13 Sept 2012

5 highly rated Linux OS distributions

First released in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, Linux is an open-source operating system derived from the UNIX OS. The philosophy of such open-source operating systems is that they are community-driven; Linux evolves to meet the demands and wishes of its users. There are many great Linux distributions to choose from, each boasting their own advantages and niches. Some designed to be very user-friendly, others intended to give power users greater control over their systems. Here are five of the most highly rated Linux distributions on offer today.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is a popular choice for users wanting an easy-to-use modern OS. This elegant distribution requires minimal user configuration, and is therefore a solid choice for users wanting an OS that works 'out of the box'. Due to its friendly interface and low maintenance, this robust distribution is ideal for those new to Linux systems.
Linux Mint 13 desktop


Debian is a more basic OS founded on the Linux kernel. This distribution is well suited for those looking for a well-rounded productivity suite. There are several software bundles available to choose from, providing users with a plethora of programs for everything from word processing to programming. For a reliable, no-frills operating system, Debian is a worthwhile option.


Sponsored by Red Hat, Fedora is part of a worldwide open-source community. This OS benefits from regular updates, and a constant flow of new and innovative software. The Fedora OS is based around three core values; freedom, features and friends.
Fedora upholds the gold standard of free open-source software. Providing alternatives to proprietary code, it enables users to access many free pieces of software. This allows users to benefit from paid-quality programs whilst keeping the distribution free of charge.
This Linux distribution is perfect for those wanting to benefit from state of the art OS technology, without breaking the bank.


This minimalist distribution focuses on simplicity and functionality. Arch does require some configuration upon installation in order to be tailored to the user's specific requirements. This may be off-putting to novice users, who want a more straight forward installation process. For those who don't mind getting their hands dirty however, Arch can prove to be a simply excellent operating system.


A superb all round operating system, Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions available. Unlike some other versions of Linux, there isn't a two-tier system with regards to quality between its commercial and free releases. This means that a high standard can be expected across the board. With its easy to use and intuitive user interface, Ubuntu makes for great user experience. Ideal for beginners and seasoned Linux users alike, Ubuntu caters for everyone.
Ubuntu 12.04 desktop


Through the world of Linux, there are many great alternatives to the more mainstream operating systems. The open-source model is truly something special; software is tailored to meet the demands of an ever expanding user base. There are distributions for those who like to get into the inner workings of their computers, and others for those who want everything already taken care of. With such a vast array of options, there is bound to be a form of Linux to suit everyone.

Do you want to try any of these distributions? Majority of them is listed for sale on Buy Linux CDs site, with others available on request via the contact form.

By Bradley Houston
Image credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2.


  1. You could put openSUSE to the place of Arch or Fedora...

  2. This is an article that could run and run. You can follow it up with "5 more highly rated Linux distributions".

  3. debian, mint and ubuntu are essentially the same thing, so i'd suggest that you could have dropped at least one of these distributions. of those, i'd argue mint is the most user-friendly, so i'd keep that one - but that would do a disservice to debian given that's the source.

    @robert as an arch user, i'd say that it should stay - if only because it's a *different* type of distribution to the rest. the rest all follow a similar track - all graphical, all hiding complexity in favour of automatic configuration and so on. openSUSE is a good shout for inclusion, though - i'd just replace either debian or ubuntu with it instead.

  4. What does a statement such as "without breaking the bank" even mean in this list? Its nonsense.

  5. Ultimate Edition 3.4 Is far superior than Mint, Mint have lost their way they don't know what direction to go in, can't wait for 3.5 release some time next month

    I have downloaded Hanthana (fedora base) everything works off the dvd it's brilliant I'm about to install it on one of my external hard drive to start demonstrating it,

    ZorinOS is better than Mint or Ubuntu which I recommend to new Linux users,

    Qubes is another one I have been playing with, good systems security release

    Has for ubuntu I would not wast my time with it, I definitely would never recommend it to anyone,

  6. ubuntu,mint,etc, would be NOTHING without debian,wouldn't even exist

  7. I would say that Ubuntu is the most commercial towards the consumer. This is the distribution that was targeted by a service like Steam when they decided to launch a Linux client. This is the distribution that schools are installing. That is not to say that other distributions are not good, or less highly rated, but Ubuntu certainly is the most visible one. I personally think that the 6 month release cycle can tire some people, who if they don't upgrade need to clutter their software sources with PPAs. A rolling release of Ubuntu would be good, sitting next to all the other products that they have (Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Gnome Remix Ubuntu).without diluting their offering further.

  8. Have to throw in my hat for Arch Linux. Been using it as my main pc's OS for over a year now, coming from Mint & PCLinuxOS both of which are great IMHO, and it has been a great experience.

    While true that users will occasionally have to get their hands dirty, it is a fantastic distro which allows each individual user to mold & shape it how they wish. I am most attracted to its' rolling release model so future installs of a "New" version isn't necessary. Add to that the cutting edge packages and great support site and it's really a no brainer for me.

  9. Where is Centos ??

  10. How about slackware????????

  11. Definitely Opensuse in Mint´s place. Don´t know what people see in it, it´s just another ubuntu clone, it doesn´t offer more than MANY other less known distros. These rest are all good to me.

