10 Best Linux Distros that you need to check out in 2020


The number of Linux distros is growing day by day. Are you trying to decide what is the best Linux distro out there for you in 2020? The great thing about Linux is you can pick one that is specifically for your needs.

I believe the best Linux distro is CentOS, but that is for running on a server. If on a desktop, the best distro out there is Manjaro, but depending on your needs Linux Mint can be a close second for desktops. If you want to get into Pen Testing, Kali Linux may be the best, but for system admins openSUSE, maybe the winner.

Are you a gamer, a business professional, designer, or developer? This list will have you covered to find the best Linux distros of 2020. Let’s take a quick look at the 10 best distros of Linux that you definitely need to look at in 2020.

Zorin OS screenshot
Image Credit: zorinos.com

10. Zorin OS

Zorin OS comes in three different versions: Business, Education, and Ultimate. Originally released in 2009, Zorin OS uses the GNOME graphical desktop. Forbes magazine released an article last year about how it is Time to Pay Attention to Zorin OS. You can have a seamless transition to the Linux Desktop environment if a Windows user. Zorin OS is one of the best Linux distros for new users. It has a rich set of features and customizations. This is definitely a distro to keep you eye on this year. I would recommend checking out the Ubuntupit for a complete guide on this up and coming Linux distro.

  • Initial Release: 2009
  • Based on: Debian Ubuntu
  • Made for: New Linux Users
  • Latest Stable Version: 15.1
  • Most recent release: December 12th, 2019
  • Latest Release Image Size: 2.1-22 GB

(Image Credit: kali.org)

9. Kali Linux

The main highlight of this Linux distro is the extensive security tools preinstalled. In earlier versions, Kali Linux had more “Black Hat” tools for malicious attackers to use. These tools could scan IP addresses on a Public Wifi, impose themselves as the default gateway, and skim information from unsuspecting people nearby. Now, in the newer versions, obviously for legal reasons, have developed the later releases to focus more on “White Hat” users to allow users to better Pen Test their network for defensive purposes. However, this Linux distro probably has a limited audience, but if you are interested in Network Security, this may be the perfect Linux distro when studying certifications like the Security+ or the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) test.

  • Initial Release: 2013
  • Based on: Debian
  • Made for: Pen testing and computer forensics
  • Latest Stable Version: 2019.4
  • Most recent release: November 26th, 2019
  • Latest Release Image Size: 2.6 GB

8. elementary OS
(Image Credit: elementary.io)

8. elementary OS

elementary OS is a Linux Distro best for the non-technical users. This means for someone that may be new to desktop computers altogether. The control panel interface for the elementary OS is made to have easy categories to select for options. These options generally have a slider for turning these options on and off. This distro tries to bring the mobile interface into a desktop system for an easy transition. You can have Linux installed without being overwhelmed by options, this may be the one for you. Out of the box, you will have the Epiphany web browser, for a fast and snappy browsing experience.

  • Initial Release: 2011
  • Based on: Debian Ubuntu
  • Made for: Non-technical users
  • Latest Stable Version: 5.1 “Hara”
  • Most recent release: December 3rd, 2019
  • Latest Release Image Size: 1.47 GB

(Image credit: opensuse.org)

7. openSUSE

openSUSE is a distro of Linux that is designed for professionals. If you are a software developer, from a standard installation you have Git-natively installed, a suite of Integrated Development Environments (IDE) ready to go, along with virtual desktops ready. The system has been designed to be optimized with various software development tools. For system admins, all the tools needed are ready to go, especially with the extensive package manager, YaST. It even has Open Build Service (OBS) to build your own set of packages for your company. Depending on your need, for the business professional, openSUSE may be the best Linux Distro for you in 2020.

  • Initial Release: 2005
  • Based on: SUSE Linux Professional
  • Made for: System Administrators and Software Developers
  • Latest Stable: 15.1 “Leap”
  • Most recent release: May 22nd, 2019
  • Latest Release Image Size: 3.78 GB

(Image credit: archlinux.org)

6. Arch Linux

Arch Linux uses the pacman package manager made exclusively for Arch Linux and its predecessors. They hold to five principles for its Operating Systems: simplicity, modernity, pragmatism, user centrality, and versatility. With many other Linux distros, where much focus is placed on the cutting edge software, Arch Linux has been focused on stability over the latest and greatest. The installation image is one of the smallest out there. Arch Linux used rolling release updates, which means they put out frequent, but non-scheduled updates. This tends to make updates a breeze and often without rebooting the system. The rolling updates prevent having major release updates overhauling the whole Operating system.

