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The 5 Best Rolling Release Linux Distributions To Try Out

For a while now, the new thing in Linux is “rolling” release. It’s not hard to see why users are attracted to this type of release. Some users find it very annoying having to go through an update process every 6 to 8 months, and would rather get little updates forever. Rolling release Linux distributions also attract more advanced Linux users who find the idea of getting newer, more unstable software attractive.

Due to this new trend, many rolling release Linux distributions have popped up. So, what ones are the best to use? Let’s find out!

1. Arch Linux

If you love the idea of having a rolling-release distribution, Arch Linux is one of the best to go with. Arch Linux isn’t the first ever Linux distribution to let users “build from scratch”. That said, its implementation is probably one of the best. It offers pre-compiled binaries to make sure that packages install fast. This means you won’t waste time compiling software by hand, one by one. Building from scratch means that users can pick pretty much everything when it comes to their desktop.

Arch developers give their users the latest and greatest packages as soon as possible, as quickly as possible. It often is one of the first to see a new Linux kernel version, a new release of the Gnome Shell desktop environment, and etc.

In addition, Arch Linux has the Arch Linux User Repository. This allows any user to create a package and distribute it even if the developers don’t support it. This single feature makes Arch have one of the broadest software selections on all of Linux.

It is true that this distribution has a bit of a learning curve, but if you’re looking to get a great rolling release distribution that emphasizes on speed and new software above all else, Arch is a great choice!

2. Gentoo

Gentoo is by far the most famous source-only rolling release distributions. Each piece of software is built and compiled specifically for the operating system, rather than using pre-built binaries. Doing it this way allows users to customize the software at build-time so that it is more optimized.

Source-based distributions are a touchy subject, but if you’re looking to get the best out of your OS, it’s a no-brainer. Like Arch Linux, Gentoo is built entirely from scratch, and users can build and customize everything from the desktop environment to the Linux kernel itself.

One of the main draws to the Gentoo operating system is the Portage package manager and their implementation of “eBuilds”. It is incredibly versatile and allows users to hide any packages they don’t want and isolate them from the system. In addition, because everything is built, even though it’s a rolling release (something usually unstable), Gentoo is instead, very stable.

The learning curve for this operating system is about as high as it comes, but if you really want to learn everything about Linux, there is no better choice than to use Gentoo.

3. OpenSUSE Tumbleweed

Tumbleweed is the answer for Suse users who love YaST, RPM and the underlying technology of the operating system, but really dislike how slow-moving Leap is. With this distribution, users can enjoy the real benefits that Suse Linux has to offer (like a solid beautiful branded desktop with a great set of default applications, a powerful GUI administration tool) without having to stay on aging versions of the Linux kernel, and etc.

The single strongest reason to consider OpenSUSE Tumbleweed for your Linux rolling release distribution needs is this: their Open Build System. With the OBS, anyone can easily port software to multiple Linux distribution with incredible ease. This makes it so that a grand majority of software users want finds its way to Tumbleweed.

Another solid reason to consider this distribution is that they have two types of distributions. The people over at Suse let its users try Tumbleweed at any time. In fact, it’s very easy to jump from a stable system to Tumbleweed, or go back and still keep the core things you love.

4. Solus

The Solus operating system is a rare one: it’s a rolling Linux distribution that is inherently stable. Instead of the “bleeding edge”, they opt to instead give their users fresh, stable software as soon as possible. This concept has made this operating system perfect to recommend to beginner Linux users who simply want to stop having to go through the annoying distro upgrade process every 6 months.

Out of all the distributions on this list, Solus, by far, has the best third-party support, and it’s a major reason anyone looking at rolling release Linux distributions should consider it. In fact, it is very difficult to find a program (no matter how unknown) that isn’t on the OS in some fashion.

All and all, Solus is a fresh operating system, with an interesting take on rolling release. It is quickly making a mark on the community, and it has a lot to offer for beginners and advance users alike.

5. Manjaro Linux

Manjaro Linux is a derivative of Arch Linux proper, with a twist. It is trying to take and tame what some view as an “unstable” desktop environment. When users install Manjaro, they’ll get the traditional Arch setup (minus a few theme changes) with less un-stable packages, to make sure that crashes and annoying bugs are less common. The attempt is to make a rolling release Linux distribution, based on Arch Linux, but for beginners.

While the subject of Arch Linux derivatives is a very divisive subject, one thing is sure: if you love the core underlying technology in Arch Linux but find it too intimidating, or unstable (for whatever reason), Manjaro is a solid alternative.


  1. But the definitive pro for LinuxMint is the easy adminitration! you can inbstall it and leave it installed for long without permanent active administration. It is very safe (thanks to the Ubuntu packaging system which is rock solid compared to the old RPM used by commercial Linux distros for companies and servers, which is almost unusable on PCs at home or refurbished PCs). If you look around the PCs in public places, if they don’t run Windows, the distro installed on Linux is almost always LinuxMint because it is usable by anyone immediately, including those that are accustomed with years of usage of Windows, or users that have only used Android on their tablets or smartphones, or by iOS mobile users. Unnecessary UI artefacts are simply disabled by default, the surface of exposure to software bugs is minized, meaning that these PCs left without active administration will be more difficulty to harness remotely for long. These cheap PCs can be administered only once or twice a year (something completely impossible with Windows and Linux distros for geeks/developers/gamers!).

  2. LinuxMint satisfies all users that are not geeks. It is used in many places that don’t want or cannot pay windows licences (e.g. associations reconditioning PCs collected in common public and private businesses every 2 years and sold at very modest prices which cannot support the price of a new windwos licence). The good thing about LinuxMint is that it is extremely stable, and frequently updated with stable and tested tools. It is based on Ubuntu but many adminsitrators will install it while disallowing the installation of beta/proprietary softwares in the Ubuntu Softwares library. Its default interface is easy to use for most users, and it does not require the best performing hardware (it works very well on old refurbished PCs that are 10 years old or more, and with limited memory, with slow CPUs, and few or only 1 core, sometimes only in 32-bit).
    Of course LinuxMint will perform better with more memory and more powerful CPUs. LinuxMint also accepts many low-range graphic cards or audio cards (that modern distributions tend now to leave aside and no longer test correctly, when they want to use 64-bit code, extensive multithreading, virtualization and so on).
    But LinuxMint DOES support all the latest Linux kernels, all security patches, all 64-bit platforms, hardware virtualization acceleration if available, and modern graphic accelerators just like regular Ubuntu. The difference being that it does not require it to work correctly. So it is a very safe way to recycle old PCs and make them perfectly usable (including for the web: media players, Firefox, videos and so on, HTML5, modern javascript engines work very well on those old PCs, but will run misarably on Windows, even Windows 10, or will run very bad with “powerful” Linux distros for geeks/developers/gamers, who will then prefer running Windows 10 on their power hardware to run a “power Linux” distro only in a VM !)

  3. Solus,
    good Distro, I’m using it and I’m satisfied.
    Initially you have to get used to the new eopkg commands, but you will immediately become confident!

  4. I’m using Manjaro since over 2,5 years and I’m happy with it. I tried many other distros before and experimented with them on other computers but in the end, they were inferior to Manjaro so I decided it’s best to use system I like the most and had the biggest experience with. Also, the least headache and time spent on tinkering – always Manjaro.

  5. BlackArch, or more specifically, an Arch derivative after running Blackman script. Because any script kiddie can install Kali, and they do, rolls eyes. If i see someone knows how to use pacman and AUR, i will suspect they’re a true hacker- white hat pentesters, only; of course.

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