Top 5 Best Alternative Linux Distributions for Windows Users

It is quite intriguing how Windows 10 took off shortly after its announcement on the 29 of July 2015 and it is without a doubt that it’s the best Windows ever – which is what a sequel of any operating system should be anyway – unlike those that came before it (I’m looking at you Window 8/8/1).

Microsoft currently boasts of over 200 million devices currently running its flagship operating system, which is a humongous amount if you ask me. Notwithstanding, the market share of Windows 7 still surpasses that of Windows 10.

However, given the success rate of Windows 10 in the short space of time, we’d expect its usage share to eventually grow over the next few years to beat Windows 7 – just the same way the latter took over Windows XP.

I like to attribute Windows 10 to “8.1 done right” particularly because it’s more or less a refined form of the latter – with still a lot of improvements under the hood.

Given the entire nature of the Windows operating system as a closed – money/data hoarding platform, it’s mostly fair that people that value their privacy or are otherwise displeased with Windows 10 will look out for the better alternatives while still offering a similar experience akin to what the 10’s GUI offers.

In this article, we’ve picked 5 Linux distributions that will give you the best possible Windows-esque desktop experience on Linux.

1. Zorin OS

Zorin OS is perhaps the most prominent of the bunch and has quite the manpower with a standardized development cycle (one that is similar to Ubuntu LTS and short-term releases).

Zorin OS – an Ubuntu-based OS designed for Windows Users
Zorin OS – an Ubuntu-based OS designed for Windows Users

The Zorin OS once installed, will make you feel right at home as it has that generalized Windows look, and for a user coming from Windows, you almost will be able to go wherever you’re most fond of visiting on your Windows PC.

It is noteworthy that Zorin shares the same codebase as Ubuntu and uses a heavily modified DE dubbed Zorin DE and based on Gnome 3.

By default, Zorin OS is meant to look like Windows 7, but you have other options in the look changer which are the Windows XP style and Gnome 3.

Better yet, Zorin comes with Wine (which is an emulator that allows you to run win32 apps in Linux) preinstalled and many other applications that you’ll need for basic tasks.

2. ReactOS

ReactOS is a very old operating system that has been active development for the last two decades and it aims to be the most aesthetically pleasing OS that steals you completely from Windows.

ReactOS Desktop
ReactOS Desktop

If you thought Windows 10 was quite the looker, give ReactOS a try and you’ll almost never look back. The OS comes with a complete and unique customizability set which is quite comparable to that of Zorin OS but much more extensive and consistent all through the operating system.

Given that ReactOS is a relatively old operating system, you might be a tad unwillingly to give it a shot, but believe me, I’ve test-driven it for the well part of a week and I can very well say the stability is top-notch and comparable to the rest of this list which is why I gave it the number 2 spot.

[ You might also like: ReactOS Alternative to Windows – Review, and Installation ]

3. Elementary OS

Elementary OS is one of the many options poised as a fast replacement for Windows and MAC users alike looking to migrate to Linux.

However, Elementary OS doesn’t have the same conventional windows-like UI as the aforementioned distributions (why it made the third on our list).

Elementary OS - A Ubuntu-based Linux OS
Elementary OS – A Ubuntu-based Linux OS

The operating system is extremely solid and will easily grow on you once you begin using the Pantheon DE (which is elementary’s home-grown desktop environment).

Pantheon is more or less a MAC lookalike and will be mostly befitting to users coming from OSX, however, that doesn’t rule out the fact that Windows users can as well enjoy the distro as much.

The most recent release of Elementary OS 5.1.7 Hera is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS which, of course, means that you’ll be getting updates and security patches for the next five years as it is with most Ubuntu LTS releases.

The latest release is codenamed Hera and it’s available for the most popular PC architectures out there (x64) and quite lightweight too. For optimal performance, it’s advisable to have a PC with at least 2GB of RAM and a dual-core Intel SoC or an AMD equivalent.

4. Kubuntu

Kubuntu will be your go-to distro if you’re looking for extreme reconfigurability with an app for everything outside the box.

The distro comes with the KDE desktop environment and has for long been an officially supported branch of Ubuntu with KDE-specific applications for pretty much everything you’ll need to do.

Kubuntu - A Ubuntu-based Linux OS
Kubuntu – A Ubuntu-based Linux OS

The flagship desktop experience is tagged Plasma and it’s currently at version 5.21 which features a seeming flat UI all through the operating system.

The KDE Plasma experience is, however, evolving to be a more rolling type of release for those that want the latest and greatest of KDE under the moniker KDE Neon which was recently established by the former maintainer of Kubuntu.

So whatever the case may be, if you decide to go with Kubuntu, be sure to keep an eye on the KDE Neon development so you may know whether to switch or not.

It is noteworthy, that the KDE Neon experience will eventually evolve to use the up-and-coming Ubuntu 20.04 LTS base which, of course, means updates and patches for the next 5 years.

