In the past I've spent a tremendous amount of time talking about the various ways desktop Linux needs to be easier for new users. At the same time, I haven't turned a blind eye to those who prefer to actually "learn Linux" rather than having everything done for them "out of the box." After all, there's something to be said for being able to repair something on a granular level.
In this article, Ill highlight some of the top Linux distributions for advanced users as well as some great ones for those who are intermediate and newer users. In each case, Ill include distributions for those wanting to learn more about using Linux effectively.
Linux for advanced users
Gentoo - Designed to be very customizable and portable , Gentoo is a longtime favorite among many of the Linux elite. With Gentoo, source code is compiled at a local level, software is installed via the Portage system and the documentation provided allows the end user plenty of assistance in getting things running.
Gentoo is perfect for:
Users wanting to customize their Linux install to very specific needs.
Optimizing the installed source code to run as smoothly as possible on an individual's PC.
Users that wish to experience the most in-depth and hardcore aspects of running a Linux installation.
Individuals wanting a "rolling release" distribution of Linux on their desktop.
Arch Linux Described as the embodiment of simplicity and elegance all rolled up into one amazing package, Arch Linux is the perfect distribution for the intermediate user looking to get into Linux at a more advanced level. Arch still requires some time to set things up when working heavily with specific configurations. Despite this, Arch is considered a decent DIY distribution. The documentation for Arch is laid out in such a way that you can learn as you go. Using the packaging concept known as "pacman," Arch users are able to keep their software up to date with great ease.
Arch is perfect for:
Individuals wanting to learn the inner workings of how their Linux distribution interacts with their computer, but don't wish to spend an entire weekend installing the base system.
Intermediate users bored with the pre-configured Linux distributions that don't leave much to the imagination.
Users wanting a rolling release distribution of Linux.
Slackware Despite being a bit more challenging when handling software dependencies, Slackware provides some of the other functions of a modern Linux distro. These functions include installing and updating or removing software. Thankfully, tools like "slapt-get" can be a big help for Slackware users who want to keep their software in check. Offered as a DIY-type of distribution, it offers strong stability to those willing to roll up their sleeves and dive right in. While simplicity of use is seen as a primary focus, Slackware is only slightly easier to manage for newcomers than Gentoo.
Slackware is perfect for:
Arch Linux users wanting to try something different. Like Arch, Slackware is a pre-setup distro allowing the end user to make plenty of customizable changes as they see fit.
Individuals looking to maintain a simple yet elegant alternative to other less complex Linux distributions available.
People who would rather handle dependencies themselves. Ignoring software like slapt-get, Slackware is most definitely a distribution that will have you handling the finer points of software compilation yourself.
Intermediate user friendly distributions
Fedora Easily my favorite distribution, as it has the cutting edge software approach similar to Ubuntu, yet provides a solid experience without all of the fanfare. Fedora is a great option for intermediate users since there'll be some customization needed, but it won't be enough to overwhelm. Out of the box, you'll find yourself handling various wireless and USB modem needs on your own. Another factor to take note of is that Fedora is very FoSS focused and doesn't provide non-free codecs. Adding them requires using a third party repository. For the intermediate user though, this isnt a significant problem.
Fedora is perfect for:
Users who want a cutting edge experience, without using Ubuntu.
Individuals looking to use RPM packages for software.
A rapidly evolving FoSS friendly Linux distribution.
Decent documentation for most user needs.
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