Different Linux Distributions and Their Uses Explained

Linux uses different versions of the OS called distributions or distros for short. There are hundreds of distributions with only a portion of them being the most used and the most popular. Choosing a distribution can be a little difficult if you aren’t familiar with Linux and what it has to offer. Certain distros are more user friendly and easier to install than others, as well as a few being lightweight distros which are better suited for older computers with slower hardware. Other distributions require significant Linux knowledge in order to use since a few distributions use the terminal and other software more in depthly. Here is a list of the most well know Linux distributions and what they offer.



Debian is one of the oldest Linux distributions around dating back to 1993. Debian is a multi purpose distribution and can be used as a server or a desktop. There are a lot of distributions such as Ubuntu and Mint that are based off of Debian. Debian isn’t complicated to use however the the installation and post installation process requires extra steps such as configuring hardware which can be a little daunting for a beginner. For beginners a distro like Ubuntu is recommended over Debian although if your willing to learn a little Debian isn’t that hard to get the hang of.

Anti X

Anti X is a lightweight distro based off of Debian. Relatively easy to install. Anti X uses iceWM as the desktop environment. Good performance but not so flashy on the interface.

Kali Linux

Kali Linux is a popular distro based off of Debian. Kali Linux is used for security and penetration testing. Debian comes loaded with hundreds of software tools related to security, penetration testing, computer forensics, and reverse engineering. Kali Linux is not a beginner distro and is only recommended to those trying to learn about computer security and penetration testing.


Knoppix is a distribution based off of Debian that runs off of a CD or USB drive. Knoppix isn’t as extensive as Debian since it runs off a media device and uses little memory. Has a decent looking interface.


Slackware is one of the oldest Linux distributions. It is a multi purpose distro only recommended to experienced users. Slackware Uses GNOME, KDE, and XFCE as desktop environments.


Ubuntu is a desktop distro based off of Debian. It is aimed at being very user friendly just like Windows and OSX and is the most popular distro around. Ubuntu is an excellent choice for beginners. GNOME is the desktop environment that is now used, replacing unity.


Lubuntu is a lightweight version of Ubuntu. The application selection isn’t as extensive since it’s a lightweight distro. Lubuntu is a good choice for older computers with slower hardware while also being just as user friendly as Ubuntu.

Linux mint

Linux mint is user friendly desktop distro based off of Ubuntu and Debian. Mint is a very smooth well designed easy to install distro which uses Cinnamon, Mate, and others as a desktop environment. Mint uses a similar display to Windows.

Linux lite

Linux lite is a lightweight distro based off of Ubuntu. Linux lite is easy to use, easy to install, and comes with a good amount of apps. XFCE is the desktop environment that is used. Linux lite is relatively user friendly.


Elementary is a lightweight distro based off of Ubuntu. Elementary uses a clean and elegant user friendly interface making it one of the best looking distros and a great replacement for MAC since it uses a desktop environment very similar to MAC called pantheon. Elementary is easy to install and comes with a large repository for apps.

Zorin OS

Zorin OS is a distro based on Ubuntu. It easy easy to install and is very user friendly like Windows. Zorin OS uses GNOME and LXDE as desktop environments.


Open SUSE is a distro developed by the open SUSE project. Uses GNOME and KDE as desktop environments. Great distro for new users.


Fedora is a community desktop distro based off of redhat. Fedora is one of the first distributions to introduce wavland and systemD. Always uses up the latest up to date software. Fedora is relatively easy to install and uses GNOME and KDE as desktop environments.


Cent OS is a very stable community distro based off of Red Hat. The difference is that it is mainstream unlike Red Hat but it is just as stable. Relatively easy to install and uses GNOME and KDE as desktop environments.

Arch Linux

Arch is a multi purpose rolling distro recommended by experts. Rolling means that the Arch OS updates automatically. Arch uses the latest software. Arch Requires a bit of knowledge to use and maintain. Cinnamon, GNOME, and KDE are used as desktop environments.


Antergos is a more user friendly version of Arch Linux. It comes with more apps and more drivers.


Manjaro is a fairly lightweight distribution based off of Arch Linux that a lot of experts use. Manjaro is Not recommended for beginners unless your trying to jump right into an advanced distro. Manjaro uses Cinnamon, GNOME, and others as the desktop environment. Just like Arch Linux Manjaro is also a rolling distro.


Deepin is a desktop distro that comes from China. Deepin has it’s own QT5 desktop environment and also has it’s own software such as an audio player. Deepin is relatively easy to install.

Puppy Linux

Puppy Linux is a Lightweight version of Linux meant to run from a USB drive or CD. It is designed so that it can run without the computer having a hard drive. A CD may be a better choice since a USB stick will eventually loose it’s life. Puppy Linux is very lightweight so it uses very little memory.

