Best linux distro for a semi experienced Linux user?

I wouldn’t call myself a beginner but I also wouldn’t call myself an experienced Linux user. I’ve tried dozens of distros, from Mint to Arch and now I’m trying to find a distro to finally settle with and switch to Linux. I like rolling release distros. Also I’m a gamer. What distros do you guys recommend? Also, what’s the nicest looking Desktop Environment?

1 Like

That’s a tough one, there is so much choice and it’s so subjective. People can be quite passionate about their personal choice.

However, given what you have said I would recommend giving Manjaro Linux a look. It’s rolling, has access to the Arch user repositories. But it’s a bit more user friendly than pure Arch. Because of testing it’s less likely to bork than Arch so it’s a bit more stable.

As for “nice looking” that’s down to the DE you choose and the amount of customisation you are willing to do because good looks is completely subjective.

Thank you. I’ve decided to go with Manjaro Deepin.

1 Like

If you prefer to stay on a rolling release cycle, then Open Suse Tumbleweed, Manjaro or Antergos could be some good choices.
Wenn it comes to the DE that is really something personal.
KDE plasma, Deepin are generally the better looking desktops.
If you want to tweak your Desktop to something amazingly fancy then KDE plasma is probablly the best choice.

1 Like

I’ve been a user for 10 years, 11 soon, and I’m loving elementary. Not a lot to manage but lots ho customize and do. The osx experience in linux minus the random lockdown.

Its great.

For Gaming: Ubuntu or Arch based (had little luck with fedora, but yours may vary). Everything gaming gets verified for Ubuntu if it does. And anything Arch based has the Newest/most diverse packages available. I personally enjoy Kubuntu and Antergos. But any *buntu, Manjaro, Arch stock or whatever would work.

For an experienced Linux User (other than pure gaming), i’d like to recommend Debian testing. Once you have left the Distrohopping behind, and have seen most stuff, Debian is incredibly stable and easy. You’re not cutting edge, but testing is pretty recent in terms of packages. It’s just no frills, plain works stuff. And you CAN do gaming on it. It might just be that the newest nvidia driver or kernel or steam version take a tad longer. You can build most stuff yourself though (because buntu and both being deb package distros…)

Linux user on/off (now mostly “on”) since 1995. Paid to do Linux server stuff professionally from 97 through 2004… other unix admin (FreeBSD mostly) from 2007-current.

I currently run ubuntu LTS because there are more important things to do in life than fix broken stuff due to rolling updates or fitting square pegs into round holes (e.g., running software tested against ubuntu on something else).

You do you, but just be aware that running fringe or bleeding edge distros is just going to be more work… for what? If you have a valid reason (wanting to learn more, wanting to help test, you don’t agree with the ubuntu distro on principle, etc.) go nuts. but if you don’t, and just want to get stuff done, why make life more difficult?

To clarify - I did do the distro hopping thing extensively earlier on.

I ran slackware (3.1), redhat 4.x-6.2 (before RHEL), Debian 1.2 (Bo) onwards, SUSE, early Gentoo, etc.

So i get it, i get the need to check out the different stuff. But they’re all basically the same, and any distro can typically be configured to do whatever you want. My reasoning for Ubuntu is that almost all the commercial software/drivers/etc. on the market are tested against it - so you’re less likely to run into issues, and if you do then the vendor or support forums will be full of others with the same configuration as you to make troubleshooting easier.

As an aside, this is why i’m currently migrating my FreeBSD server stuff to CentOS or maybe Debian. Because even though i prefer the FreeBSD way of doing things, third party vendor support for Linux (e.g., commvault, vmware tools, etc.) is much better.


If you’re wanting to learn how linux is used in “the real world” (i.e., professionally in business) i’d be looking at both Debian/Ubuntu (LTS) and CentOS/RHEL. As this is what you’ll find businesses running mostly. NO sane business will run their shit on Gentoo or Arch for example. Because sane businesses have more important things to spend their time on than tracking rolling-release. They want to minimise environmental change.


Preferred desktop environment depends on your personal taste, in my opinion. Someone likes Gnome, other KDE and third XFCE. I like Gnome, but you might enjoy something else.

