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The 17 Best Linux Distros for Laptops

Best Linux Distros for Laptops

Linux is gaining acceptance among laptop users in the past few years, with some manufacturers even shipping laptops with Linux pre-installed.

When it comes to a Home pc or laptop that is accessible by numerous people then you must want an operating system that is not only secure but also enough simple and easy to understand by everyone. Also, if you have several computers in your home, then for installing Linux you don’t have to pay anything.

Looking for Linux distributions to run on your laptop? Here are some great choices to breathe new life into your laptop. It has been a common myth that Linux-based distros are mainly suited to servers and high-end cloud devices, Linux is perfect to be run as your daily driver on your laptop.

Maybe you’ve just purchased a new laptop. Or you have an older laptop sitting in your closet that you’d like to bring back to life. Either way, the best Linux distros for laptops are those that offer improved driver support and can accommodate the performance offered by most laptops.

Here are the 17 Best Linux Distros for Laptops. Whether you’re using your laptop for software development, graphics, gaming, or office work, these distros should be well-suited to your machine.

1. openSUSE

The Linux openSUSE distro is sponsored by major companies like B1 Systems and AMD (and of course, SUSE). It’s also popular among system admins and computer science students. Why? Because it puts you in control of many functions and services without the need to learn or memorize any complex commands.

It’s available in both the bleeding-edge Tumbleweed version and the stable Leap version. Leap is the one you’ll probably want for day-to-day usage. This is thanks to YaST, one of the best and most powerful system configuration tools of any Linux distro out there.

This means you can easily configure the OS to suit the particular laptop system you’re installing it on without having to edit configuration files scattered across the /etc directory. It has fantastic driver support and works well right out of the box.

With the ability to handle even the latest hardware, you can be sure openSUSE will work just as well installed on any of your older laptops. And if you do run into any issues, openSUSE provides an entire section of their Wiki devoted to helping people install and use openSUSE on laptops.

2. Pop!_OS

When we talk about Distros for Laptops, one cannot simply ignore Pop!_OS developed by System 76 for their Laptops and is based on Ubuntu.

However, it is much more power-packed features and allows for some super cool features like:

Pop!_OS is also one of the best distros for programmers and engineers.

It comes pre-packed with a lot of tools to facilitate development and coding. It ships with GNOME Desktop Environment and has two built-in themes: Light and Dark. It available as an LTS Release!

System Requirements: 64-bit x86 architecture CPUs, 2 GB of RAM is required but 4 GB (Recommended), 20 GB of storage is recommended.

3. Linux Lite

This one isn’t necessarily aimed at modern systems, but if you need a good Linux distro for older laptops, Linux Lite is definitely a fantastic choice. For starters, this is one of the most lightweight Linux distros on the market that can still provide a traditional user experience.

Meaning you get a lot more than a terminal and few basic apps. A lot more in fact. Linux Lite is considered a gateway operating system designed for users who are switching to Linux from older versions of Windows like XP or Windows 7. Linux Lite is based on Ubuntu and is designed to be suitable for home use, work, gaming, educational purposes, and anything else you can think of.

This versatility comes from the fact that the distro is bundled with a very impressive array of applications. It also comes with a built-in firewall, proprietary software, and a desktop environment that should feel immediately familiar to Windows users.

The developers of Linux Lite tried their best to make sure users have everything they need upon installing the operating system, without having to download any additional software. Speaking of software, Linux Lite is compatible with Microsoft Office straight out of the box and also includes things like Mozilla Firefox, VLC media player, Skype, Spotify, Kodi, and many other useful apps.

If you’re a gamer, you’ll be happy to know that Steam also comes pre-bundled with the distro. Meanwhile, Dropbox and Thunderbird are both included as well, making it easy to check your emails and upload files to the cloud.

Linux Lite might not be as flashy as other distros, but it certainly comes packed with a lot of goodies in spite of its small size.

System Requirements:

4. Debian

Debian is one of the founding fathers of Linux and it “gave birth” to the most popular Linux distro till date, Ubuntu.

It is a powerful distro that ships thousands of precompiled packages bundled into an easy-to-install-on-your-machine format and it requires no extra skills to get up and running with it.

Debian is tagged the “Universal Operating System” because of how widely it is used across the world.

It is the OS upon which Canonical’s Ubuntu is built and being a robust distro, it can be used for virtually any computing task.

