Looking for a new Linux distro


I am looking for some advice as moving to Linux, I have been using Windows 10 Linux subsystem for a while now and its been fine, but I feel now it is time to finally leave Windows and move to a full Linux system.

I have been reading around places like reddit, slant and also watching level 1 techs to get some ideas of what its like using Linux and I think I have a good set of ideas of what I want to start with.

Lightweight but usable.
I want a working system out of the box as regards hardware, but I don’t want all the extra applications I will never use, so things like a DVD reader I wont use because my laptop doesn’t have a DVD reader, but I need applications that allow me to configure my monitors.

I want to use i3.
Using the subsystem for a while now and Windows CMD for years I enjoy being on the command line, plus the look people give when you type what you want always makes me feel nerd cool on the inside, I have been looking at different managers and i3 is what I want, but I don’t want another desktop environment installed on the side, for example I know Ubuntu has GNOME now, is it possible to get a working minimal distro where I can simply strip out all the extras gnome installs? or is it too embedded in a system like Ubuntu?

Great reliability/stability.
I don’t have a lot of time to fix things generally, I use my laptop for almost everything and downtime is never good, while I do take backups time lost to rebuilding is never good, I don’t want things to break, I don’t mind being a little behind on packages in the name of uptime and stability.
Random little crashes also annoy me, I can fix them but again I would rather not, I want to be able to configure my system and it works for 12 months before I decide I want to change how the interface looks and break everything.

Good package support.
I know this is not generally an issue now but I know there are some distros that have a rather limited list of software, I would like a rather easily accessible but large selection of software, even if I never install it just so if I ever do need it, its one command away.

TL;DR, I want a fast, minimal, stable and workable system I can have just get out of my way, and possibly look cool while I do it :smiley:

Many Thanks!


Manjaro? Not that I have used it.

I would also give Manjaro a try. There is a community maintained i3 version of Manjaro too. I did use Manjaro for a while and didn’t have problems with stability but that’s pretty much all I know about it’s stability.

Antergos is kinda interesting too but probably not as suiting for your needs.

I would highly recommend Solus.


No way in hell would I recommend an Arch based distro for a newbie. I’d start with Debian if I were you. You can install exactly what you don’t want.


Get ubuntu, sudo apt-get install i3, log out soloct i3 log in, tada.


KDE Neon user edition or user LTS edition. Depending on how much stability you’re after.

Antergos Base install and get i3 from the repo.

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Im going to agree with @hondaman. It’s like no one read your post. Arch based distros do not meet your needs.

You have to make a compromise here. You cant have both. How is a distro supposed to know exactly what your system is and what applications you do or don’t need by default.

Either you’ll have a distro with most important things installed, or a minimal install. In my opinion, for most people, unless your installing Linux on an embedded system with few resources or space you’ll never notice some extra default applications.

I’d second the Ubuntu recommendation, it has good hardware support, and should have i3 for you to install. If you really want, you can use their minimal install and install i3 and the applications you want from there, but this might not be the best direction to go initially unless you want to learn a few things from the start.

I would also consider Fedora, however it might not fit all your need right off the bat, it does not include proprietary or patent encumbered applications and you need rpmfusion repo to get those. Its easy to do, its just another extra step and possibly a small hoop to jump if your using a Nvidia card. Fedora also has i3, and has a minimal install you can use if you wanted to go that route.

Both these choices meet your i3 requirement, and your reliability requirement and packaging requirement. Both meet your lightweight requirement depending on how you want to attack it.

Other options may be Opensuse, though i don’t know if they have a minimal install (they might), I’ve heard good things about Solus as recommended by @Dynamic_Gravity but I’ve never used it, maybe he can expand on what it does for you.


wattOS includes i3 out of the box, and is based on Debian.

But realistically, you could just do as Aremis said, and download Ubuntu and then install i3.

@Eden @liamodo921
Solus is fantastic for the modern linux user.

Gaming - LSI (Linux steam integration). Native titles work well.

Package Manager - out of your way, but works well. Logical groups for relevant packages.

Stable - runs the latest stable kernel (4.14.12). Weekly syncs every friday. You won’t need to be install updates constantly every 30 minutes.

Modern - comes with many of the top DE’s now, but you’re welcome to configure what ever window manager you’d like. Comes with the papyrus icons OOTB.

Community - the community is great, rarely I have any issues and for the ones I do there is a subreddit and dedicated forum.

Performance - Solus is optimized for performance. The DE is lightweight, but modern.

All in all, its a fantastic OOTB distro that runs well and has a very top notch UX. I contribute to their patreon (so I’m biased).

Also the dev is sassy but takes his work seriously. He really cares about the quality of his project. He’s quite active on github.

Oh, and theirs support for snaps and flatpak. So you should be able to install anything with relative ease.

Thanks all for the responses.
I have had a look at Solus OS, it seems to be getting great reviews from its users and I have a quick look around the forums which seem active and friendly.
I am not sure if they have all the packages I want but I am sure I can build them.

If not ill give Ubuntu or Fedora a try, I also looked into Arch but its a bit too bleeding edge for my requirements.

Sure Antergos might have been a bit silly suggestion from me. Still I am no sure if Manjaro is quite the same as Arch with updates or with the learning curve. The i3 version does have some nifty things and configs already installed.

It has been a while since I have used Ubuntu, Mint or any Debian based distros, but I used to have some annoyances with them and i3.

Like I said they have Snaps and flatpaks available too. This should cover 99% of cases.

That said, there are still packages that may require manual installation/compilation. I myself have had to do manual installs of Robo3t (for mongodb gui) and Postman (used for api endpoint development). Both of my uses were for niche development binaries, but regular userland stuff should be redily available.

If you need help with the proper way to manually install precompiled binaries just let me know.

dnf install i3 i3status dmenu i3lock xbacklight feh conky

then head over to https://www.reddit.com/r/unixporn/ and rice to your hearts content


Yeah ricing might take up a lot of free time, the mechanical keyboard thread already robbed me of a fortune for my keyboard :stuck_out_tongue:

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Okay so I tried Solus but unfortunately its a no for now.
I use a program called Parsec, this is used to stream games from my desktop to my laptop as I don’t always want to be sat in front of the computer and my laptop isn’t designed for playing games.
On the up side though it is officially supported via Ubuntu, so I think I will try Ubuntu next.

Ubuntu Is not a bad first Linux.

I’m thinking maybe Arch or Gentoo are a good follow-up.

Gentoo because it’s very very easy to maintain your own overlay or patchset (equivalent of maintaining your own repo). You could do the same using any distro, here it’s just easy.

Ubuntu Server would be my recommendation

Personally I thought it was a good suggestion, it ticks all the boxes OP asked for. You could argue about stability, I used it for over a year and found it to be very stable, it only broke when I went out of my way to mess somthing up.

It’s a great OS out of the box and a good way for beginners to learn.

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