  12. Ya for arch too. Almost two years with it and won't be switching anytime soon

  13. For everyone who suggest to rework the list: create your own list with your arguing, and send to me. There is a big chance that I will publish it.

  14. I agree DarkDuck, A lot of people here seem to see themselves as the "final opinion" on Linux based systems. You advice is good. They should try writing their own blog and see what kind of comments they then receive. It might temper some comments. I must say I enjoy your column, and learn a few new things from it every now and then. Thanks!

  15. What about "live distros" as Slax or Puppy?

    1. Many distros have "live" version. I mostly review Live distros in this blog, if you read more than just this article.

      That's another story that some distros are purposely built to be Live, like Puppy, Slax, Porteus, Knoppix. There's not many of them actually.

      I wouldn't mind if somebody compiles a list of those distros too, and sumbits it as a guest post.

  16. Everyone would have his/her "5 more highly rated Linux distributions". I will only use Linux when we have a clear winner. I do not care if it is ubuntu, fedora, suse or what not. Meanwhile I will continue to use M$ windows.

  17. Though typically a bit under-rated, I'd also have to throw in Slackware. It's a very solid, though perhaps not bleeding edge, distribution.

  18. "Unlike some other versions of Linux, there isn't a two-tier system with regards to quality between its commercial and free releases. This means that a high standard can be expected across the board."

    You have got to be kidding me. As a fan of Linux and professional Linux system admin, you have very low standards.

    I wouldn't trust Ubuntu's "high standard" to anything but a personal VPS and there are better options even then.

  19. Slackware - The oldest surviving distro, and for a good reason: it's simply the best after all these years!

  20. Very nice article for non-linux users. We already use Linux and we have our own preferences and DarkDuck did not target us with his article.

  21. If speaking of user-friendliness or wanting to welcome a Windows or Mac refugee, Zorin should be strongly considered. Mint is excellent as is PCLinux and Pinguy.
    These are the ones I install for my newbie contacts. Personally I stick with Debian.

  22. I've been happy with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with MATE as my desktop.

  23. I don't think that Fedora 17 is a very good distribution to recommend to newcomers to Linux.

    Or, for that matter, to power users since the systemd stuff is making a lot of configurations that power users might use (breaking the use of temporary mounts in /etc/fstab being a notable recent case of this) break by design.

    I think Fedora is now a distribution suited more to neophiles who simply want something different and don't really care how much it breaks.

  24. With the exception of Arch and Gentoo I've tried and used just about every distro there is.
    Personally, nothing comes close to Slackware, with the possible exception of SalixOS, which is built on Slackware.

  25. As a power laptop user I would only use Ubuntu + derivatives, Fedora + derivatives and Fuduntu.....not because these are necessarily the best distros but because of one little tiny applet that only works with these releases....Jupiter Applet which attempts to prolong battery life. I use it alongside laptop-mode-tools and though I distro-hop anything I put on my laptop is either LXDE or XFCE....Gnome 3 and KDE are resource hogs

  26. very simple list that again proves there are too many distros to even decide which one to use let alone support. I have been running Linux since Suse 5.3 and Redhat 4, KDE 1 and no Gnome yet. If anything it's even harder to pick and use one. Right now I am running CentOS on the server side and Mint on the desktop but there are so many good options. If there was one or 2 everyone worked on and supported it would have an actual chance for full adoption on desktops and servers alike. Until then its' too much chaos.

  27. I would definitely add openSUSE to this list, not to disparage any of the others. It is one of the most highly polished and heavily supported distros available. It would also offset the heavily Debian and Ubuntu orientation of the list.

    It's not a question of "too many distros", since the average user has never heard of ninety-eight percent of them and most of those are minimally different from the others, and have comparatively little support and development, and little corporate adoption.

    The basic breakdown has always been between Red Hat, SUSE, Debian, and a couple of others, with Ubuntu becoming the most popular. In any list of the "best" distros, openSUSE should be represented.

  28. An article that the top 5 distributions are the most highly rated distros? Shocker!

    There are many up and coming distributions out there that really are far more worthy of consideration than the status quo.

    Like Fuduntu, Bodhi, SolusOS, or Crunchbang for example. All far more worthy of a readers time than the "popular 5".

  29. @DarkDuck nice list, you are right on target

    For all the others...
    The title was "5 highly rated Linux OS distributions"

    Distro watch places all the ones he mentioned in the top 7, so his list is accurate based on those number.
    The only 2 that are in that distro watch lists top 7 and not mentioned here are OpenSUSE and Mageia. Maybe OpenSUSE is worth a mention and Mageia is making waves but he chose his 5 and that should be good enough.

    Yes, there are other nice distros but if he was to add a mention every time some new person said "I like this one" or removed a distro because another person said "this is surely better than that" then he would never be able to publish his article. Personally, I (and distro watch) feel that he was spot on.

    YMMV... but like DarkDuck said, if you don't agree go write your own article. Someone will undoubtedly disagree with your list as well. ;-)

  30. I was using Ubuntu 10.04 for two year I even forget windows but Now wondering which distro to go after Unity , Unity is the end of Ubuntu

    1. If you like GNOME (Windows) style, then go for Xubuntu or Zorin.
      If you like KDE, I would recommend Mageia.