 76 is still pretty new to the scene, but even still it is a great desktop for both general users and business use cases. I can't wait to see what they have planned as the move forward with both Pop!_OS and their computers.

Void Linux!

I'm running OpenSuse 13.1 on my main box (I can't be bothered to upgrade it) and I installed Fedora 26 on my netbook a couple of weeks ago. I'm not enamored with either distro. They run but there is a lot of seems to be a load of nonsense on each that I could do without, systemd being just one. They are slow to boot too, although they are faster than the Windoze boxes I have to use at work.

My favourite distro ever was Redhat 7.1 Seawolf. I've still got an installation cd for it. It was fast and I ran it for years. If I was sure that I could get a modern web browser to run on it, I'd go back to it.

Linux Lite is my goto distro. Very well thought out, a brilliant Help manual and Forums where the lead developer frequently responds on queries and other posts, always concise, constructive and open to taking corrective action when appropriate. I have now installed it for several Windows users and it's been well received. All the bits and pieces seem to fit together better than in any other OS I have used.

I voted Ubuntu, to be specific I use Lubuntu. I had a 2006 laptop with XP on it which I wanted to run Linux. Lubuntu was the only distro that ran without any issues. Most posts I read about installing Linux on an old PC recommended Xfce distros but I found Lxde much less resource intensive. Anyway after my old laptop ran fine I installed Lubuntu on my work PC and have been happy with the performance.

One of the best distribution and it is not in the list. Slackware.

and it is not in the list

Per the third paragraph below the poll:

Now, here's where it gets difficult. We cannot list every distribution! There are just way, way too many out there, and almost no matter what method we pick, we're going to leave out somebody's favorite.

In reply to by Dimitris Zlatanidis (not verified)

Gentoo!
How is Gentoo not on the list?
Debian's also great.

How is Gentoo not on the list?

Per the third paragraph below the poll:

Now, here's where it gets difficult. We cannot list every distribution! There are just way, way too many out there, and almost no matter what method we pick, we're going to leave out somebody's favorite.

In reply to by Timothy Chandler (not verified)

Where are my Qubes?

Qubes doesn't count - it's a hypervisor system for sandboxing *nix environments, but isn't a linux distro.

In reply to by Grrrrr (not verified)

Gentoo GNU/linux KDE plasma 

5.14.4 with kde-apps 18.12.0

GNU/Linux Trisquel 8.0

SparkyLinux! It is pretty much DEBIAN, but optimized towards usage as a desktop system. For instance, and besides in general having optimimzed some default settings to better serve as a desktop OS, it provides easy installation of mayor apps from an app's upstream repository if this is by SparkyLinux confirmed for an app installation to not break the system. Like this, SparkyLinux overcomes the shortcomings of the Debian repository system, where well maintained mayor apps did not go for the intricacy of maintaining an oficial Debian package as an oficial Debian package maintainer, but prefer to well maintain it outside the Debian organisation. In principal you could search for, test and add all those repositories yourself to your apt sources files, but SparkyLinux did this already for you. The good thing is, that SparkyLinux is technically doing all this the Debian way, and not deviating from it like the Ubuntu forks, and forks thereof, do. SparkyLinux is technically a pure Debian system, but with relaxed ideological borders.

deepin is my choice. Finally I found a desktop environment that is beautiful and feels like home. Just love all the work they have done in the smallest details to make it stand out from the rest of the Linux crowd.
I have distro hopped quite alot but when I tried deepin six months ago I was hooked. That plus the fact that it is stable and a rolling release. At first I try to break away from it since it is a chinese distro (the government you know) but had to go back since I kept longing for being "home" so to speak.

I tried Manjaro Deepin but didnt like all the tinkering I had to do with Arch for my needs (maybe a bit lazy to learn I guess after being a long time Ubuntu/debian user). I tried Linux mint with ubuntu deepin DE but that was just wannabe cosmetic, (it seem like no one is updating it) I guess it is hard to mimic the original since deepin uses its own DDE.
So I decided to trust that since it is open source someone, like with all the other distros, will find any wrong doing in it if there is.

Puppylinux..the a version that fits most old or newer hardware and it runs as root.(please read up about "root" before the paranoid comments come in.)if your not happy about being root dont use a pc.

Gentoo!
For a few years already, before that Ubuntu, but I really like the rolling release aspect of Gentoo.

My favorite desktop linux distro is CRUX (https://crux.nu/). A great minimalistic distro with a ports-like package management system that offers lots of control while still being convenient.

Slackware!

Per the third paragraph below the poll:

Now, here's where it gets difficult. We cannot list every distribution! There are just way, way too many out there, and almost no matter what method we pick, we're going to leave out somebody's favorite.

In reply to by VitalyR

Pop-OS!

I prefer the kde desktop, Kubuntu or KDE Neon.

openSUSE Tumbleweed is great, I have been using it as my daily driver on multiple machines for the last 2 years. It has been fantastically reliable and a joy to use.

