10 Best Linux Distros to Install on Your MacBook

macOS is a Unix-like Operating System so many of the features in Linux distros are similar to those that it offers. That notwithstanding, because it is Unix-like does not mean that it is Linux and for one reason or the other you may want to run a full-fledged OS.

Here are the best Linux distros you can install on your mac.

1. Ubuntu GNOME

Ubuntu GNOME, which is now the default flavour that has replaced Ubuntu Unity, needs no introduction.

Being the most popular distro, you will find out that its solutions are the quickest to find online thanks to the many forums dedicated to its user base.

Ubuntu coupled with the GNOME DE is a combo that you are bound to enjoy unless you are looking for something particularly different. If that is the case, read on.

Ubuntu Gnome Desktop
Ubuntu Gnome Desktop

2. Linux Mint

Linux Mint is the distro that you probably want to use if you don’t pick Ubuntu GNOME. It is based on Ubuntu and its developers are determined to fix all the issues that Ubuntu users complain about.

Linux Mint is, in a manner of speaking, a cooler Ubuntu, and its UI is easy to navigate. It will be a good pick to run on your Mac.

Linux Mint
Linux Mint

3. Deepin

We recently covered Deepin’s latest update so if you haven’t seen it then check it out here.

Basically, Deepin is the coolest distro on the block with a mixture of both Windows and Mac features which make it an excellent installation – the environment wouldn’t feel strange to its users, and all its applications work harmoniously to offer a pleasant Operating System.

Currently, though, the app store isn’t in the best of conditions so you might want to keep that in mind when you go searching for the latest apps to install.

Deepin Desktop
Deepin Desktop

4. Manjaro

Manjaro is, to simply put, Arch Linux for beginners. It is beautiful right out of the box and since it is based on Arch Linux, it has direct access to the Arch User Repo and ships with software that helps you autodetect the appropriate driver, codecs, etc. specifications for your machine.

Manjaro uses the same fixes that Arch Linux users enjoy when they use the Arch Linux manual and user forums so be rest assured that you will be in good hands if you happen to run into any issues.

Manjaro Linux
Manjaro Linux

5. Parrot Security OS

Parrot Security OS features possess tons of built-in tools for penetration testing and the developers also place emphasis on simplicity.

I suggest that you install Parrot Security OS on your Mac if you plan on running security and network-related tasks.

If you want other privacy-focused distros you can check out our article on the best Linux distros for privacy.

Parrot Security OS
Parrot Security OS

6. OpenSUSE

OpenSUSE used to be known as SUSE Linux and then SuSE Linux Professional – from the name you might have guessed that it is a no-play distro.

OpenSUSE is strict with security, uses KDE Plasma, and has an online studio (the SUSE Studio) where you can customize its makeup to your taste and run your own version!

OpenSUSE is among the most professional Linux distros that you can work with – it is even used for Linux certification programs and examinations! So you are certain to be running a much-loved and reliable OS if you go for it.


7. Devuan

If you are not a fan of the systemd init then Devuan is a cool distro to check out.

Devuan is a Debian-based distro that uses Sysvinit instead of systemd and while it has access to Debian’s repo, it has its dedicated repo that hosts customized applications to run alongside the Sysvinit manager.

You can read on the differences and advanages between Devuan and Debian.

Devuan Desktop
Devuan Desktop

8. Ubuntu Studio

Ubuntu Studio is basically Ubuntu tweaked chiefly for media production. It is excellent for working with graphic design and modelling applications like Blender and GIMP, video production, 3D modelling, animations, photography, book publication, and audio production, recording, mixing, mastering, etc.

If would be working with any of the open-source applications for media production then put a hat on things by running them on Ubuntu Studio.

Ubuntu Studio Desktop
Ubuntu Studio Desktop

9. elementary OS

elementary OS gained most of its popularity by being beautiful and MacOS-like. It works nicely with Retina displays, an app store that closely resembles the one on MacBooks, and an overall UI that will almost make you feel as if you didn’t sway from using macOS. This contributes to why the developers can boldly claim that it is a fast and open replacement for Windows and macOS.

Being a privacy-focused distro, it boasts military-grade security builds and does not collect any form of data for advertising deals.

If neither Manjaro nor Deepin felt like home enough for you, then elementary OS should do the trick.

Elementary OS Desktop
Elementary OS Desktop

10. Tails

Tails, like OpenSUSE, is a security-conscious distro, but it goes an extra mile. Tails route all of its internet traffic through the TOR network to ensure complete user anonymity and prevent data interception or analysis by any 3rd parties.

Tails OS does not come straight out of the box as fancy-looking as some of the other options on this list but it boasts the GNOME DE and is based on Debian so you are free to customize away.

