New to linux which distro should i use?

Hi, I'm building a "test" rig out of some of my older gear. Will have i5-3570k, 4GB DDR3, and probably a gtx 760. I want to use it to finally try and test out Linux. However I have no idea which distro to play with or what each one offers. I do have a large media library on a FreeNAS server so not sure if there is one that would do something interesting there. Maybe there isn't any real use for Linux but id still like to see what all the hype is about. Thanks!

For a new user I believe Linux Mint is a very good start. 17.3 is very polished and has some very good applications that automate a lot of stuff. Most things works out of the box, it has a very noobie friendly update manager and is ubuntu based. So anything working in Ubuntu works in Mint. If you are coming from windows the Cinnamon Mint 17.3 flavor is pretty good start.

Another similar Distro would also be Zorin OS. Also Ubuntu based.

If you are coming from a MAC aesthetic you might want to check out elemetary OS.

When you get your hands dirty you can then start distro hopping to find what suits you best.

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Recommending a distribution is allways a bit difficult, because its realy personal.

However i personaly find that Debian based distro´s like the Ubuntu familiy, Mint, Elementary OS, etc etc,
offer a realy good out of the box experiance for home users.
I also think that these type of distro´s are a very good way to start with for new commers.
there is realy a big community support behind them, especialy the Ubuntu family, or Linux mint.

For new commers to the Linux community, i mostly recommend distro´s like Ubuntu family, or Linux mint,
or some of the other debian based distro's.
Depending a bit on your personal preference in terms of the desktop UI.
There are allot of diffrent desktop ui´s to choose from aswell, like Gnome, Unitiy, XFCE, LXDE, LXQT, Pantheon, Cinnamon, Mate, KDE.

A list of distro´s i recommend for new users.

  • Linux mint 17.3 Rosa:
  • Ubuntu family 15.10.
  • Debian
  • Elementary OS.
  • LXLE very good choice for older hardware.

I agree with what is up above.

The latest releases of mint and elementary are both MUCH more solid than their previous versions.

@MisteryAngel's is a good answer.

I would only disagree with Debian. Debian is a great distro but as a first experience for a new user its missing some refinements, the install is less than desirable though functional.

I would love to recommend Fedora 23 but it has a similar out of the box experience problem as Debian, but for a good reason rather than technical one. It doesn't ship by default with non-free software so you do have to install a few codecs and add a repo. Great distro and if you dont mind adding a repo (rpmfusion) and installing some codecs (this is partially automatic) then I highly recommend it.

If you want something that has everything ready to go and isn't bothered about laws or non-free software, as mentioned Mint is a fairly good distro, ive used it a bit and it works well. Alternatively you could try openSUSE based off Red Hat distros rather than Debian, its quite good as well.


I find openSUSE very very bloated and hard to use, and Im pretty decent at linux XD Might just be me though.

I for my part recommend Ubuntu and Fedora for the "new user", although Im not a big fan of either distro. Ubuntu Mate is very nice and Kubuntu offers a somewhat simmilar experience to Windows if thats what you are comming from

I too would recommend Mint, its what I’m currently running and I don’t feel I will ever need to move to anything else. If your going to try Elementary (Freya), it is a bit buggy at this point, and for whatever reason I get much better performance in gaming on mint than I ever did on Elementary. Still, I set up a co-worker on elementary *completely computer-literate) and she loves it for doc prep and web browsing. All depends on what you're doing.

All those network management tools are a bit bloaty. :) I do hate their choices for audio, tho.

There is exaly a new version of Freya out.

Mint has gained some gaming support. (GOG and such) So for a new user that games a little it would be the distro to start with in my opinion.

Completely unrelated, but is mint running on systemd yet? (We'll its sort of related)

OK thanks for all the suggestions. Seems like Mint is the common suggestion so I will start with that. I definitely would need gaming support to eventually completely leave windows behind :(

Keep in mind that gaming is not there yet for linux. There is nothing simple about getting the best gaming experience in Linux as a whole. Mint has gained some support in the right places but still takes some effort to dial in. Just so your dont think it is something that is going to be as easy as windows.