5. Zorin OS

Zorin OS is also known as one of the best Windows or macOS alternatives because of Windows 10 like interface and also an option to enable the dock menu to mimic macOS.

It is based on Ubuntu, therefore, stability and access to a huge list of online tutorials and forums would not be an issue. The developers designed it especially for those who are not much comfortable with the command line, therefore, most of the tasks can be done using the graphical user interface.

In the standard edition which is “Core” packed with all utilities and applications, a home user needs to complete day-to-day computing tasks.

Whereas the Ultimate edition of Zorin OS costs 39 dollars, yes it is not free because of features it provides that are:

Therefore, if you are willing to pay such one-time small fees, then the key thing you will get is the official support and other major applications out of the box. Apart from them, a Lite edition for old 32-bit computers and an Educational version with necessary apps to help students are also available free of cost on Zorin OS Linux official website.

6. Deepin

Based on Debian’s stable branch, Deepin often receives praise for its aesthetics, as well it should. Deepin uses its desktop environment, called Deepin DE (DDE) that TechRepublic describes as “the single most beautiful desktop on the market.” Deepin reportedly boots faster than all the other distros we’ve covered thus far and ensured incredible laptop battery life longevity.

Deepin is an attractive choice for laptop users for several reasons including NVidia Prime support, power-saving mode and auto-mode switching (for laptops), rolling-release distribution, and comes with its powerful toolkit, Deepin Tool Kit. Other benefits of Deepin are that it supports all the repositories and libraries from the Debian channel and Ubuntu repositories and libraries, installation (Deepin Installer) is easy and intuitive

I’ve not yet discovered a real drawback to Deepin. A past complaint was that it used a statistical tracking service in its App Store, but that is no longer the case. I’ll readily admit that I’m a distro-hopper. In the space of two years, I’ve had every distro covered in this article on my laptop (except for Deepin, although I plan to try out the live ISO this week).

My current laptop distro is MX-Linux, which has lived on my laptop for the past six months. It is the longest that I’ve ever had a distro on my laptop. This is due much to my grandkids and my wife, all of whom often use my laptop.

The other distros seemed foreign to them, and I had to spend much of my time assisting them. From having to help install games and applications to such simple tasks as launching Chrome or gracefully rebooting the laptop.

Fortunately, the MX-Linux Windows-like interface does not confuse them, allowing them easy navigation of the interface.

MX-Linux is also powerful enough to satisfy the Linux-geek in me.

7. Manjaro Linux

Manjaro Linux is one of the open-source Linux distros that is easier to learn. It’s designed to work right out of the box, with a wide variety of pre-installed software. The highlight of Manjaro Linux is that it’s well known for having amazing hardware support, thanks to its hardware detection manager.

Manjaro is based on Arch Linux, one of the most well-known and highly customizable Linux operating systems. There are plenty of great reasons to install an Arch Linux distro like Manjaro.

If you’re a Linux expert who’s not afraid of the command line, vanilla Arch might be a good bet. They even have a wiki page specifically on setting it up on a laptop. You can easily change the kernel without any complex troubleshooting. Arch Linux-based distros also let you choose your own components. This means you can customize it to suit the specific laptop you’re installing it on.

And if you ever find yourself looking for support, Manjaro has a great community. You have access to the Arch Wiki, and of course the Manjaro forums. Best of all, if you really want to go full-out Manjaro, they’ve partnered with several hardware manufacturers to offer laptops and even smartphones with Manjaro installed.

8. Garuda Linux

Garuda Linux is probably one of the coolest looking Linux distros out there and is specially crafted for desktop/laptop users. It ships with the Zen kernel which is one of the best kernels for Desktops/Laptops.

It also uses BTRFS as the default file system and supports automatic snapshots out of the box using Timeshift. In spite of being based on Arch Linux, it has a lot of GUI support.

For instance, you can install apps, change kernels, manage drivers, tweak GRUB settings, etc all via GUI options, unlike most other distros which use the CLI for the same. Another very important feature of Garuda Linux is that it is optimized for gaming as well! You can download a wide variety of games and emulators from the Garuda Gamer GUI which makes the installation process very easy.

Overall, Garuda provides a very feature-rich, eye-candy desktop, while still retaining the pros of Arch.