If you are super security conscious and will like to have the details of all your transactions accessible to only you, then Tails is the OS you want.

Tails Linux
Tails Linux

Ultimately, the distro that you decide depends on why you want to run a Linux distro on your Mac in the first place.

What are the reasons why you may want to install a Linux distro on your Mac and which Linux distro is your preferred choice? Drop your comments in the section below.

Divine Okoi is a cybersecurity postgrad with a passion for the open-source community. With 700+ articles covering different topics in IT, you can always trust him to inform you about the coolest tech.

Each tutorial at FossMint is created by a team of experienced writers so that it meets our high-quality writing standards.

20 thoughts on “10 Best Linux Distros to Install on Your MacBook”

  1. I have tried Ubuntu, Mint, Manjaro, and Opensuse on a 2012 MacBook Pro i7 8GB, and not one of them will install. I have followed the instructions listed on each site to no avail. Created a USB stick, created a blank partition on the disk…. nada. Every one of the installs starts and then hangs. No wonder Linus is slow to expand in the marketplace.

  2. I’ve not been able to get Deepin to install on a Macbook Pro. The trackpad on Manjaro is jumpy. Also, Manjaro hangs up too much for my taste. Zorin behaves the best of any distro I’ve tried. BTW, Elementary looks like the Mac OS from 15 years ago. In other words, it’s not very Mac like, unless you like the dated look. Tried it and found it to be very limited in what it offered. Like so many Linux distros, the mouse/trackpad was jerky and imprecise. I really like MX linux. It runs great in a virtual box, but couldn’t get it to install on a Mac or run from a USB drive. The trackpad simply didn’t work at all on a Mac.

    • Right; Deepin has kinda been an ironic case recently. I have noticed that the latest updates break the OS when it’s run from a virtual environment. Hopefully, this will get fixed soon because it sure is driving interested users away.

  3. May I point out to Linux tragics that spinning off a lot of names is not explaining anything.

    It seems a mystery, listening to Linux users, as to what they do besides run and install Linux.

    Ask a Mac or Windows User what it is they do and it won’t be that they run Mac or Windows. They have jobs, and the computers help them do it.

  4. As someone who’s “disto-hopped” since 2002?…I’d just like to make some observations:

    Ubuntu – The “Average Person’s Linux Disto” – Definitely the version of Linux most user’s have tried, started with, or have used once in their lifetime. It’s been around for a long time and appeals to many because of its ease of use.

    Linux Mint – The version of Linux most Windows users will gravitate to (at first?) because of its similarities to the Windows desktop environment. Some have moved from Windows to this version of Linux and won’t go any further, because this does everything they want their computer system to do without the hassles of EULA’s or License keys.

    Deepin Linux – The most “MacOS-like” version of Linux in existence today. Even more then ElementaryOS. has its pros and cons (Apple-esque interface, shaded / frosted glass accents throughout the desktop. Visually designed to look like the MacOS desktop. (Some say the biggest “issue” with this distro is that it originates from China which some people do not trust for all the news stories of them spying on users through their technology.)

    Manjaro Linux – Arch Linux made easy. All that’s required if you’re coming fresh from the Windows or Apple universe is the little effort it takes to learn the commands for updating and such from the Command Line. other than that? a robust and strong distro for everyday use.

    Parrot OS – A dressed up version of KaliOS. Has all the bells and whistles that one could want for pen-testing, network monitoring, and other security-oriented applications. Definitely not for beginners! But if one has a penchant for performing security-focused work at home? then this is the distro to do it with!

    OpenSuSE Linux – The “second” definitive “enterprise Linux” distro (Red Hat / CEntOS would be the first!) This is what is considered the Linux desktop perfected. It comes with everything you need, and tons more should you need it. YasT is easy to understand and use, and the security on this distro is RIDICULOUS! You would be surprised to know that, along with distros like Tails…KaliOS…and Parrot OS…THIS is the distro a lot oa hackers use when they’re “working”. Even if someone doesn’t plan on using this on a daily driver? I would highly recommend they install it either on bare metal or in a virtual machine to get a feel for it.

    Devuan Linux – This is Debian Linux unfiltered, and “pure” this is the old school version of Debian Linux “the way it should have been” For those who love Debian and the entire .deb universe this distro is king. Along with the added benefit of not having systemd on their system trying to control everything? this distro is a favorite of the purists out there.

    Ubuntu Studio – This is like having the MacOS Creator’s Suite without having to pay $4,000 for the Mac!!! Everything under the sun is in here, from DAW’s to graphic manipulation tool to paint, photo editing, audio recording, even a full blown studio suite complete with drums, guitars, amps and effects and keyboards. Definitely for those who are artistic or musically inclined.

