So you have invested your hard-earned money into a new desktop computer, but you aren’t sure if you want to run Windows 10 on it. At the very least, you really only want to use it when you want to play a game or two on it. So what do you do? Why not install Linux and use it as your primary operating system. With the right tweaks, you can even use it for gaming, although each game will require a little extra setup on your part to make it run.
If you have a high-end desktop, the sky is the limit on what operating system you can run. Still, if you want my advice, and if you’re reading this I know you do, then keep on reading. Today we will look at some of the best distributions that run great on high-end systems. These distributions provide the most features and some of the best eye candy available in the Linux world.
Why Run Linux
I’ve been over this before, but I feel like it is important to highlight here as well. There are many great reasons to run Linux. Some of the best reasons are:
- Security – The Linux environment is one of the most secure systems available today. Compared to Windows, Linux is Fort Knox. If you are concerned about safety and security, then you really can’t go wrong with Linux. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any viruses or security concerns, but there are far fewer compared to Windows.
- Freedom and Customization – If you like to tweak and customize your system the way you want it, you really can’t match the power that Linux provides. You can tweak almost everything, from the look and feel to even which graphical interface you use. On top of that, you can mix and match and change it up whenever you feel like it.
- Software – There are thousands of apps designed for Linux. Most of these apps are available for free and you can install them whenever you want. If you want the ability to search and find the app that meets your needs perfectly, then Linux is the platform for you. You won’t be locked into apps like you are on Windows and Mac.
- It’s Free – As you know, Windows costs money. If you want to run macOS, you have to buy an expensive iMac or other Apple machine. But, if you choose Linux as your operating system, you won’t have to pay a dime for it. It’s a great way to save money while still getting a powerful operating system that will do anything you want it to do.
- Educational Tool – I’m a big believer in always learning something. Just because you’re an adult and out of school, doesn’t mean you should ever stop learning. Learning and understanding Linux is a great way to expand your knowledge and learn more about how computers work today. In this world of technology in which we live, learning Linux is a great way to stay on top of the world and keep your skills sharp.
These are but a few of the reasons you should try to use Linux as your operating system of choice. There are many more, but these are some of the best reasons out there and I hope they are enough to convince you to give Linux a shot.
Best Linux Distros for High-End Desktops
Now that you understand why you should give it a try, let’s examine several distributions that are perfect for high-end desktops. Any one of these Linux distributions will work for you, but if you don’t like them, then I suggest heading over to Distrowatch to research the distro that’s right for you and your needs.
I figured I would start this list with the top distribution in the world – Linux Mint. Built on Ubuntu, it brings all the Ubuntu features wrapped in a slightly different package that feels a little more like Windows. This makes it one of the best distros out there for people that are new to Linux, as the organization of apps and features will feel very familiar to Windows users.
It comes out of the box with everything you need to manage music, videos, surf and even create and edit documents. Basically, everything a standard Windows user will need to get stuff done. While I’m not a fan of the green mint colors, that is easy to remedy. Because of its user friendliness and Windows feel, it’s no wonder it’s the most popular Linux distribution right now. If you are new to Linux and want a system that feels familiar while escaping the grasp of Microsoft, then look no further than Linux Mint.
Ubuntu is really the Linux distribution that made Linux popular. Canonical was the first group to really try and make Linux more user friendly for the everyday user, and that’s why there was a time that Ubuntu was the be all, end all distro for Linux users. Today, it’s still sits in the top of the most used distros in the world, even if Linux Mint, which is based on Ubuntu, currently reigns as the most popular.
Ubuntu offers a very beautiful interface and some of the best software available for Linux right out of the box, including popular software packages like LibreOffice, Thunderbird, and Firefox bundled with the distribution. Because of its popularity, it is one of the easiest distros to find support for and it still has a very healthy community of users that are very helpful to newcomers to Linux. Really, Ubuntu is responsible for much of Linux’s popularity today. If you want to try a distro that really paved the way for what Linux is today, and you want one filled with software, support and all the great eye candy you expect in a modern OS, then Ubuntu is the perfect choice for you.
Is eye candy important to you? While to many Linux users it comes a close second to functionality, many users love an operating system that looks great. I know how it is, because I love a great looking OS as much as the next guy. Elementary OS offers one of the best looking interfaces I have ever seen on Linux. On top of that, it is also one of the easiest to use, making this a great distribution for newcomers to Linux.
