While the large majority of Linux distros are based on Debian, Fedora, or Arch Linux, there are several independent Linux distros that lead a new way.
Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch Linux, and many others have continued to spawn other Linux distros. But plenty of independent distributions have no dependency on either of these base Linux distributions.
Each distribution has its own set of features, which make them different from some of the other familiar names in the Linux ecosystem. But does their independent structure make them better than the rest?
Here’s a list of the top seven independent Linux distros you can consider. Depending on your requirements, you can choose the one that tickles your fancy.
If you love a good challenge, you will fall in love with NixOS. It is not a distribution for the faint-hearted, for you must do almost everything independently, from partitioning the drives to setting up your desktop environment.
Installing the OS is relatively simple, as it gives you plenty of options to roll back configurations in case you are unhappy with the upgrades. NixOS's range of memory clean-up applications is noteworthy and lets you clear redundant packages efficiently.
Finally, its versatility comes to the fore when you begin the installation. You can play around with different development environments, which you can change every time you fire up the shell.
Download: NixOS (Free)
Don’t take the name literally, for Void Linux is a well-built, independent, and fully functional operating system, developed by volunteer developers. What makes the distribution unique is its package manager, which makes software management effective and different.
Like Arch Linux and other rolling-release distros, you can regularly update Void from your existing version. To manage your current packages, you can use the preinstalled void-package repositories, since everything is built into the system right from the beginning.
Void Linux is an advanced-level distro that isn’t as simple as some other distributions. Since this is an advanced Linux-based OS, you will need to download and install some basic packages to get yourself off the ground. As there is no graphical package installer, you will need to install everything via the terminal.
Download: Void Linux (Free)
Fedora is a well-known Linux distribution ideal for beginners and advanced users alike. As an OS, Fedora is giving tough competition to its competitors, Debian and Arch Linux.
If you talk about user options, there are two main ones to choose from:
There are a few other additional tools within Fedora’s arsenal in case you want to use them at a later stage.
With the latest Fedora 37 release, there are plenty of desktop versions to choose from, spoiling the user for choices. While GNOME is the default option, you can select KDE Plasma, LXQt, XFCE, Mate, LXDE, and Cinnamon. Additionally, Fedora 37's latest dev-focused features and brand-new editions, make it a worthwhile companion.
A few noteworthy features include improved network drivers, pre-installed applications, a fluid user interface, and fewer software bugs. With everything in tow, there is a simple, practical design that promotes the system’s efficiency and provides efficacy-driven performance.
Download: Fedora (Free)
If a small-sized Linux distribution is what you need, then Tiny Core Linux is the answer to your woes. Tiny Core Linux is one of the many small and lightweight Linux distros you can't overlook easily. Imagine having a desktop, a network stack, and a package manager, all rolled into one small-sized distribution.
Unfortunately, it needs some basic applications that a user might need, such as a browser, an office suite, and an email client.
The true sense of this distribution comes to the fore, especially when you want to revive any old computers or want a fast-paced system with minimal configurations. While this might not be your next full-fledged Linux OS, you can still use it for various purposes.
To install this OS, you need to fulfill a few basic system requirements:
Download: Tiny Core Linux (Free)
If security and privacy are what you need, you will find Clear Linux to be right up your alley. Driven by consistent updates and fast-paced development system management tools, Clear Linux is every system admin’s dream OS.
You can choose between three options when downloading Clear Linux:
As an OS, it focuses on operation-specific utilities and does not qualify as a routine desktop option. Clear Linux ships with the latest GNOME release, the native GNOME Tweak Tool, and the GNOME Shell extension tool to assist with configurations. This is a rolling release distro, and you can expect regular updates for your OS.
One of the best features of Clear Linux is its stateless configuration concept, which implies a strict partition between user and system files, so everything lies in its place.
Download: Clear Linux (Free)
Gentoo is a rolling-release distribution, ideal for people who love to explore and challenge their technical side. With its BSD-style package management tool Portage, you can easily configure and customize the software during and after installation.
Despite its hardened installation process, it is a flexible distribution that works well from the terminal. Before building the applications, you should familiarize yourself with Portage, the terminal window, and, most importantly, CFLAGS.
One of the biggest advantages of building applications is the quick installation, while the only downside is that it takes a lot of time to compile packages from the source.
If you are not too comfortable using the terminal window or can’t install applications manually using a terminal-driven interface, you should steer clear of Gentoo.
Download: Gentoo (Free)
The four Ms are a pivotal part of 4MLinux, and each aspect is essential. Maintenance deals with system administration and other system-related tasks, including backup and recovery options, partitions, and other related tasks. In short, you will find all system-related options within this category.
The multimedia element supports running and facilitating media-related aspects, such as images, videos, and related functions.
The Mini server option might not be of much help within the desktop version, but it is crucial within the 4MLinux Server release. This feature finds great use when you install packages, which you can install from the Extensions menu with a few clicks.
The installation process is seamless, and you can install 4MLinux via a simple script. Despite its looks, its functionality supersedes its overall look and simplicity, making it an excellent distro to try.
Download: 4MLinux (Free)
Linux desktops are known for their security and stability, making them stand out from their competitors. Each distribution offers its unique blend of features, which intend to improve the user experience.
Whether you are working with an independent OS or an Ubuntu/Arch-based distribution, there is always something to look forward to in terms of security and enhanced privacy features. You can pick and choose security-centric OSes to further your work requirements.
Sahil has two years of technical writing experience. His love for technology made his foray into this field, and ever since, he has not looked back.
On the personal side, he loves to travel, explore new places, and go on adventures with his two dogs.