    ElementarOS – While this comes across as a MacOS clone? I feel Deepin did it better. That’s not to say that this distro isn’t good. I’ve had it installed on a premium ultrabook and with its 4K display?…you really can’t tell its NOT a Mac unless you get up-close-and-personal! Along with its easy to use Software Center, and the cool looking theme of its icons and window decorations this is easily one of the better versions of Linux.

    Tails OS – The “junior” version of what some of the US government runs on their computers. This distro is secure to a tee, and there’s not much anyone can do to hack you once you install it and configure the security settings to your liking. While this appeals to a lot of folks, not many people know its ins and outs, and therefore its mostly used by those who have some skill in a network security kind of setting.

    Honorable Mention:

    Fedora Linux – This is the Linux I’ve used since 2002 / 2003 and its never given me any problems! its secure, and is basically the “petri dish” for the apps that make it into the Red hat Enterprise Linux distro. Everything installed on here, while they might be experimental? seems to hold together no matter what. And while its stable and can do any and everything you want? its also not for those who are intimidated by the command line. If you know how to work scripts and CLI syntax really well? this could be the distro for you.

    Point Linux – This is Debian “dressed” up and it runs really well. Its not as harsh as Debian and installs just about anything with ease. It comes with enough apps and tools for the average computer user, but can also be decked out with all the “toys” a power user loves, and because its based on Debian? you get the pleasure of using a distro that’s rock solid and won’t fail or falter.

    CEntOS – What more needs to be said? This is the distro that holds corporations together! its basically Red Hat Enterprise Linux without the logos or badging, but under the different coat of paint? its RHEL through and through. It might not be the best recommendation for a personal home computer desktop, but if you plan on having a server at home? for file storage, or to create C++ / Python / SQL projects or to build a network at home? You can’t go wrong with this one.

    Just some of the things I’ve observed and learned using the various distros available to the masses. Loved the article!….keep up the good work!!

    • At last a Linux user who can express themselves! Well close anyway. 🙂

      When someone asks you what do you do, they really do mean “what do you do”, not your genealogy with a long list of antecedents that they don’t know anymore than they know you.

  5. What’s the point of installing Linux on MacBook, where most of the device price is MacOS? If someone’s buying MacBook, he either need it for professional usage like Photoshop/Illustrator/any content creation job (Linux equivalents like Gimp cannot be even compared to Adobe programms on pro level), or just simply likes that OS. Isn’t it better to install Linux on any cheaper and stronger notebook, that can be bought without OS, or just use Windows notebook?

    • To add on to what @Dillivine:disqus said, with the latest version of Mac OS coming out (Mojave), a lot of Macs older than 2012 won’t be able to be updated. So my quadcore i7 with SSD can very much be in service for the next several years by switching.

    • If you’ve accumulated (for whatever reasons) one or more space macs, why not bring Linux on? Older ones might not be supported well (or at all) on the most-recent macos releases, or you might just want to play with/use linux and don’t really need a “stronger notebook”.

  6. One misconception, MacOS isn’t Unix-like, it is actually Unix. Great article though, love having a summary of different distros all in one place.

  7. > …then Tails is the OS you want to install.

    If I remeber correctly, you don’t *install* Tails on your PC/Mac. You use it exclusively through a live DVD/USB, without saying anything on your Hard Drive. Hence the “Amnesic” part of “The Amnesic Incognito Live System”.

  8. Actually the most liked liGnux – == GNU/linux – distros are Ubuntu based, Mint (as it is about 1/3 of total ubuntu based), Arch and Manjaro (as it is about 1/4 of all arch based).

    But for a Mac guy I would select Fedora / RHEL as first, KX Studio – or AV Studio with KX studio repositories – if it is for multimedia, Elementary, Deepin, Manjaro and Antergos and in this order.

    I use Manjaro XFCE, so not a fanboy of what I use

    My reasons are:

    Fedora / RHEL is enterprise focused, very stable, great DNF upgrade with deltas – as Apple laptops using old and slow wifi 2.4 Ghz would be most of the installation targets a great deal –

    KX Studio is the actual ubuntu based studio go to and AV studio the debian – more stable or more bleeding edge – testing – than ubuntu – and adding the KX studio compatible repositories is a great alternative

    Elementary is a beautiful environment and better implemented in their ubuntu version

    Deepin is a powerful environment and better implemented in their ubuntu version

    Manjaro is the arch fork for human beings and with GUIs for installing RT kernels and KX software available even there is no a Manjaro Studio Spin yet if you want to edit multimedia.

    Antergos is arch with a installer for human beings.


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