Mageia. Great Distro!

Red Hat Enterprise Linux - RHEL

PCLinuxOS: my choice for many years (Thanks Tex & the team!)

I have tried to give back to the community by proof-reading the (monthly on-line) Magazine articles. PCL is supported by a great community. I have used it for over 15 years. They have supported me in some of my odd package requests. Also a really easy distro to use!

Ubuntu MATE!

I really can't say which "desktop distro do you prefer" since I didn't test all of those. I'm currently running Ubuntu 16.04 and quite happy with it.

Why is ReactOS included? Has anyone ever managed to get it to boot? I have tried a few builds over the years on different machines always with the same result: won't get to first screen...

NixOS was my distribution of choice last year and it will continue this year.

I run it on desktop, laptop, server, vpses and others.

This past year I've used Pop! OS, which is an Ubuntu derivative.

I found it to be responsive, pretty complete and whimsical along the lines of what Ubuntu used to be when it first came out (before it got all grown-up, and corporate).

Recently, though, I tried updating and that borked my system. This time around I installed Ubuntu 18.10, which is my fallback (at any point in time I can go to Ubuntu and have an up-to-date working system, often with my files and setting intact).

I've also been using CloudReady, a Chromium OS distro, on my laptop I use infrequently. I didn't want to have to do any maintenance work on it, just grab-and-go. That includes Virtualbox installed and can run Flatpak apps is pretty cool.

Or course my servers have been running and LTS Ubuntu Server. Probably could use some love and look at upgrading but I am also moving my Nextcloud to a Raspberry Pi (3B+) right now (just got the powered USB hub and USB drive).

Oh, forgot. If you want to include work then I would have to include CentOS on our web servers (9), most of which are running Drupal.

For the desktop I'm using Ubuntu Mate, after 4 or 5 years of using Mint Mate. On the servers I'm using CentOS.

Gentoo. it wasn't listed so I thought I should write a comment.

devuan, it's natural choice after almost two decades with debian and after debian got too deeply infected with systemd malware

Linux distros are like sex: Since it is- by its very existence- good, it's hard to find a bad one.

That said, Fedora gets my vote. Since I'm already in the Red Hat ecosystem at work, Fedora keeps my in the yum/dnf/nmcli/yadda-yadda world and my techniques generally transfer back and forth.

Trisquel Gnu/Linux.

I use guixsd. It is committed to free software and is endorsed by the FSF.

I use it on laptops, servers, and cloud.

I do Fedora, mostly because I've been doing it for almost two decades and I'm too lazy to research replacements. But I'm open to suggestions.

Mostly, what I do is write code--I was in Red Hat's tools and gcc groups for a decade--and need a distro that properly supports that. I also favour KDE. If anyone has a rave for a distro that meets those reqs, let me know.

NixOS over here. Glad to see other NixOS/GuixSD (mixed/free-only pair effectively)

Slackware. (I've never even heard of some of these fly-by-night distros. ;^)

I've played with Linux since the 90's and did most of my graduate projects on it. But, for the normal user, it's still primarily now what it was then: a hobbyist toy. From an OS design perspective, it has distinct advantages over MS, especially in the areas of security. But for a desktop user, although Linux has a much prettier face now, it is still not user friendly, often requires manual adjustment, and still hoses itself from time to time. Upgrading Windows is now virtually seamless. Upgrading Linux can lead to the complete loss of functionality (as happened to me with a Fedora upgrade about four years ago). Recovering from this required hours and hours of work and research in order to preserve files, config files, and specialized settings. How long has it been since you had to reinstall Windows? So my advice is to avoid Linux as a desktop OS unless you enjoy tinkering with it (as I do). Then, depending on how much tinkering you want to do, pick one of the major distributions.

I guess I could've checked off "Ubuntu", but I don't like the desktop environment there. I'm about evenly split between Xubuntu (work desktop and laptop) and Ubuntu Studio with a bunch of extra apps (home desktop and several laptops).

I actually use Ubuntu, but I am getting really annoyed with systemd. It makes troubleshooting systems that won't start properly a couple of orders of magnitude more difficult than it used to be. I have one system that I am basically ready to pull the data off of and throw in the trash can because it has startup errors that I have not been able to diagnose, and nothing shows up on forums or Google searches that quite matches. I tried figuring out the systemd conifg for it - but it eventually wasn't worth the time. Reminds me of the Windows registry.

Linux Lite is my first choice. I've been using it for about three years now on my main laptop (G751JL Asus). I have lampp installed and find XFCE ideal for one-click navigation.

I also have MXLinux installed on an old HP EliteBook 8540w, and like it.

Of course, Linux Mint works well too, I've installed it on several laptops for non-tech friends.

My favourite is dietpi. It’s a minimal Debian based district for small devices like a Raspberry Pi but has some nice utilities for configuration

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