An honest and unbiased look at the seven best desktop-centric Linux distro releases, according to our expert assessment, seen in 2022.
2022 is at its very end. This is usually a time to reflect on the year that has passed. As an online media covering everything significant in the Linux world and the Open Source software, we presented you with the Linux releases that stood out above the others in the desktop niche in 2022.
We will consider factors such as predictability, user-friendliness, reliability, and software support. But first, let me go into detail about the criteria we used to determine our final ranking.
Predictability is critical in our rating system for a straightforward reason: it assures that a given Linux distribution does not have a habit of making unexpected radical changes in pursuit of its aims or surprising its users with some unanticipated radical shift, whether on a technical or conceptual level.
The feeling of expectation that is covered in the next distro release gives the end user with peace of mind and confidence in the operating system in which they have placed their trust to be their daily desktop driver.
There is no need for lengthy explanations here. Aside from the technical and conceptual visions that drive a desktop-centric Linux distribution, the number one factor it strives for is its ease of use. Of course, this is always refracted via the views and understandings of developers and in the shape of different desktop environments that have undergone more or less modification.
Of course, desktop interface choices are determined by each user’s individual tastes. Some distributions, however, adhere more closely to the fundamental usability principles than others, which rely on non-standard approaches. As a result, this factor was considered when forming our rankings.
Furthermore, another criterion that we also consider is the availability of in-house built additional GUI tools integrated within the distribution, facilitating its management.
For us, reliability implies minimizing the chance of a hasty debut of insufficiently tested software packages, which increases the risk of something going wrong with the particular Linux distribution. A smooth and seamless transition from one minor or major version to another is another significant factor that covers our criterion.
Because reliability is a direct result of software support criteria, it overlaps slightly with them, but there are still differences, so we opted to look at software support separately.
Linux distribution would only be successful with solid software support. Two distinct approaches distinguish the good ones that have made a difference in the Linux world. The first is when we talk about company-backed Linux distros. In other words, those with solid financial backing allow for hiring a sufficient number of developers to provide timely and safe software updates. This is the case with Ubuntu, SUSE, Oracle Linux, and other distributions.
The second scenario is when a Linux distribution has been around long enough and successfully built up a vast user and developer base that provides timely and high-quality updates. We’re talking about Linux distributions like Debian, Arch Linux, Linux Mint, Gentoo, etc.
In our rankings, software support is the factor that leads and tips the scales regardless of which of the two categories distribution falls into.
Best 7 Desktop-Oriented Linux Distro Releases in 2022
With all of the clarifications made above on which our rankings are based, it’s time to get to the ranking itself. Here it is.
1. Linux Mint 21.1 “Vera”
Released on December 20, 2022, Linux Mint 21.1 “Vera” is the perfect blend of everything in the right dose to top our team’s pick of the best desktop Linux release for 2022.
Cinnamon, their in-house developed desktop environment, shines with its clean, modern look and attention to detail in its 5.6 version. At the same time, working with it is easy and free of unwanted surprises, such as odd design views on how the user should interact with the desktop environment.
Packed with in-house build tools to assist with system administration, such as managing software, making system backups, installing drivers for hardware, etc., working with Mint 21.1 are a breeze and a pleasure. Furthermore, switching from one Mint release to another is entirely seamless, with no single issues in our tests.
Mint has taken the best of Ubuntu while removing its shortcomings. Building on it and simultaneously free of corporate interests and goals that undoubtedly impact Ubuntu’s development, Linux Mint is the perfect desktop operating system for which the famous slogan “Linux for human beings” suits much better than its original creators.
Historically, Linux derivatives that surpass the originals from which they came are extremely rare. Linux Mint is one of these exceptions, and it deserves full credit for choosing the right path and putting many years of effort into this undertaking.
So, regardless of my liking and understanding, if I were asked which Linux distribution I would recommend installing on a computer for everyday work, I would answer without hesitation, “Go with Mint 21.1.” This release is the ultimate Linux desktop of 2022 because of its strong community, reliable and proven support, ease and simplicity of use, and lack of issues.
For more information, visit the Linux Mint website.
2. openSUSE Leap 15.4
openSUSE, a distribution receiving undeservedly less than its fair share of attention, takes second place in our ranking of the best desktop Linux distribution release for 2022. Specifically, released in June, openSUSE Leap 15.4.
I know openSUSE has had similar success in the server field, but as its logo implies, we’re dealing with a chameleon’s type Linux distro here. In other words, it is part of the so-called general-purpose Linux distributions, well-suited to operate as both a desktop and a server operating system. For reference, Debian is the most prominent example in this regard.
