Apart from GNOME(GNU Network Object Model Environment), KDE(K Desktop Environment) is one of the most customizable and fastest desktop environments out there that boasts a stunning appearance with polished icons and an amazing look-and-feel.
While you can always install KDE if you know-how, it is best to choose a Linux distribution that comes with KDE out-of-the-box. Here, let me list some of the best KDE-based Linux distros.
Netrunner is based on Debian and the latest version is Nerunner 20.01 released on 23rd February 2020.
It comes with a drop-dead gorgeous UI that sets it apart from the rest. It ships with its own theme known as the Indigo global theme with variants such as Theming-wise. Out of the box, you get a mix of tools and applications to get you started out.
These include productivity applications such as LibreOffice suite, image editing tools such as GIMP and Krita, the popular Inkscape for vector graphics, and chatting applications such as Skype and Pidgin.
2. Garuda Linux
Garuda Linux is a modern Arch-based distribution that focuses on a customized experience out-of-the-box. The KDE version (or the Dr460nized edition) offers a beautiful experience while tweaking it with a macOS-like workflow.
Of course, if you are an experienced Linux user, you may customize your existing distribution to mimic the same experience. As a cherry on top, Garuda Linux also provides different variants of its KDE editions, one with pre-installing gaming tools, one for penetration testing, and another as an essential Linux desktop system.
Key Highlights: Comes with essential pre-installed GUI tools to make the Arch Linux experience easy, Rolling-release distro, BTRFS as the default filesystem.
3. Feren OS
Feren OS is an upcoming sensation in the KDE Plasma category, and the contribution goes to a combination of beauty & beast aspects. Feren OS is a true eye-candy, where the developer has focused on providing a stable environment along with a stunning visual interface and pleasant experience to the users.
You have all the goodness of KDE & Plasma 5 on the table along with a beautiful visual interface. We have been testing Feren OS for a month now, and it brings the most aspects of modern computing & visual demands to the table.
The vision for Feren OS is different from the traditional KDE Plasma versions available in the open-source market. Windows users get an option to install a distribution that gives them a nostalgic macOS & Windows combination interface, and that’s what we love about Feren OS.
The Latte dock is integrated smartly, and it doesn’t even look or feel like a third-party add-on. You can uninstall the Valvidi browser from the “Web Browser Manager” and install what you want in one-click.
We have to look at the performance aspect as well, and there is a reason why it landed on the second spot. Feren OS does a good job at living up to KDE Plasma’s reputation, where you get an optimal performance like Kubuntu. We had one problem with WPS Office 2019 edition, where the document freezes for 20 seconds. The one-time document freeze is the only problem that we have experienced so far.
4. Arch Linux
With Arch Linux, users are expected to build their operating system, as the distribution doesn’t come with a pre-configured desktop.
Instead, they offer up many desktop environments to choose from, including KDE Plasma 5. While using this operating system may prove to be challenging to new users, it’s ultimately rewarding if you’re a Linux power user, as it’s possible to tailor your PC to meet your exact needs.
So, if you love KDE but want to make it look a certain way, do check out Arch! To download Arch Linux, go to the official Arch website. Once on the website, look for the “Download” button and click on it with the mouse to move to the download page.
On the download page, you’ll see many different ways to download the latest ISO release of Arch Linux. There’s no doubt that Arch Linux can be challenging to install. That’s why we’ve created a detailed guide that goes over exactly how to install Arch Linux. So, if you’re dying to try KDE on Arch, do check it out!
By default, Kubuntu ships with KDE, the benefit of which is the combination of the merits of Ubuntu with a modern, lightweight and appealing UI.
For those of you riding the Plasma wave, you might already be aware that the latest release. Kubuntu 20.04 ( Groovy Gorrila ) ships with KDE Plasma 5.19 as of 9th June 2020. KDE 5.19 was developed with an emphasis on consistency and unification of desktop elements and widgets in mind.
This enhances usability and gives users better control over their desktop. Generally, components are much easier to use, giving users a pleasurable experience. Once you log in, the first thing that you will notice is the new eye-catching wallpaper that adds a splash of color to your desktop.
Feel free to click anywhere on the desktop and select the option “Configure desktop” from the menu and select a different wallpaper. You get three themes to choose from Kubuntu, Breeze & Breeze Dark. Various widgets such as system monitor and media playback applet have been overhauled to yield a new refreshing look.
There are many other subtle improvements that have been added to improve the general appeal and improve user experience. KDE 5.19 also ships with Dolphin file manager that includes the subsurface clipping feature which minimizes the flickering of applications, thereby reducing eye strain.
Additionally, icons on the title bar have been recolored to match the color scheme, effectively making them easily visible. KDE 5.19 also packs a new set of beautifully designed avatars to choose from when creating new users. The KDE Kubuntu 20.04 LTS is only available in 64-bit architecture.
6. Nitrux OS
A Debian-based Linux distribution that features KDE out-of-the-box.
Unlike Kubuntu, Nitrux may end up offering faster KDE plasma updates and newer Linux Kernel upgrades. Nitrux OS offers a beautiful and unique experience while featuring its NX Desktop. If you want to try something different with KDE onboard, Nitrux OS would be a great pick.
