10 Top Most Popular Linux Distributions of 2015

As the end of 2015 approaches, it is not only a time to start drafting your new year’s resolutions but also to check out what were the most popular Linux distributions in 2015.

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A brief comparison with 2014 will also help us whether those distros are actually experiencing sustained growth or not. Ready to start? Let’s begin.

10 Top Linux Distributions of 2015

10 Top Linux Distributions of 2015

To find out what are the most widely used distros of this year, let’s head to Distrowatch and check the Page Hit Ranking (PHR for short) table. There you can choose a wide variety of time spans that will allow you to check the ranking of Linux and BSD distributions in that period of time.

To begin, let’s take a look at the following comparative table, which lists the position of the top 10 Linux distributions from this year and from 2014:

POSITION 2015 2014
1 Linux Mint Linux Mint
2 Debian Ubuntu
3 Ubuntu Debian
4 openSUSE openSUSE
5 Fedora Fedora
6 Mageia Mageia
7 Manjaro Arch
8 CentOS Elementary
9 Arch CentOS
10 Elementary Zorin

As you can see, there hasn’t been much or remarkable changes during this year. Let’s now take a look at the 10 top Linux distributions with the highest ranking as per Distrowatch, in descending order, as of December 9, 2015.

10. Elementary OS

Advertised by its developers as “a fast and open replacement for Windows and OS X”, this nice-looking Ubuntu LTS-based desktop Linux distribution was first made available in 2011 and is currently on its third stable release (codename “Freya“).

Since elementary OS is based on Ubuntu, it is totally compatible with its repositories and packages. However, an application manager of its own is, at the time of this writing under development. On a personal note, this is one of the best looking desktop distribution I’ve every seen.

Elementary OS

Distro #10: Elementary OS

Website: http://elementary.io/

9. Arch Linux

Perhaps one of Arch’s most predominant features is the fact that it is an independent open source distribution (meaning it is not based on any other) and yet it is a favorite of thousands of Linux users.

Since Arch follows a rolling release model, you can get the latest software just by performing a regular system update using pacman, Arch’s native package manager.

Traditionally, Arch is not recommended for new users mostly because the installation process won’t make any decisions for you, so you are expected to have a degree of familiarity with Linux-related concepts in order to have a successful installation.

There are few other Arch-based distributions such as Apricity, Manjaro, Antergos, etc. for newbies who want to try out Arch derivatives without any trouble.

Read More: 3 Best Arch-based User Friendly Distributions of 2015

Arch Linux

Distro #9: Arch Linux

Website: https://www.archlinux.org

8. CentOS

Although the Community ENTerprise Operating System is best known and most used as a distribution for Linux servers, its desktop version continues to improve.

In addition, its robustness, stability, and 100% binary compatibility makes it the number one alternative to Red Hat Enterprise Linux – specially on cloud VPS vendors – perhaps one of the main reasons for the sustained growth of this distribution.


Distro #8: CentOS

Website: https://www.centos.org/

7. Manjaro

Based on Arch Linux, Manjaro aims to take advantage of the power and the features that make Arch a great distribution while providing a more pleasant installation and operation experience out of the box both for new and experienced Linux users.

Manjaro comes with preinstalled desktop environments, graphical applications (including a software center) and multimedia codecs to play audio and videos.

Manjaro Linux

Distro #7: Manjaro Linux

Website: https://manjaro.github.io/

6. Mageia

Started in 2010 as a fork of the now disappeared Mandriva Linux, Mageia has since become a renowned, secure, and stable Linux distribution for desktops and servers alike supported by a non-profit organization.

One of Mageia’s most interesting features it that the full-installation DVD allows you to choose between a wide variety of desktop environments instead of imposing one on you.

As of today, a new version of Mageia is released every 9 months and supported for the next year and a half.

Mageia Linux

Distro #6: Mageia Linux

Website: https://www.mageia.org/

5. Fedora

Built and maintained by the Fedora Project (and sponsored by Red Hat), a world wide community of volunteers and developers, Fedora continues to be one of the top used distributions for years now due to its three main available versions (Workstation (for desktops), Server edition, and Cloud image), along with the ARM version for ARM-based (typically headless) servers.

However, perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of Fedora is that it’s always on the lead of integrating new package versions and technologies into the distribution. In addition, new releases of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS are based on Fedora.

