Linux OS Recommendations

I'm trying to decide which Linux to install on a laptop. I want something resource light but flexible enough. I don't mind doing command line.

What I will be using the laptop for:

Mainly: To write my book.

Other: Playing around with the programing part of Linux to see what I can do with it. Help sharpen my IT skills.

There are 3  Linux OS I'm consider installing:

Arch (Seems like a choir to set up but it also looks like a good os to learn different things)

Linux Mint (I've used it before)

Kali (Seems geared towards testing Security which would be handy for my own home network to see how secure we are.)

Which Linux would you recommend for me and why?

I'm going to have to recommend OpenSUSE. Most things you're going to use in Kali can be installed in any distro. If anything run it inside of a virtual machine. I would also recommend Arch if you want the latest stuff.

Kali is not suitable for regular use, it always runs as root, and is mainly intended to be run as a live distro.

Linux Mint has some issues, one of them being the fact that pretty important security and performance updates are blocked off. If you know how to circumvent that, it's acceptable, but not really wow by any stretch of the imagination.

Manjaro is Arch made easy.

OpenSuSE is the most well-rounded community distro for general use for the moment in my opinion. The quality is pretty awesome, and now (as a matter of fact, starting today) they're even pushing kernel upgrades on-the-fly (switching kernels on a running system!!!!) on the release version, which is pretty awesome (and it works, no crashes are anything, just flawless, really great stuff).

Go Opensuse with XFCE. Or Sabayon if you want to ride the lightning.

I've recently been trying a bunch of Linux distros recently and from every thing I've tried so far I'd recommend:

OpenSUSE (easy to set up, YaST allows you to configure whatever you want inside of a GUI for when you don't want to deal with the command line)

Sabayon (its Gentoo and its easy to set up)

Like what everyone else is saying, I'd go for openSUSE personally. elementary OS may of be interest to you if you want something that looks good out of the box, also.

I like Kali just for the feel. Run it as a regular user if you're too afraid or smart ;). Kali seems pretty heavy if you take a look at all the features, or light if you just uninstall what you don't want. In general, the Gnome 2 Desktop and ease of use (if you get familiar with commands and bash in general). It also looks sexy!

I thank you all for your feedback. I actually forgot about OpenSUSE. I used it in 2008. I'll decide once I have a chance to read some more about the current OpenSUSE.

Just like everyone else Id say have a try at openSUSE, been using it on my laptop and it works well.

openSUSE or Manjaro get my vote. Both are flexible yet simple enough for a new user. I'm probably going to be installing one of them later this week on my laptop.

I use lubuntu, it's a lot cleaner of useless stuff and you can get on with your updates and software center as usual.

OpenSUSE. I ported Cinnamon to it, and it's awesome. I'm not sure if Cinnamon can be selected upon install, but I had fun porting it... only gripe is I can't find out why my applets don't refresh. To say the least, there is a reason everyone is recommending it. I do some stuff with ADB, and it's great I don't have to install a driver for my decices.

Cant wait to try that out! Most innovative feature in... when did Steam come out?

Oh bevause you are worried about security Opensuse has on of the easiest implementations of Apparmor and Systemd I have seen. All the tools Kali has can be installed on it as well

i have played arround with Open Suse abit. and i personaly realy like it.

I still wanne educate deeper into Linux. especialy the therminal and the commands, hardware drivers installation and whatnot. But next to that yast is very usefull and handy.

i also tried Unbuntu and Mint, and Red hat. But open suse gets my vote.

If you want to dig deeper into Linux try Gentoo, but I recommend doing an install on a VM or raspi first before you commit it to any hardware you care about. 

I work with virtual machines offcourse ☺

But i also had installed linux on a second HDD once. works nice aswell.

I feel like devil's advocate, but why not try Ubuntu? If you are concerned with privacy, it's pretty easy to opt out of those integrated amazon searches, it is quite stable, UX is great (my opinion - I use HUD almost excessively), community as large as it gets, and as with all distros, if Unity is not for you, you can swap it with any DE.

If you work with VM's, Fedora has great KVM integration. Not to mention Boxes is a swell addition as you can select an OS from login.

Honestly, I got got pretty sick of Linux Mint when is slowed down after a while and didn't patch big security bugs quickly enough. The Cinnamon interface is nice though.

Ubuntu, Xubuntu, and Lubuntu are my go-to distros for day-to-day use. Ubuntu will need a little more powerful machine than the other two, but Xubuntu and Lubuntu have cleaner interfaces anyways. They also seem to maintain their speed over time (when then get clogged with software and updates).

Raw Debian is great for speed and security, but the default user interface is a little 'meh' and old.

Kali is solely intended for testing security and nothing else. You especially don't want to be caught in a coffee shop with Kali on your computer!

I've never experimented with Arch, openSUSE, Fedora, or Manjaro. I plan to when I have time in VMs.

Speaking of which...You can simply install VirtualBox or VMware on your current machine and try them all!