I personally find rolling release distributions interesting because it feels nice to know that what you are using is the latest and (most likely) greatest software for Linux at that time. However, there is the big reason why my daily driver is Ubuntu:

This. If someone is testing Linux software, games included, I’m quite sure the first distro they go to is Ubuntu. Also my limited experience tells me gaming is smoother on Ubuntu. I don’t mean you can’t game on any other distro. You can do what ever you want on any distro, but on Ubuntu and other periodically updated distros the experience should require less tinkering.

So it depends what you want from your system. If you like to tinker, troubleshoot and learn this way, rolling release distros should work for you. But if you are more like me who values the system stability and “it just works” approach, then Ubuntu, Mint, etc. are better choice. And I’m not saying rolling release distro is going to break everything. I’ve read many post where users running Arch, Manjaro, Gentoo, etc. say they have never encountered any problems once they got their systems up and running. Rather the risk of something braking is higher on rolling release.

1 Like

Yeah, the breaking and square peg-round hole thing isn’t always an issue.

But its one of those things where occasionally you’ll be tearing your hair out for X hours trying to figure out why some commercial software doesn’t work; and it will be due to some version of some library not being present or some file permission or default file location thing, and you’ll need to go hacking symlinks or installing old versions of libraries (and thus dealing with potential dependency conflicts with the package manager) to make stuff work.

This is not an insurmountable problem by any stretch, but when it happens it is very annoying.

And this isn’t just annoying if you’re a noob. Even if you’re an experienced user who is time-poor, it’s a pain in the ass. Can i fix that shit? Sure. Do i want to? No, i deal with enough enterprise network/compute/janitorial issues for my day job. When i go home from work i want to avoid that stuff.

As above, any distro can be configured for any purpose, it just depends how much work you want to put into making things work and keeping on top of updates.

And definitely, if you want a better understanding of how the various pieces fit together or want to track bleeding edge software (to get all the new features and also new bugs) then go nuts with whatever bleeding edge platform you see fit. Just be aware of the trade-offs. The commercial software world moves slowly, and being on the bleeding edge means you’ll be spending a lot of time making stuff work or repairing things rather than doing whatever it is that you really want to use a computer for (unless your primary usage for your computer is “learn how linux works”).


Mint is probably the best choice for whatever use. Not only it’s an out of the box experience but the frequent point releases (19.1 is around the corner) bring updated kernels, drivers and software.
Manjaro and the rolling release way is very nice but things will break eventually.


I’m sorry, kernel updates and pulse have fixed most things.

I get this. Not that there’s a wrong approach, really depends on how much time you’re willing to use it.

That’s one of the things I don’t get about mint, Afaik the only reason to use mint is because you like cinnamon more than Ubuntu gnome (not a hard thing, being better than ubuntu gnome, but at least it’s just gnome.)

Beyond that you both use apt, so what the hell is the real difference? I mean, distros are all shades of gray. The real differences are in DE and package manager, after that it’s all pretty much the same.

Granted. DE can be a BIIIIIIG difference.


I guess the other reason to use Mint is to be able to “look down” on the plebian “noob” ubuntu users. But really, running mint isn’t anything to brag about either IMHO.

I tried Mint, hated it (Cinnamon). I hate the default UI for Ubuntu as well, but run it (by “it” i mean Ubuntu, i don’t run gnome or unity) despite that due to the LTS version being what everything is tested against.

If third party software doesn’t pretty much work “out of the box” on ubuntu LTS, i can be reasonably confident it is trash and not worth my time to even bother trying to make it work. Maybe that’s a little exclusionary, and i’m sure there are exceptions, but Ubuntu is pretty much the de-facto linux platform for commercial software. Or RHEL, depending on environment (i.e., commercial server software vs. desktop end user stuff).

Don’t hate cinnamon, definitely cool to have that kind of preset for GTK where it’s typically more of a “Mac” kind of layout. I agree, I cannot stand unity layout. Stealing all my damn pixels.

Glad I’m not the only one seing that pattern. Although I see more of a divide in who uses which distro for some reason. Pure coders that used to use macs almost ALWAYS use ubuntu. Then Sys admins and what not seem to lean towards RHEL kinda stuff.