It often gets compared to macOS, and there is no doubt they took some of their design cues from Apple’s operating system. For some, this is a bonus, while others aren’t exactly fans of the interface. Still, you can’t deny it’s pretty and easy to use, even if it does feel a bit stripped down to some. Really it’s not, as you have the same terminal access and can do whatever you want with it. If eye candy combined with functionality is what you want, or if you are coming from an Apple platform, then this is really the Linux distribution for you, and it will run great on any high-end desktop.
Do you like to use cutting edge, free software and are you the type that always needs the best of the best on your system? Are you patient with this new software if there is a bug or two? If so, then Fedora is the distribution for you. Fedora is the personal desktop version of Red Hat Linux, and is often the test bed for their newest software features. That means you could run into a bug here and there. However, in my experience, it’s still very stable and a great option for Linux users who want to stay cutting edge on their high-end desktops.
It comes with a host of virtualization support and many developer tools, making it great for high-end systems for programmers and server admins. In addition, it includes some of the best security and impressive cloud capabilities that aren’t often found in other distributions right out the box. It uses the Gnome 3 GUI, which has a different take on the look and feel of the OS from other graphical interfaces, but I do like it. It will take a little getting used to, though, if you are new to the Gnome 3 interface. Still, if you like being cutting edge and running the best of the best on your high-end system, Fedora is definitely one of the best choices out there for you.
If there is one area where you may have high-end desktops, it’s the work environment. After all, you want the best machines so your employees can get the work done as efficiently as possible. While you can run Windows at work, have you ever considered Linux? OpenSUSE is one of the most advanced and feature-rich Linux operating systems designed with the workplace in mind.
It comes with all the features you need to run a full-fledged desktop right out the box. It’s easy to install and software of all flavors is easy to add. You will always find the latest stable builds of every application package you want to use, so you don’t have to worry about being behind the times in your business. If you want to try Linux in the workplace, I highly recommend installing openSUSE on your high-end desktops. Everything just works, and you won’t have to worry about spending hours customizing Linux, unless you want to, of course.
Do you have a high-end desktop that you want to use as a server on your home network or even in your office? If so, then in my opinion one of the best options out there is CentOS. CentOS is essentially a free version of Red Hat Linux, and it comes with all the features that users of this commercial version of Linux have come to expect. Today, CentOS powers many different types of servers around the world, and even hosting giants such as GoDaddy make use of it on many of their hosting platforms.
While it doesn’t feature as much of the eye candy of other operating systems on this list, it packs a huge amount of server friendly features into its install. With its light eye candy, more power is reserved for the server features so you get the fastest server possible. Personally, when I setup a server, I always go for CentOS. Sure there are other options but in my experience this is one of the best Linux server options out there.
How do you choose?
With all of these different distributions, it can be tough to choose the one that is right for you and your high-end desktop. If you want pretty, easy to use, and stable, then Ubuntu, elementary OS or even Linux Mint may be the best choice for you. If you are looking at an OS for a work or server environment, then CentOS or openSUSE may be the best choice. If you want cutting edge tech, look no further than Fedora. Still, even with this guide, one of these may not seem like the right fit for you. I encourage you to try each one until you arrive at the distro that feels right for you. Learn all you can about each one and play and experiment. That’s part of the fun. I have no doubt you will find a Linux distro that’s right for you, even if it isn’t on this list.
You truly can unlock the power of Linux if you put it on a high-end desktop. While you can tweak Linux to run on anything, even old, out-of-date machines, you will truly have a remarkable Linux experience if you install it on a high-end, modern PC.
Remember, this list is by no means the be all, end all of Linux distributions. They are some of the most popular and most powerful distributions out there. Still, you may find a different distribution not on this list that meets your specific needs, and that’s okay. After all, Linux is all about freedom of choice. You can install what you want on your machine and customize it the way you would prefer.
I strongly encourage you to give Linux a shot if you are tired of using Windows and being locked into paying for software that you don’t really enjoy using. I believe you will be glad you did.
What Linux distribution have you chosen to install on your high-end desktop? Tell me about your experience in the comments below. Did I leave a distro off this list that you believe should be there? Tell me about it and maybe I will add it so we can create a great list of the best Linux Distros for a high-end desktop.