Key Highlights: Debian-based distribution for a change, Unique desktop experience
The Fedora KDE Spin is Fedora with KDE as the desktop instead of the traditional Gnome.
In addition to including the KDE desktop by default, it comes with a curated selection of KDE applications and tools to give users the best Plasma experience possible. Perhaps the best reason to consider Fedora KDE is that since it’s Fedora Linux, users will get very new software updates before a lot of other Linux-based operating systems, such as kernel updates, software updates, and even the latest KDE Plasma 5.
To download the Fedora KDE Spin, you must go to the Fedora spins page at spins.fedoraproject.org. Once on the Spin page, there are a few different versions of Fedora. Look through and click on the KDE spin. Once you’ve selected the KDE option on the spins page, you’ll be taken to a download page where you can grab the newest version of the Fedora KDE Spin.
KaOS is another fruit of the KDE Plasma 5 version, and it is an interesting flavor for like-minded users.
KaOS is an eye-candy software because it follows a unique pattern and does not copy most of the distributions. The KDE distribution developer has placed the main panel on the right side and painted it with pure-white color.
The makers have chosen to add a custom pack of icons that covers the entire software, so you will feel privileged. You can install Debian or Ubuntu-based programs from the Store, so there are no limitations here. Users don’t have limitations here, but we have to say that it doesn’t have a stable Store.
The inbuilt Store loads the information slowly and installs the programs slowly, which is a limitation. We recommend the users move to Flatpak because they have a straightforward interface and works like charm.
The developer added tons of programs & tools to the software. KaOS has tons of bloatware, and we did not like the number of applications pre-installed in the machine.
The good part is that you can uninstall all of them manually from the distribution. KDE Plasma 5 is a stable & high-performance framework, and KaOS took advantage of the latest developments. The KDE distribution consumes 640MB RAM and 15% CPU in the idle state that makes it a lightweight software.
9. Manjaro KDE
Manjaro is available for download in 3 Desktop editions: GNOME, XFCE, and KDE Plasma. But it’s the KDE Plasma edition that stands out from the rest with it’s downright elegant and flashy KDE Plasma 5 environment.
At the time of penning down this guide, the latest version is KDE 5.18.4. It comes with a modern and chic look, with some really cool menus that you can style to match your taste/preference.
There’s no denying about it’s truly stunning and user-friendly UI that simple to use. Everything works out of the box, and there are you spoilt for choice as to the enhancements you can apply to improve the look-and-feel. The default file manager is the Dolphin manager which has replaced Konqueror which also served as a web browser.
You can easily set your preferred desktop background, change the theme, style of widgets, and so much more.
KDE Plasma is tailored for users who want a user-friendly experience with a touch of simplicity and flexibility.
10. MX Linux KDE
Debian-based MX Linux is already an impressive Linux distribution with Xfce desktop environment as the default. Even though it works good and is suitable to run with minimal hardware configuration, it still isn’t the best Linux distribution in terms of eye candy.
That’s where KDE comes to the rescue. Of late, KDE Plasma has reduced a lot of weight and it uses fewer system resources without compromising on the modern looks. No wonder KDE Plasma is one of the best desktop environments out there.
Out of the box, MX Linux looks cleaner and more attractive with KDE desktop on board. Unlike KDE Neon, it doesn’t feature the latest and greatest KDE stuff, but it looks to be doing the job intended.
Of course, you will get the same options that you expect from a KDE-powered distro to customize the look and feel of your desktop. In addition to the obvious KDE perks, you will also get the usual MX tools, antiX-live-usb-system, and snapshot feature that comes baked in the Xfce edition.
11. KDE Neon
KDE Neon isn’t specifically a distribution.
The developers would prefer to say that it’s just Ubuntu with various software repositories added to allow users to enjoy the latest KDE technology on a stable Ubuntu Linux base that provides excellent support for drivers, a wide array of software, and a great community to boot.
A lot of good Linux distributions deliver KDE Plasma at this point, and some Linux fans may not see the need for Neon because of this.
However, if you crave the absolute latest version and don’t want to wait, Neon is an excellent way to go. Want to get your hands on the latest KDE Neon? Head over to neon.kde.org. Once there, click the “Download KDE neon” button.
From there, you’ll be able to choose from the User Edition of Neon, a stable spin of Ubuntu with KDE software, the Testing Edition or the Unstable Edition.
openSUSE is yet another independent Linux distribution featuring the KDE desktop by default.
While it pitches itself as one of the choices for desktop users, I have had hardware compatibility issues in the past. However, it can be a good choice for system administrators or developers who want to access tools like YaST, Open Build Service, Kiwi, and more on their desktop, out-of-the-box.
openSUSE is Suitable for system administrators and developers requiring access to several tools. openSUSE offers Two different editions available including a stable and a rolling-release. As per your requirements, choose what’s best for you.
That’s pretty much it! So, there are Best Linux Distributions for KDE Plasma.
If you have any other favorite Best Linux Distributions for KDE Plasma then don’t forget to share them with us in the comment below. Also, if you liked this article, Share on your favorite Social media platform.