Choosing The Right Linux Distro

I’m sure this gets brought up a lot, but I thought I would open this up to the forum.

I have been distro hopping for awhile, and haven’t been able to settle on one distro. I recently installed Bodhi Linux just because it looked different. Since most distros fall into camps (Debian/Ubuntu, Arch, Red Hat/Fedora, etc.) with their package management, and a desktop environment can be chosen on any of them, what sets one distro apart from the rest?

I think right now I’m mostly interested in a friendly community, active maintainers, and ability to actively contribute. i understand popular distros like Ubuntu or Fedora have large active communities, but sometimes being really large means you get lost in the crowd.

i’d be interested to hear from those who have stayed with one distro and the reasons why…

1 Like

Choosing a distro is finding what you need out of this short list. This list is NOT comprehensive but includes 99% of what most people would experiment with first.

User Friendliness
Linux Mint

Arch Linux
LFS (Linux from scratch)

Server/Long term
Ubuntu Server
Redhat LInux
Suse Enterprise

1 Like

I used #! (Crunch-bang) for the longest time. Just because it was light weight and the default theme had this cool hacking vibe to it. Unfortunately the developer quit making the os.

I’m hoping back between windows and puppy Linux now. Puppy Linux is cool as it’s entirly ram based. So things launch quickly. Zram used to be included by default, but was removed for some reason on most newer pups. But one that I’m using has it, and because of it, I’m only using like 400meg of ram with xfce and iceweasel. Which is very good.

Puppy also uses save files, which is very helpful.

It’s a small project but the people are very friendly and are always happy to help others.


Honestly if you feel that way why not go with as @Dje4321 said

You have to remember that with those large communities, your view wont necessarily be the majority or the way the developer goals/paths. So if they don’t meet your desires and none really fit your path rolling your own might be best.


I’m a recovering distro hopper, but I’ve been using Solus on my primary machine for two years now. The reasons are many, but here are a few:
Solus is not based on any of those aforementioned projects,
The Budgie desktop is simple, yet elegant and I don’t feel the need to customize it endlessly,
It’s fast and responsive,
It’s very reliable on my hardware,
It is a curated rolling release, so the software is fresh, without introducing instability,
The community is friendly and supportive,
I can actually chat with the devs and they listen.

Being a packrat, I have a few older machines lying about, where I can get my distro hopping fix. I am currently running Manjaro/Budgie on a laptop and ArcoLinux (Arch/Xfse) on an older desktop. I can tinker with these machines to my heart’s delight, without causing problems for my primary workstation. If you aren’t a packrat, the obvious solution is Virtual Box.

BTW - A big shout out to @Goalkeeper. I REALLY enjoyed tinkering with #!.

1 Like

While you’re hopping around distros, think about the characteristics that appeal to you and the characteristics that don’t appeal to you. You’ll narrow your focus and avoid wasting time.

E.g., settling on an LTS system like Mint or Ubuntu LTS or Debian Stable has the appeal of 5 years of support and not needing to upgrade or replace for that time. Weigh that against 5 years of new kernels, new graphic stacks and new apps that may or may not be available for your LTS system. And weight it against the odds that you’ll really be content to stay with it for 5 years. Also, if you have newer hardware and jump onto an LTS late in its support cycle, you might find an older kernel that doesn’t support that hardware.

The flip side, a rolling release, gets you the new stuff, whether you want it or not. In addition to the potential for bugs and regressions, you might run into issues such as a favorite theme breaking because it failed to be revised to accommodate changes.

Distributions that are maintained by a small team or one individual increase your risk of seeing that distro being abandoned, or getting behind the curve when the resources are not available to keep pace with upstream development. On the other hand, a lot of those distributions are essentially a layer of theming and artwork plastered over something else. If you like them, you can always boot up in live mode and save the themes, icons, etc., for your own use elsewhere.

I typically stay on Fedora. I’ve used it for years, it has solid backing and support and a reason for existence beyond the enthusiasms of a few people. Package versions are typically at or very near the current upstream release. Kernels and graphic stacks are updated during a release’s support cycle.

Fedora supports two releases at any given time: The current release and the release before that. New releases arrive every 6 months (It’s a goal, not a fixed deadline. Releases are usually a bit late to clear bugs.) Support for a new release continues until the second subsequent new release. So if you install a new release on Day One, you’ll get 12 months of support plus a few weeks.

For example, the current Fedora release is 28. Release 27 is still in support. But, release 29 will be officially out in a few days. When that happens, the repos for 27 will be closed, their contents archived, and updates and fixes will end. The process usually takes a few weeks. 28 will stay in support until 30 is out.

So, you can use Fedora and stay with the older supported release for up to 12 months, or always update to the more current release every 6 months. (You can also jump to Rawhide, which is the name applied to Fedora’s not-really-a-release where the new upstream stuff goes and where development happens. It can be fun. Or not.)

Upgrading from one release to the next without reinstalling has worked reliably in Fedora for some time now. Be sure to follow the posted upgrade guidance for your specific release. And, of course, the more you’ve altered the base system, the greater the chance you’ll catch the upgrader by surprise.


Good advice

Also, worth noting is if you’re relatively new to Linux, don’t feel like you need to pick a specific distro because it has a specific package. Tools like Alien can convert .deb to .rpm and vice versa, along with dpkg, stampede slp, and slackware .tgz