  • Initial Release: 2002
  • Based on: Arch Linux
  • Made for: General Use
  • Latest Stable: 2020.01.01 (Rolling Release)
  • Most recent release: January 1st, 2020
  • Latest Release Image Size: 656 MB

(Image credit: getfedora.org)

5. Fedora Workstation

Fedora Workstation is a distro of Linux built with a developer in mind. It comes with the GNOME 3 desktop environment installed. Fedora Workstation comes with open-source toolbox and virtualization, you will have the tools you need to get started quickly. It is released by the Fedora Project team, which has been around for over 16 years. At the time, Red Hat split into several groups, hence the name Fedora, similar to Red Hat’s logo of a red fedora hat. Their focus is on innovation and bleeding edge software, which may make the best recent images unable. If you are wanting the best and most up to date experience out there, Fedora Workstation is a must to check out. It may be the best Linux distro when it comes to the newest software out there in 2020.

  • Initial Release: 2003
  • Based on: Fedora
  • Made for: Cutting Edge Software
  • Latest Stable: Fedora 31
  • Most recent release: October 29th, 2019
  • Latest Release Image Size: 1.8 GB

(Image credit: ubuntu.com)

4. Ubuntu

You can pick up Ubuntu in three separate editions: Desktop, Server, and Core. The Desktop editions can be broken up into several other versions as well. You can pick the Kubuntu, which uses the KDE GUI. The Lubuntu is designed for energy-efficiency for the environmental conscience user. Ubuntu Budgie uses the Budgie GNOME style GUI. For the Chinese market, Ubuntu Kylin is officially sanctioned by the Chinese government. Another alternative is Ubuntu Mate, another GNOME style GUI. You can also select Ubuntu Studio, designed for audio, visual, and graphic editors. The most interesting is probably Ubuntu Core, a Linux distro designed for Robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). In 2020, Ubuntu offers a great distro for almost everyone and it may work best for you.

  • Initial Release: 2004
  • Based on: Debian
  • Made for: General Use
  • Latest Stable: Ubuntu 19.10
  • Most recent release: October 17th, 2019
  • Latest Release Image Size: 2.3 GB

(Image credit: linuxmint.com)

3. Linux Mint

The mission statement of Linux Mint is: “modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.” It was originally started out of the Kubuntu (Ubuntu for KDE). It prides itself on having multi-media codecs and plugins ready out of the box. It comes with LibreOffice, Firefox, and VLC player ready to go. Many users want to just play moves, get online, and write a document or two. If that is what you are looking for in a Linux Distro, this may be the best one for you. You will have 30,000 packages to pick from to get you going from there. I personally have this one running on one of my home desktop systems. Consider Linux Mint in 2020.

  • Initial Release: 2006
  • Based on: Debian Ubuntu
  • Made for: Ease of Use
  • Latest Stable: Linux Mint 19.3 “Tricia”
  • Most recent release: December 18th, 2019
  • Latest Release Image Size: 1.9 GB

(Image credit: manjaro.org)

2. Manjaro

Much like the original Arch Linux, Manjaro goes with the rolling release of updates. It uses the same package manager, Pacman. It is designed to be easy to use for both the experienced Linux user and the beginner. Manjaro tired to balance the new releases and stability, all-in-one. It uses Boxit for its repositories, which has a git-like design. Manjaro brands itself to “Enjoy the Simplicity.” It strives to have all the settings in one clack for a quick one-click setting changes. It has a broad audience for gamers, teachers, and scientists. Manjaro is a very rounded out Linux distro. In 2020, it is definitely a top pick.

  • Initial Release: 2011
  • Based on: Arch Linux
  • Made for: User Friendliness and Accessibility
  • Latest Stable: 18.1.2 (Juhraya)
  • Most recent release: October 29th, 2019
  • Latest Release Image Size: 2.67 GB

(Image credit: centos.org)

1. CentOS

Honestly, I am a little biased on this one. I currently operate two CentOS servers: one in my home, and another one as a VPS. In fact, this website is running on a CentOS 7 installation. I installed both of these with a minimal installation, which allowed me to pick and choose what I wanted to install. The great thing about CentOS 7 is that it is almost identical to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is the #1 Linux server Operating System on the market for businesses. Read here to learn why Linux is so great for servers. You can want to look at earning one of the coveted Red Hat certifications such as the Certified System Administrator (RHCSA), you do not have to buy a full license to get started. Beyond that, I have never had any performance issues. The transition from Debian commands to Red Hat commands in the terminal did take some time. If you are new to Linux, I would suggest just getting this version. It does everything you want and if you want to kick it up a notch and go for a career in Linux, Centos is the best distro for Linux in 2020.

  • Initial Release: 2004
  • Based on: Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • Made for: A Free Alternative to Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • Latest Stable: 8.0.1905
  • Most recent release: September 24th, 2019
  • Latest Release Image Size: 6.6 GB

Jimmie

I am a man with a passion for Linux. For over 15 years, I have been using Linux and want to help you learn the nuts and bolts of Linux. If you are just a Linux hobbyist or a career professtional, I want to help you learn about the Linux Universe.

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