But now, back to openSUSE Leap 15.4. It is a world-class enterprise Linux distribution that strives to give you nothing less than the best. YaST, the software that differentiates openSUSE from the competition, puts control of the entire operating system in your hands with just a few clicks of the mouse.
I can sum up the distribution’s support for its users in a single word: world-class – the best support of all those featured in our ranking. So if you’re wondering why it’s second in our rankings rather than first, we’ll explain.
openSUSE is a fatalistic distribution, but we would not recommend it to a new Linux user without concerns. The primary audience is more experienced users who know what to expect from Linux. For example, if you are ready to get your hands dirty on the command line, you won’t find popular package managers like APT or DNF; instead, you will need to know Zypper.
However, by installing openSUSE Leap 15.4, users get virtually the same experience as paid SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) users. In other words, exceptional stability, smooth release upgrades, and first-class software support. All of this leads to openSUSE’s well-deserved place among the best.
For more information, visit the openSUSE website.
3. Fedora 37
Fedora is a Linux distribution that needs no introduction. The distro enjoys solid support and a bright future thanks to Red Hat’s strong financial backing.
Fedora 37, released on November 15, continues Fedora’s tradition of providing users with the most up-to-date software by featuring the latest release of the GNOME 43 desktop environment.
The fact that the Fedora developers shipped the distribution with a vanilla GNOME version is a significant benefit here. It adds significantly to ranking this release in the coveted third place. This means you’ll receive a pure GNOME experience that you can customize.
In contrast, many other distributions that come with this desktop environment choose to “beautify” it with a plethora of GNOME extensions, believing that their vision of the desktop experience is the only one that is proper. But, of course, this is virtually always in contradiction with the end user’s needs, resulting only in user churn.
Of course, the pure GNOME experience is far from the decisive element in Fedora 37’s third-place ranking as one of the best desktop Linux distributions for 2022. However, the distribution’s lack of unwanted surprises in recent years and its straightforward release cycle have significantly contributed to its status as a leading and popular desktop distribution. Something that provides the user with peace of mind.
Aside from that, upgrading between major releases is seamless, and each version receives great support throughout its lifecycle. Fedora 37 only adds to this impression, putting it in the top three of the best Linux releases you can rely on for your daily computing needs without hesitation.
For more information, visit the Fedora website.
4. Ubuntu 22.04 “Jammy Jellyfish”
I’ll start with a full confession. When discussing with the team which distributions deserved to be included in our ranking list, my personal opinion was that Ubuntu should be excluded. However, I was reminded that we are doing an objective ranking rather than one based on personal biases.
After accepting that, despite my views, I was okay with Ubuntu taking the seventh place, a new round of more forceful reminders followed that they would not consider my personal opinion if it contradicted the team’s mainstream. So, I gave in and asked to be given the final list, which I shall accept. Of course, I got one, with Ubuntu coming in fourth place. So, let’s get right to it.
In the past ten years, almost nothing has been left unsaid or unwritten about Ubuntu. However, over the last 19 years, the distribution has slowly and surely climbed the pedestal, becoming nearly synonymous with the term Linux among the uninitiated.
And for a good reason. Easy-to-use desktop, timely and high-quality software updates, total predictability in new versions, colossal user community, and so on. In other words, a combination of features that pushes it to the top of desktop Linux distributions.
Ubuntu 22.04 “Jammy Jellyfish” is the distribution’s most recent LTS release, providing users with nothing less than what they expect – one of the greatest and most stable desktop experiences. And if I had written this article five years ago, Ubuntu would have been at the top of our list. But, unfortunately, things are different today.
Over the last few years, firmly focused entirely on the business segment, Ubuntu has been digging deeper and deeper chasm between the average user and its one-time slogan, “Linux for human beings.” This has inevitably resulted in a shift from home users to distributions that better listen to them.
In conclusion, Ubuntu 22.04 LTS “Jammy Jellyfish” is still one of the best releases a Linux user can trust for their desktop experience. However, this is the consequence of residual momentum built up over the years rather than efforts done with the regular Linux user in mind, whether technical or conceptual, that have won their hearts and sympathies.
For more information, visit the Ubuntu website.
5. MX Linux 21.2 “Wildflower”
MX Linux is a desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on the Debian stable branch that is less popular among Linux users than the ones mentioned above. However, it is one of the best things that may happen to your computer, and we will explain why below.
MX Linux 21.2 “Wildflower” edition, released in August 2022, primarily aims at advanced Linux users with experience and a foundation to build on. The distribution uses a heavily modified Xfce desktop environment, reflecting the MX developers’ views on desktop interaction. As a result, the desktop is a perfect mixture of simplicity, ease of use, and appeal to more seasoned users.
