Choosing the right Linux distro for yourself is no small chore, but it isn’t that hard to figure it out. How experienced are you with Linux?
What do you need the distro for? If you need it for running a server, then CentOS or Fedora are good options. Do you want a graphical user Interface or just a straight command line? If you like working from a terminal, then choosing Arch Linux would be a wise choice. Asking yourself those types of questions will help you figure out how to choose the right Linux distro for your needs.
Arch Linux is a lightweight and flexible Linux distribution that tries to keep everything very simple. Not very popular until 2010-2011, Arch Linux is one of the more complex distros out there.
Simply put, with Arch Linux, the user must do everything from the terminal. This is extremely useful for those developers who want a very basic kernel with unwanted packages and drivers taking up space. Because it isn’t user-friendly, it does take many people quite a while to get things initially set up and running.
Arch Linux does have a version called Antergos, which is basically just Arch Linux with more applications, packages, and a desktop environment. With this version, those newer users can save many hours of set up time, and it will meet their needs better.
Being pretty much a clone of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), this distro is known as the free version of RHEL. CentOS has been a community-supported distribution since March 2004. With long-term support and popular rpm and yum package management, CentOS comes highly recommended for those who have experience with Linux.
Designed to be super-reliable, this comes as a great choice for a server, and not so much for anyone looking for a new OS for daily use. While it only officially supports the x86-64 architecture, it does come with 10 years of security and maintenance updates starting from it’s initial release.
Gentoo Linux is named after the fast-swimming gentoo penguin. The was chosen to help reflect the potential speed improvements that can be optimized with this Linux distro. Gentoo is not for the faint of heart. Back before there were graphical installers, Gentoo was a pretty popular distro. Now, because you have to know how to compile the code of Gentoo yourself, Gentoo is really a Linux geek system.
While you need to know what your doing to get Gentoo to work, it does have it’s positive sides. Because it is so lightweight, it comes highly flexible, portable, and customize-able, making it the go-to distro for experienced builders.
Debian has been known as, and called, the founding father of Linux, and it is an apt description of its history. With popular distros based of it, like Ubuntu and Linux Mint, Debian is one of the more well-known and well respected Linux distros. It comes with over 51,000 software packages, making it highly customize-able, and well liked for novice Linux users.
Debian makes sure to keep their collection of packages well maintained, and have a positive reputation of regularly testing and updating the various packages. This gives it a powerful stability, making it a #1 choice for developers and programmers to use.
Another Linux distribution based off of RHEL, Fedora comes distributed as a free and open-source platform. Coming with the GNOME desktop environment, and with no tweaks and a pure GNOME experience, Fedora comes easy to use and understand. When built, Fedora was built with stability in mind, which is why it does well as a server.
With Fedora being a well-rounded Linux distro, it comes highly recommended to those who are interested in trying Linux and experimenting with it. Because of its open-source platform, Fedora brings a distro that can rival any closed-source or proprietary solutions, as well as be able to allow anyone to copy all or part of the system for their own purposes.