Although you may not know it, Linux has been around for a few decades. Linux distros, based on the Unix operating system, are the different operating distributions of Linux. These distros are built around the heart of the Linux kernel. They are the foundation of the operating system and customized to create various types of desktop environments.

The vast majority of Linux distros have a specific use-case in mind. For instance, the Linux Ubuntu operating system was created for new Linux users. It is easy to use and customize. Another distro, Arch Linux, is for more advanced users. These users prefer to use the terminal application to install software packages and type in other commands.

So let’s take a look at some of the more popular Linux distros. We will discuss who can benefit most from them, and where you can find them.

What is Linux?

Linux is an operating system like Windows 10, Chromebook OS, and Mac OS X. Just like other operating systems, Linux manages the conversation between your laptop or desktop hardware and software. If you didn’t have an operating system, your software wouldn’t work properly.

You might be surprised to learn that Linux is in a lot of places. Your phone runs on Linux. Some of the software in your car is Linux based. Smart refrigerators and Roku devices use Linux as well. Linux runs many of the servers and systems you use on a daily basis. And the penguin is cute. So there’s that.

Why Use Linux?

Easily the most frequently asked question people want to ask is “Why use Linux?” It’s a different operating system, with a different environment, and a different user experience. There are a few reasons users might want to switch, but let’s take a quick look at just two of the big hitters.

First, Linux is stable. If you are constantly battling a slow computer or fighting viruses, those and other concerns are not as prominent with Linux. Linux distros have grown to become known as one of the most reliable and efficient operating systems.

Second, it’s free. You heard right, F-R-E-E. You can install any Linux distro on as many computers as your heart desires, and you’ll pay nothing. No additional costs, no licensing fees, no server or software fees, it’s entirely free.

Linux Distros

As previously mentioned, there are many different types of versions and distributions of Linux. Here are some of the more popular Linux distros and where to find them.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a great Linux distro for beginners. It is easily accessible and provides the security and stability that the Linux OS is known for. Every six months a new version of Ubuntu is released, which offers updates and general maintenance as needed. You’ll also have access to LTS (Long Term Support) versions, which are available every other year.

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The LTS versions offer up to five years of general and security updates, which means you don’t have to worry about upgrading your Linux operating system every six months. This is especially nice since the standard releases are only supported for one year.

Ubuntu also has its own flavors available that use different environments. One example is Lubuntu, which is a “light” or minimal version of Ubuntu. Lubuntu is designed to create less strain on your system resources than other operating systems.

If you think Ubuntu is the right OS for you, you can find the Ubuntu Linux OS download here.

Linux Mint

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Linux Mint operating system is another great option if you’re new to the Linux OS. It’s especially useful for those that prefer to switch from a Windows PC or Mac. The Mint version of Linux also provides a great deal of customization.

Users will find switching to Linux Mint from Windows or Mac straightforward since it comes with a lot of options for the software these operating systems provide. For instance, in place of Microsoft Office, Linux Mint users will have LibreOffice, a free alternative to the office suite.

Mint comes in many different versions and varieties, the most popular being Cinnamon. This version of Linux Mint lets users change and customize menus and the appearance of certain windows. Users will also have support for most media formats, which will allow you to play music and video files right away.

Linux Mint operating system is an excellent option for newer users who like to have the option of customizing their experience. You can find the Mint distro of Linux here.

Linux Tails

If you are concerned with privacy, Linux Tails might be the Linux operating system for you. This Linux distro emphasizes privacy and security, all while maintaining a user-friendly interface. Tails is an operating system that aims to protect your identity and conceal your location as much as possible.

Linux Tails achieves privacy by directing network traffic through its Tor network This network is explicitly designed to protect data and prevent it from being analyzed. While these security measures are exceptional, it gets even better. You’ll have all the security the Linux Tails distro has to offer but still have the ability to use the operating system with its clear and simple UI.

This Linux distro isn’t for everyone, but for those that are concerned with privacy and all the dangers that come along with not having enough security, Linux Tails is the right option. You can find the Linux OS download of Tails here.

CentOS

The CentOS Linux distro is an offshoot of the enterprise version of Red Hat Linux that many companies use today. While this version of Linux isn’t ideal for a daily desktop, it’s great for a server. The build focuses on stability. Instead of providing constant updates like Ubuntu and Mint, CentOS offers ten years of support from the initial version release date.

Since CentOS is so reliable, it’s a great option if you’re looking to stand up a server. If you need an everyday Linux distro to use on your machine, CentOS is probably not the way to go.

If you’re looking for a steady, reliable Linux distro to use as a server, CentOS is precisely what you need. You can find CentOS here.

Linux Elementary

The Elementary Linux distro is a great operating system for Mac users wanting to make the jump to Linux. Known for its stability, Linux Elementary greatly resembles the MacOS desktop, meaning Mac users will feel comfortable making the change.

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With an easy-to-use menu and the ability to customize their preferences, users will find Linux Elementary intuitive and straightforward. The operating system doesn’t come with a lot of additional bloatware so users won’t feel overwhelmed. It does come with everything users need via an App Center, providing software downloads and upgrades with the click of a button.

If you think Linux Elementary is the Linux distro for you, you can find more information and download it here.

Steam OS

Last on our list is a Linux distro for the gamer in all of us. Typically, gamers refrain from using Linux since there are few games available on the Linux platform. While there has been some growth in recent years, things didn’t really change until Steam OS hit the market.

Steam OS is designed specifically with gamers in mind. Kernel tweaks and performance enhancements are a part of this Linux distro. It supports gamepads, GPUs, and other hardware gamers find necessary.

While the Steam OS Linux distro isn’t your typical operating system, it is an excellent option for those that enjoy gaming, specifically with Steam. You can download this Linux distro here.

Which One is Right For You?

As you can see, there are many different Linux distros available, but what we’ve covered barely scratches the surface. There are a variety of options available, and if the ones listed above don’t fit your needs, then take a look at some of the other options. You’re sure to find something that will work for you.

Featured image: CC by 2.0, by MuseScore, via Flickr