My Linux Distro Tier List

Just for fun, I decided to throw together a tier list showcasing my opinions / experiences with a bunch of Linux distros. These usually make for entertaining YouTube videos, but I don't make videos, so I'll try it in text format.

Note: These are my personal opinions based on my own experiences (or lack thereof), and may differ from others.

Here's my tier list, created using

Linux Distros Tier List

Would use on a work machine

  • Fedora Silverblue - Readers of the rest of my blog shouldn't be surprised by this, I've been keen on Silverblue since I first encountered it back in 2021. It's currently on my work machine and one personal machine.

  • OpenSUSE - Before my Silverblue obsession I was rocking OpenSUSE as my daily driver on both personal and work machines. When I first learned about Linux back in 2013, I distrohopped like crazy, but settled down on OpenSUSE 13.1, and so I have quite a long history with the distro. Both Leap and Tumbleweed are fantastic, and I would recommend either. I currently have one personal machine running Tumbleweed (which I am writing this on now!)

  • Linux Mint - A rock-solid distribution which cares a lot about the out-of-the-box user experience, Mint is definitely my number-three distro. I'm not generally a fan of Ubuntu or its derivatives, but Mint is the exception. With btrfs and Timeshift, it's so easy to create a super-reliable setup. I have one personal machine, plus a portable drive with all of my work applications set up ready (so if my work laptop were to explode I could boot any machine from this drive and get straight back to work) running Mint.

  • Debian - Slow and stable wins the race. A nice reliable distro with a great track-record. It's got great compatability and is generally a safe bet.

Would use on a personal machine, but maybe not a work machine

  • Arch / Endeavour - The Arch family of distros is great for gaming, or generally wanting up-to-date packages. Being a rolling release, there's no faffing around with jumping between major versions with fingers crossed that it won't go wrong part-way-through. I have Arch on a gaming machine with an Nvidia card, because it was incredibly simple to set up. It has had its fair share of problems over the years, with the external monitors refusing to work after a routine upgrade, but it's not been common enough to make me consider moving.

Would use in a VM, but not as a host

  • Fedora - I've blogged a few times about how I do all my coding in VMs, and Fedora is typically my OS-of-choice for these VMs. I've had numerous issues which have soured my taste on Fedora over my time using Silverblue, so I couldn't recommend running traditional Fedora as a host OS, but for a throw-away programming VM it is exceptional.
  • Vanilla - It's no secret that I love Immutable Distros, and Vanilla OS's ABRoot is a very interesting execution of the idea, but it's too new a project for me to consider putting on hardware. Despite that, it's a neat idea and I'm definitely keeping an eye on it.
  • Kubuntu / Xubuntu - At a previous workplace I was forced to use a *buntu to match our production servers, and as a Plasma-fanboy at the time I went with Kubuntu. I've never massively enjoyed my time with any of the *buntus, but Kubuntu didn't cause me any troubles of note, so if I needed a VM for ubuntu specifically, I would use Kubuntu or Xubuntu.
  • RHEL / CentOS / Alma (etc) - I've not had much personal experience running a RHEL as a desktop, but all of the servers at my current workplace are Oracle, and my development VM for my dayjob is also Oracle, and I've got nothing to complain about. Probably a bit slow-moving for a host OS, and I would probably go for Debian if I was after something slow and stable.

Would not use

  • Ubuntu - I've had nothing but unstable, nightmarish experiences with Ubuntu, ever since 12.04. Multiple installs, both hardware and VMs, have died completely on me. Then they decided to go all-in with snaps, which I've also had some awful experiences with, and so I'm totally done with it.
  • Pop!_OS - Pop seems like Ubuntu with a bunch of GNOME customisatons that make it laggy. I guess it's aimed mostly at Nvidia users, but I'm fine with Arch for my Nvidia machine - maybe I would have a different opinion if I was forced to use Nvidia at work. However, I am rather excited for the upcoming Cosmic Desktop, and so my opinion may well change in a couple of years!
  • Elementary - Elementary is all about the Pantheon desktop environment, which is heavily-inspired by MacOS. I'm really not a fan of MacOS's desktop, and thus I don't like Elementary either.
  • Neon - As far as I understand, Neon is aimed at people developing the Plasma desktop, rather than being an everyday-use distro.
  • Garuda / Manjaro / Parabola - We have Arch at home. I don't see what Garuda or Manjaro really provide that I couldn't get from Endeavour, and Parabola is for people who care about nonfree blobs and such, which isn't me.
  • BlendOS - Another immutable distro, but I'm not entirely sure what this one aims to achieve. I could just install Distrobox on Arch and set up btrfs + Timeshift to achieve something similar. It's also way too new for me to be comfortable putting on hardware.
  • Solus - Again, not entirely sure what Solus is trying to achieve. That could just be my own ignorance, but I don't see why I would learn a new package manager to use a relatively-niche distro.

Never Tried

  • Nix - Somewhat interested in Nix, and I can definitely see its raison d'ĂȘtre, but I can't seem to find the combination of time + motivation to sit down and learn something so completely novel. I'll never say never, though, as I love the idea of entirely atomic systems.

I have nothing of substance to say about anything else here, as I've not used them.

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