System Requirements:

9. CentOS

CentOS is another distro that’s heavily catered towards coders and system administrators, which makes it an excellent choice for work-related purposes. That’s not to say that casual users should stay away from it, but there are more user-friendly options on this list if that’s what you’re looking for.

CentOS is fairly technical in nature and is meant to be used in conjunction with the YUM command-line package manager. If you don’t know your way around terminal commands but want to use CentOS anyway, you can make YUM a bit easier on the eyes by installing a graphical user interface on top.

CentOS is based on the highly acclaimed Red Hat Enterprise Linux but unlike RHEL, however, this isn’t a commercial distribution. Given that you can get it for free, it should come as no surprise that CentOS isn’t quite as powerful at RHEL, at least not in its base form.

However, CentOS is open-source software that can be modified to your liking. This means that if you know what you’re doing you can customize CentOS to the point where it can achieve the same level of functionality as RHEL, particularly since the distro benefits from a lot of support from both the developers and a very passionate community.

If you’re not the type of person who likes messing around with software, you can simply grab one of the two main versions of CentOS and use them as they are. Your first pick is CentOS Linux, which focuses on stability and features regular updates.

Then, there’s CentOS Stream, a distro that comes with rolling releases and modifications designed for users who want to have the latest technologies and tools at their disposal.

System Requirements:

10. Solus

Solus is a Linux distro designed to give home users a Personal Computer with a cohesive computing experience.

It features a beautiful UI that is intuitive to even children and it is capable of running on older PCs without negatively affecting performance. Solus ships with several preinstalled applications including GNOME MPV for video content, Rhythmbox for audio files and online radio, Files for managing documents, Mozilla Firefox for secure browsing, and Software Center for intuitive application management.

11. Elementary OS

A Sleek and well-designed Linux OS. Elementary OS in many places gives you a feel of using Apple’s macOS- particularly noticeable in many areas.

For example, the dock, the system settings, and the active corners are reminiscent of macOS. Well, in terms of software availability out of the box, Elementary OS remains frugal and offers only applications that cover mainly daily use cases.

It is also a good idea because sometimes we don’t want the extra stuff on our PC, as everybody has their own choice of apps. Nevertheless, Music and video players, image and document viewers are on board as well as browsers and messengers. In case you need some new software, “App Center” is there to assist you, which features a wide range of popular open-source and freeware tools free of charge.

12. MX Linux

Before reading this section, please know that I currently use MX Linux as my laptop distro, so there could be some bias. Based on the Debian stable, MX Linux has topped the distrowatch.org list for close to a year now, for a good reason.

The default customized lightweight XFCE desktop environment ensures fast booting although it admittedly makes for a simple looking desktop. The core components carried over from the antiX Linux distro (Linux MX is a collaboration from the antiX and MEPIS developers) ensures support for older hardware but at a negligible performance cost.

Linux MX has, arguably, the assist to use desktop interface of all the distros included in this article. Its single taskbar makes finding things quick and straightforward.

MX Tools (think Windows Control Panel) is a handy utility for users, allowing quick access to change settings and perform minor ‘tweaks.’ Installation is intuitive and easy, and the Synaptic Package Manager allows for access to an extensive amount of packages, although the base installation includes a well-rounded set of software.

Laptop battery use is not an issue with MX Linux, nor is performance. Having used MX Linux on my laptop for over six months, I cannot report a single issue that I have run into. Packages are easy to install, and updates run without issue.

It is easily the most functional distro that I’ve used on my laptop since I’ve owned it.

13. Ubuntu

An obvious choice for the best Linux distro for laptops is Ubuntu. It’s easily one of the most popular and well-known Linux distributions, which means it comes with a large user community as well as solid online support. Ubuntu’s developer, Canonical, partners with hardware manufacturers to certify machines for Ubuntu.

It’s worth looking through the list if you want to make sure your laptop will work with Ubuntu. If you’re in the market for a new laptop, there are manufacturers such as System76 and even Dell who offer laptops with Ubuntu pre-installed. But what makes it especially useful for laptops both new and old is the fact that it’s free, lightweight, and offers excellent driver support for most hardware.

Ubuntu will usually accept any hardware you connect to your laptop. Thanks to the fact that most manufacturers provide Ubuntu drivers. In the Ubuntu Software Center, you’ll find free apps to accomplish just about any task on your laptop.

It works fine on older laptops that are a few years old, but it’s important to note that it does require more RAM than many other lightweight distros out there.

