This question is often repeated by new comers to the Linux world, there are thousands of distributions out there and choosing one of them that fits your needs may be harder than finding a girl to merry, which one is better?
Well, first of all you have to know that there’s no such thing as the “Best Linux distribution” that everyone likes and love, you will find that Ubuntu users will tell you that Ubuntu is good and offers a lot of applications to install, you will see Linux Mint users talk about the ease and elegance of Linux Mint, you will see Arch users and how happy they are with the rolling updates system.
Everybody will tell you what’s the best based on their experience, not your needs.
Actually you can customize any Linux distribution you fit your needs, after installation, you can install and configure all the software/packages you want from any other Linux distribution and use it on the one you want, as long as the code is open-source (which is true in 99.999% of the cases) you can do whatever you want with your operating system.
Because the code is open-source, everybody can grab the Linux kernel and the other tools around it and create his own Linux distribution, there are also some services like SUSE Studio to build your own distribution based on SUSE & openSUSE in a few clicks online. There are also some programs like Ubuntu Builder, Relinux and UCK to build your own distro from Ubuntu, and so on for all other distributions.
Different people have different tastes and needs, what you like may not be the thing for others and vice versa. That’s why there are hundreds of distributions around the world, each one has its own goal and targeted user base.
Therefore the solution is to go out there and try major distributions until you find what really fit you needs, there is no “best” for everyone, but there are many distributions that are designed for some specific needs, therefore trying those distributions according to your needs may be a good shot:
You may try Linux Mint or Ubuntu. The installation of those Linux distribution is graphical and they offer a lot of software to install, beside a big community for all of them that will help you in case of troubles. Ubuntu is the most famous Linux distribution and Linux MInt is based on it, Mint comes with many extra applications and other desktop interfaces.
If you’ll be using Linux to get a career in the industry then you have to know that almost 90% of the hiring managers around the world require one of Redhat‘s certifications, therefore using Redhat Enterprise Desktop (Or Redhat Enterprise Server) can be a good thing.
However Redhat distribution is not free, you will have to pay around 100$ for a subscription, you can use CentOS which is 100% exactly the same as Redhat but is free with a different name.
You can study for Redhat certifications and follow up all Redhat courses using CentOS, you don’t need to get a copy of the main Redhat system. There is SUSE as well for the enterprise but it’s just 10% of the market, but it offers a lot of solutions actually.
You may try Fedora gaming Spin, SteamOS and SparkyLinux Gameover. Gaming on Linux is not very much depending on the distribution actually, you can install the main gaming programs like Steam, Wine Emulator and PlayOnLinux or even CrossOver to run the games you want.
You may try Tails, a Linux distribution which is shipped with Tor, the famous anonymity software. You can also try QubesOS, it’s an isolated operating system that runs by using containers to provide security.
Security on Linux is very strong, way better than Windows actually due to many reasons like the structure of the kernel and the permissions system, so any Linux distribution will be safer than Windows, but between them, they differ in security a lot, distributions like Redhat and Fedora are a good example for this.
Linux is very amazing when it comes to old hardware, you have a lot of special distributions and programs even for +10-15 years old, actually you can use some interfaces like LXDE, LxQt and Openbox on any distribution you want, but tuning that is a bit hard, especially if you are a newbie.
There are hundreds of Linux distributions around the world actually, each one of them can be a potential good operating system for you instead of Windows and Mac OS, but we don’t recommend using unknown distributions or those with small communities, they may die at any moment for lack of support, therefore, staying with the major distributions is a wise choice.
You can use “Distrowatch” to find and search for Linux distributions, it’s a huge website that is creating a database for most of them around the world, you may check the search page to run a query. You can also check “Linux Screenshots” website to take a tour to whatever distribution you want before downloading it.