Fedora Linux

Distro #5: Fedora Linux

Website: https://getfedora.org/

4. openSUSE

Available both as a rolling release and a separate regular release version, openSUSE as per its developers is the Linux distribution of choice for system administrators, developers, and desktop users with all levels of experience (beginners and geeks alike). On top of all that, the renowned and award-winning SUSE Linux Enterprise products are based on openSUSE.

openSUSE Linux

Distro #4: openSUSE Linux

Website: https://www.opensuse.org/

3. Ubuntu

Perhaps this distribution does not need any introduction. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has devoted great efforts to making it a popular and widespread distro to the point that you can now find it in smartphones, tablets, PCs, servers, and cloud VPS.

Also, Ubuntu has the plus of being based on Debian, and is a very popular distribution among new users – which is maybe the reason for its sustained growth over time. Although not taken into consideration in this ranking, Ubuntu is the base for other distributions of the Canonical family such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Lubuntu.

On top of all that, the installation image includes the Try Ubuntu feature, which lets you try Ubuntu before actually installing it on your hard drive. Not many major distributions provide such feature nowadays.


Distro #3: Ubuntu

Website: http://www.ubuntu.com/

2. Debian

As a rock solid Linux distribution, Debian releases a new stable version every 2 years, but you rest assured that it has been thoroughly tested.

At the time of this writing, the Debian repositories for the current stable version (codename Jessie) contain 43500 packages in total, making it one of the most complete Linux distributions.

Although its strength is mainly visible in servers, the desktop edition has seen remarkable improvements in features and appearance.

Debian Jessie

Distro #2: Debian

Website: https://www.debian.org/

1. Linux Mint

Linux Mint’s well-known motto (“From freedom came elegance“), is not just a saying. Based on Ubuntu, it is a stable, powerful, complete, and easy to use Linux distribution – and we could go on and on with a list of positive adjectives to describe Mint.

Among Mint’s most distinguishing features we can mentioned that during installation, you are allowed to choose from a list of desktop environments, and you can rest assured that once it’s installed, you will be able to play your music and video files without any extra configuration steps since the standard installation provides multimedia codecs out of the box.

Linux Mint

Distro #1: Linux Mint

Website: http://linuxmint.com/

Note: The screenshots in this article have been taken from each distribution’s website (which appears following each description).


In this article we have shared a brief description of the top 10 Linux distributions from 2015. If you are a new user trying to decide which distro to adopt to start your journey, or if you are an experienced user wanting to explore new options, we hope this guide will allow you to take an informed decision.

As always, don’t hesitate to let us know What do you think about these top 10 distros? and which Linux distro would you recommend for newbies and why?

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Gabriel Cánepa

Gabriel Cánepa is a GNU/Linux sysadmin and web developer from Villa Mercedes, San Luis, Argentina. He works for a worldwide leading consumer product company and takes great pleasure in using FOSS tools to increase productivity in all areas of his daily work.

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32 Responses

  1. Michal says:

    Mint is good OS (very good work with bluetooth A2DP headphone). But I testing Antergos (Arch) and seems be stable and more quickly.

  2. BackD00r says:

    Mr. Canepa, where is the screenshot of your no. 1 pick, Linux Mint??

  3. BackD00r says:

    No screenshot for Linux Mint?

  4. sb56637 says:

    “Among Mint’s most distinguishing features we can mentioned that during installation, you are allowed to choose from a list of desktop environments,”

    Huh? I’ve never seen that.

  5. Emiliano says:

    As I always said: “Linux Mint is what Ubuntu should have always been”
    Simple, stable, simple, powerful, simple, nice, simple, with Debian as bodyguard…
    I said simple?

  6. Aaron Kili K says:

    Debian and its derivatives will always come top. Could this be because of the ease and convenience they provide to users?

  7. Wayne says:

    I’d like to know the ranking of the use of desktops.

    • @Wayne,
      That would be very difficult to find out globally as it is almost impossible to track whether a person downloading an ISO image will use a desktop version or a minimal (command-line only) version. Of course you could make a poll, but that would only be representative of the people using that specific poll.

  8. It is a good article. But I would like to disagree with one point.
    You’re saying
    “On top of all that, the installation image includes the Try Ubuntu feature, which lets you try Ubuntu before actually installing it on your hard drive. Not many major distributions provide such feature nowadays.”

    Can you name some major distributions which does not provide this feature? In your list of 10 distributions, 8 of them provide this features. (I’m not sure about Debian and CentOS)

  9. @kevin,
    I have to disagree with your comment. What do you exactly mean by “primitive”?

  10. kevin says:

    Debian is still more primitive then Ubuntu was 10 years ago.

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