"I may be a bit fanboy-ish, but, what about Enlightenment DE?"
"I think Gentoo as well deserves few words in this article. Maybe the most complex user experience, the real hard way...I am not using it, maybe never will, but it is there... "Another complaint that I received was that I called them the "top 10 Linux Operating Systems". I have therefore changed the title this year to say the "top 10 Linux Distributions".
Just to be clear then, this is a list of the top 10 Linux distributions of 2014 as defined by Distrowatch. The point is to show how suitable the distributions are for the Everyday Linux User.
Click here for a new article analysing the top 10 Linux distributions of 2015.
1. Linux Mint
It is quite clear to me why Linux Mint is number one in the list. It is easy to install, provides a very familiar desktop experience and provides access to a massive repository of free software.
Linux Mint takes everything that Ubuntu has to offer and packages it in a non-complicated yet stylish manner.
Everything you need to get you started is ready without having to install codecs, drivers and extra packages.
LibreOffice, GIMP, FireFox, Thunderbird, Banshee and VLC are all included by default and the Mint Installer provides a nicer interface than Ubuntu's Software Centre.
Click here for a full review of Linux Mint 17
Click here for a full review of Linux Mint 17.1
The Anaconda installer has matured and is much easier than on previous versions.
The Gnome desktop is incredibly good and with Wayland included it performs brilliantly.
Getting non-free codecs to install is simply a case of adding the RPMFusion repository although the graphical installer doesn't always seem to return all of the applications available. The command line Yum installer does however.
This review of Fedora 21 by Dedoimedo states that the installation turned out to be a very difficult task. There were also issues with installing the codecs.
Now one question remains: should you use Fedora? You most certainly can use it as your main desktop distribution, but remember that Fedora 21 Workstation is geared toward developers. Casual users can and should check it out, but there are things in it that might have no appeal to non-developers (such as the DevAssistant). If that’s a deal breaker for you then Linux Mint, one of the Ubuntus or some other distribution might be a better option.
I rate Mageia's latest release quite high for the additional level of user control it provides in installation and usage. Mageia 4 is perfect for users looking for a stable KDE spin which is aesthetically pleasing and gives reasonably good performance. Personally I rate Mageia KDE as the best among Mandriva forked distros (including ROSA and PCLinuxOS).
I would personally check out PCLinuxOS first but Mageia should be an option for the Everyday Linux User.
The same analogies work for computer users. Some computer users know how to use a web browser but probably don't even know it is called a web browser. These users would definitely be better off using Linux Mint than Arch.
The average computer user might find learning Arch tricky and for many users it would be unnecessary to go down this route.
Bizarrely one of the questions I get asked the most is "Which distribution should I use?". Now that doesn't really sound too bizarre because I review distributions but when that question is backed up as follows it worries me a little bit:
I am thinking of switching to Linux for the first time, which distro would be best? I was thinking either Ubuntu or Arch.
I suspect that some of these users have been on Reddit which has an evangelical Arch following whereby the answer to the "which distro should I use" question is always Arch.
Arch has great documentation and if you decide you wish to go down the Arch route then there is a clear set of guidelines showing how to get where you want to be but there is a learning curve and if you are in the class of casual computer user who likes to surf the web and do a little bit of gaming then it might not be for you.
You know that you are entering unchartered waters when you find it difficult to find reviews of a Linux distribution. I suspect that many reviewers steer clear due to the complexity levels involved.
Click here for a review of Arch Linux.
Elementary is the first entry into this list that wasn't in last year's list.
If Arch is one to be wary of then Elementary is certainly a Linux distribution that many Everyday Linux Users would appreciate.
Based on Ubuntu, Elementary provides a really stylish user interface which is clean and lean.
Elementary is more lightweight in nature than Linux Mint or Ubuntu and so works well on older hardware as well as modern computers.
I had issues getting Flash to work when I last tried Elementary but that was some time ago now. MP3s don't work from the outset but the moment you try and play one for the first time you are asked whether you want to install the necessary plugins.
Click here for my review of Elementary OS.
Here is a counter review of Elementary OS by Dedoimedo.
I feel CentOS 7 has been rushed out to market too early, with less than its flawless and most stringent QA that used to be in the past. It comes with a few glaring problems that do not belong in a serious distro. And since you can't be having any extras, its merit as a desktop candidate is even further reduced. - DedoimedoThere is a thread at Linuxquestions.org which has a number of disgruntled would be users.