KDE apps are built using the Qt framework which is known for having strong cross-platform support and also allows easy interoperability with other platforms.

Mind you, Kubuntu is not exactly lightweight and your system must have ample resources to be able to effectively run the OS as it features animations all through (which can, of course, be disabled but will strip down the Kubuntu experience).

5. Linux Mint

This list wouldn’t be complete without Linux Mint in it. Let’s just be fair about that. Linux Mint perhaps has an edge here for being the second most popular operating system for newbies in the Linux world which is not too much of a surprise (putting into consideration the original vision of Linux Mint devs – which is essentially an operating system that has absolutely no learning curve to start working immediately).

Linux Mint - A Ubuntu-based Linux Distribution
Linux Mint – A Ubuntu-based Linux Distribution

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and essentially shares a high percentage of the Ubuntu codebase. Mint has been fondly called “Ubuntu done right” over the years which is certainly true when you look at it from the perspective of a newcomer to Linux.

Mint will make you feel right at home once you get a hang of the fair amount of navigation difference that makes it differ from what you’ll mostly find on Windows.

Cinnamon is an in-house DE that ships with Mint, However, there’s the Mate, and Xfce variants (all of which are configurable to the very core).

[ You might also like: Linux Mint 20.1 Installation, Review, and Customization ]


This brings us to the end of our list and while it’s not exactly comprehensive, you can be sure that you won’t go amiss with whichever of the aforementioned distros you finally settle with.

In the event, you come across issues installing them or any challenge whatsoever, drop your comments in the box below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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60 thoughts on “Top 5 Best Alternative Linux Distributions for Windows Users”

  1. So I often try many Linux distros in the hopes of finding something that works easily, for a windows user that has used windows since 3.1. Now in the beginning many distros simply did not install. You had to configure hard drive space before it would install and coming from windows this was horrible. Now I try distros in virtualbox and it is alot more simple that is for sure.

    I feel that the single biggest issue with all the Linux distros out there is that it such a pain to install a program. Where in windows its a easy task to double click and select install. So if anyone in the linux world wants to make this mainstream thats what needs to happen.. It is simple enough to find a linux program such as my favorite browser Opera. But next to impossible to install. Where in windows I can download a file and just click on it.

    Well thats me comment.

  2. I must be doing something wrong! I had Windows 10, and after endless trouble with it, especially after the latest upgrade, I migrated to the latest LinuxMint. I have used Linux for many years, but not in the role of a main system, so I am not exactly “new” to Linux.

    Anyway – I installed Crossover in my LM system and now can run just about all the applications that I ran under Windows. These apps include my Genealogy software. I still have some others to try – but haven’t got round to it yet. The point is that I made the switch with no trouble – of course I had to de-register the apps I had run under Windows and re-register them in LM, but that was no sweat. I am still using all the hardware that I used in Windows.

    My main point is that I have been able to continue with what I did using Windows without any hiccups. Oh, of course everything runs faster now. One final thing, and I know that some Linux “hardliners” may say that I do not need it, I installed ESET internet security for Linux. Just to be on the safe side of course.

  3. Is there a version of Linux mint suitable for dummies who have been using windows forever. I’m asking this with XP which is an okay version to use offline (via a switchbox).

    Q.2 Why doesn’t Wine work ? Thanks,

      • Anyone can use Linux if all they want to do is search for things and watch YouTubes. Some folks don’t demand much from their computer. It’s like, Oh how did you put those arrows into that picture ? Well I used a program (from a disc) called Paperport which just barely runs in XP pro. It was meant for Win 98. Unlike my wife I show my computer no mercy. Sometimes I get in trouble. :-))

        • Shortcut to what?

          If you would like help with a problem, you need to define the particular problem, not just make a vague, general complaint.

  4. I prefer the newest technology and I think replacing x 11 is important. Who is going to maintain it in the future? IBM, mint users, Oracle etc. I don´t think so. The negativity to Wayland irritates me and I will stick to non x 11 distros.

  5. Several years ago I decided to take the advice of people I knew who kept telling me to dump MS and go Linux, I had gotten a CD with Linspire that ran perfectly, except I had no idea what the different names for everything meant.

    They kept telling me to get Ubuntu it’s the top of all. Well, I tried to install it, from a download, actually several, would not work, I contacted the official site and bought the disk, no luck there, I hit the library found the Linux for Dummies book with included disk it wouldn’t install either.

    I seriously tried as many possibilities as I could find and no luck on any of them, and yet that Linspire V1 worked like a charm from the CD.

    Now I’m being forced into W10 and it sucks, did the FREE upgrade, which ended up with me buying a new W7 disk to reinstall everything, wasted days into weeks, even bought a new HP laptop and W10 was the worst ever, still is, slower than my old Commodore Vic 20 nothing but one long line of problems after another, Shame on HP, Best Buy and MS. and who knows who else.