Although any microsoft server based environment that has linux almost always uses centos, and talking to their IT departments I wonder how they ever got those boxes connected and running. Not that I dislike centos, haven’t used it too much. Just amazes me how it’s like, “Oh, these guys have some VMware appliances running mostly windows? Now where are those centos boxe- ah, there they are.”

It’s “kinda mac lookalike” with none of the actual nice mac things. I have a mac, cinnamon is a very poor imitation.

I suspect it is because RHEL enables things like the firewall and selinux by default, which developers hate having to try and deal with.

This would be because CentOS = basically RHEL but free. People who don’t want to pay for RHEL support run CentOS.

If you’re primarily a Windows shop and need Linux for some niche things then CentOS makes a lot of sense, cost wise.

We have RHEL for our ERP solution, but for my DNS/proxy/whatever boxes, they’ll be on CentOS. I don’t particularly “like” CentOS, but it is the correct Linux distro for the job in that case, imho. Ditto for RHEL. This application (and thus, also the server OS) is looked after by a third party application vendor, so i want either themselves or redhat to be responsible for supporting it. I don’t want to be involved in the finger pointing games when things go pear shaped.

For those who haven’t spent a lot of time in IT professionally, political concerns like that are a real thing.

I was talking about the default GTK/Gnome layout on gnome 3, not cinnamon

Really? I mean the linux network stack is fucking crazy awesome, but… Is pfsense the best appliance for bsd based networking or something? At least in a professional setting? I would understand then, but I would have thought BSD would be owning that, it is so damn versatile.

Yes and no. I currently have FreeBSD doing that… but migrating away.


  • FreeBSD base install very small
  • FreeBSD network stack is great


  • third party tools like for example Commvault, our enterprise backup package do not support FreeBSD
  • vendors (local ones here, at least) have no idea what FreeBSD is
  • available admin staff are far more likely to know Linux than BSD
  • various monitoring or management tools support Linux but not BSD
  • given we have Linux elsewhere (for various applications that are not supported on xBSD), we may as well standardise on Linux as our de-facto unix platform. that way any of our unix admins only have one platform’s quirks to learn and remember.

Essentially, the pros to run FreeBSD (for us) are outweighed by the cons. Don’t get me wrong, i like FreeBSD and personally vastly prefer it to Linux in general, but it just doesn’t make sense when looked at objectively, to run it any more - in our environment.

pfsense has its place, but a dedicated single task name-server box or proxy box is not it. pfsense is a general purpose firewall/router, and that’s not what i’m doing with those boxes…

I’d use it as a cheap firewall for a remote satellite site or between vlans on a site for example, but not in the network DMZ for our HQ…

I would say even better than the linux stack, although I I believe there is a kernel bypass for both BSD and linux at this point for increasing the throughput (reaching obscene levels of through put, you’re just going to have to google for the input I don’t have the time right now.) and the idea that there is a better network stack than linux is really something to praise. Because the linux network stack is great.

That definitely makes sense. Maybe straight PF has some more versatility, but if you’re not accustomed to BSD setting up linux to do the same things would probably be much easier.

And defintely better than windows honestly fucking why.

Windows core is a joke imo. Too many useful programs requiring a graphical session, and session management through remote powershell is an actual joke.

I’d agree that the BSD TCP stack is definitely a fine implementation, and I’m no stranger to FreeBSD, i first started running it in 2001-2002 to do IPSEC tunnels over point to point wireless setups because i didn’t trust WIFI encryption or wifi security.

I’m no stranger to either BSD or linux.

In terms of performance though, for network devices even “junk” class PC hardware is more than ample for anyone outside of carrier level throughput these days, in either FreeBSD or Linux so the performance argument is kinda less important. Unless you’re a carrier. We aren’t.

Agree that Windows core is a bit of a joke, but Powershell is not. Its different, but the things you can do with Powershell and WMI - at scale - make SSH remote management look like stone-age technology.

It’s different, it requires a mental adjustment and may require you to write some of your own code, but to shit on Powershell is somewhat short sighted in my opinion.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day and Powershell is one of those “Microsoft is on to something here” things. Not everything out of Redmond is total garbage. Most of it is, but not all of it.