My current favorite distros

Last updated: 2017–01–09

Manu Järvinen
Jan 16, 2017 · 6 min read

This is a constantly evolving and to-be-updated article of my Linux distribution experiences. I haven’t got that many years of Linux usage behind me so there’s no full reviews presented yet.

At the moment my current favorite distros are (in this order):

  1. Xubuntu (needs some tweaking after install but all around great and light)
  2. Zorin OS (12 Beta) (great for beginners or people coming from Windows)
  3. Ubuntu
  4. Solus OS (great for beginners but feels a bit unfinished for me)
  5. Ubuntu GNOME
  6. Lubuntu
  7. elementary OS (great for beginners, or people coming from Mac OS X)
  8. Manjaro XFCE (a bit technical but great and light. Krita OpenGL was slow, though)
  9. Debian
  10. Kubuntu

Xubuntu

  • Nice, light and fast XFCE desktop environment
  • Familiar Ubuntu base (easy to use the PPAs to install latest Blender and other applications)
  • Awesomely quick to go to suspend mode. Although sometimes it works and sometimes not
  • Almost all artists used this in Blender Institute back in 2015, I got used to it :)

— Getting CUDA to work in Blender is a little hassle

— No good Wacom configuration application

— Dropbox had flaw with system tray icon, needed a fix

— Sometimes won’t go into Suspend mode or doesn’t successfully come out of it. Pretty annoying :(

— When opening a browser window it spams you with some unneeded keyring password popups multiple times in a row, very very annoying

Setting up Xubuntu after installation

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Xubuntu

Zorin OS (12 Beta)

  • Feels very good to use somehow
  • Very Windows 7 like
  • Good, nicely modified GNOME desktop environment
  • Familiar Ubuntu base (easy to use the PPAs to install latest Blender and other applications)
  • Okay Wacom configuration application
  • Suspend mode works (hold down Alt while pressing the shutdown button on bottom-right corner, it turns into pause-symbol)

— Getting CUDA to work in Blender is a little hassle

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Zorin OS 12 Beta

Ubuntu

  • Quite polished/usable straight from the first boot
  • Functional Unity desktop environment
  • Familiar Ubuntu base (easy to use the PPAs to install latest Blender and other applications)

— Getting CUDA to work in Blender is a little hassle

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Ubuntu

Solus OS

— A bit unfamiliar base and new eopkg package manager (not apt, like in Ubuntu)

— CUDA works for downloaded Blenders but not for the ones installed from the Software Center

— Can’t seem to get suspend mode to work

However, I’m really keeping a close eye on how this distro develops in the future. I really like it!

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Solus OS

Ubuntu GNOME

  • Good GNOME desktop environment
  • Familiar Ubuntu base (easy to use the PPAs to install latest Blender and other applications)
  • Okay Wacom configuration application

— Getting CUDA to work in Blender is a little hassle

— Colors in the images that are viewed with the default image viewer look grayish when compared to Gimp, for example

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Ubuntu GNOME

Lubuntu

  • Familiar Ubuntu base (easy to use the PPAs to install latest Blender and other applications)

— Takes a bit of time to configure it to work well for me

— Getting CUDA to work in Blender is a little hassle

— No good Wacom configuration application

— A bit …. ugly (but can be configured to look a lot nicer)

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Lubuntu. Image from here

elementary OS

  • Very sleek and nice to use
  • Familiar Ubuntu base (easy to use the PPAs to install latest Blender and other applications)
  • Good Wacom configuration application

— Getting CUDA to work in Blender is a little hassle

— There are some annoyances that push me away from using it

Setting up elementary OS after installation

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elementary OS. Image from here

Manjaro XFCE

  • NVIDIA drivers and CUDA actually working in Blender straight after installation without any hassle (when Manjaro has been installed via the non-free drivers installation option)
  • Because Manjaro is based on Arch Linux, which is a rolling distro, it installs the latest Blender build straight from the Add/Remove Software application as well as the other needed applications in their latest state like Krita 3.0, GIMP, Kdenlive, etc.
  • Xfce is a nice, light and fast desktop environment, I haven’t tried the Manjaro KDE or other community flavors yet
  • Somehow weirdly the Xfce feels even faster in Manjaro than in Xubuntu, for example. Maybe because of Arch, hard to say

— Krita’s OpenGL mode, like rotating the canvas, acted very slowly for some reason. Xubuntu was way better in this regard

— No good Wacom configuration application (might be available in the Manjaro GNOME version, maybe, don’t know) — in the meantime, I use my small Wacom shell scripts.

— Easystroke doesn’t work as consistently as in Xubuntu, which is annoying.

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Manjaro Xfce

Debian (GNOME)

— Harder/techier/non-user-friendly to get NVIDIA drivers and CUDA work in Blender

— Harder/non-user-friendly to install latest versions of applications from repositories (Debian doesn’t support PPA, at least without hassle)

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Debian (GNOME). Image from here

Kubuntu

  • Good, very configurable KDE desktop environment, which takes a bit of time to get used to, though
  • Familiar Ubuntu base (easy to use the PPAs to install latest Blender and other applications)
  • Okay Wacom configuration application

— Getting CUDA to work in Blender is a little hassle

— Has weird annoying glitch with the background on my pivoted monitor

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Kubuntu

Other distros I’ve tried

Antergos

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Antergos wasn’t really succesful in booting

I had to press ‘e’ to edit the boot command by adding ‘nomodeset’ to the end of the command.

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Pressing ‘e’ in the Antergos boot menu and typing ‘nomodeset’ at the end of the boot command

After that, the installation went on nicely.

— Surprisingly difficult to have English installation but with Finnish currency and values

— NVIDIA drivers can be easily installed and CUDA is then available in Blender. However, Blender seems to work quite slowly in viewport (low fps)



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