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Each year, the FOSS Post team does an extensive research on choosing the best Linux desktop distribution of the year. There’s of course no “universal best”, as the criteria is different from one person to another. For our selection, we search for distributions which may be suitable for the dominant majority of Linux desktop users, which is why we have 5 different criteria in our about page for that purpose.
Some Linux distributions reviews were published on FOSS Post, while others were tested by our team but weren’t published due to time/resources constraints. Fedora, Ubuntu (And it’s flavors), Mint, Arch, NixOS, MX Linux, Pop!_OS, elementary, Solus, openSUSE… Many more, all of their latest versions in 2020 were tested to determine which distribution was the best for the average Linux desktop user in 2020, according to our previously specified criteria.
Our 2019 winner was Ubuntu MATE.
And the 2020 winner is: Linux Mint 20!
Strongly going since 2006, the Linux Mint project is one of the most successful open source projects in the world, a success which is usually not enough celebrated in the open source press. Its success is extraordinary not just because of its ability to continue operating since that time, but mainly because it doesn’t have any commercial / enterprise interest at its core at all; It is a desktop Linux distribution. It’s free. It’s 100% open source. No premium features, no SaaS, no enterprise support. And yet, each month, the Linux Mint development team shares how they succeed in collecting an average of ~$15,000 from user donations alone (Excluding sponsorships). The Linux Mint team consists of many people, some working full-time while others are part-time developers, and they continuously share software updates and new features each month at their official blog.
Good project, happy users, stable financial position… What’s better than that?
We have been historically very enthusiast about Linux Mint, as you can see from our very detailed and long reviews of version 18, 19 and 20:
- Linux Mint 20 Continues to Excel in All Tasks
- Lengthy Review of Linux Mint 19: A Distro for Everyone
- A Complete Review for Linux Mint 18: Amazing Indeed
Linux Mint 20.1 beta was released just few weeks ago, and it is expected to contain some software updates and a little push of new features. “Web Apps Manager” is expected to be the main new feature in this release, which converts your websites of choice into desktop applications that you can launch at any time (In separate windows for each).
Here are some aspects on why we think Linux Mint 20 was the best Linux desktop distribution in 2020:
- An App For Everything: Every single task an average Joe may need in his operating system has a special program available for it by default in Linux Mint. You have a software manager, an updates manager, a backup manager, a USB formater/burner, a log manager, a hardware manager, a file uploader, a local file-sharing program, a parental-monitoring program… Pretty much everything you need in included in the default ISO itself. No need to look for additional software in PPAs, no need to read articles like “Things to do after installing Ubuntu“… Just a plug-and-play operating system. Which is a very great plus for a Linux desktop distribution.
- Hardware Support: Linux Mint 20 brought NVIDIA Optimus support out-of-the-box; You can now launch any specific application you desire using any graphics card you desire. Additionally, the new Bluetooth manager program eases the discovery of new devices. Fractional-scaling support in Mint 20 made everything greater for HiDPi users.
- Great Artwork: Few distributions ship with more than the default system and icon themes. Linux Mint 20 ships with tons of different icon and system themes, in various colors, and also in light/dark variants for each. Additionally, you can choose the variant you like from the welcoming program after the first start.
- Deep Options: One of the most underrated and unspoken features of Windows is the “deepness” level of its settings; You can find a graphical window to configure every aspect of your system, no matter how small or deep it is. Linux Mint is perhaps the only Linux distribution that gets close enough to match Windows in that regard; With options in its control center to change even the width of the scrollbar, the size of the symbolic icons on the desktop panel or the speed of different animation types. (Read our detailed review for Cinnamon desktop to see more in this regard).
- Different Flavors, Same Experience: Many distributions come in different desktop environments, such as Ubuntu. But unlike the others, Linux Mint offers the same user experience in whatever flavor you choose. In Cinnamon, MATE and XFCE flavors you’ll always have a panel at the bottom, with a menu launcher in its left side and system tray icons on the right side, and desktop icons on a background. They all ship with the same Mint apps, same features and nearly same packages. This means that no matter the desktop environment you prefer, you’ll always enjoy the stable user experience from Linux Mint.
Because of these features, Linux Mint is indeed one of the best Linux distributions out there. And we’ll keep recommending Linux Mint for new comers to the Linux world. It is simply the dominant option over many other distributions in the market.
Congratulations to the Linux Mint team on making this masterpiece, and on all the efforts they’ve spent to achieve this remarkable milestone!
You may visit the official website of Linux Mint to learn more about it or download it.
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