    I know that MS writes lousy code, gets it half way debugged then sends it out so million ends up working for FREE for MS as debuggers or flaw finders, Hey name me one version of Windows that worked right on V1.

    You can’t because they were all flawed and none of them worked right until several major service packs later. 95 XP Vista all failures out of the box. But W10 is the worst ever, which is an understatement.

    Why should we work for free for Gates because he can’t hire people that know what they are doing, that know how to write good code? Billy G promises W10 is the last version ever, that we will just keep getting updates until the end of time.

    That scares me, plus it is 100% invasive, and you can’t opt out of their data collection, what else are they collecting and how many back doors does the Government have? Way too many is the only answer.

    I would wager, with good odds, that IF someone wrote a Linux version that was really a Linux for dummies point and click that from 60% to 95% of Windows users would migrate in short time.

    Which means if you charged just a single Dollar for a copy you would become an instant Multi- Billionaire. The Forced migration to W10 is MS cutting their own throat, they just don’t know it. And FYI even if you don’t want it ever, Gates already notified the world you are getting anyway in some future update to W7 or what ever you use.

    Meaning you have no choice, except move to something completely different, and Linux is maybe a great choice, but until it creates a version W users could understand right up front it won’t happen.

    For example you see the word kernel a lot, outside the loop nobody has a clue what that means or refers to, took me a long time to find that out.

    Everything in the Linux word is like a foreign language, like Ancient Greek or Sumerian to a Win user. And they don’t want to take the time months if not years to learn that language.

    Plus who is going to teach them? The Billions of them all around the world. You? Just now I searched Best linux version for Dummies that use Windows, Got lots of returns, but each talked about versions with different names, some names were this you know like that other one, I have no idea at all what those names mean.

    They give no clue, to me a Fedora is type of Hat, What the hell is a Distro, sounds like Disco and I never did that, ever, never will either. And what does this mean? Is Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” The Ubuntu Killer? See what I’m talking about? I have zero idea what any of that means.

    • Absolutely right Joshua” I would wager, with good odds, that IF someone wrote a Linux version that was really a Linux for dummies point and click that from 60% to 95% of Windows users would migrate in short time.”

      I know I would. Yes a Fedora is a hat and I remember Disco :-)) You failed to mention the other Disco’s like Gnomes, Trollesk, Marajuano, Dion (and the Belmonts) and of course BSD. I guess the D stands for Disco or Distro and the BS, well we all know what that is.

      Just turn on the news. Lots of BS there. In any case there are too many versions. They may as well reintroduce GW Basic and make you play with code all day. The most successful people in the world don’t have time to play with code. They’re making money.

  6. For me Linux is not a perfect choice, as a designer I need my corel draw and photoshop, but Linux just don’t support that, for graphic designers Linux is not worth..

  7. I’m a late starter to LINUX. In fact I’m late across the board. I would love to learn all about LINUX and open source. However at this moment I am financially adrift. Please some advice or help. I never forget a nicety and when the shoe is on the other foot as it inevitably will be, my gratitude is abundant’ Let my LINUX enlightenment begin

    • Don’t know what Linux distribution you have chosen but there are plenty of resources online for learning Linux. Be they videos on youtube or ebooks you can easily download for free. You just have to search for them.

      Though today my Linux distribution of choice is Arch-Linux, if you have yet chosen a Linux distribution I highly recommend just starting off with standard Ubuntu.

      Welcome to the Linux libre and opensource community.

  8. Hello! What about the wifi driver for certain equipments? I have a Lenovo V310 -15ISK; didn’t manage to make wifi work, despite hard efforts. Any ideas? Thank you.

    • Hi Moan, sorry for getting back to you so Late. Goto settings, additional drivers and hopefully, you’ll find your Wi-Fi’s driver there. If that doesn’t work however, you can try updating your Linux kernel to the latest.. Hopefully it’d have your wireless driver

  9. Chapeau Linux could have made this list easy. It’s fedora based, and like Mint, comes ready to run right out of the box. I call it the Mint of the Fedora world. I run both Mint and Chapeau on my computers, and love them both.

  10. I’m one of those windows users all of my computer life; a necessary utility for instant interaction on a global level. Would remain loyal to one service utility if not taken advantage of and my personal stuff is not used abused and charged for.

    Looking for new OS which is stable easy to use capable of awesome graphics to keep me smiling. Directed to this website Jesse and sitting here trying to add to my learning curve in search for new OS.

    Admire Jesse for getting out there and having a go so why not help him to research all the info? It is after all to our advantage. I am no professional computer expert; but I am tired of consistent monthly bills for the same old apps! Wish List: working stable secure OS paid for 1 x for a computer Life. So will sit listen and observe to your words of wisdom people – just so you know I am here hoping. Snakeskin-Shedding


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