Open Ballot: Best Distro 2012


As 2012 nears its cold, wet conclusion*, we're asking you to look back over the past year and let us know which distro you think deserves the award "Best distro 2012". If you're nominating a distro that's had more than one release, let us know which one.

Raspbian and Android Jelly Bean are a couple of less-conventional ones that have caught our eye. Security-focused distros such as Tails and Qubes are becoming increasingly important in a digitally-hostile world. Mint continues its relentless march towards world domination. Mageia has had a great year while Ubuntu has had it's ups and downs. System Rescue CD protects you from Zombies (honest). Fedora and OpenSuse have continued to deliver. Zorin seems to be attracting interest, as does Rosa. Arch continues to be perfect (if you believe Graham). Gentoo earned a perfect 10 in an LXF review ... the list goes on.

Here at LXF towers, we're divided. There's a rainbow of different distros on display and no clear favorite. Or, rather, there are five different clear favorites depending on who you ask.

Use the comments below to let us know your feelings and we'll use them to gloat when our preferred distro wins discuss them in the podcast.

We'll put our 2012 distro roundup feature online once voting closes (Thursday morning).

*Unless you're south of the equator where it's nearing its warm, sunny conclusion. We're not jealous.

You should follow us on or Twitter

Your comments

Construction man turned Linux wannabe Geek

Since I wiped out My 2 Apple computers and put Bodhi and Pinguy on them I can say I'll never go back to Apple. I did put Ubuntu on my Sons desktop and he likes it alot. Just waiting for another customer to throw out there Apple so i can put Linux Mint on it . If I had 200 Computers I would praise every version of Linux . Linux Rules ......

salix and puppy

Salix is an easy to remaster Slackware-based distribution with with a fine XFCE desktop but also works well without any tweaking. Fast on an older PC

Puppy a very small light distro that is easily configurable and has found a way to hide the geeky stuff so even an OAP can install it! Very fast on an older PC.

Good Old Kubuntu

I keep coming back to Ubuntu based OS as it simply has such a truckload of apps to choose from and heaps and heaps of support. Like it or not it is the one that manufacturers look to and as I like my KDE I use K-ubuntu.


"Systemd, Upstart, Gnome, PulseAudio, 'recommended packages'? Turn away from your decadent life of dependency resolution; your disgusting love of needless complexity; your sinful disgregard for KISS and POSIX - and turn towards the one true distribution."

- His Holiness Patrick Volkerding

Mint 13/14

Linux mint with the MATE desktop has been easy to configure and simple to use. It's got its parent distro, Ubuntu's great hardware support and huge software range without the controversial decisions and untested software.

A close second place goes to Fedora 17 with KDE desktop.

Ubuntu 12.04

For use in desktop, laptop and htpc ubuntu 12.04 wins my vote, the Unity interface gets mature and the stability is flawless

Best business distro: red

Best business distro: red hat, it reached one billion
Best all open distro: debian
I've used it for 6 years at work at least 40h each week with no problem: ubuntu


Thanks for the puppy advice

@ProlificPuffin Thanks. I tried Slacko 5.3.3 and it did work well but I have never run a Slackware distro before and I am more comfortable with Ubuntu/Debian based systems but I will definitely give this a try....downloading right now. What are the major differences between Slackware and Debian anyway? I have more reading to do...Thanks again!

Am using Mint 10 Julia

And it seems to be working fine for me, I tried Ubuntu (9, possibly 10) but didn't really have the hardware to make the unity desktop run, and without shiny, whats the point? Also tested Fedora 14, but I think Mint just beats it overall ease of use, and still has nice desktop.
I've invested in Dream Studio from OSdisc (via distrowatch), but I don't think it will run on my current hardware, so am waiting for next update.
Wishing Everybody good wishes for the season, thanks again for your podcast and the opportunity to contribute.

There is no such thing as a problem
without a gift for you in its hands

Mint 12

The last version that can be installed from a CD. Newer versions are too big. Too many distributions are getting too bloated for installation from a cd. Some of us have hardware that only has a cd and won't boot from a usb stick

Solus OS

I want to give a little love to this distro.

Ubuntu 12.10

I loved using Ubuntu 10.04 and later 10.10. With the change to Unity, I was disappointed and did not like the the new look and limited options. I hated not being able to customize the ugly launcher bar as an example. Now, 2 years later I decided to give 12.10 a try and I must report that I'm pleasantly surprised and extremely happy with my new Ubuntu desktop! Yes, a few things could still be improved, but as a whole the experience is great and everything just works and works better than before. The software centre is a pleasure to use and I hardly have to resort to direct package installs to get anything I want. I do try out other Linux flavours on a regular basis, but I always find them lacking in some respect. I guess once an Ubuntu fan, always a fan... 1st place for Ubuntu!

