The 10 Greatest Debian-Primarily based Linux Distributions

The standard Debian and its popular offshoot Ubuntu are great all-round options for a Linux system, but if you have more specialized needs you may want a Debian alternative.

Here is a list of the best Debian-based distributions that provide robust functionality and a stable environment for Linux users.

Ubuntu is the most popular desktop Linux distribution in some ways, and for good reason. It offers an easy-to-use graphical user interface and the most comprehensive driver support. Many Linux users, both newbies and experts, love it because it just works.

Ubuntu is based on Debian Unstable, effectively takes a snapshot of it and polishes it for general use. The Long-Term Support (LTS) versions have guaranteed updates for five years from their first release in order to ensure system stability.

Pop! _OS is a modified version of Ubuntu developed by System76 for their Linux-preinstalled PCs. However, you don't need to have a System76 computer to use it. You can download and install Pop! _OS just like any other Linux distribution.

System76 positions this operating system as ideal for MINT work. The desktop offers a number of shortcuts and gestures to make it easier to open and switch between windows. You can easily tile windows and stack them on top of each other.

The distribution offers System76 owners special functions. You can download firmware updates for your device using a special tool available only to System76 users.

Related: How to Customize Pop! _OS Using GNOME Tweaks

When you think of a Debian-based desktop Linux distribution, you probably think of Ubuntu. Q4OS is supposed to be a leaner, simpler desktop and a suitable alternative to Ubuntu.

Where Ubuntu is based on Debian Unstable, Q4OS pursues the stable version. The default desktop is KDE Plasma, but the developers give the option to switch desktops, including the Trinity desktop. It is even possible to run Plasma and Trinity side by side in Q4OS.

While it may seem absurd to refer to KDE as a "minimalist" desktop environment, it says more about modern computers than about the desktop.

It seems that when Linux distros come out some people think they just have too much stuff in them and release "minimal" Linux distros. SparkyLinux is another way of creating a "minimalist" desktop distribution.

Like Q4OS, SparkyLinux aims for a lightweight desktop experience by default through the LXQt environment, although images are also available with Xfce and KDE. It is based on Debian rather than Ubuntu.

You can also install other custom variants: the game-oriented GameOver, multimedia for audio, video and web development, and Rescue for repairing an unbootable system. A MinimalCLI version is also available without an X server.

SparkyLinux gives you the choice between a "stable" version or the cutting-edge "rolling" version, depending on whether you need stability or the latest software.

Zorin OS is a modified version of Debian over Ubuntu that tries to present a familiar interface to Windows users. The idea is to make it easier for users who are used to Windows and macOS to switch to Linux.

Many people also like to install Linux on older computers, and Zorin OS offers a "Lite" version for just that purpose. Their website even covers Windows 11 and its call for a TPM module that many computers, including those made in the past few years, lack.

You can customize the look of the user interface to match the style of the operating system you're used to, whether it's Windows or macOS. You can even install Windows apps right into Zorin OS. It also comes with NVIDIA and ATI drivers for gaming. It can also be integrated into smartphones, as can Windows and macOS.

Devuan is a spin-off from Debian that emerged after Debian switched its init system from the old Unix System V-inspired system to systemd, a move that was controversial in the Linux community for various reasons, from alleged software bloat to developer behavior, the potential for a systemic monoculture and the dominance of the project by Red Hat (where it originated).

A number of Debian developers left the project and formed Devuan to promote what they call "init freedom" by releasing a variant of Debian that does not use systemd. By default, Devuan uses the Sysvinit system, but you can choose between others.

Many companies use Linux on their servers because it is secure, but security is only good if it actually works. Because of this, many companies use penetration testers to try to break into their systems. If this is what you want to learn, Kali Linux is your distro.

Kali Linux comes with hundreds of penetration testing tools. It gives you a complete penetration testing toolkit on an easy-to-use Linux desktop. The documentation is also extensive, with "recipes" showing how to do something with the operating system.

We're not lawyers, but you should only run penetration tests on computers and networks that you own or that are otherwise authorized to crack.

Related: Ubuntu vs. Linux Mint vs. Debian: Which Distribution Should You Use?

MX Linux is a lightweight Linux distribution that tries to strike a middle ground between minimalist distributions and big ones like Ubuntu.

By default it uses the Xfce desktop with additional KDE Plasma and Fluxbox options.

The distribution is a successor to the original MEPIS distribution and antiX; the name is a combination of both project names.

The usual division of labor in the Linux world is for desktop environment developers to create the desktop and just pack up Linux distributions, but KDE has moved into the Linux distro with KDE Neon, a version of Ubuntu that showcases their desktop. Played in.

The homepage promises the latest version of the KDE plasma desktop, but like the main distribution of Ubuntu, it has a version with long-term support.

Deepin describes itself as "the top Linux distribution from China" aimed at a global audience.

The distribution has its own desktop, the Deepin Desktop Environment, along with a suite of its own applications, including a package installer. The interface is nice while the underlying system is Debian based.

Much to discover in the Debian world

Even within Debian and Ubuntu, you don't have to choose the standard operating system. Many people have taken advantage of the flexibility of Linux to modify these systems to their liking, and it seems that many others are interested in doing the same.

There are tons of Linux distributions to explore, and more people will be building on the Debian / Ubuntu code base in the future. Remember, so many free operating systems can result in distribution hopping.

Here's how to stop distro hopping and find the perfect Linux distro for yourself

Are you constantly switching over to find the best Linux distros? Here's how to find a suitable distro for yourself that you'll cling to for decades.

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About the author

David Delony
(60 published articles)

David is a freelance writer living in the Pacific Northwest but originally from the Bay Area. He has been passionate about technology since childhood. David's interests include reading, watching quality TV shows and movies, retro games, and collecting records.

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By David Delony

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