Depends on what your goal is. If you goal is just to have an easy to use operating system, you don't care much about how it works, and aren't going to do anything more than word processing/web browsing, then the above suggestions, especially Mint and Ubuntu, are going to be your best bet.

However, if you actually want to learn how to use Linux, how it works, and learn how to fix stuff when it breaks, then I'm actually going to go ahead and recommend Arch. Here is why:

I came from being a Windows/Mac user for the past 20+ years or so. I thought I understood computers fairly well, however trying to use Linux for anything more than the simple stuff simply dumbfounded me. I literally just did not understand the way things worked on it, because my perspective was that of a Windows/Mac user doing everything in the GUI. Throw Linux at me, even heavy GUI based ones like Ubuntu, and nothing seemed to work as I expected. This left be frustrated, and always just going back to Windows/Mac.

Then one day fairly recently, after all the Windows 10 shit, I finally had enough, got a Thinkpad W520, and was set on getting Arch installed, while basically keeping my phone next to me for the Arch WIKI (God how I wish I had a tablet or some other large screen for that!). It literally took me about a week and countless hours before I finally had just Arch up and running and able to nothing more than install programs and log in. I can not express in words the excitement that I felt when I saw the Arch terminal login screen without the USB connected! I literally just walked around the house on a sort of a joy high!

It continues to be like this to this day a few months later, where it will infuriate me because I can't figure something out, and being determined, I will keep researching and trying until I make it happen, then it is a sort of a feel of rush to see it actually work out! I have learned more about not only Linux through this experience, but also just the way PC's work in general in these short few months, than the past 20+ years of using Windows/Mac. I now understand the way Linux works, and why it completely turned me off at first: I just did not understand how to use it like I did Windows/Mac. Once you do, you realize it isn't that important which distro you pick, because all of them can essentially be made to work just like any of the others with the right tweaking and knowing actually how to use Linux

Has it been absolutely infuriating to where I just wanted to throw the laptop through the window at times? You bet. Have I ran through the house, jumping in excitement because I finally got something to work after so much hardship? Laughably so. That is why I recommend Arch for those that want to actually learn Linux for more than just the extreme basics of desktop publishing/web browsing, because if you want to do much more than that, and don't want to learn and entirely new OS, then you really are better off just sticking with Windows/Mac.

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Either start off with Mint or Elementary. Great for newbs. Then you should try out harder ones like Debian, GNOME, and Arch.

I have been messing with Linux for about 1.5 years, started with Ubuntu on a VM, made the switch to linux about 5 months ago, switched to Debian I am pretty happy with it, has a huge community which helps whenever you run into any problems.
My advice is to go with something that a lot of people use, so that if you run into some trouble you have no problem finding help.

it may sound stupid, but youtubing might show you exactly which Desktop Environment is for you. that's what i used to do when i first started. i tried Ubuntu, but was so curious about the other DE's that i would wipe my install just to try the official flavour + DE of whatever distro i was looking into. a lot of the reviewers will have a click around to show you what does what and how things look.

I am a fan of the Fedora platform. I am currently running Chapeau 23. It is Fedora 23 with all the goodies like steam and codecs and such installed. I tried the latest Linux Mint and was appalled at the performance compared to Chapeau 23 / Fedora 23 running on kernel 4.x compared to mint 17.3 that started at 3.13 and through some updates got to 3.19.

I am perfectly happy running Chapeau 23 over Linux Mint. I didnt really have to do anything to my laptop. all the hardware works perfectly. no wireless issues. I am using a Qualcomm Atheros chip. Sound is great. Graphics are good. no issues.
OS seems real snappy compared to Mint 17.3


I actually just heard of this distro this morning. I am having allkinds of hell getting my gpu to work in Fedora 23. If tonight is not fruitful, I might try Chapeau 23

AH, good eye. Might have to V-box that.