Mint 14 and Fedora 17 for me! :D

Linux Mint 14 and Fedora 17 are worthy of BEST DISTRO! :D


Hudson, MA, USA

Arch just keeps rolling on...

I've spent a few years with Ubuntu. Some upgrades were pretty hairy. Then I tried Crunchbang, then Archbang, and now Arch and a number of spinoffs.

Arch updates sometimes get you into trouble, but the comfort of not having to face a quantum upgrade every 6-18 months, not to mention the latest & greatest drivers (mostly with better performance and stability each time) is fantastic for me.


Fuduntu is the best distro of 2012!


Manjaro Archlinux !
An Arch based distro, stable, rolling release, and ultra lightweight.


Fuduntu is the perfect balance of speed and usability. I have it dual-booted on two laptops. Everything works right, right away. I've tried a half dozen others, and Xubuntu came close, but Fuduntu is the best.

I say Fuduntu. Great distro,

I say Fuduntu. Great distro, awesome community with great support.

+1 on Fuduntu

Fuduntu is the best I've seen in 2012.

This is Commander Shepard

and Fuduntu is my favorite Linux distro.

Voyager Linux - an improved Xubuntu!

Needed a new distro to replace a no longer supported version of Ubuntu Studio and so made the switch to Voyager Linux after seeing it on the Linux Action Show.

It's Xubuntu made beautiful and dinosaur AMD3200 is running like a charm.

I will say Kororaa

Kororaa is my favourite . Full of power .


Fuduntu is best distro you fargin' iceholes! :redlid:

so many choices

It all depends on what you are into. Fuduntu is really nice and great on net books if you are into RPM distros. Zorin just works and looks pretty. Can't wait for Solus OS 2 to come out because it will probably be my distro of choice. Elementary OS luna beta is beautiful, works great looks nice but some of the DEVS have this arrogant attitude about them and have said if you don't like what we chose then try something can't configure it that much. The idea of Linux is freedom to choose and with elementary if they don't watch out, people will choose but not them. I do not have enough computers for all the distros I like.

Fuduntu Other distro's have

Other distro's have little quirks that cause me to always come back to Fuduntu. It is rock solid.

Mint 14 Cinnamon edition

Mint 14 Cinnamon edition


Fuduntu is still rocking Gnome2 !!!!

That one guy from some place...

Fuduntu has my vote on this one!

SimplyMepis, still

I really don't have a pressing need for anything bleeding edge. I just want something that is incredibly easy to use, easier still to figure out how to use, and just for me, pretty much moron proof. SimplyMepis fits the bill. And SM is still, in my experience, the most stable distro running. Works for me anyway.
SM followed by Ubuntu 12.04, followed by Vector 7.0
I eagerly await the release of SM12 beta.....

PCLinuxOS 2012 Full Monty

A great way to break up a huge menu into 6 colorful, logical desktops each dedicated to a different subject: 1)Internet, 2)Office, 3)Games, 4)Multimedia, 5)Graphics, and 6)System. You still have the Menu Icon, File Managers, etc. in the Taskbar, most commonly used programs are icons in widget boxes.


Xubuntu (XFCE) on somewhat older machines else Ubuntu.

Fedora 17

Fedora 17. Gnome 3.x out of the box. Fast. Tons of documentation.

Once again it seems to be those who have

as compared to those who use.

Linux operating systems will always be a choice. And CHOICE is good. Perhaps it comes down to being able to re-invigorate older hardware which does physically exist, enabling an old computer a new lease by virtue of becoming a household server or simply connection technology is always going to become a problem when the desire to upgrade overwhelms the reliability of the very technology commercial interests wish to represent as useless or outdated.
From a perspective of wanting not to put old computers into landfill, the possibility of making use of old hardware is appreciated.

There is no such thing as a problem
without a gift for you in its hands

Ubuntu all the way

Although Mint folks are quite vocal, Ubuntu 12.04 is by far the best distro I have ever used.

Other desktop environments are available to install and use, even Cinnamon or Mate (via PPA). I don't see any reason to use Mint.

Once you get used to Unity and how it works there is no way of going back to anything else. Especially great services included like Ubuntu One are fantastically integrated!

