Best Free Linux Distributions of 2022

These are the best free Linux distributions currently available. Hand selected by our team from over 10 different distributors. Learn more about Mint, Manjaro and Qubes OS. Whether you are looking for a distribution to use for personal or professional work flows, one of these operating systems will surely meet your needs.

By Ethan Wrenn

Hi and welcome! In this post, we’ll help you decide which Linux distribution is right for you. Please make sure to read the information pertaining to every distribution for maximum clarity. Links to where you can download each of these distributions will be provided below. Don’t forget to join our FREE community discord server at: https://discord.com/invite/pmpWcHs

  • Familiar user interface with Windows
  • Performs great with older hardware
  • Some improvements over Ubuntu
  • Great game compatibility

Linux Mint is arguably the best Ubuntu-based Linux distribution suitable for beginners. Yes, it is based on Ubuntu, so you should expect the same advantages of using Ubuntu. However, instead of GNOME desktop, it offers different desktop environments like Cinnamon, Xfce, and MATE.

Not just limited to the familiar user interface, which will be a bonus for Windows users. It provides impressive performance with minimal hardware requirements, especially with Xfce or MATE desktop environments.

It also uses the same software repository as Ubuntu. So, you don’t have to worry about the availability of software to install.

You can download Linux Mint by visiting: https://linuxmint.com/download.php

  • Not an Ubuntu-based distribution
  • Arch-based Linux distribution
  • Moderate learning curve
  • Works great in a virtualized environment

If you want to take up a challenge with a learning curve and try something besides a distribution based on Ubuntu, Manjaro Linux is the best bet.

The best thing about Manjaro Linux is that it helps users set up an Arch-based system on their devices with ease. Arch Linux has a complex command-based installation but Manjaro provides a graphical one for beginner Linux users.

It is based on Arch Linux but tailored as a beginner-friendly distribution. Of course, considering that it follows a rolling release update cycle, you might end up with a broken system (even though that does not happen all the time). But, you have to compromise on the reliability when compared to any Ubuntu-based Linux distribution mentioned in this list.

You also get a wide range of choices to install a variety of software tools. There’s also AUR, which is a community-maintained repository for software that may not be available for Manjaro officially.

Manjaro Linux offers different desktop environments like XFCE, KDE, Gnome, Cinnamon, and a host of more desktop environments. So, you get numerous choices.

Don’t forget to join our FREE community discord server at: https://discord.com/invite/pmpWcHs

You can download Manjaro Linux by visiting: https://manjaro.org/download/

  • Not your typical operating system
  • Extremely secure KVM and Hypervisor OS
  • For advanced users

Based on Fedora, a popular Linux distro, Qubes is a security-oriented OS that’s endorsed by everyone from tech reporter Micah Lee to Edward Snowden.

Qubes began in 2012 as a project by Poland-based Invisible Things Lab. Creator Joanna Rutkowska wanted to design an OS that balanced high security with ease of use.

The solution she came up with was security by isolation. By isolating programs from one another and limiting their permissions, the vast majority of attacks could be prevented.

But configuring these so-called virtualization environments can be complicated and time-consuming. So Qubes OS was designed to integrate virtualization into the system from the get-go.

You don’t need any specialized knowledge or techniques to install and use Qubes. And while it’s got a bit of a learning curve if you’re used to Windows or macOS, it’s more intuitive than you might expect.

What Makes Qubes OS Different?

In a traditional OS, your programs run alongside one another in the same space. They use the same resources and can interact with one another — they’re separate, but not isolated.

But in Qubes, that all changes. You divide your main desktop into different domains, or qubes.

Each qube is isolated from all others qubes— programs running in one qube can’t interact with another. That’s because each one is actually a separate virtual machine that runs seamlessly alongside the others.

You can customize each qube’s permissions and hardware access. If you download an app but aren’t sure if it’s trustworthy, you can open it in a new qube without network access to prevent it from using the internet.

By managing your qubes, you can enjoy added security where you need it most. And you can perform less-secure tasks in an isolated qube where they can’t affect anything else.

For instance, there are three default qubes: work, personal and untrusted.

Your work qube could contain a browser window that you use only for business websites and your work documents. In other words, things you know for a fact to be secure — and also highly important and confidential.

But when you’re done with work, you can open your browser in your untrusted qube and surf the web. If you happen to download a malicious file or visit a sketchy website, any damage that occurs won’t leave the qube.

This means that you can keep your most important apps and files safe by isolating them in their own qube.

And you can use other qubes for other, more risky purposes without fear of your entire system being compromised.

Best of all, all of your qubes share the same desktop environment. All of your windows appear alongside one another, just like a traditional OS.

Each qube has its own color, and all windows within the qube sport that color as a border. This lets you maintain your productivity flow while easily differentiating between your qubes

Don’t forget to join our FREE community discord server at: https://discord.com/invite/pmpWcHs

Persistent and Disposable Qubes

Qubes can be persistent or disposable. Persistent qubes retain things like web histories and bookmarks, while disposable qubes and anything in them disappear forever once exited.

For example, you could configure Qubes to open all email attachments in their own disposable qubes.

That way, if you open a malicious one, it can’t do any damage as it’s completely isolated. And it’ll be gone forever as soon as you close the qube.

You could also use a disposable qube for extra security when doing online banking. No other software, including malware, can touch your banking session, and there will be no evidence of it once you’re done.

And for the strongest security, you could run each program in its own disposable qube. This would prevent any interaction between apps and erase all history of your digital activities automatically.

Bare Metal Installation

With Qubes, your programs and windows can be separated into different domains. But behind the scenes, your hardware is divided into qubes, too.

Your network adapter and USB controller are two of the most vulnerable pieces of hardware in your computer. All kinds of malicious traffic can pass through your network adapter, and USB devices can be laden with malware as well. So Qubes isolates these pieces of hardware into their own qubes. This allows the OS to securely manage them and allow other programs to access them only when needed by passing threw the device to a qube.

Other hardware, like the keyboard and mouse, and the desktop window manager are confined to their own qube as well: Dom0. This administrative qube is highly secure, lacking network access and strictly regulating access to its functions.

Can you use a VPN with Qubes OS?

You can, indeed, use a VPN with Qubes — and you should. Qubes prevents many kinds of malware attacks, but it can’t protect your internet traffic once it leaves your computer.

However, installing a VPN on Qubes is a lot different from installing one on a traditional OS.

Qubes’ compartmentalization prevents typical VPN clients from working properly. Since qubes can’t interact with one another, your VPN client wouldn’t be able to protect all of your qubes.

You can find a setup guide for your VPN on the Qubes wiki, which details VPN configuration using NetworkManager. There’s also a method for configuration using the command-line, which is more technical but allows you to use VPN kill switches and other advanced features.

When choosing a VPN for Qubes, make sure to verify that the provider offers OpenVPN configuration files. Such as NordVPN. You’ll need them to set up your VPN on Qubes; the apps provided by the VPN won’t work.

Don’t forget to join our FREE community discord server at: https://discord.com/invite/pmpWcHs

You can download Qubes OS by visiting: https://www.qubes-os.org/downloads/

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