So, if your laptop is very old, you may want to opt for one of the other Linux distros on this list. You might consider the Xubuntu variant, which uses the Xfce desktop to run on less powerful hardware. However, many people do believe that Ubuntu does a lot of things much better than Windows. It’s also the distro of choice for dual-booting a Chromebook with Linux.

All of these reasons make it a perfect alternative OS for laptops. Here are a few of Ubuntu’s latest features.

14. Linux Mint

If you are someone who has recently switched over from Windows and are looking for some beginner-friendly distros, then Linux Mint might be the one for you. It is a fairly lightweight Linux distro that somewhat resembles Windows in its appearance.

It also comes with a lot of feature-rich applications like multimedia support and timeshift. It comes in three major flavors:

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. One of the unique apps which Linux Mint features is Warpinator: a tool based on Giver that makes it easy to share files with other users across a local network.

Another thing to look out for Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) which is a version of Linux Mint based on Debian.

15. Sugar

This may seem like a bit of an odd choice but laptop users come in all shapes and sizes so it would have been a shame if we didn’t include at least one distro for kids on this list.

Sugar is more of a desktop environment than a full-fledged distro but we think it’s worth mentioning regardless just because of how incredibly useful it is. Sugar was developed in the mid-2000s as part of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program, a non-profit initiative that aims to transform education for children everywhere.

One of the primary goals of the program was to develop low-cost laptops and the other was to create a software learning platform to go along with it. This platform became known as Sugar.

Sugar features an intuitive and fairly simplistic user interface along with a plethora of apps and games known collectively as “Activities.” Many of these activities are designed to help children train skills like reading, writing or counting while others and simple little games like Turtle in a Pond or Maze Web.

One of the best things about Sugar is that you can install it on pretty much anything. Sugar is the default user interface of OLPC laptops but can also be installed on top of Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, and various other Linux distros.

In addition, there’s also a live version known as Sugar on a Stick that can be installed and booted directly off a thumb drive along with an online variant known as Sugarizer.

The online version is still in the early stages of development so if you need a great educational platform for your kid but don’t want to mess with your existing distro, we recommend getting Sugar on a Stick instead.

System Requirements:

16. Fedora

Fedora is a polished professional Linux distro that aims to give its users complete freedom.

It is completely customizable and it comes with a complete set of tools suitable for developers, creators, network administrators, etc. Fedora has setups for different computing tasks.

Fedora Workstation is for laptops and desktops, Fedora Server for cloud infrastructure, and Fedora Atomic for Linux-Docker-Kubernetes app stack. Fedora ships with GNOME Desktop Environment by default but you can choose any of its spins if you would rather work with KDE Plasma, XFCE, LXQT, etc.

17. Lubuntu

If you’re rocking an older laptop you probably won’t be able to install a fairly demanding distro like Ubuntu on it, but you can install a lightweight version instead. While there are plenty to choose from, including the aforementioned Linux Lite, none comes quite as close to the original as Lubuntu.

This lightweight distro takes everything we love about Ubuntu and compresses it into a smaller package while also removing some of the non-essential stuff in the process. The end result is an Ubuntu spin-off that looks and functions almost identical to the original but requires far few resources.

One of the most impressive things about Lubuntu is the fact that the distro manages to be lightweight without sacrificing usability. This is very much a traditional OS that comes equipped right off the bat with all the tools and applications you would expect.

This includes things like multimedia players, office applications, PDF reader, image editor, web browser, and so much more. Of course, you can always browse the intuitive Software Center if you ever need additional applications. Lubuntu also supports the Ubuntu repository so finding even more software packages will definitely not be a problem.

As far as the user interface is concerned, you’ll be happy to learn that Lubuntu is one of the best looking Linux distros for laptops out there.

And it manages this without using a resource-intensive desktop environment like Gnome 3, which is a staple of regular Ubuntu. Instead, Lubuntu went with a lightweight LXqt-based IDE combined with the Arc theme and Papyrus icons for a streamlined and modern look.

Even better, this desktop environment is quite similar to Windows in terms of functionality so you should have no problems adjusting to it if you’re already familiar with Microsoft’s operating system.

Conclusion

That’s pretty much it! So, there are Best Linux Distros for Laptops.

If you have any other favorite Best Linux Distros for Laptops 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.

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