Im currently enjoying Steam thanks to Canonical for creating the worlds best distro! :)

ubuntu 12.04

Very happy with 12.04. 12.10 is still a little shaky. Interestingly last week a installed 10.04 on an old machine. It was really quick but I have got so good with 12.04 that I found 10.04 difficult.

I just don't know

This year was my third year using Linux. I used Ubuntu from the start and really wanted to give Unity a chance. So I tried to stick with it, 12.04 was almost perfect, but when the news of the development of 12.10 was starting to get out, I started trying out the other DEs.
- I am intrigued by openbox, but don't have the time and will at the moment to figure everything out and configure my entire desktop.
- XFCE isn't quite there yet in configurability.
- Gnome is also very configureable, but unfortunately the developers think that my desktop is a 7 inch tablet, and I just can't abide that. Also upgrading to a newer version of Gnome is useless if most of your favourite extensions are only months afterwards.
- KDE is my current desktop and I use it on openSUSE's Tumbleweed, which I absolutely love.
I really wanted a rolling distribution and LMDE isn't up to date enough and often things go wrong with upgrading. Arch is a bit to cutting edge for me and I wasn't sure if Chakra was going to stay true to her Arch-base, or move away from it.
I want a distro that isn't on an island of it's own, but one that is fully compatible with a distibution with strong support be it either from a company or a large community, but preferably both of course.
openSUSE is a distribution which is incredibly powerful and still user friendly, and combined with KDE it's a power house. The openSUSE build service is very familiar to Ubuntu's PPAs and building your own distribution has never been easier.
So for me the best distribution is openSUSE, because it didn't do anything crazy but in this time of turmoil dares to continue to iterate on existing concepts and ideas and only focus on the desktop. Their courage goes even further in saying that they are currently aren't completely sure where to go from here. In a time where everyone else is trying to revolutionize everything with the next greatest thing, they are taking a deep breath and try to think before they act.

Fedora 17 & Cinnamon

I am a firm believer in the community aspect of Linux and by far, the Red Hat/Fedora team have consistently been the top contributors back into the community... where as Ubuntu has consistently been one of the worst.

Props goes to Mint team for fixing the stupidity of Gnome, by creating Cinnamon.

Now if Mint could create a rolling release based on Fedora, I might actually consider switching, but until then it is Fedora + Cinnamon.


For me Korora is to Fedora as Mint is to Ubuntu\Debian.
I have always loved Mint but now Korora wins it for me.
I have to say I have a partition 50\50 split Mint and Korora (with Cinnamon) and I hardly ever go into the Mint side.

The worst thing about Korora is having to remember how to spell it.

Best Distro

The best Distro is the one that fits your needs, and for me that is Slackware 14.

Be blessed,

Debian is king

Sorry for being unoriginal but I think Debian stands out.

I have been using wheezy and although it is not officially classed as stable yet I am finding it to be rock solid stable.

The apt package management system is fantastic - very easy to use contains more packages than you could ever use in a lifetime and is very reliable.

The Debian Free Software Guidelines are also a big plus for me. Some folks regard Debian's strict refusal to allow any non free components in the main repos to be an inconvenience but I find the ethical/idealistic commitment inspiring.

Debian's array of different architectures is something that other distros cannot match.

Debian is also very versatile. It is renowned as a server but I believe it is underestimated as a desktop.

What is a more difficult question is which desktop environment is the best?

Unity? Cinnamon? Gnome 3? KDE? xfce?

Also, here's one for you...

Gnome was created because of legal issues over KDE at the time (since resolved). If these legal issues had never arisen and Gnome had therefore never been created would the Linux desktop be in a stronger position today than it is?

Gnome complains of a shortage of devs as does KDE.

Is it unfortunate therefore that we have 2 main camps rather than one? Does the split from a single Gnome interface to several exacerbate this problem?


Really digging the minimalism of XFCE combined with Ubuntu's ease of use!

Arch Linux

I rather enjoy Arch Linux. Though if I had the patience for compilation, I would probably choose gentoo/funtoo.

Xubuntu 12.04

Simple, fast, stable based on Ubuntu LTS. Everything works
out of the box the way it should for a great desktop
experience. It plays well with older hardare along with
new. All Xubuntu needs is the proprietary multimedia codecs
installed and Xubuntu provides what I think is the best
most professional Linux experience out there.

Fedora 17

Its hardly 1 years gone that i've started using linux .I've tried latest versions of all major distros like ubuntu , debian ,mint , kubuntu , PClinuxOS ,opensuse, fedora and many more . While many distros caught my eyes but only fedora 17 caught my mind .

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Username:   Password: