Picking a distro for my Intel nuc

So I might resurrect my Intel nuc machine and throw Linux on it, just to learn Linux. Is Linux mint still the best for starters?

Is Linux mint still the best for starters?

If you wanna run Mint, run Mint.

I think the perception that Linux Mint and Ubuntu are “noob-friendly” distros is overblown. There are dozens of distros that are as easy to use today as Ubuntu was when it earned it’s reputation for being friendly to new users.

Intel NUCs in specific have very good mainline kernel support, so everything will Just Work™ out of the box unless some distro has a hardline position on binary firmware.

Bluetooth, Wifi, NIC, and Intel GPU all have open source drivers.

While pretty much any distro will work, Pop OS! might have a slight advantage. System76, the company behind Pop OS!, ships a product based on the Intel NUC. This means it’ll have more testing on those devices than a generic distro.

But support is still very good for NUCs across the board, so that advantage is minor.


Pop OS seems like a good fit. Especially since it’s built off Ubuntu so I still get access to it’s app market and services.

I think this is a bit exaggerated.

That said, a NUC is all Intel hardware. They tend to have excellent Linux support across the board.

I wouldn’t worry about hardware compatibility.

As far as the distro of choice for starters, I would pick a distro that you think appeals to you either aesthetically or ideologically (maybe they have a mission that you like) and try it out. New Linux users tend to distrohop a bit (go from one distro to another) while they try to find what feels like home to them. Took me about 3 years to really settle in on a distro, but once I did, I was happy.

So, I guess my advice is literally just pick something and try it. Chances are that you won’t stay with it.

Regardless of what you pick, the forum will be here to help you with any issues you run into.


Mint is very Windows like out of the box, no matter what DE you pick. If that’s what you want then go for it. Mint was my go to for a long time and is still a solid starter for Linux, so much so that my mother is using it without issue.

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Linux Mint (Debian based)
Manjaro-Deepin (Arch based)

Both are pretty decent, but honestly there’s generally not a lot of distro’s that make it difficult to just ‘use’

Why not just download a couple distros and play around with them, see which one clicks with you

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I would recommend Mint or Ubuntu, but like others have said there’s many great distros to pick from.

Mint and Ubuntu are popular distributions and have a lot of documentation available online. If you encounter problems simple google search will most likely help with your problem. And you can ofc get help from here. :slight_smile:

I have Ubuntu Mate on an old nuc, and it works okay for me.
The distro maintainer uses a skull canyon one himself, so has a vested interest in it working, but I would say just use whatever flavour you like; Then change if it is wonky/ doesn’t work how you want it?

I am in the process of writing a quite large guide to linux distros, when looking at it from a newbie’s perspective.

I’m hoping to have it done in a couple days and I’ll post it here.

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Have you considered clear Linux from Intel ? It is optimized for Intel CPU’s / GPU and wins in pretty much all the tests phoronix.com runs by a clear mile.

Solus is a close second using some of the flags that clear uses.

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Check em.

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That link is so long you don’t even need to visit the thread.