So it really depends on what kind of experience you already have with Linux and whether you’re a beginner or not. If you want to jump right into a distro that requires learning to use and maintain then Arch Linux, Manjaro, Debian, or Slackware are good distros to use. If you just want a replacement for whatever reason and are looking for a user friendly distro then Ubuntu, Linux mint, or Elementary are good choices.

What is the Linux OS? Linux Introduction for Beginners

Before we get started let’s take a look at the history behind Linux. Linux is based off the Unix kernel. The Unix kernel was implemented in 1969 at AT&Ts Bell Laboratories by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Douglas Mcllroy, and Joe Ossanna in 1971. Unix was written entirely in assembly language. It was rewritten in C by Dennis Ritchie in 1973.

Linux was then Created by Linus Torvalds in 1991. Linux is a free, open source operating system. Linux is written in mostly C and some assembly. The OS source code can be modified for commercial or noncommercial use. Linux is used in all sorts of electronics such as phones, cars, refrigerators, DVRs, routers, and other devices. Linux is also used in supercomputers and servers. Android OS is based on the Linux kernel.

Linux uses different versions of Linux called distributions or distros for short. Linux distros are also lightweight and less resource heavy compared to Windows OS making most distros run fast on even lower end computers. Linux distros can be downloaded onto a USB drive or CD for free, or the CD can be purchased if desired. Unetbootin is a good program used to create Linux USB drives and CD’s, however some programs used to obtain Linux can become outdated or others can become recommended over prior ones. Linux4noobs is a great subreddit on Reddit to ask for suggestions on where you can go to download Linux. Some popular Distros are Arch Linux, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mint. All distros are built around the Linux kernel.

Linux is very hands on making it a slightly less user friendly depending on the distro that you’re using. Installing programs(referred to as packages)can be a little difficult at first. Linux is alot harder to infect with hardware compared to Windows making it a relatively safe OS. Unlike Windows, Linux is case sensitive. A file with the name File.jpg and a file with the name file.jpg are two completely different files because of the capital and lower case F.

Reasons why the Linux OS doesn’t easily get infected with Malware

This information is referring only to the Linux desktop OS and not the Linux server. Linux is known as a very secure operating system. This is true, however there is a common misconception that Linux can’t be infected with malware. This is not true, while it is a lot harder to infect a Linux computer with malware it is still possible. Lets be clear on the fact that malware is used to describe all malicious software in general while a virus is a specific form of malware. Unfortunately a virus is commonly used as a broad term to define all types of malware which is technically incorrect. When present, malware on a Linux computer tends to show more overt like behavior such URL redirects or phishing emails as opposed to Windows malware which tends to show more passive like behavior such as a virus running as a background process.

Root access

Malware on Windows can run without the users permission such as a virus which can run in the background processes as a .exe file. With Linux if you do happen to come across malware it will not run without root access in which you would have to enter your password to grant access. If this happens to you, never enter your password if prompted after being redirected to a site or clicking on a link attached to an email. Certain Linux distros don’t even have an admin account.

Market share

Something that’s often overlooked is the fact that a significant amount of people use Windows and Mac more then Linux. This means that a lot more malware writers use Windows as a platform for malware infection. This is not the main reason why Linux is more secure but it’s still a significant factor. People who say that this is the only reason are in my opinion wrong because of the fact that Linux is such a strong knowledgeable community. If Linux were to become just as popular as Windows and MAC I think the fact that it is open source and can be updated and adjusted would play a big factor in Windows and MAC still being less secure. A lot of distros already have security in mind so I think a tech team behind a distro can negate most malware used by hackers. Phishing is obviously still different.

Virus protection

Most cautious users can use Linux for years without virus protection and not have their computers infected with any malware. However there is always the possibility of sending an email attachment or file to a Windows user without knowing that the file has malware code written for Windows. This doesn’t impact your computer but technically still means that your computer has malware on it if the file is infected. If the file is infected with malware it can still do damage to other non Linux computers your sending files to. There is also the possibility of being redirected to a phishing site since a phishing site is not directly infecting your computer with malware. While for most people spoof sites are obvious, it is still possible for someone to make one simple mistake that can infect their computer or somebody else’s. With a virus protection program you can scan the files before you send them and you can also avoid URL redirects to phishing sites. Sophos Virus protection for Linux is a good program to use. So yes Linux computers are more secure for multiple reasons, however it would still be a good idea to be just as cautious as you would be with Windows. This is especially important for beginner Linux users since they may not be aware that being careless can still get their Linux computer infected or information stolen at some point or another.

So it turns out Linux is used a lot for devices and super computers as well as being a desktop OS. Should you use Linux? After some getting used to it’s a decent desktop that is relatively secure. It’s free so you have nothing to loose. You can keep Windows on your computer when you install Linux giving your computer the option to use ether operating system. Installation guides can be found online. Be sure to read video ratting or reviews to make sure you are doing it the right way. As stated before Linux4noobs is a great place on Reddit where you can ask any kind of questions related to Linux. It is a very responsive Community.