Building on the uncompromisingly stable Debian 11 base, MX Linux 21.2 includes a host of in-house developed tools that help administer virtually every part of the system via user-friendly GUI tools. I’ll mention MX Tools, MX Tweak, MX Package Installer, MX Cleanup, MX Boot Options, and so on. In other words, almost every system component can be configured using a related GUI tool.
MX Linux also has the advantage of being a systemd-free distribution. This automatically leads to lightning-fast operations and simple service administration. Additionally, it should be noted that, unlike other systemd-free Linux distros that entirely avoid systemd, MX Linux ships with systemd; however, SysVinit is still the primary init system. As a result, users can boot installed systems in whatever way they want, thanks to the systemd-shim system.
Moreover, MX Linux is one of the few remaining Linux distributions that provide a 32-bit installation option to support users with older hardware.
So, we can reach the following conclusion. If you are a more skilled Linux user looking for a lightning-fast desktop system that is also stable and highly configurable, MX Linux 21.2 “Wildflower” is probably the distribution for you.
For more information, visit the MX Linux website.
6. EndeavourOS “Cassini”
EndeavourOS is a young Linux distribution that debuted in 2019. Based on Arch, the distro has set itself the difficult challenge of reducing Arch’s complexity to a user-friendly operating system for the average Linux user. And the EndeavourOS “Cassini” release, which the devs announced on December 19, 2022, does an outstanding job.
The distro provides the closest experience to native Arch possible, wrapped in a lightning-fast and user-friendly desktop environment. The Cassini release includes the most recent version of Xfce, 4.18. Of course, you also get a handy graphical installer, which removes Arch’s biggest drawback, if it can be considered that, the complex installation.
Furthermore, EndeavourOS ships with a small set of in-house built tools that contribute to the sense of cleanliness and adherence to Arch’s KISS principle.
Because the distribution mainly uses official Arch repositories, you will always have the most recent and up-to-date software, carrying guaranteed Arch quality. Furthermore, its compatibility with Arch’s AUR repository makes things even more attractive.
Finally, we may provide the following summary. EndeavourOS is targeted at more experienced Linux users who are not quite ready to get their hands dirty in the depths of Arch but want to get as close to the native Arch experience as possible. Cassini is a great release that will fulfill your expectations and much more, providing you with a robust, lightning-fast, and seamless desktop experience.
For more information, visit the EndeavourOS website.
7. Manjaro 22.0 “Sikaris”
The December edition of Manjaro, 22.0 “Sikaris,” holds the final open position in our best desktop-oriented Linux distributions ranking for 2022.
Manjaro, like EndeavourOS, is based on the concept of Arch Linux for the average user. And, without a doubt, Manjaro is more than up to the task. However, here we’re talking about the heavy artillery of Arch derivatives.
In other words, Manjaro is more than just another Arch-based Linux distro. It has long beyond that point, becoming a complete finished product with its vision, personality, and goals.
It is a one-of-a-kind beast, with its software repositories independent of Arch and tons of in-house built tools. A beast that has successfully hidden the whole Arch’s complexity under its hood, replacing it with convenient and user-friendly graphical tools.
One of the distro’s most appealing aspects is that Manjaro is predisposed to each type of user. So are you discovering Linux for the first time? No worries. You may not need to touch the terminal using Manjaro. Everything you need for system administration is available in user-friendly graphical apps that are just a mouse click away.
If, on the other hand, you’re a long-time Linux user with a lot of experience in the field but you’re tired of constantly struggling with the time-consuming tasks of installing the OS and configuring the desktop environment, Manjaro will gladly save you both, allowing you to focus on the important things for your work.
In other words, the Manjaro 22.0 “Sikaris” release brings you the best of both worlds: the stability, speed, and abundance of software inherent in Arch, as well as the polished and smooth desktop experience found only in the industry’s best. By choosing it as your daily driver, the chances of you making the wrong decision are close to none.
For more information, visit the Manjaro website.
That brings us to the end of our list of the best desktop Linux releases for 2022. I have been as impartial as possible in providing accurate, expert, and relevant information.
To varying degrees, each of the distributions listed above provides a range of features and capabilities, including user-friendly interfaces, robust package management systems, reliable support, and a wide variety of pre-installed software.
However, as always is the case, your best choice entirely depends on your priorities, knowledge level, and expectations from your desktop experience. Therefore, it is essential to thoroughly research and evaluate the available options before deciding.
With this info, I hope to have been of help to you. I’m sure you have thoughts on the rankings given in this way, so please keep in mind that your opinions and feedback are always welcome in the comments section below.